A tiny slice of my life

This is a look at my life, and the many things I try to learn and do.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Jewels of Decoration

What are the jewels of decoration, they are something that the eye travels to when you first walk into a room.

This could be a picture on a wall, a fancy lamp on the side table or an interesting cushion on your chair.

Now I have been crafting for as long as I can remember. My first set of knitting needles, were metal ones that my Pa shortened for me when I was about 5 or 6 years old.

At the moment I am trying to create enough handmade items to start a shop online, hence the stack of quilt tops waiting to be quilted. I am also enjoying the process of designing quilt tops with stitcheries in them.

One of the many things I am creating are cushions I have done crazy patchwork, knitted and beaded. Here is an example of the beaded cushion, here is a close up of the beading.

It is reversable, the back is a different material and I used matching ribbon as the fasteners.

So if I am not pottering in the kitchen I am sitting and hand stitching my quilt tops. Which I enjoy immensely.

Well I am off now to finish stitching the last panels of my new design, before I cut and sew it into a quilt top.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Apple Clafouti - Clafouti aux Pommes

Here is the book ready to go.

Well I have cooked my first recipe from Julia Child's book - Mastering the Art of French Cooking. An apple clafouti.

It turned out to be a very easy recipe, to think that if I had read the book when I got it I could have tasted this recipe ages ago. Never mind I am using it now.

It was not only easy to make but also very yummy to eat, I did alter the recipe, by not heating half the batter in the dish until it started to set, then adding the apples, then the rest of the batter. I poured it straight over the apples, and it worked out perfectly fine.

While Mr CLI was eating the clafouti, he was telling me I can make it again when ever I want !

Clafouti aux Pommes
4 large apples - enough when peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 cm slices to equal 3 cups, 3 - 4 tbsps butter, 1/4 brandy, dark rum or cognac, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/3 cup sugar

Melt butter frypan, add apples cook over medium heat until nearly cooked through. Add alcohol, when it has stopped sizzling, add cinnamon and sugar stir remove from heat. Leave for 1/2 hour. Using a slotted spoon place apples into a buttered 20cm pie dish. Drain and measure sugar syrup left in frypan, add enough milk to make up the 1 1/4 cups required.

1 1/4 cups milk, 1/3 cup caster sugar, 3 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla essence, 1/2 cup SR flour

Place all the ingredients in order given in a blender, blend for 1 minute (it really needs to be in a blender I did it in my mixer and because the flour to liquid ratio is low the flour lumped and I had to push the batter through a sieve to remove the flour lumps)

Pour over the apples, bake 45 minutes, or until cooked when a knife is inserted in the centre. When checking it looks like a baked custard.

Remove from oven leave 5 minutes. Serve dusted with icing sugar and whipped cream or ice cream, or both if you want.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Daring Bakers May 2011 Challenge - Marquise on Meringue

The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

Now unfortunately I don't have photos for this months challenge as my camera died on me, when I had the plate all ready, as I used up the meringue I only have a bit of the marquise left.

I made a half recipe for both the meringue and the marquise, it was quite a difficult recipe with the caramel. I also omitted the tequila from the caramel.

Here is the recipe for the full amounts.

Chocolate Marquise
Servings: 18 2.5"x2.5" cubes
11 large egg yolks at room temperature 4 large whole eggs 2/3 cup (150 grams/ 5.3 oz.) sugar 1/3 cup (2 2/3 fluid oz./ 80 ml.) water
Chocolate Base, barely warm (recipe follows)
2 cups (16 fluid oz./ 500 ml.) heavy cream 2 cups Dutch process cocoa powder (for rolling) (Note: We used extra brut, like Hershey's Special Dark. Make sure it's a Dutch processed cocoa, not a natural cocoa powder.) Torched meringue (recipe follows) Spiced almonds (recipe follows) Cacao nibs (optional)
Directions:In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks and whole eggs. Whip on high speed until very thick and pale, about 10 - 15 minutes.
When the eggs are getting close to finishing, make a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan.
Bring the syrup to a boil and then cook to softball stage (235F/115C). If you have a cake tester with a metal loop for a handle, the right stage for the syrup is reached when you can blow a bubble through the loop. With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle the sugar syrup into the fluffy eggs, trying to hit that magic spot between the mixing bowl and the whisk.When all of the syrup has been added (do it fairly quickly), turn the mixer back on high and whip until the bowl is cool to the touch. This will take at least 10 minutes.
In a separate mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Set aside.
When the egg mixture has cooled, add the chocolate base to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Try to get it as consistent as possible without losing all of the air you've whipped into the eggs. We used the stand mixer for this, and it took about 1 minute.
Fold 1/3 of the reserved whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream.Pour into the prepared pans and cover with plastic wrap (directly touching the mixture so it doesn't allow in any air). Freeze until very firm, at least 2 - 4 hours (preferably 6 – 8 hours).
When you're ready to plate, remove the marquise from the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving.
While it's still hard, remove it from the pan by pulling on the parchment 'handles' or by flipping it over onto another piece of parchment.Cut it into cubes and roll the cubes in cocoa powder. These will start to melt almost immediately, so don't do this step until all of your other plating components (meringue, caramel, spiced nuts, cocoa nibs) are ready. The cubes need to sit in the fridge to slowly thaw so plating components can be done during that time. They don’t need to be ready before the cubes are rolled in the cocoa powder.Plate with the torched meringue and drizzled caramel sauce, and toss spiced almonds and cocoa nibs around for garnish. You want to handle the cubes as little as possible because they get messy quickly and are difficult to move. However, you want to wait to serve them until they've softened completely. The soft pillows of chocolate are what make this dessert so unusual and when combined with the other elements, you'll get creamy and crunchy textures with cool, spicy, salty, bitter, and sweet sensations on your palate.

Plate with the torched meringue and drizzled caramel sauce, and toss spiced almonds and cocoa nibs around for garnish. You want to handle the cubes as little as possible because they get messy quickly and are difficult to move. However, you want to wait to serve them until they've softened completely. The soft pillows of chocolate are what make this dessert so unusual and when combined with the other elements, you'll get creamy and crunchy textures with cool, spicy, salty, bitter, and sweet sensations on your palate.
Chocolate Base
Servings: n/a - this is an ingredient for the chocolate marquise, not meant to be used separately
12 oz (340 grams/ 1½ cups) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cocoa) 12 oz (355 ml/ 1½ cups) heavy cream 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon cayenne 1/4 cup (60 ml/ 2 fluid oz.) tequila 1/4 cup (60 ml/ 2 fluid oz.) light corn syrup 3/4 teaspoon vanilla 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons/ less than an ounce) cocoa powder (we used extra brut, like Hershey's Special Dark, but any Dutch-processed cocoa would be fine. Do not substitute natural cocoa powder.) 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 oz unsalted butter (2 tbsps./30 grams) , softened
1. Place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl.
2. In a double-boiler, warm the cream until it is hot to the touch (but is not boiling). Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.
3. Allow it to sit for a minute or two before stirring. Stir until the chocolate is melted completely and is smooth throughout.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
5. Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Do not refrigerate, as the base needs to be soft when added to the marquise mixture. If you make it the day before, you may need to warm it slightly. Whisk it until it is smooth again before using it in the marquise recipe.
Torched Meringue
Servings: Makes about 4 - 5 cups of meringue. If you aren't planning on serving *all* of the marquise at once, you might want to scale this recipe back a bit.
11 large egg whites 1 ¾ cups (14 oz./ 395 grams) sugar Splash of apple cider vinegar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Combine the egg whites, sugar and vinegar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using your (clean, washed) hand, reach in the bowl and stir the three together, making sure the sugar is moistened evenly by the egg whites and they make a homogeneous liquid. Over a saucepan of simmering water, warm the egg white mixture. Use one hand to stir the mixture continuously, feeling for grains of sugar in the egg whites. As the liquid heats up, the sugar will slowly dissolve and the egg whites will thicken. This step is complete when you don't feel any more sugar crystals in the liquid and it is uniformly warm, nearly hot.Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan and return it to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
Whisk until you reach soft peaks. In the last 10 seconds of mixing, add the vanilla to the meringue and mix thoroughly.When you're ready to plate the dessert, spoon the meringue onto a plate (or use a piping bag) and use a blowtorch to color.

Tequila Caramel
Servings: Makes about 1 cup of caramel
1 cup (8 oz.) sugar 1/2 cup (4 fluid oz./ 120 ml.) water
1 cup (8 fluid oz./ 240 ml.) heavy cream 3/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons tequila
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water on medium-high heat. Boil until the water completely evaporates and the sugar caramelizes to a dark mahogany color.
Working quickly, add the cream to the darkened caramel. It will bubble and pop vigorously, so add only as much cream as you can without overflowing the pot. quickly, add the cream to the darkened caramel. It will bubble and pop vigorously, so add only as much cream as you can without overflowing the pot.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Julie and Julia

The other night I couldn't sleep, so I was channel flicking on Austar, and I came upon the Movie Julie and Julia. Even though the movie had started, I watched as I had never seen it before.

Now last year I bought myself her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Now I hadn't made aything from it, because I glanced at the recipes and didn't really read them. I just looked at the ingredients and thought there is too much fiddling and too much fat in her recipes, but after seeing the movie I wondered if I really should have a better look at the book.

I also decided to look on the internet to see if there was any video clips from Julia's TV Show, and there are some. Now after reading on Not Quite Nigella's site about her mishap while cooking and writing about my own, I was very surprised to watch Julia's clip on making La Tarte Tatin, when it all went pear shaped or should I say apple shaped when she unmoulded her La Tarte Tatin.

So after watching several of her videos on the the internet, I sat down and really read her book, and too my surprise she really isn't pedantic with her cooking and her recipes are much more forgiving regarding the addition of butter and cream.

So with this insight, I am now on a mission to make some of her recipes, which I will report back to you about. As Miss Fish came home last night with several kilos of apples I am going to look and see what can be made with them.

So the moral to this story is when buying cookbooks really read them to see if the recipes are as complicated as you first think, and if they are not try making them. You never now you might surprise yourself as to how easy the are to cook.

So until next time Au Revoir.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kitchen Disasters

I was reading Not Quite Nigellas post for yesterday, where she was describing a disaster she had while making custard for her beesting/bienestich cake. Lorraine posed the question, "had we ever had any disasters in the kitchen".

Disaster with a Gateau Helene
Well it reminded me of a disasterous episode in my teens, that I still think about. I had bought a French cookbook by Greta Anna, and in the cake/gateau section there was a double page close up photo of a 4 layer Gateau Helene.

Well is was my mission to make this cake. Now part of this recipe was for ground almonds, which in the 70's (I did say I was in my teens !), you couldn't buy in the supermarket. So I had too soak the whole almonds in boiling water, then peel of the skin, then chopped them with a Zyliss chopper until fine. Then there was a lot of separating eggs and beating separately. Anyway it was made and placed in the oven. While it was cooking I did the dishes, and left the water in to wash the springform tin. Now to this day I don't know what possessed me to take the sleeve off the very hot tin, while having my hand under the base, but I did and when the sleeve released from the base it slide rapidly towards my arm, which made me jump which in turn made the cake fly from my hand, hit the sink slide across it and into the sink full of water. I stood there in horror as this cake that I had spent ages making slowly sunk !

To this day I have never attempted to make the gateau again, but thinking about it I think I will make it my mission to make one in the next month.

Overcooked peas

Now this was a funny event, at the time all I could do was laugh, it still brings a smile to my face when I recall this eventful meal. Now in our early years together Mr CLI always liked lots of red meat, with potato and vegies. The meal I was cooking was lamb mid loin chops, with mashed potato and boiled peas. Well everything started off alright, then I smelt a burning smell, I had been busy with the washing and not paying proper attention to this meal. I rushed into the kitchen to find the peas, now black stuck to the bottom of the saucepan. So into the sink that went to be covered with water. By now the chops had cooked, so I went to drain the potatoes, but to my horror these were those potatoes that one moment are hard and the next have dissolved into the water. As I was draining the potatoes I noticed that most of them were going down the plug hole and what I was left with was a grey glomp in the bottom of the saucepan that wouldn't mash. OK so the peas are burnt, the potatoes have dissolved perhaps the chops would be alright, BUT no they were tough and stringy, so into the bin they went and around to the fish and chip shop we went !

These are only a couple of mishaps in the kitchen, one tragic and one funny.

Do you have any kitchen mishaps that still terrorise you or make you laugh when you think about them ?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Grilled Chicken in a Grape Bath

Now don't be put off by the name, this is a very easy recipe that is quite tasty. It is one to put in your list of recipes for the BBQ.

It is made in under 1/2 hour, so it can be whipped up very easily.

Chicken in a Grape Bath
2 chicken fillets, sliced into thin scallopinis, for the bath 1/4 cup verjuice, 1 clove garlic crushed or grated, 1 tbsp olive oil, small bunch of grapes halved (approx 20 - 30 grapes)

Heat a griddle pan until hot. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Mix all bath ingredients in a flat dish. Place chicken on griddle, leave 2 minutes, turn cook further minute, or until cooked through. Place immediately into the bath, spoon liquid over chicken. Leave 5 minutes then serve.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ways of jazzing up boring food

Now I am not saying that food is boring, far from it I live for food, but there are times that a dollop of mashed potato or a scoop of ice cream doesn't really get the taste buds going.

So here are some of my easy ways to take your food from hum drum to yum yum.

Fruit sauces for ice cream, pancakes, meringues or even a slice of cake. I always keep a box of frozen berries in the freezer. It is very easy to turn into a sauce, just add 1 cup of berries to 1/4 cup water & 1 tbsp caster sugar. Bring to the boil, and boil until the sauce starts to thicken. If you want to pour it over ice cream leave it more runny. Check for sweetness. Now you can then add some alcohol, like creme de cassis, or blackberry liquor, something sweet and nice.

I have used this sauce to make a black forest gataeu, just slice 1 high cake into 3 or 2 small cakes both in half. Place the first slice on a plate cover with a portion of sauce then whipped cream, then grated dark chocolate, repeat the layers. Now on the top your can cover it with whipped cream then grated chocolate, or even dust it with icing sugar. It makes for a very impressive, but quick dessert.

Mashed potato - now nothing really beats a good dollop of creamy well mashed potato, but it can be jazzed up with the addition of finely sliced spring onions, or grated tasty cheese, or even crumbled blue cheese. Even the addition of some finely chopped fresh herbs.

Beef casserole/stew - now the addition of a few chopped semi-dried tomatoes, gives it a lovely rounded flavour. You can't really tell that the flavour is tomatoes, but it gives it a lovely taste.

Quick onion gravy - finely slice some onion place in a bowl and cover with boiling water, leave at least 1/2 hour. Now this semi cooks the onion and removes a lot of the bitterness. Just add it to the gravy near the end of cooking.

Fresh herbs - It goes without saying that they add lots of flavour, I throw chopped herbs in just about anything. I even sprinkle my salads with chopped parsley.

Now these are just a few ideas, put on your thinking cap, and stretch the food envelope with what can be added to your recipes.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Remember when...

Now when flares and wedge heels became a hot fashion item I was in high school. At that same time the Mum's of Australia became very daring in their recipes.

Now I have spoken to people about the same age as me, and they also remember in horror the food that their Mothers cooked.

Here as some of the gems, now please don't gag at the thought of some of these food combinations, because at the time Mothers of Australia, probably the world were not only burning their bras and wearing stretchy pants - remember crimplene the lycra of the 70's - they were also experimenting in the kitchen.

Now hold onto your hats here comes some of the food combos

Savoury mince on crumpets - now this seems to have consisted of minced cooked with water, tomato sauce and something sweet because it always tasted like sugar had been added. It was served on a toasted crumpet arghhh!

Green jelly with marshmallows - pineapple chunks were set in green jelly, and when it was just about set the top was covered with white marshmallows. As if we didn't eat enough sugar back then.

Rehydrated/dehydrated peas and beans - now these were the fast food of the 70's, you bought packets of dehydrated peas and beans, then covered them with water and boiled until they were soft. Now it didn't matter how long you boiled them, they were always chewy and wrinkled !

Deb - Now this was the era of dried food. Luckily my Mum never made this, but I did try it - only once. Think soapflakes with a feint taste of school clag. Yukky.

Rissoles - Now I don't mind a nice moist rissole, but for some reason packets of dried soup - back again to the dried food - seemed to appear in a lot of recipes. In the rissoles was a packet of chicken noodles soup, so you had a rissole made of beef mince, with crunchy noodles.

Now I got a pair of these lace up boots, when I was in primary school. I thought I was the trendiest person.

Another mince recipe - Mince on toast - Still a lot of beef recipes, because beef and lamb was cheap then. It wasn't till later that you could buy chicken fillets. Now this was mince cooked in water with gravox added, then served on toast. My dad loved this and I still think he has it now. But for me to eat it I would cover it with tomato sauce, and I rarely eat tomato sauce.

Now for the last dessert recipe - tinned pineapple with condensed milk. Yes you place slices of pineapple in a bowl and cover them with condensed milk. Now it was extremely sweet, but my Mum has a very sweet tooth and this was a very common dessert. Its lucky I still have my teeth after all this sugar.

Perhaps you have some more gems from the kitchens of the 1970's , perhaps even the 80's when we got into Nouvelle cuisine, a little bit of food on a large plate that cost a fortune.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

Now I don't make a lot of meatloaves, but I have always wanted to make one with hard boiled eggs in the centre and wrapped in bacon.

While perusing the freezer yesterday looking for something to cook for tea, my eyes spied a packet of bacon and a parcel of mince, so I decided this is a good time to try the meatloaf wrapped in bacon.

This is a really easy recipe, you can serve it with creamy mashed potato or do as I did for an easy tea put a tray of potatoes, carrot and pumpkin in to roast at the same time, which makes it a one oven meal. I also made some packet gravy, as Mr CLI doesn't consider it a proper meatloaf unless it has gravy and tomato sauce ! He also doesn't consider it a meatloaf unless it has peas, so in they went.

Now this recipe was enough for 9 thick slices of meatloaf. I used lean mince so it didn't require any breadcrumbs or an egg. If you find that it won't hold together to form a meat loaf add 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1 egg.

750 grams mince beef, 1/2 onion finely chopped or grated, optional 1/2 cup frozen peas and/or 1/2 cup grated carrot, 1 tbsps chopped fresh parsley, 2 tbsps tomato sauce, 1 tbsps worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp dried mustard powder, salt and pepper 3 eggs cooked for 8 minutes and peeled, 8 - 10 rashers bacon

If you grate the onion add it straight to the mince mixture. If you have chopped the onion saute over low heat in 1 tbsp oil until soft, let cool then add to mince mixture.

Combine all ingredients except eggs and bacon. Line a tray with baking paper. Place rasher on tray overlapping the sides. Take half the mixture and form the base, mould a groove in the middle for the eggs. Lay the eggs end to end about 2 cm from the narrow edge. Use the remaining mixture to form the meatloaf.

Cover over with the bacon. I found that my packet was all the eyes, so I just covered it with very little wrapping it did the job fine.

Bake for 30 minutes, you will probably find a lot of liquid in the tray, pour off and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes. Remove from the oven leave for 5 minutes before slicing.

Now my husband was full of praise for this meatloaf, so this has now become the new recipe to cook when I make meatloaf.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Eat more greens !

Vegetables now we all know we must eat more fresh fruit and vegetables a day, but some vegetables are a bit challenging to eat or even like the taste of.

Now not only did my Nana teach me to cook, my Pa grew most of their vegetables in their backyard. Now this wasn't in a country town, but right in the suburbs of Melbourne, where most people had a vegie bed or two and quite often a chook or two.

Luckily my Nana was not of the boil vegetables until they are unrecognisable then add a pinch of sugar, to try to add flavour back in, brigade. She would only cook her vegies until done, then serve them with most of the color and flavour still retained.

One of the vegetables that my Pa grew was brussel sprouts, he would pick them we they were small and my Nana would boil them till just tender, then serve them with a little dob of butter.

I still love them, but unless you grow them most of the time the ones you buy in the shop are large and old, which gives them that strong flavour and smell when cooked.

So how best to cook them, so they are tasty and people will enjoy them. This recipe I got from a TV show Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen that I watched many years ago. It is from Lidia Bastianich, who has several restaurants in USA and has down several cooking shows. It can be modified for your taste, if you don't have or like garlic leave it out. If you don't want the sharp taste of vinegar leave it out or put less in. I didn't have any red wine vinegar, so last night I put a small splash of champagne vinegar, it didn't give it the real tang of red wine vinegar, but a more mellow flavour.

This recipe is so simple and easy, the only part that takes time is preparing the sprouts, you could also cook this recipe with cabbage, broccoli or really any green vegetable.

Brussel Sprouts Braised with Vinegar
500 grams brussel sprouts, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 cup chicken stock or water, 3 cloves garlic, salt & freshly ground black pepper, 2 tbsps red wine vinegar

Preparing the brussel sprouts. Working over a big bowl with a sharp paring knife, cut off (and discard) a 1/4-inch or so of the base of each sprout, freeing the outer leaves. Now stick the point of the knife into what's left of the base and slice out the tiny core, in one cone-shaped piece - just as you would cut out the bigger core of a cabbage or cauliflower. This loosens the inner leaves. Discard the small core.

Begin peeling off the outermost leaves: discard only wilted or blemished leaves; drop all the fresh dark green leaves, even thick ones, into the bowl. Keep peeling off the leaves until you reach the tiny ones that can't be pulled apart. Cut this bundle in slivers and drop them into the bowl. When all are done you will have a large fluffy pile of leaves.

Put the oil and the garlic in the skillet and set over medium heat.(Now I quite often grate the garlic over the sprouts just before I add the vinegar so that it has a fresher flavour) Let the garlic cook and caramelize lightly for 4 minutes or so, shaking the pan now and then. Dump in the sprout leaves, shake the pan to spread them out, and then sprinkle the salt all over.

Add the stock/water. Cover the skillet and let the leaves cook and wilt for 4 to 5 minutes, giving the pan an occasional shake, then uncover and turn them well with a big spoon or tongs. The leaves should be sizzling but not browning - lower the heat if necessary. Cover again. Cook another 4 to 5 minutes until the leaves are soft, greatly reduced in volume but still green and glistening.If all the liquid evaporates, before the sprouts are cooked. add more about 1/4 at a time. Sprinkle over the vinegar and black pepper, stir. Serve the Brussels sprouts hot right from the frypan or turn them onto a warm platter.

Lidia's website

Now I hope you give the humble sprout a try, you will be amazed at how tasty they actually are when cooked like this.

Monday, May 16, 2011


As you may have guessed by now we are not big red meat eaters. When I meet Mr CLI, many moons ago, I hadn't eaten red meat in 7 years. It was a bit of a shock too start cooking for someone that was brought up and still eating big chunks of red meat.

In the years that have passed Mr CLI has realised that his digestion works better if he eats less red meat and in smaller portions. If I make a steak sandwich, after cooking the steak I slice it before placing it on the roll, this not only makes for easy eating also for those of us - not me - that have dentures to contend with.

For my hamburgers I use 500 gms of mince, this gives me 4 patties, if you want larger patties increase the amount of mince. I have been making this recipe since Miss La Coiffure was in nappies. I have tried other recipes over the years but I still keep coming back to this recipe as it is tasty and always moist, as long as the BBQ chef doesn't wander off with his spatula in hand, and leave them to cook for too long.

500 gm lean mince, 1/2 small carrot grated, 1 heaped tbsp chopped parsley, 1 egg, 1 desertspoon worcestershire sauce. 1 tbsp tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp dried mustard powder

Place all ingredients in a bowl, mix well together with your hands. Form into patties. Cook using a very small amount of oil in your frypan. Serve on hamburger buns with your choice of toppings.

I must admit when I cook these I go all out on the toppings, beetroot, sliced tomato, lettuce, cheese, egg and pineapple. It then becomes a bit of a dagwood hamburger, best eaten in silence - no time to talk - and with lots of serviettes.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Salmon Patties

There are many recipes for salmon patties, I am not talking about the newer asian type recipes, but the good old fashioned ones using mash potato.

This is the recipe that my Nana used, as you can see I did spend a lot of time with her learning her recipes. She wasn't a fancy cook, but good old fashioned tasty food, that I enjoyed eating. Now she didn't try to get me to eat liver or tripe, but I did eat lambs brains breaded or in parsley sauce, I am not too sure if I could eat it now.

Now this recipe, like many of my recipes can be expanded for more serves or decreased for less .

Salmon Patties
1 400gm can salmon, bones and skin removed, 2 gherkins finely chopped, 1/3 stick celery finely diced, 4 - 5 large potatoes boiled and mashed

Mix all ingredients together. I find it best done while the potato is still fairly warm. Let cool then form in patties. Place onto a plate lined with baking paper. Refrigerate till set. Heat equal amounts of butter and oil, lightly dust the patties with plain flour. Cook on both sides until brown and crisp. Drain in paper towel. Serve with a salad or steamed vegies or as I do home made chips.

Try them I hope you will enjoy them as much as we do.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Warming up during the cold - An Easy Beef Casserole

As I am typing this the rain is pelting down and the hail is hitting the windows with a deafening roar.

So my mind travels off and starts thinking of a warming casserole.

This casserole is very simple to make, just a bit of meat browning, potato peeling and bringing liquid to a boil. Then its into the oven the cook slowly, while it makes your house smell divine and your tummy rumble.

I always put on a loaf of bread in the bread maker, to eat warm with melting butter dripping off your fingers and perfect for mopping up the sauce.

You can make a small casserole or a very large one. The amounts I use is enough for 4 large serves with leftovers. You can add any other root vegetables, that you may like.

Beef Casserole
1 1/2 half beef cut into 4 x 4 cm cubes (I use rump) 1 bottle passatta, potatoes peeled and cut into large pieces approx 6cm, 1 litre stock, 1 cup frozen peas, 4 tbsps plain flour, 1/2 - onion chopped finely, 2 cloves garlic finely chopped, 1 tsp dried thyme or 2 small sprigs fresh thyme, oil for frying

Preheat oven 160.c Place flour in a plastic/freezer bag add salt & pepper, place meat in and toss about to coat. Heat 2 tbsps of oil, add meat in batches and fry till brown. Remove and place in a casserole dish, with the potatoes or if using a large pot that you can place in the oven, place onto a plate. DON'T throw out the remaining flour.

When finished browning the meat, you may need more oil, add onion stir 1-2 minutes, scrapping as much from the bottom as possible. Add garlic stir 30 seconds. Add leftover flour stir 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients except peas, stirring to get remainder from base of the pan. Bring to the boil, either pour over meat & potatoes in the casserole dish or return meat and potatoes to pot. You may need more stock or you can use water.

Cover place in the oven bake 2- 2 1/2 hours or until meat is tender. Add peas cook for a further 20 minutes.

The sauce will have thickened a little while cooking. Serve with fresh bread. Eat and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Green Tomato Pickle and First Published Article

It is with great excitement that I type that I have had my first article published today !!!

It is on The Daring Kitchen site - http://thedaringkitchen.com/food-talk

So please read it.

It is about pickles and preserves, which aren't very hard to make. As long as you can chop, stir and boil a kettle, you can make pickles.

If you are lucky enough to grow your own vegetables or have a farmers market or even a local market with fresh produce, that can be purchased cheap you are off to a good start. Even produce from the supermarket can be used, but the whole idea of pickles is to use excess produce.

The pickles make good presents for people who appreciate a good pickle. We have a good friend who roasts meat especially to make sandwiches with my pickles !

Now for the jars I usually save ones with metal lids, honey and jam jars are good. I rinse them well, then wash them in the dish washer, storing them in a cupboard with the lids off, to stop any mould if they aren’t completely dry.

Green Tomato Pickle

1 kg green tomatoes, chopped, 500 gm onions, finely chopped, 500 gm cooking apples, peeled , cored and finely chopped, 2 garlic cloves chopped, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, pinch each of cloves and cayenne pepper, 250 gm brown sugar, 300 ml white wine vinegar, 100 gms sultanas

Ingredients ready to cook

Place all ingredients into a large pot, bring to the boil. Cover, reduce heat, simmer stirring occasionally for 45 minutes – 1 hour until thickened, it may take longer. For the last 10 – 15 minutes you need to stir more often to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. You can do this as you are boiling the kettle to sterilise the jars. Makes about 2 litres.

The pickles busy cooking

Now while stirring for the last 10 - 15 minutes steralise your jars. Place the bottles you are using in the sink and put the lids in a bowl. Pour boiling water into the jars and over the lids, ensuring they are covered. Now wasn’t sterilising the jars easy. Keep the water in until you need them. I pour boiling water over the ladle and funnel just before I use them

Now I have a wide necked funnel for bottling, but you can carefully ladle the mixture in. Empty the water from the jars one at a time fill to the top and screw on the lid, and then fill the next jar.

So give making pickles a try there are plenty of easy recipes, I even make tomato pasta sauce in the microwave.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Mothers Day

I hope everyone had a good Mothers Day. Unfortunately I spent all weekend looking after sick people Miss Fish was still recovering from food poisoning and Mr CLI with a cold. So mine wasn't a very pleasant weekend, because Miss Le Coiffure couldn't come visit as I didn't want her to get sick also.

So what did I eat for Mothers Day, the leftover lemon chicken and rice from Saturday nights tea, and for tea I made homemade fish and chips, that Mr CLI was going to cook !

So this is the first chance I have had to get to my laptop, in between mopping floors and washing clothes. I still have one load to hang out and one to wash.

But I did cheer myself up today Miss La Coiffure gave me some money to but myself something for Mothers Day. I don't mind that as I can get exactly what I won't and if it is a bit dearer I can add some more money. So of I went to the bookshop and browsed - you guessed it - the cookbook area.

I bought myself a book on Greek cooking, something I want to cook more of and a book of recipes based on fruit and vegies that you can grow in your garden. So that makes the total cookbooks now 152.

So I am off to peruse the recipes enclosed in my new books, and plan the meals for later in the week, when everyone is well.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Easy, Peasy Pizzas

In this time of hustle and bustle, we don't always have time to make meals from scratch.

I am sure that you all have shorts cuts to produce "home cooked" meals, that please your family.

Here is my quick pizzas, not using bought pizza bases, but souvlaki wraps.

It is very easy place the wraps on a baking tray, spread with some bought pizza sauce, then top with grated mozzarella cheese and your favourite toppings. Bake at 220c. 10 - 15 minutes until the edges are crisp. Cut up and eat.

Now if that isn't quick, you will be eating pizzas within 20 minutes, depending on how quick you can cut up your toppings !

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

When is roast chicken not roast chicken

When you have pulled frozen fish out of your freezer by mistake.

Being in a hurry yesterday, I pulled from the freezer a parcel of what I thought was frozen chicken fillets.

When Miss Fish returned from work yesterday, she had been to the races. The local races are on this week. She wandered out to the kitchen, then came back and asked me why did I say we were having chicken when there is fish on the sink, now not running on all cylinders yesterday she had to repeat it 2 or 3 times before it dawned on me she was talking about the "chicken" that I had defrosting dah!

So what was going to be roast chicken, an easy meal cooked on one tray in the oven, turned into home made fish, chips and tartare sauce.
The chips
Peel and cut potatoes into chips. I always cut what I think is enough the add another large potato.

As Mr CLI doesn't really eat bought chips, but home made ones he gets quite miffed if he doesn't have lots.

Now the secret of crisp chips is the double fry, like they do in the fish shops. You don't need a deep fryer for this, but a larger amount of oil (I used vegetable oil) about 1 litre and a deep pot or I used my wok which has a wide opening to allow you to drop/place things in the oil with less chance of burning yourself.

The first fry the oil should be about 150-160C.. If you don't have a thermometer, heat the oil until a chip placed in the oil starts to sizzle, not a fierce sizzle. You may need to lower the heat to keep the oil at a lower temperature. Now cook you chips in batches until cooked through, but still pale, remove and drain on kitchen paper. This will take about 5 minutes, for each batch.

After you have finished frying the fish, return half of the chips to the now hotter oil fry until crisp, this will only take about 2 minutes, remove and drain on fresh paper towel, sprinkle with sea salt, then repeat with remaining chips. Serve with fish and tartare sauce, and a lemon wedge.

The Fish - Batter
Next preheat the oven to 120.c, just enough warmth to keep the fish warm while you give the chips their second fry.

Now I use a mixture of half plain flour and half cornflour, whisk it with enough water to make a thin batter, like thickened cream. You can use beer if you want beer batter.

For my 15 pieces of fish I used 1/2 of each flour and about 3/4 cup water, just add you water slowly until the batter is the right consistency.

I then cooked the fish which I cut into small pieces about 2-3 cm wide and 10 cm long. If the fish is to large it takes a long time to cook through and the batter maybe a bit overdone.

Bring the oil up to the hotter level 180 - 190C. Dip the fish it into the batter and fry in batches, I cooked 5 at a time. Turn over half way, when they are nice and brown and crispy, remove to a kitchen paper lined tray and place in the oven. Repeat with the other pieces of fish.

NOTE I just dump all the fish pieces in the batter at once then just drain a bit of before placing in the oil, this makes it quicker.

Tartare Sauce
Now you can make more of less of this sauce depending on the amount of people you need to feed. As I love this sauce I have quite a bit but Miss Fish probably only eats about 2 tsps of it.
3/4 cup mayo, 2 tsps chopped fresh parsley. juice 1/2 lemon, 1 gherkin finely chopped, 12 capers finely chopped
Mix all together, taste it you may wish to add more of any of the ingredients.

It seems a lot of trouble but if you make the sauce first, it can sit while you are doing the rest, which is really a matter of placing things in oil, moving them about, draining them, then serving.

The most important thing is to have everybody at the table when you are finishing up so they can get their fish and chips while hot and crispy !!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mothers Day

Sorry there was no blog yesterday but we are having problems with our electrics, one of the problems from owning a house that was built in 1892.

Miss Fish arrived home from work today, and announced that it was Mother's Day on Sunday, and what present did I want. Now Miss Fish is very good at buying presents for other people, she even bought herself an easter egg for easter !

So I pondered her question for a moment and replied that I wanted a day that I didn't have to do anything. She looked at me and smiled and replied "I will get you a cookbook", how well she knows me. I love cookbooks at last count I have "cough" 150 "cough". This includes my hardback Womens Weekly cookbook from high school, from back in the umm... 1970's. This also doesn't include the 10 or so folders full of recipes I have cut out over the years. I didn't realised that I had that many cookbooks until I counted them. Also I don't know how everybody has theirs sorted but I have mine sorted by cuisine and author, if the don't cook in a particular cuisine. I also have a folder with photocopies of often used recipes, so that if they are slopped on while I am cooking, they can be thrown away and new copies made.

So what will I be cooking for myself for Mother's Day, I am not too sure, I will go consult my cookbooks and perhaps cook something that we haven't had before exactly cooked exactly the way I like it.

Perhaps from my new yet unused Thai cookbook, or from my little used French cookbook that I bought a decade or 2 ago, or even from my favourite Chinese or Italian cookbooks.

I will let you know when I have thought about it.

So are you cooking a favourite meal for you Mum, or is she cooking so that she gets what she wants ?