A tiny slice of my life

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Very Easy Mini Egg and Bacon Pies

Now these are very easy to make you could make them bigger, but I think they are nice this size which is about 3 bites depending on the size of your mouth.

These went down a treat at the party the other day, with people commenting how tasty they are.

It is nice to get compliments for your food when you have worked hard to prepare it.

One lady even asked me if I catered for parties professionally ! In another life I may have, had I not been put of studying cooking at Emily MacPherson in Melbourne as a teenager.

This recipe is for 12 pies. You can multiple as much as you want. Also as it has so few ingredients you would probably have most of them in your fridge and freezer you can make them at a drop of a hat.

I used the smaller tray, but you could use a larger tray and double the recipe.

Also once cooled they can be frozen for another time.

Egg and Bacon Pies
1 sheet puff pastry,cut into 12 squares, 3 large or 4 small eggs beaten with a couple of grinds of black pepper, 3 rashers bacon, rind removed and chopped into 1 cm pieces

Preheat oven to 220.c.

Place the pastry squares into each hole. If your tray is not non stick I would spray the tray with a little oil to make it easier to get the pies out after baking.

Divide the bacon between each pie. Top with egg. Bake 15 minutes or until pastry is golden and the filling is set.

Remove from the oven and as soon as you can remove pies from the tray and cool on a cake rack.

Eat and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Beans Means Dips

Well we are nearly into Summer so here are 2 recipes for dips that can be whipped up in a matter of moments, if you have guests pop in a the last moment or fancy something to nibble on while having afternoon drinkies in the Summer heat.

One is my favourite hummus.

You can get the recipe here.

The other is a spicy bean dip that can be made with a can of any beans that you like chickpea, kidney, butter beans or 4 bean mix, to name a few.

So I always have 1 can of chickpeas and another can of beans in the pantry just for this reason.

Spicy Bean Dip
1 400gm can beans drained, 1 small tomato cut into 1/4's, 1/2 - 1 tsp Tabasco sauce, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice

Place in ingredients in a food processor, process till either very smooth or leave a little bit chunky. Taste to see if it needs more juice or Tabasco. Put into a serving bowl and enjoy.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Poached Chicken Sandwiches & Tuna Sandwiches

Well the Fiesta is over and I have recovered from it. Friday here was very humid and it was very hard keeping everything cold, but Miss Peru and I managed it and everyone had a wonderful time.

The 2 sandwich fillings I made was Not Quite Nigella's tuna dip and my own poached chicken in home made mayonnaise.

When setting the table I thought the platter holding the sandwiches felt uneven when I took the damp tea towel of I noticed that 1/2 of the chicken sandwiches were missing.

Feeling a bit perplexed I asked Miss Peru what had happened she look at the birthday boy (note 24 yrs old), who gave me a sheepish smile and said he was hungry. lol

Luckily we has made plenty or all the guests would have missed out

You can find Not Quite Nigella tuna dip recipe here.

Now 1 chicken breast will give you enough filling for 8 sandwiches. The mayonnaise recipe is enough for 1 chicken breast.

I make the mayonnaise by hand, about the only thing I will whisk by hand. I have tried to make it in the blender but for this small amount it doesn't seem to work.

All up it took about 15 minutes to make the mayonnaise, not long at all !

Poached Chicken
1 chicken breast all fat & skin removed, 2 cloves garlic flattened with the side of your knife, 1 tsp whole white peppercorns, 1 spring onion root end removed

To serve 16 slices bread, and some very thinly sliced iceberg lettuce

In a saucepan big enough to cover the chicken breast, add all the ingredients except the chicken and enough water to cover the chicken breast.

Bring the water to the boil, boil 10 minutes with lid one. Add chicken, simmer 4 minutes with the lid. Turn off heat but leave the chicken in the saucepan and the lid on.

Leave for 1/2 hour this will poach the chicken to moist tenderness. When cool enough to handle remove from the liquid and shred into the mayonnaise, stir together.

Spread some filling onto bread then top with the lettuce. Cut sandwiches into 3 fingers.

1 egg yolk, 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground white pepper, 1/4 cup olive oil - make sure it doesn't have to strong a flavour or it will overpower the delicate flavour of the chicken, 2 tsps each lemon juice and champagne vinegar

In a bowl whisk together the yolk, mustard and salt. Slowly add the oil about 1/2 teaspoon at a time till the mayonnaise is thick and you have used all the oil. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Taste you may what more lemon juice or pepper.

Finished mayonnaise

This is the set up for making the mayonnaise, I have a tea towel on my granite bench top then my very heavy mortar.

Then I place another tea towel in which I put the bowl.

This makes for a very sturdy bowl that won't slip about while you do all the whisking.

So I hope you try these fillings as the are very easy but very, very yummy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Viva La Fiesta

Sorry about there was no blog yesterday, but the day disappeared and by the time I realised it was late last night.

What was I doing yesterday, well my good friend Miss Peru and I were talking last week and I said I really need to get her around for a meal, I would love to make it a High Tea with all the trimmings.

She exclaimed in excitement how about instead of having it at my house as it will be her Son's 24th birthday next week, why don't we do that for his birthday.

So that is it we planned the menu last week and yesterday I was busy, busy cooking.

Some of the things that I have made are little meatballs, sausage rolls, home made mayonnaise and poached chicken for sandwich fillings.

I have also made Not Quite Nigella recipe for tuna dip that we are going to use for another sandwich filling.

The most exciting thing that I made was a chocolate Charlotte Cake, for those of you that don't know it is a dense chocolate mousse surrounded with sponge fingers (Italian ladies fingers - savoiardi) that I am going to decorate with piped cream, strawberries and chocolate shavings.

So as you can see I have been very busy and when I take photos tonight of the finished items I will post the recipes over the next week.

Asi que es hora de fiesta esta noche !!!

(so it is party time tonight)

Catch you on the flip side.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An apple of a Dilemma

After making the chicken pot pie the other night, I was left with 3/4 of a sheet of pastry. As this was the only bit I had left I wasn't going to freeze it, but what to do.

Light bulb moment I had 1 apple in the fruit bowl why not make apple turnovers, one for each of us to have with ice cream.

This is what I did.

Now when I sat down to write today's blog I had a feeling of de ja vue, what was niggling in the back of my mind. Mmmmmm

What it was , was that I had already given the recipe for apple turnovers, never mind I will give you the amounts needed to make using 1 apple. This made 3 well filled turnovers. I did sprinkle a little caster sugar on top of the egg wash to give the pastry an extra crunch.

1 apple, 1 tbsp butter, 1 heaped tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp water, pinch of both cinnamon and star anise.

This is how the apple should look after being cooked.

Then follow the recipe in the attached blog.

Ready for the oven.

So back to the sewing machine for me, I am quilting a quilt for the lounge in our kitchen area.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

This is one of those filling meals that can be made in advance and you can add ingredients that you like.

A lot of my recipes are like that, that is my style of cooking I wing it in the kitchen, sometimes even cake recipes I am not too precise with, unless it is terrible important like sponge or pavlova.

Why pot pie I am not to sure this seems to be an American term for what we would call chicken pie, it just sounds a bit more interesting.

You can make the filling earlier in the day or even the day before, but remember that if your filling is cold from the fridge it is going to need to cook it longer in the oven. So start at a lower temperature till it starts to warm the filling, then increase the heat to puff the pastry.

You will know when the filling is hot because there will be puffs of steam coming from under the pastry if it isn't stuck to tightly to the dish and the juices will start to come out of the vent holes in the pastry.

This pie is large enough for 4 generous serves by itself or with mash potato you could get 6 serves.

Chicken Pot Pie
2 large or 3 small chicken breasts, cut into 2cm cubes, 2 cups mixed vegetables - I used carrots, peas, beans & corn kernels, 2 heaped tsps dijon mustard, 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, 1/2 cup milk or cream, 2 tsps dijon mustard, 1 tsps dried herbs or 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs - use soft herbs like thyme, parsley or oregano, salt & pepper,
Beurre Manie - used for thickening - 1 tbsp softened butter & 1 tbsp plain flour mixed together with a fork

1-2 sheets puff pastry, 1 egg beaten for egg wash

To serve - creamy mashed potato

Heat 2 tbsps olive oil in a large frypan, add the chicken, stir, when it turns white all over add the vegetables. Stir to mix in add the stock, herbs & mustard bring to the boil.

Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked 10 - 15 minutes.

Add the milk/ cream stir, then to thicken by adding half of the flour/butter mixture while stirring constantly if the sauce isn't thick enough add the other half. You need the sauce to be very thick but not claggy.

Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Place into you baking dish leave at least 20 - 30 minutes before putting the pastry on top.

Preheat the oven 220.c .

Cover the top of the dish with pastry, make 3 slits in the centre for air vents. Egg wash the top then sprinkle with a little freshly ground salt and black pepper on top.

Bake 25 - 30 minutes till the pastry is golden and the filling is hot.

Serve with creamy mashed potato.

A perfect meal for these cool days we are still having.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Food Bloggers Unplugged - For Fun

This is a game of tag, but doesn't involve running around and getting sweating. You just sit down and answer some questions, then just "tag" and pass it onto to your food blog.

I got the idea from Karen at Lavender and Lovage

She got the original idea from Susan at "A little bit of Heaven on a plate"

So sit back and read the questions see my answers then take the time to post your own answers on your blog.

1. What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
2. Who is your foodie inspiration?
3. Your greasiest, batter - splattered food/drink book is?
4. Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
5. Another food bloggers table you'd like to eat at is?
6. What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
7. Who taught you how to cook?
8. I'm coming to you for dinner what's your signature dish?
9. What is your guilty food pleasure?
10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?

Finally...tag 5 other food bloggers with these questions...like a hot baked potato...pass it on!

Now my answers to the questions
1 - After searching for recipes on the web I discovered all these blogs, but the one that inspired me was Not Quite Nigella by Lorraine Elliott.

2 - I don't have a particular person but I am inspired by anyone that uses fresh produce and recipes that don't have ingredients or utensils that I need to search the world for 4 people I do use there recipes often are Nigella, Ina Garten, Lidia Bastianich and good old Jamie Oliver.

3 - My most used book from when I bought it as a teenager is the Women's Weekly Chinese cook book. My next book would be the folder I have created with copies of my most used recipes, some of the plastic sleeves holding them are a bit sticky. LOL

4 - Having only travelled to two other countries USA - Anaheim, and New Zealand, I would have to say it was take away Chinese in the town of Thames on the North Island of NZ, we sat on the front veranda of our cabin and looked across the sea as we ate it.

5 - Lorraine Elliott - Not Quite Nigella.

6 - My most desired kitchen appliance well 2 actually a thermomix or an ice cream maker that doesn't need the bowl frozen for 24 hours.

7 - My Nana taught me the basics, but I am self taught I bought myself a stay sharp knife when I was 15 also my Women's Weekly Chinese cookbook and taught myself from there.

8 - My signature dish, that is a hard one because I have a few from different cuisines - if it is indian it would be my mouth watering lamb curry with pilaf rice - chinese my crispy pork with sweet and sour sauce - italian - spaghetti carbonara, with no cream in site, these just a few of my "signature" dishes.

9 - chips not hot fried ones but Smiths Crisps.

10 - I don't know if there is anything that is terrible exciting I have been trying to learn Spanish from my best friend who is from Peru, but we stop and start so it is slow going I can understand the spoken word and written but trying to format sentences is taking a bit longer. Also I am trying to create a line of hand made quilts and their patterns to sell online.

So please if you are reading this and have a food blog give this quiz a go and pass it along.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Taa Daah ! ! ! !

Well after a week were perseverance and determination won out, here is the quilt top that I have been working on for the last 15 years finished.

I have not quilted it or bound it yet, but that is a job that I can do later.

It is pretty amazing to think that I have shifted 3 houses and stared at the basket that this unfinished quilt top was sitting in and yet it just 4 days I had it finished. lol

Silly really when you think about it that it had me so worried that I couldn't finish the appliqueing.

The centre medallion.

So the next one to tackle is the crazy patchwork quilt, I will have to go and buy some material for the sashing then cut the squares to size and sew it together. This will only take me a day. See it really was silly of me to leave these quilt for so long.

A couple of the smaller blocks.

Why I had left it so long I don't know, but it is a good feeling to have 1 quilt top completed and a plan of action for the other one.

Now I can sit and design and create other quilts with a clear conscience.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Preserved Lemons - A Terrific Christmas Gift

Now for those of you that love giving foodie gifts to your friends and family and want something easy to do , this idea is for you.

The amount of jars you make depends only on the amount of lemons you have, just make sure that your jars are filled to the brim so that air can't rot the lemons.

This is a hands on job, also make sure that you don't have any cuts on your fingers as you will know it when the salt gets in.

These last for ages as long as they are stored in a dark place. I store mine on the bottom shelf at the back of the pantry.

What to use these for the list is endless, all Moroccan food uses preserved lemons and when you see the price of the bought jars it will make you wonder why you hadn't made your own before. You can add them to couscous, rice, pasta, salads the list goes on and on.

You don't have to add the extra spices, you can just make them with salt only.

Preserved Lemons

As many lemons as you want to preserve for 2 500ml jars you will need about 12 lemons, you may need extra for juice – rock salt – any or none extra flavourings whole peppercorns, fresh bay leaves, whole chillies dried or fresh

Now cut the lemon into quarters BUT don’t cut all the way through to the bottom. Press into the centre of the lemon rock salt approx a heaped dessertspoon. Squash the lemon closed, and place into the jar, continue ensuring that the lemons are jammed into the jar. If using extra flavourings place them in the jar as you fill it. Cover with lemon juice, screw on a lid and place in a dark place IE the back of a cupboard. Leave for 1 month before using.

See isn’t that easy, a bit of cutting, squashing and juicing.

NOTE you may get a white mould on the top of the lemon, don’t worry this is harmless wash it of the lemons before using.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nearly 15 years in the making.

What takes 15 years to get finished. Well 2 quilts have and there still not finished yet. One is to be my Winter quilt for our bed and the other is to be my Summer quilt.

Why aren't they finished yet. Well the first one is a crazy patchwork one with a very large centre square and the surrounding 12 squares are one for each month.

I have just looked at the pattern I started this in 2001, so only 10 years working on this one.

This is the pattern for the crazy patchwork quilt.

These squares I had finished many years ago, but had never put them together so after much searching yesterday I found them in a boxed marked crazy patchwork quilt LOL

Don't you love it when you are sooooo tidy yet still need to search everywhere to find something.

The other quilt is an applique quilt that I had finished the smaller squares and nearly finished the large 34" centre square.

So I dragged that from behind my seat and cut out the last pieces the be appliqued, which I have been busy doing this week.

Why did this quilt take so long, well for a perfectionist like me I never liked the way I appliqued, but looking at DVD's recently that show how applique is done now, I can see it is now much easier.

Not that I am going to start another hand appliqued quilt anytime soon, but if I get these two quilts finished it will be like getting a large monkey off my back and will give me a clear conscience for all my future quilting projects.

When they are finished I will post photos of them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How to Glam up Leftovers

Now sometimes leftover food isn't that inspirational when you are looking for something tasty to eat, but never fear I will give you some ideas that may help next time you are staring hungrily into the depths of your fridge and all you can see are leftovers.

Steamed Rice - you can make a very nice fried rice with leftover rice. You can add anything to it leftover roast chicken, steamed vegies, bacon, eggs. what ever takes you fancy.

Just use the rice as a vehicle for the other ingredients.

You can also add it to a chicken and vegetable soup at the end of cooking to add some body to the soup.

Cornbeef - If you have cooked cornbeef and have some leftover make hash browns. This is also good if you have leftover potato and carrot as well.

Heat some oil in the frypan add the potato and carrot that you have cut into cubes. When crispy on the outside add the chopped up cornbeef. Drizzle with a little worcestserhire sauce and some tomato sauce to give it some flavour and moisture. Season with salt and pepper and if you have any add some chopped fresh parsley at the end.

Top with a fried egg.

Cold Roast Chicken - Now this is a very versatile ingredient. You can add it to nachos to make chicken nachos , you can make casadias with it, also add it to your fried rice.

You can even make yummy toasted sandwiches with it by buttering the outside of the bread and pan frying the sandwiches.

For a tasty sandwich filling - Finely chop the chicken add to a little mayonnaise, also add some finely chopped chives or spring onions.

Leftover steamed vegies - Use these to make a tasty pie filling. Depending on the amount of vegies you have you may need to add some steamed potatoes and/or cooked meat.

Make a tasty bechamel sauce by adding plenty of grated cheese and dijon mustard. Stir into the vegetables and meat. Place in a pie dish and top with puff pastry. Cut a couple of slits into the top to let the steam escape.

Egg wash the top of the pastry and sprinkle on some freshly ground pepper and salt or sesame seeds. Bake 200.c for 20 - 25 minutes of until the pastry is golden and the filling is hot.

I hope these ideas give you some inspiration next time you are confronted with leftovers.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gluten Free Lasagna

Why am I making a gluten free lasagna, well a friend of Mr CLI's has a son that is gluten free and she was going to have a minor surgery last week so I volunteered to make something soft for her to eat.

Mr CLI suggested lasagna and his friends son jumped with joy. lol

So off to Woolworth's I went last week to look for gluten free lasagna sheets.

The only brand they had was Orgran, it wasn't till I came home and looked at the box that I realised they were mini sheets.

I searched on the internet to see what in my lasagna recipe I couldn't use, it turned out that I couldn't use flour in my bechamel sauce, so I used cornflour instead. Now beware even though it reads cornflour on the packet check the label on the back because not all cornflour's are from corn some have what they call " wheaten corn" what ever that is !

Also if you use bought pasta sauces, which I don't to use in your bolognese sauce, you must make sure that they don't have any wheat products, as you don't know what there thickener is these sauces I would be very cautious of using them.

So what was the end result like, well it was rich in tomato and was covered in a very cheesy sauce on top.

After Mr CLI dropped it off, he received a text message to say that the lasagna was yummy, so mission accomplished.

Recipe for lasagna below, substitute cornflour for plain flour you may need extra to get the bechamel to thicken.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Following Yesterday's Theme Today it's Different Ways with Vegies

After yesterdays theme of 5 ways with Fish, and as I didn't cook anything exciting yesterday I thought I might give you some ideas for vegetables.

Sometimes vegetables can be boooring ! and difficult to think of new ways to cook them, so here are my suggestions.

These ideas cover the foodie globe.

Italian Idea - Asparagus. Toss in olive oil and grated garlic. Griddle on a hot griddle pan till griddle marks appear. Squeeze over then juice of 1 lemon. Remove from pan and serve immediately. You can also do this with whole mushrooms.

Asian style beans - Top and tail fresh beans. Blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove from water and drain. Heat 1 -2 tbsps peanut oil in a wok or frypan till hot add the beans and 2 -3 peeled and flattened cloves of garlic.

Stir fry for 1 - 2 minutes or until the beans start to brown, add 1 tbsp oyster sauce, stir to coat. Remove from wok and serve.

Italian Grilled Vegetables - Thickly slice - about 1 cm - capsicum, zucchini, red onion, eggplant and mushrooms. drizzle with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp of chopped herbs, like oregano, parsley or rosemary and a grated clove of garlic.

Heat your griddle pan or BBQ till hot add the vegetables cook till grill marks appear on both sides and the vegetables are tender.

If some of the vegetables cook before the others remove to a serving platter.

When the vegies are cooked and on the platter drizzle with a little more oil and the juice of a lemon.

These vegetables are good even at room temperature.

Indonesia - Gado Gado.

Arrange on a large platter
- steamed 1 cm slices of potato, hard boil eggs, peeled and sliced into 1/4's, strips of capsicum red or yellow, fresh beans topped and tailed, snow peas, string removed, slices of cucumber

To serve make a satay/peanut sauce

I hope this has given you some ideas next time you are faced with a fridge full of vegies and no ideas how to cook them.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

5 Ways with Fish

No exciting cooking happening last night, it was grocery shopping night. By the time I get home cooking anything involved is the last thing on my mind.

So I thought today I would give you 5 ideas on cooking fish.

Idea 1 - If you have a whole fish preheat you oven to 220.c. Place a double thickness of tin foil long enough and wide enough to wrap around the fish. Place a bed of fresh herbs and slices of lemon or limes, julienne of ginger and thin slices of garlic. Place the fish on top, fill the cavity with more herbs. The lay another herb bed as below on top of the fish. Drizzle with about 2 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tbsp oil and the juice of 1 lemon or lime.

Fold the foil securely around the fish and bake for 2o minutes. Carefully remove and unwrap using a sharp knife cut into the thickest part of the fish to the bone to check if cooked through. If not cook re wrap and return to oven for another 10 minutes.

When the fish is cooked either place the whole fish on a platter of remove the flesh, make sure that you don't loose the juice as they area a perfect sauce for the fish.

If you serve the fish on rice pour over some of the sauce.

Idea 2 - Using fish fillets rub both sides with a cajun spice mix. Heat about 3 tbsps of oil in a large frypan, add the fillets skin side down leave until the fish is crispy and white around the edges, turn over and cook another 3 -5 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.

Idea 3 - Make a light tempura batter using 1/2 cornflour and 1/2 plain flour add enough cold water to make a thin batter. You want it to almost run off the fish.

Cut the fish into goujons. Heat at least 4 cm of oil til hot but not smoking. Dip the fish into the batter, drain of excess and carefully place the fish into the hot oil. Cook until golden on all sides. Remove with a metal slotted spoon or spider and drain on paper towel.

Serve with homemade chips and tartare sauce.

Idea 4 - Place a piece of baking paper on a oven tray, preheat the oven 200.c. Cut potatoes and tomatoes into thin slices.

For each fish fillet mix together 2 tbsps dry breadcrumbs, 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs of your choice, 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 tsps lemon juice.

Layer on the tray potatoes, tomatoes, potatoes, fish fillets then press the coating on top.

Cover with foil bake 25 - 30 minutes or until the potatoes have cooked. If you want the coating to be browned and crusty leave the foil of for the last 5 minutes.

Serve with a garden salad.

Idea 5 - Fish Tacos.

Heat some flour tortillas, thinly slice some lettuce. Make a salsa with chilli, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, 1 tsp brown sugar, a squeeze of lime juice and about 2 tsps oil.

Cook your fish fillets anyway you want.

On the tortillas lay some lettuce, then salsa then the fish fillets roll up, if it isn't to fat, you may need to fold in half and eat.

I hope this has given you some ideas next time you think about cooking fish.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy First Anniversary to Me

A bit belated, but after posting yesterday on my new look blog, I wondered when was my first ever blog was, so I checked it out this morning. My first ever blog was on 27th October 2010.

So today is my belated 1st Anniversary celebration of blogging for 1 year.

Looking back over the previous years blogs, I see that I have become more consistent with my blogs. Yes I still only blog Monday - Friday, but I am going to try going into my second year to blog on the weekend. It;s a bit like a New Years resolution.

So what were some of my blogs from the previous year -

- For our 25th Wedding Anniversary, I confronted my cake nemesis and won, even though I used the wrong size tins.

- I told you about my first quilt I finished using free motion quilting. Which I am proud to say has a new owner in Western Australia.

- I told you about 2 of my 4 legged granddaughters, that Miss Le Coiffure has.

- I gave you my most favourite recipe for chicken - Satay Chicken

Along the way I have entered 6 Daring Kitchen Challenges.

I have had 2 articles published on the Daring Kitchen site, these are what I am most proudest of.

So what is in store for the coming blogging year, well one of my ideas is to try and use some of the ingredients languishing in my pantry. Why are they languishing and not being used, because I have bought them while on holidays or when I have been in Melbourne and am afraid once they are use up I won't be able to replace them

But if nothing a year of blogging has taught me that most ingredients can be found on the Internet. So I should just use them, then I will have room in my overloaded pantry for more interesting ingredients.

So Happy Birthday to me and talk to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Caramel Chicken

Welcome to my new look. I decided it was time for a freshen up so I have altered the way I look. I hope you like it.

Now this recipe is from Kylie Kwong's - Simple Chinese Cooking, but as usual I have altered it.

I love the sweet, salty sauce with the mellow warmth of 5 spice powder, so when I make this recipe I make plenty of sauce for pouring over the chicken and steamed rice.

Now when Kylie Kwong makes this, she cooks then chicken in a fiercely hot wok so you get caramelised (think burnt) bits on the chicken. The problem I have is that in a domestic kitchen we can't use a large enough wok or get it to the heat of a commercial wok burner.

So I cook mine in a large frypan. I also cut my chicken while frozen so that I can get wafer thin slices of chicken that cook in about 2 - 3 minutes.

Also don't worry if you have more chicken that you can put in a single layer, I put my first layer in. When they turn white around the edges, I turn them over but pile them together and add more chicken. Once all the chicken has started to turn white on both sides add the sauce and let bubble for a minute. You will find the chicken is cooked through and moist.

The chicken only takes me about 5 minutes to cook from start to finish for 2 chicken breasts.

You can use thigh for this, but my preference is for breast meat.

Caramel Chicken
2 chicken fillets cut into 1/2 cm slices lengthwise then cut into bite size pieces, 2 tbsps peanut oil for cooking

To Serve - Steamed rice and stir fried vegetables

Marinade - 1/4 cup honey - I warm it in the microwave for 20 seconds to make it more liquid and easier to mix with the other ingredients, 4 tbsps shao hsing wine, 4 tbsps light soy sauce, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce, 2 tsps 5 spice powder, 1/4 tsp sesame oil, 1 piece 2cm x 3cm fresh ginger grated

Mix together in a glass or ceramic bowl, add chicken and leave to marinate at least 2o minutes.

The chicken hanging about in its marinade.

Heat oil, using tongs drain pieces of chicken and lay on the base of the frypan, when starting to turn white at the edges turnover after 30 seconds move these pieces together then add more chicken.

When all the chicken has been added and has turned white pour in remaining marinade. Bring to the boil and let bubble for 1 minute. You want the sauce to thicken slightly, but not evaporate. Taste you may need more honey or soy sauce.

The chicken bubbling in the sauce.

When cooked serve with steamed rice and stir fried vegetables.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Marinated Lamb Wraps

This is one of those meals of many parts, but each part is easy and can be altered to suit your tastes.

It has 4 basic components the boned leg of lamb, the hummus dip, salad and wraps.

Now you can vary the herbs used in the lamb marinade. I just used what was growing in the garden. You could make the flavour stronger by using rosemary and garlic or use fresh mint and parsley the choice is yours.

The wraps that you choose are up to your individual taste, I had mountain bread which is quite thin for this type of meal but I managed the other wraps were Yiros wraps.

These are the yiros wraps, they are like the ones used for souvlakis at fish and chips shops. When warmed they are very soft.

Mountain bread

Lamb Wraps
1 boned leg of lamb, then one I used was 1.8 kg

Marinade : 2 tbsps olive oil, juice and grated rind 1 lemon, 2 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs oregano

I used a processor attachment to my bamix to process everything to a smooth paste. You could also use a mortar and pestle or a knife to chop the herbs finely and mix them with the other ingredient's.

Place the lamb skin side down in a ceramic or glass dish rub the paste into the meat, cover and leave for at least 1 hour in the fridge.

The leg of lamb coated in its marinade.

To cook the lamb - when cooked it on our hooded BBQ - heat oven or BBQ to 220.c place meat skin side down on flat BBQ plate or baking tray, cook for 20 minutes, then turn meat and reduce heat to 200. c. Cook until tender we cooked ours for another 40 minutes.

Remove from oven/BBQ place on a plate tent with foil and leave for 10 minutes, then slice thinly.

Hummus Dip

As in the blog listed below

I made a basic Greek salad with a balsamic dressing, but you can make any type of salad that you want. The trick is to make you salad pieces smaller than normal so that they will roll easier in the wraps.

1/3 lettuce roughly chopped into 2 cm pieces, 3 tomatoes chopped into 1 cm pieces, 1/2 cucumber cut into 1/4 's lengthwise, seeds removed then cut into 1/2 cm slices, 250 gms feta crumbled - I used Danish feta because it is soft and creamy perfect for this dish, 100 gms pipped kalamata olives cut in half

Dressing - 3 tbsps olive oil, 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp dijon mustard

Whisk together.

I tossed all the salad ingredients except the feta and olives in the dressing the layered the salad with the feta, that way it doesn't fall apart to much. I also served the olives separately, because we had visitors over and I wasn't sure if they would like olives and I didn't want them to have to pick them out if they didn't like them.

To make the wraps spread some hummus dip down the centre of your chosen wrap, pile on some salad then the meat, roll up eat and enjoy.

As with any meal you eat with your fingers plenty of serviettes are needed.

If you don't like lamb you could substitute it for chicken breasts.

Friday, November 4, 2011

White Christmas

Not what you where thinking but the white sweet that is full of fruit and very easy to make.

Even though Christmas is still 7 weeks away it doesn't hurt to think of Christmas recipes.

My Nana would always make this at Christmas time, and I must admit I loved it, but I had to make sure that I didn't overload on the sugar factor, as it would give me a nose bleed.

It is very easy to make and you can get you kids to help, just make sure that you pour the hot copha in.

You can either put it in a tin and cut it into pieces or put it into small patty pan papers. This makes an excellent Christmas gift.

This is the recipe my Nana always used.

White Christmas
250 gm copha, melted, 1 cup pure icing sugar, 1 cup sultanas, 100g glace cherries, chopped, 100 gms dried apricots chopped, 1 cup desiccated coconut, 1 cup full cream milk powder, 1 1/4 cups rice bubbles

Line a 18cm x 28cm tray with baking/parchment paper or place patty pan cases on a tray.

Mix all ingredients except copha together, pour over copha, mix well.

Pour into tray and flatten with the back of a spoon, or place spoonfuls into patty pans cases. Place into the fridge to set.

If you made it in the tray upend onto a chopping board and cut into pieces.

Eat and enjoy.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What have I been doing

Well what have I been doing, after my parents when home then Miss Fish went into respite my time is my own till next Wednesday.

Oh Bliss !

So I have been nailing down some of my runners lol

Two of them I have been finished and yesterday I free motion quilted 2 others.

This is some of the quilting detail on the puppy runner.

The 2 other runners I used a piece of scrap damask that Mum gave me and created one with holly leaves and berries. Which really isn't relevant in Australia but we still use it as a symbol of Christmas.

The other one I have put on 2 have circle using fan shaped pieces. After it has been bound, todays job. I will make pleated fabric centre, it is a bit ahrd to explain, but when I have finished it, I will post a photo to show the detail

The runner with the half circle flowers.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Satay Chicken - My all time favourite chicken recipe

Now I must admit that I love this satay sauce I always make plenty because it is just nice even over rice.

You need to marinate the chicken in the sauce, I usually only marinate it for about 20 minutes, because I decide to make this dish on a spur of the moment, but it can be left covered in the fridge all day.

Now I don't bother fooling around putting my chicken on skewers , because I will only have to pull the meat of before eating. Especially as Miss Fish can't handle meat on skewers, last time I gave her meat on a skewer she nearly put it into her eye trying to get the meat off !

I cut the chicken into long strips about 2 cm wide and the length of the chicken fillet.

You can use this satay sauce if you make gado gado.

Satay Chicken
Chicken fillets cut into strips - this recipe is enough for 3 fillets

To serve - steamed rice

Marinade: 1/2 can coconut cream use any liquid in the marinade and keep the thick cream for the sauce, 1 stalk of lemon grass, white part finely chopped, 1 tsp ground turmeric. 1 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar, 1 tsp each ground cumin and coriander

Mix all marinade ingredients together add chicken stir to coat. You can put on skewers just before cooking.

Satay Sauce:
remainder of coconut cream, 1 dessertspoon sweet chilli sauce, 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 tsp lemon grass powder - I use Peter Watson brand my last tin lasted many years, 1 tsp palm sugar or brown sugar, 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

Stir together in a saucepan heat slowly, if you heat to quickly the oil comes out of the peanut butter. Taste you may need more sugar or sweet chilli sauce.

To cook the chicken heat a BBQ grill, griddle pan or a large frypan. Add the chicken strips cook 2-3 minutes, turnover reduce heat to medium. leave another 2-3 minutes or until cooked through but still moist.

Remove and serve with steamed rice and satay sauce.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fishtales Restaurant - Warrnambool - VIC

While my parents were up we went out to tea, as we didn't want a large meal we decided to got to Fishtales.

It is a cafe/restaurant that started many years ago. You can get all day breakfast, chicken, fish, beef, lamb or vegie burgers. Fish and seafood, risottos, pasta, stirfrys and curries.

You can also get freshly squeezed juices and smoothies.

It isn't a very expensive place to eat. Miss Fish had the junior meal which consisted of a piece of flake, 1 potato cake, 1 fried dim sim and chips served with a lemon wedge and tartare sauce. She thoroughly enjoyed it as well as some of the wedges that we ordered.

I had a tandoori chicken burger, which consisted of chicken pieces in a tandoori paste on a roll with lettuce mix, tomato slices, cucumber slivers in greek yoghurt.

Mr CLI had a cajun fish burger which had grilled fish which had been coated in cajun spices on a roll with lettuce mix and sliced tomato.

My Mum had a plain grilled fish roll and my Dad had a scrambled egg and bacon 'sarnie'.

We enjoyed all our meals and left feeling quite full.

So if you are ever in Warrnambool drop into Fishtales for their all day breakfast or a great burger.