September 27, 2009

Potatoes and lamb

I wondered down to my neglected compost heap yesterday, my dreams were big when I started my veggie garden. A friend of mine always told me I should really start with excellent soil and then I would have no problems when I came to building my garden. I even went on line to see the best way to go about composting and I have to say I started with gusto! Tossing through the heap yesterday I came to the conclusion I can follow directions well and found indeed I do have beautiful looking soil...I just needed to keep it going.
As will many things in life I have decided to put my green finger on hold until I am a little older and wiser and have more time! One very good aspect of the compost heap was my last batch of potatoes. I managed to dig up the remaining potatoes and am pleased to say I had enough to make a delicious dinner for four (is it wrong to use your compost heap for a veggie garden?)

Needing a decent meal I headed for the kitchen and started to rummage through the fridge and see what I could throw together. Lamb cutlets and broccoli were on the list and what better way to par my home grown potatoes! I once saw Rick Stein on telly picking potatoes out of a field and then preparing a delicious looking potato rosti, after watching him years ago I always had the urge to do the same and today was my opportunity because god only knows when I'll be feeding the compost heap again and growing my own potatoes!

After giving the pots a bit of a wash I grated them into a starchy mess. Potatoes that are this fresh actually have a smell of earth and dirt, something I have never noticed when grating my everyday store bought potatoes. After grating give the potatoes a good squeeze to remove a lot of the starch and moisture (this way you end up with a lovely crisp outer rosti).
Once squeezed I sprinkle on about a tablespoon of flour (I grated about 6 small/medium new pots), a good pinch of sea salt and grind of pepper then mix lightly to combine. Once mixed leave for about 5 minutes before you begin to cook your rosti. You will still have more moisture come out of the potato which is what you want because it combines with the flour creating a binding agent to hold it all in place when frying.

In a medium frying pan, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and heat on a medium/high temperature. Take a handful of potato press it together to form a disc and then gently place into your hot pan. Fry until golden brown then gently flip over and continue until the rosti is golden and crunchy. Remove to some paper towel to soak up the excess oil and continue with remaining potato.
While the potatoes were cooking I had another pot on with boiling salted water for my broccoli and I also had the lamb chops cooking under the grill (broiler). Because I wanted it to be really tasty I grabbed some mayo from the fridge, added a little warm water to thin it out, chopped up some parsley and mint, added a little lemon juice then left it until I was ready to serve. The whole dinner took no longer than 20 minutes because it was all cooking at the same time. My lamb rested in foil while I finished off the rostis. Once they were ready all I had to do was put it together on the plate.
We all loved this meal, the boys sucked their lamb chops dry, Alex managed to eat his broccoli with the help of the mayo dressing and I was left wanting more! I may not be doing it with home grown potatoes for a while but this was a great family meal that took less than 30 minutes to prepare- what is there not to love about that?

September 20, 2009

Sydney Corporate Catering

It has been far to long since I sat at my computer and delved into the running of my families food habits. We are all still alive and kicking, the boys are trying to eat their way through the weekly groceries and I am still cooking however I have taken on a new roll and as you have found out I haven't been keeping up with everything.....let me tell you what has been happening!

My last blog entry was Father's day as you all know. The day after Father's day I went halves in a business. Monday the 7th was the first day I walked into Sydney corporate catering and this was when my life changed as I knew it. Basically I am running the business, something I am very excited about but also still trying to wrap my head around. Brett, my business partner asked me to go in with him a few months back and I was at a lull in my career wanting something more. The boys were happy, settled and so independent that I thought why not? I wasn't thinking about starting back at full time work until Alex was in kindergarten but as life happens, things don't always go according to plan. With a family 'talk' and weighting up the plus and minuses (more Nic and I than the kids!) I decided to go for it and see what happens.
I vowed to keep the blog up and to keep running.......... Ha, haa after writing that I now realize I had no idea what I was saying good bye to as a full time mum and part time worker.

I have been in the business two weeks now and I have to say my feet are starting to come back down to the ground. My head feels like it as been jam packed with information and I am struggling to keep it all in, usually I have to just maintain the drivel about Ben 10 or the latest footy scores while pushing a trolley around the supermarket isle!
I am loving the new role but also missing the casual, free life I had before. To throw a spanner in the works my start date coincided with Nic's trip to Italia, so as of last Tuesday I am single parenting, working full time and trying to make it to swim lessons, blog, shop blah, blah.... so far I have managed to turn up to work on time, get the kids off to Megan's house so she can drop them at school (the most fabulous friend I could ask for), pack school lunches and do a third of the shopping. I don't know how mum's and dad's who work full time do it, I still have my learner plates on and don't see them coming off any time soon. My sister popped in for a visit Thursday which was great and now my mother-in-law has graciously offered to fly in and help with the boys for the next two weeks so I think I should be able to wrap my head around this new venture.....if not then she might be putting in an urgent S.O.S call to Italy!

I will stop making excuses avid readers and I thank you for hanging in there. I am back and cooking so stay tuned for ultra easy family meals that I prepare after a hectic day at work- we could all be in for a big surprise! But until then (tomorrow- promise) here are a few shots of the food I have been making at work.

Fruit platters for our corporate offices

A sweet and slices platter I am working on..

September 6, 2009

Father's Day French Toast

Today is Father's Day this side of the world- Happy Father's Day to all the dads in Australia!

Nic doesn't really celebrate Father's day but I do so I will always try to make it a day where the boys at least have a smile on their dial for dad and treat him with kindness and goodwill for the first part of the morning. Being at such a young age it really isn't that hard, it also helps when they have ready made school cards to give dad.
Alex was bursting at the seams waiting to give Nic his homemade tie card, while Max casually throws Nic his 'give a hand' card trying not to exert to much emotion (you really get so cool when your 7 and I believe it doesn't change until your late twenties!)
After Nic was well wished and the cards tossed to him the boys told us of their deathly hunger pains and asked when were we going to get up and make breakfast??
I simply replied "Your making breakfast for your dad".

Alex was totally amped and wanted to race into the kitchen and use every sharp knife available, while Max was deep in thought wondering what it was that he and Alex could make. I suggested French toast seeing as that was one of their dad's favorite breakfasts. Alex cheered and screamed something at us in full volume while Max told me they needed an adult to help. I agreed and told them we'd meet in the kitchen in 5.
Sadly I wasn't over organized so I didn't have any delicious homemade bread left, instead I had a stack of wholemeal sliced bread that would have to do. To add to my yummy father's day breakfast I'd run out of maple syrup and of course there was no bacon in the house (Can you tell I have just gone back to full time work not to mention my own business?).
Not to worry, I decided to make an Australian French toast with oranges and golden syrup!

The boys were great at cracking the eggs into the container; brilliant at measuring in the milk, and sprinkling in the cinnamon, Max even buttered the bread while Alex zested the orange with glee but when it was time to actually cook the toast there were no boys in sight. After calling for help I was simply told I could do the rest because the good stuff was all done and they were really hungry so could I please just cook it already!
With that said who was I to argue? Even though it was store bought bread and I only had a third of the ingredients we managed to make a really tasty brekky and Max told me we should make french toast like this all the time so if your looking for something a little different you should give this a go as it works a treat.

French toast- Australia style
8 slices wholemeal bread (buttered both sides with butter)
4 eggs
1 cup milk
zest one orange
2 teaspoons orange juice
a sprinkle of cinnamon
pinch salt
50g butter
golden syrup
1 orange, peeled and cut into slices

In a long container (one big enough to hold two slices of bread) crack in the eggs.
Add milk, zest, orange juice, cinnamon and pinch of salt.
Gently whisk with a fork until well combined.
Add two slices of bread at a time to mixture and leave to soak for 2-3 minutes.
Heat a frying pan on medium heat and add 1/3 of the butter.
Once butter has melted remove bread from mixture, drain slightly and fry until golden in colour, flip over and repeat.
Place toast into warm oven and repeat process with remaining slices of bread.
To serve place on orange slices and drizzle with golden syrup.
Serve warm