November 26, 2009

Remembering Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving today and I have no turkey to show for it which is really bad form on my part. I had all intentions of cooking turkey but when I rocked up to the store I was bitterly disappointed with the range on offer. I had memories of my heritage bird of last year. Vince and I took a ride down the south of Chicago to purchase our birds from our Italian 'sausage' butcher. The 45 minute drive was totally worth it, our birds were succulent, mouth watering and full of flavour.
 The turkey legs on offer at the store here looked like they had a bit of freezer burn and could of easily been leftovers from the previous year.
Australians don't eat turkey with as much passion and commitment like Americans do. To tell you the truth, I never really ate it before living in Chicago, it was always the white meat you might buy if the chicken was all gone, but more that likely you would of bought a packet of beef sausages and called it a day.
After 6 years of cooking a whole turkey I have come to love and appreciate the art of this big boned bird and it's part of American culture my family and I will always hold dear. My copy of this months Saveur magazine arrived yesterday with a golden brown bird sitting on the front cover again reminding me of the flavours we were missing out on, Nic even tried to read it before I turned the first dozen pages (totally uncool, I must be the first to devour all information! :)
Well I will dwell no longer, I hope you are all enjoying the madness of Thanksgiving, enjoying having family home for 24 hours and then feasting on the biggest meal eva! we sure as hell miss the festivities...I think I can hear Nic calling as the dal is ready to eat.

November 19, 2009

What the??

I wish I had a great food safari story to tell you all about. I also wish I had a few photos to show what I have been up in the past week since I blogged. Sadly I have to tell you the truth.
We were robbed last week folks, some little swine broke into my home in the middle of the day through the  front door and proceeded to walk out with all our computers, cameras and anything else we have of value.

I am angry, sad and annoyed to say the least. Not only did someone invade my home but they took with them precious memories of my family that I hadn't yet 'saved' onto the hard disc. Hours of writing, photos, you name it these lousy human beings have come and taken it all from me.
  I look forward to reading what you are all eating and playing when I can manage to steal a few minutes on a friends computer but until life is back to normal for this little blogger.......this is me taking very deep breaths and trying not to think extremely bad thoughts about our recent uninvited guests, I leave you with your own cooking devices.

November 9, 2009

Sardines and rocket

I love sardines, the fresher the better but I am not always that lucky so tinned it is for me 90% of the time. Some of the best sardines I have ever eaten were in Portugal. We were on our honeymoon eating our way through Europe. Nic and I came across this great little restaurant with a fantastic view of Porto so we asked for some fish. Out came the freshest sardines I have ever tasted. They were simply grilled on a bbq and served with raw slices of onion and green capsicum (pepper) that were warmed on the grill but still crunchy. You then added red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to suit your taste. A very simple meal but unbelievably good!

Back to the tinned variety.....I'll let you know right now the boys do not like the taste of sardines, one of the best gagging faces I have seen is when Alex thought I was feeding them to him, he was preparing for a full on melt down, alas I saved him the trouble and only tortured him with the rocket!
This recipe also works well with salmon, trout or any fish really, you just throw it in at the last 3-4 minutes to warm it through and there you have it a delicious quick and easy pasta that will be really good for you as well as filling. If you are cooking this for a family meal then simply take the kids portions out before adding sardines and change the amount of chili you add at the beginning. I still add crushed chilies when cooking for the family, it gets them use to the flavour and I have gradually increased the amount month by month, Alex is really building up his heat tolerance which is great, I think by the time he is 6 he'll be good to go with the regular amount so until then I simply have a side portion by me to add freely once served.

Sardines and Rocket Pasta
1 pkt long pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 green capsicum (approx. 3/4 cup)- diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2-1 teaspoon crushed chili
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
2 cups rocket leaves (well packed)
1 tin sardines or fresh is you have them
salt and pepper
Boil water for pasta
Saute onion and capsicum in olive oil on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, the onions will become transparent and capsicum darker in colour.
Add chilli flakes, a good pinch of salt and saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring.
Cook pasta
Add rocket and lemon juice to capsicums and cook until rocket is bright green and wilted
Once pasta is boiling add 1/4 cup of pasta water to your sauce and reduce for a minute or so.
When pasta is cooked, drain then add lemon zest and sardines to your sauce followed with your pasta.
Combine ingredients, check seasoning, add freshly cracked pepper if needed then serve.

November 2, 2009

Max's NEW favorite food

As I was flicking through my food photo collection I didn't realize Max was standing behind me browsing along side of me.
"That one, oh I LOVED that one mum"
and with that he lept forward pointed his sticky finger at the screen and wished the lamb wrap would jump out at him.
Although I haven't been blogging as much as I'd like to, I have still been clicking away at meals eaten leaving the photos to sit and wait for me to write about. This is my new way of trying to stay on top of it all- getting to do all the things I love without all the stress.
These wraps were devoured when Nic was O/S and Grammie Pam was visiting. I had gotten home late one night, the kids were starving as were Pam and I. I remember looking into the fridge and thinking 'What can I whip up in under 20 minutes?'
I'd just made a really yummy cucumber dip at work that day and I was wishing I had brought some home so I could smear it on some of the lamb mince- that was when I spotted the pre bought hummus and taziki I had as 'back up' food while Pam was visiting (I didn't want to run out of food while my MIL was in town!).
Basically the meal we had that night was a mixture of the bits and bobs I have around the house like olives, cheese, jalapenos, hummus, wraps etc.... the food items I can't live without.
Carrot and garlic got thrown into the lamb mince purely because of the lack of veggies for a family meal, after all carrot seems to go with everything. While I was piling the toppings on the wraps the lamb was cooking and the smell of lamb, garlic and cumin was intoxicating!
A squeeze of lemon juice over the lamb while resting the meat really makes them extra special.
 I am happy Max's new favorite meal is so healthy and easy to make- lets just see how many of these bad boys he can put away this summer....

November 1, 2009

Corn pancakes with bacon

I had a request from a friend the other day for a red velvet cake. She was going to the christening of her new god son and wanted to have a magnificent cake to celebrate; what better way to show your affection than with a red velvet cake!
While flicking through my piles upon piles of Saveur mags I came across a Chicago issue and felt a little homesick. A corn pancake recipe caught my eye and with the leftover buttermilk I had in the fridge (from RVcake) I was able to make them and remember the flavours of our American life.   Now Australia and America have a lot of common food items but there are huge differences in ingredients used. For example, I'd forgotten how much oil I use to use in my 'American' cakes and batters. No wonder they turned out moist and delicious every time!
I didn't have cornmeal for my flapjacks/pancakes/hotcakes whatever you call them so I substituted polenta and they were really yummy. The recipe stated 'you must use lots of butter when serving and cooking'- I love that! You'd never see that in a modern Australian recipe, everyone is so conscious of weight, fat, calories etc so I found it very refreshing to read 'pile on the butter'.
Don't get me wrong, I am all for healthy living, good food and a healthy lifestyle BUT I am also aware that there are some foods that cannot be messed with and if some woman in the South side of Chicago who has been making these for the past twenty years tells me to serve her recipe of corn pancakes with lashings of butter then that is exactly what I am going to do........but hang on why stop there, bacon seems to be a good side for this meal so you know I topped it all off with rashers of bacon and then drizzled over maple syrup!
If your in the mood for a culture treat, whip up a batch of these corn pancakes, fry up your bacon and dig in. I probably wont be making them again for another month or so but that is alright, it gives my guilt time to stop messing with my brain!


3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup polenta (coarse)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs

Place all dry ingredients into a medium size bowl and stir with a whisk to combine.
Place all wet ingredients into a large jug and whisk lightly to combine then pour into dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Do not over mix otherwise the batter will be over worked and cakes will be to heavy.
Melt butter in a medium hot frying pan and cook for to minutes on each side, place in a tea towel to keep warm until all the batter is cooked.
Serve with lashings of butter.