August 29, 2010

Alex helps out in the kitchen

We've all made steak, potato and greens I am sure. I don't need to go into detail preaching to the choir! However I felt I did need to blog about my 5 year old coming to help me make dinner the other night. The boys are very in to helping around the house at the moment and it is one skill I am encouraging whole heartedly. Just the other day Max set the table for dinner without being asked, he even managed to drag the massive vase of lilies over for a centre piece (something I was so proud of and yet had nothing to do with).
I had just popped the potatoes on to boil and was just about to start trimming the beans when Alex entered the kitchen with our trusty kitchen step in hand  and asked if he could help. He finished off the beans in record time, telling me all the while that it was necessary to do more than one at a time and that I should I did, as I had visions of his little fingers being lobbed off (Alex isn't known for his care and calm).

 As I watched I noticed the pure joy he was getting from such a simple task and also how much care he was putting in....hmm I thought, maybe he can do more than just crack the eggs and stir flour all over the floor.

 After the beans were ready he asked what the next job was. I plonked the motar and pestle down in front of him and said, garlic butter. He grinned from ear to ear at the prospect of smashing food with his very own stone. As you can see by his facial expressions, no garlic clove was coming out whole!

I think the novelty was wearing off with Alex as the last piece of butter was going into the bowl.
"Enough butter mum, jeez, I not even going to eat it!"
With that being said I promptly took over so dinner would still make it to the table within the hour. I have to say the interest did come back when I started mashing the potatoes and he did enjoy the pounding, however he broke my rule of sitting on the bench while cooking and had to be sent off (I'm thinking it was all part of his plan because he only sat down when the fun part was over).

All in all Alex did a great job of helping with dinner. He gave his best shot, got to use knives which he loves to do and to top it all off, he makes a pretty good garlic butter....even if he didn't even try it!

August 21, 2010

Sydney cooking school is open!

To all of my frequent readers I have to apologise for my absence these past few weeks. I received a lovely email from fellow blogger Bryan asking after my existence which I totally appreciate- thank you. I was happy to tell him and now you all that all is well.  I was not sick, at death's door or anything else other than 100% consumed by the opening of our cooking school.

I think I put everyone and everything on hold just so I could get on top of of this new career challenge. Anyhow, I am happy to report we had our opening on Monday night and it was a huge success. We had a wonderful response and interest for classes and dinner parties, which is increasing by the minute.
For opening night we served guests snippets of food we will be teaching, ranging from paella, goat cheese tartlets and Morton Bay bug salad to handmade chocolates and macaroons.

Now things seems to be getting under control, I will be back to blogging, reading my favourite blogs and generally trying to learn as much as I can where food is concerned. A dream would be for fellow bloggers to come and show off their recipes and skills in our new kitchen, sharing the love of food and writing just that little bit more.......stay tuned and if you are in Sydney, please drop on by....

August 19, 2010

Chicken dumplings

It's dumpling time again in the Baker house. If I could eat a selection of dumplings every other day, I would be a very happy camper, I just love them!
I always make extra and tell myself I'll freeze the ones we don't eat...and that never seems to happen, we always end up eating them all!
My sister was  over a few weeks ago and we had a very busy day. The dinner hour was approaching and as usual I wasn't sure what to eat. I wanted to make her something yummy, however I opened a bottle of wine a little bit to early in the day and didn't leave myself much prep time for a lavish feast. I did however think of the next best thing and took her shopping. After deciding dinner was going to be something Asian we then went over our choices and chicken dumplings with lots of noodles and veggies was a hands down winner.

Once all the ingredients were gathered and another bottle of wine opened, I began preparing the dumplings. Tarsh grabbed a pen and paper and began jotting down the process. She did however fly back to Melbourne without the recipe, so this is the least I can do for all her hard work.
I kept this meal quite simple as the boys were not in the mood for one of my 'experiments on flavour' nights and Tarsh can't tolerate to much chili (however I did add extra chilli to Nic and my dumplings). This is the beauty of the dumpling, you can fill them with anything really. If you have kids that are not quite up to your exotic tastes then make theirs a little mild and place on a seperate plate so you don't confuse them with your own.
When all is said and done, you are sitting down for a family meal, however a few extra ingredients into your own chicken mixture will really set your meal apart from the growing palets of your kids.

This recipe make 40 dumplings and easly fed 5 hungry people.

Chicken dumplings
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
coriander root and stem of one bunch, washed and chopped
2 garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
500g chicken mince
pinch salt
sliced fresh chillies (optional)
40 sheets of wanton skins
Place the first 5 ingredients into a mortor and pestel, then pound until a paste is formed.
Once you have a paste place chicken mince into a bowl, pour over the paste, add salt and mix to combine.
If adding chilli remove child friendly portion first.
Once mince is well combined, begin to make dumplings.

Put your mince just off centre to help with the joining process

You need to wet one side of the wonton wrapper with water to help with the sticking

August 2, 2010

Nic's barra and quinoa dinner

Apparently Nic's fans are missing him and apparently I have been pretending to cook meals when in fact Nic is the one cooking (he tells me this but I cannot remember the meal in question?). So today's blog is NOT about me but my other half.
I have to admit I know I am one lucky lady who has a husband that cooks,  enjoys cooking and will knock up a family meal when he takes one look at me after a long and tiring day in the kitchen knowing I couldn't think of anything worse then turning on the gas burner at home!
If was Friday afternoon, I had a late delivery and he texted me with the best text ever "I bought fish...I'll cook tonight"
Friday night is the end of our shopping week, so it can be a bit hit and miss in the pantry. We were out of potatoes, rice and couscous so not off to a very good start.
Anyways after reaching into the depths of the cupboards, Nic pulls out a bag of red quinoa and asks
"what's this?"
Oh yes, I said....use that as I have been wanting to try them for ages.

Nic not being very trusting of me with new ingredients (I don't know why?) decides to confer with his all time kitchen diva- Stephanie Alexander.
"Well Stephanie doesn't write about it so it can't be that good" was his comment.
(I am still wondering if he wants to live a long and healthy life or just here for a good time not a long time?)

In the end I left Nic to his own devices and sat on the couch reading the boys a story while he whipped up this delicious meal.
Being the first time we have eaten quinoa we were very happy with the end result. The nutty texture complimented the barrumundi in thyme and lemon butter sauce beautifully. The boys weren't over joyed with our new find but I think it has something to do with them overhearing me tell Nic how good quinoa is for you!
I'll be coming back to it again for sure and using it even when we do gather the rest of the staples back in the pantry.