December 6, 2012

New York Strip with mushroom sauce

It has been a while since I cooked a big juicy steak for the family dinner. There's no reason for it other than I just kind of forgot about it.

How do you forget about steak?

To tell the truth I forget about a lot of different flavours and meals this time of year, it's what ever is leftover in the fridge, or I double up on what I am cooking for a function. October through to December it is pretty much 15 minute meals in our house!

I was at work yesterday when a colleague came in with a bottle of Shiraz and started telling us about how good it was, and how it is on sale....and did we want to buy a case?.... Of course a tasting was in order before buying anything and seeing how it was after 12pm all was OK. The wine was very quaffable and moreish so I put in my order for a case on the spot. I was also lucky enough to be the only one not working a dinner party that night (I had a canape drop off- yippee!). So I was the lucky one who took the bottle of red home to drink with.....STEAK!

See how my brain works?  Anyway, off to the butcher I went and picked out some fabulous New York strip steaks for tea.
If your buying a good quality steak you really want to taste the meat so I don't over do all the trimmings. A simple potato mash (I leave the skin on which drives Nic a little mad!), steamed beans tossed with a hint of olive oil and lemon juice and a delicious mushroom sauce.

The boys thought I was trying to burn the house down when I showed them what happens when you add brandy to the sauteing mushrooms...

-'You shouldn't do that mum, you could burn the house down!' says Max with a serious look on his face while Alex looked on horrified.

Thankfully I managed to keep everything under control and we sat down to a forgotten family favourite of steak and mash that tasted wonderful, especially when served with a smooth bottle of Shiraz.

October 9, 2012

Drunken Chicken- family favourite

Ouch! I was just looking at my stats and realised September didn't even get a look in!!
I feel guilty and sad that I haven't been able to keep up with my blogging and, as I scroll through my favourite bloggers work and see they are in top form as always I wonder if this is the month I stop for good?

Before I make such a big decision like that, I just want to share with you a recipe I have been really enjoying this past month. It is from one of my favourite cookbooks 'Cocina de la familia' by Marilyn Tausend with Miguel Ravago.
This was a fabulous buy and am pleased to say I have used many recipes from it over the years- I highly recommend it to everyone.
The recipe I want to share with you is the drunken chicken recipe. When I first made it I followed the recipe to the T and it was wonderful. Since then I have added extra bits and pieces or had to make do with what was in the cupboards, but, whatever I do I always get the big thumbs up from my boys- it's a family favourite. I have cooked if for quite a few people and always get the same reaction "delicious!"

So, to redeem myself I hope you will try this one on family and friends and see if you agree with me. I couldn't help but serve it with fresh corn smothered in butter and some black beans, however, I have served it with beans, broccoli, rice pilaf, potatoes.....the list goes on!


 Drunken chicken (Pollo Borracho)
2 Tablespoons oil
3 chicken breasts and 2 thighs (or 4 breasts) skin on, cut into 3 pieces
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
 1 tin whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 cup of beer (I tend to take a good swig and then use the rest)
preferably an amber ale
2 sprigs of oregano
3 pickled jalapenos, sliced
2 tablespoons vinegar from the chilies
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Use a cast iron pot with a lid or a good quality pot with a lid.
Warm oil in the pot on med-high heat, season the chicken with salt and pepper then saute the chicken pieces until browned (you will need to do in batches).
Once the chicken browns, remove to a tray and set aside.
Add the onion to the still hot pot and cook until quite soft and brown (about 4 min).
Add garlic and tomatoes, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Return chicken (skin side up) back to the pot with onions and tomato, lower the heat to medium and add beer, oregano, jalapenos, their vinegar, salt and pepper.
Stir to combine then leave, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve it with fresh oregano and avocado for best results.

August 26, 2012

Mini baked cheesecakes

I had a catering job last week that called for a 1.5 kilo block of cream cheese. This is a lot of cream cheese!
I got through about a kilo of it for my function and was left with the perfect amount for a family cheesecake. The last time I made cheesecake I didn't quite get the response I was after from the boys so I decided to revisit my old recipe and see if I could tweak it some how. I can't remember when I last made a full sized cake for the family? My mini cheesecake tin is an absolute favourite of mine at the minute and I love the look of individual portions not to mention the portion control. If I'd made a regular cheesecake I would of got about 10 pieces from it, however, the individual sizes gives me 14 portions which also makes me feel less guilty when I eat one.
OK so back to making these little lovelies.....I remembered I guessed the butter-biscuit ratio for the base last time and I hadn't put enough butter, hence, this time around I followed my original recipe to the T and was very happy with the end results as you can see.....

I didn't do a lot of changing, however, I did make a much better batch than the last effort and I think that was because of two reasons:
a) I set the oven at 170 degrees and turned the fan off
b) I beat the cream cheese and sugar until it was light and fluffy, then I added the cream

Whether I am right or wrong I cannot say for sure but one thing I do know, the family are hanging out for afternoon tea time just so they can have their own little cheese cake and lick the plate clean.

These light and yummy morsels are passion fruit and blueberry flavoured, however, I know they will work beautifully with raspberries (fresh or frozen), chocolate, orange, lemon, rhubarb, apple and the list goes on.

August 24, 2012

Egg and bacon pies are always delish

I got a text from my hairdresser a couple of days ago telling me she was looking forward to seeing me this Friday as it had been too long between cuts. It's the kind of text you love to receive because somebody is actually looking forward to seeing you!
My 6 weekly hair experience is always a pleasurable one. Teneil, my hairdresser is a gorgeous lively fun 20 something who always has plenty to talk about. After we get the pleasantries out of the way it is not long before I hear what she has been creating in the kitchen for herself and partner. She is stick thin but LOVES food, cooking and could I not like her?

I once told her about my favourite meal Nic cooks (stir fry beef with red cabbage and coriander), she got so excited, she went home and made it that night and loved it so much she took a photo and sent it to me!
She made me feel special, (always a warm fuzzy feeling) so I decided to make a yummy little something to take to my 10am appointment. I made one of my all time favourite snacks- egg and bacon pies.
It takes all of about 5 minutes to prepare, 10 minutes to cook and 2 minutes to eat- delicious!!!

I flavoured these little beauties with basil and goat's feta to give them a bit of a "I didn't really use up the only things left in my fridge feel" and it worked a treat.
My three top tips when whipping these up are:
a) hot oven, about 200 degrees
b) use a 'butter' puff pastry, the flavour is ten times better. The butter puff is usually only used for desserts but it is fab with these.
c) I also find that extra cracked pepper works a treat with the egg and bacon pies.

If all else fails and you don't have the time to make these then pop on over to and I'll whip you up a batch myself.

June 30, 2012

Black Forest Cupcakes

A friend of mine has been carrying on about his wife being heavily pregnant with their second child and saying out loud 'when is it going to come already?!' I know he is excited at the prospect of being a dad for the second time but the lady standing next to me listening to his whinging simply said 'Well I think you have the wrong audience for any sympathy here!' Something I am sure he knew but thought he'd try it on anyway.

I was happy to hear his wife delivered their beautiful, healthy little girl in a record 3 hour labour this week and I couldn't be happier from them. Welcome to the world Isabelle!

Instead of buying a cute little toy or a box of nappies I decided to spoil them with something sweet and home made. I sit next to Mr.T in my office job and I noticed fairly quickly he has a sweet tooth. I think it was on the second or third day that he started at the office when I noticed a massive container of melting moments sitting right next to the opened packet of gummy bears on his desk! Although I only work 2 days a week in the office, we have a lot of fun ribbing each other and talking food (what else!). I also quickly learnt his favourite all time cake was Black Forest cake. A cake I swore I'd never make again after spending two days in the pastry section of the Sheraton Hobart Hotel in my apprenticeship days where we cranked out over 100 of the bloody things in two days, (I guess that was how I honed my cake masking skills!).

So, instead of a cake I went about my business and made Black Forest cupcakes.
Firstly I made my favourite chocolate cake recipe, baked them and then cooled the cupcakes. Once cool I then cut away the centres.
Secondly I drizzled some brandy into the centres for a bit of extra punch before filling the middle with sour cherry compote.
Just before leaving to drop them off I whipped up some chantilly cream, something I also haven't made since my Sheraton days (for those who don't know what chantilly is, it's sweetened cream).
Once the cream is piped on over the cherry compote and looking all lush and yummy, I then shaved a bit of chocolate over each one and popped a fresh cherry on top for the black forest seal.

Mr T was looking pretty happy with himself when I saw him, however, when I presented him with the box of cupcakes it was the first time I'd seen him speechless for more than 5 seconds- my job was done!

I'm looking forward to hearing the stories of sleepless nights and seeing some baby photos- there is something wonderful about looking at new born babies that makes you feel good inside.

June 24, 2012

Spicy Chicken Wings

I bought some chicken drumsticks and wings last weekend with the intention of making something really yummy. On Monday I had a feeling the week wasn't going to be a relaxed one so I popped them in the freezer for later on. On Wednesday I pulled them out again and last night (Saturday) I finally got inspired to make them into tasty morsals.  We usually eat Saturday night dinners separately from the boys so we can eat flavours Nic and I really enjoy and ones that the boys aren't quite ready for. Nic usually whips up a delicious and hot eggplant and potato curry or I'll make a stir fry with plenty of chilli and greens. Saturday is a night of no arguments at the dinner table because we all get to eat the foods we like and no one has to rush off anywhere!

The boys have the same reaction to chicken wings and legs as Nic and I do and I knew they would be gutted if they missed out so I marinated their chicken bits in a soy, garlic, black vinegar, curry powder (Keen's) and brown sugar mariande. Sadly I only had about an hour to let them marinate, however, that didn't seem to matter as they ate them with their noodles and veggies at rapid speed.

Once I had their chicken marinating I started on ours. Garlic, chilli and ginger were always going to be main contenders but I hadn't yet worked out the rest. I made a rub that was inspired by Vietnamese street stalls last year and it was a wonderful flavour with peppercorns being one of the main ingredients so I decided to try another version, also adding lime leaves to this equasion. Once I had pounded about 4 garlic cloves, a good size piece of ginger, 2 birds eye chillies and a pinch of salt together with the whole peppercorns, I then added the chopped lime leaf and about 2 tablespoons of rice bran oil to combine the flavours which will also make it easier to rub into the chicken wings.

The aroma was delicious as was the thought of combing them on the grill with the smokey BBQ flavour. They would be a wonderful snack if your sitting around watching the football, for a cocktail party or to eat with a big bowl of veggies and noodles as we did.
The wings crispen up on the bbq and are incredibly morish. Max had one of the leftover ones for lunch today and said he really enjoyed the flavour and that he likes chilli now....but the ones he had last night were yummy too. I guess we will be all eating dinner together on Saturday nights if the boys are enjoying our leftovers so much.......maybe we need to feed them a bit of leftover eggplant curry to deter them, after all we all need our relaxed meal times at least once a week.

June 20, 2012

Dinner Party Ideas

Who doesn't love a good dinner party?
I love them and I especially love them when I don't spend half the night in the kitchen cooking!
Champers or a good dry martini sets the mood for a soirée at the Bakers' house. Of course, there must be something super delicious to whet the palette before moving over to the table for dinner.

Home-made bread usually does the trick and if you serve it with a delicious dip, I find you usually have set the mood for a fabulous evening ahead.
I recently made a yummy eggplant dip that blew my mind along with those of our friends. It was simple, made the day before and looked impressive. Feast magazine provided me with this recipe and it is one I'll use again and again. The combination of smoky eggplant, grilled haloumi and pomegranate molasses is an absolute winner.
Once the martinis have dried up, the flat bread is all eaten and conversation flowing, we usually move over to the dining table, and this is when I like to make my first entry into the kitchen. I mean, if you can't sit down and enjoy the company of your guests with your first martini then when can you?

The entree will set the tone for the night's feast. If it is sparse then guest will wonder if they have to pick up KFC on the way home. If it's too heavy then they won't finish main course, and only pick at dessert, so in my opinion the entree has to taste fantastic making your guests wanting more!
On this occasion I decided to go with an old favourite of mine -- gnocchi. I hardly ever make it any more, hardly ever eat it out (I hate the disappointment of it being served all watery, or with a creamy sauce) and so I decided to make it to see if I still had the magic touch. I pan-seared the gnocchi in a little butter then portioned it up and melted Raclette cheese over the top and served it with a citrus, tomato and basil salsa.

Thankfully the potato gnocchi was fluffy, light and moreish! Having the citrus salsa with the buttery gnocchi really helps even out the richness of the dish. 
With wine flowing and conversation in full swing, this allows me time to pop into the kitchen and give the main course a bit of attention. I was serving pork fillet that I'd marinated in a chili, brown sugar and porcini mushroom rub. The pork fillets needed to be thrown on the grill while I reheated the baked Jerusalem artichokes and green beans. The pork is rich and sweet and the hit of chili really works well with the mushrooms. You know you have a winning dish on your hands when all you can hear is the background music!

At this stage of the evening everyone is feeling extremely good. The happy food fog is wrapped around everyone, a good debate is usually underway and that 3rd, 4th or 5th bottle of wine you saved just in case it was one of those 'fun' nights has just been opened. Really by this stage you could serve a bowl of seasonal fruit and everyone would be happy.....alas, you know everyone is really dying for a sweet little something and dessert is usually the course that everyone remembers when they wake up in the morning.
I love citrus so I like to keep dessert light, fun with a hint of tart. Small bites are also a great way to serve dessert after the previous three courses. To wrap this dinner party up I served a trio of citrus that started with a lemon mousse; pistachio shortcake with fresh strawberries and a lime curd and finished with a sherry glass of limoncello -- what isn't there to love about that?

Just before the boys went off to bed they whispered in my ear "can you please make sure there is some dessert left for us?" and I think I remember saying the same thing to my mum many moons ago!

June 14, 2012

Rocky Road is a great after school snack

When the temperature drops, the rain settles in and the kids can't run all their energy off I retreat to the kitchen. I was trying to think of something to have in the fridge for when the boys get home from school this week. We have done popcorn to death, smoothies aren't so popular now it is cooler and Vegemite crackers are getting a little repetitive. I told them that when I was an exchange student living over in New Zealand my host mum use to lay out a tin of sardines, alfalfa sprouts and dry crackers for our after school snack, as surprised as I am (not) they didn't want to try it.

A few weeks ago I started making my own trail mixes with pistachio nuts, peanuts, marshmallows and sultanas and they went down a treat along with their hot chocolate. Taking this on board I decided to go one step further and combine the two which makes.......rocky road!

You may be thinking that is a bit full on for a after school snack but I beg to differ. You see all the nuts that I used were raw (peanuts, almonds and walnuts), yes marshmallows are all sugar but at the rate they flip around, it is burnt off by dinner. To bulk it out I added dried cranberries and raisins then melted a 70% cocoa dark chocolate block to combine it all together, not forgetting a hefty sprinkle of shredded coconut.

OK, it is decedent and totally delicious but it is also packed full of energy. The boys have always been given small serves of cakes, brownies etc so they never get upset when I cut a good bite size piece of rocky road, they are to busy focusing on the pink marshmallows! One small piece with a glass of milk and after school snack is done and dusted. The boys are off practicing dance moves in their bedroom while trying to slay each other with light sabers.

It won't be on the after school snack list every week but this week is covered, there is no winging about something to eat and if there still hungry then there is always fruit.
Rocky road, the Oh so yummy treat adults and kids love.....and it's even better if you don't eat all the pistachio nuts before making it!!

June 11, 2012

Potato and Tuscan cabbage soup

The long weekend has proven to be wet and cold. When it rains in Sydney is seems to have these constant downpours that go on for days. We are in day two of non stop rain. I miss the rainy days of the tropics when I was a kid.
You'd be on your bike cruisin' the streets with your mates when you saw the black clouds rolling in off the ocean. Sometimes they would just blow out to sea and you were annoyed the burst of rain did not come to release the dry heat in the day. Or, on more that one occasion you'd look up at the sky and quickly try to calculate whether to make a bolt for home or to wait it out under the closest shelter.
The Darwin rain storms I remember were intense, noisy with thunder and over within minutes. I have fond memories of trying to beat a storm when I was about 10-11 years old. I belted around two blocks with the dark sky trying to catch me, however, my legs were like pistons and I hovered inches in front of the darkening sky. I was about 5 metres from home when the sky opened up and dumped what felt like a swimming pool of rain drops on me as I stared at the dry veranda of my home.

It's funny, I don't have a lot of clear memories from my childhood but I can still remember the annoyed feeling of defeat combined with the rich smell of rain when this memory floats into my mind.

Alas, I do not live in the tropics any more and the weather this far south east of Darwin is much colder and incredibly wet, the kind of weather you sit at home and start craving warm, wholesome food. Luckily I stocked the fridge well on Friday so I could have a play in the kitchen this weekend.

I learnt to love Tuscan cabbage or cavalo nero when we were living in Florence a few years ago and living in cold....very cold climates. It is a deep green vegetable that loves to be gently braised and has a rich earthy flavour. Every time I eat it, I just feel better. However, it is a vegetable you have to learn to love when you're one of my kids.
I had some leftover pancetta in the fridge that need to be used up so I slowly started sauteing onions then adding about 5 cloves of smashed garlic and roughly chopped pancetta. Once the fat of the pancetta started to go transparent I added a bunch of roughly chopped Tuscan cabbage with salt and pepper. So all the flavour stays in the vegetable I placed a lid on top, while it wilted down and absorbed the flavours of the pancetta and garlic.

Diced carrots were added to the soup base and then 4-5 large potatoes roughly cut. I leave the skins on, of course you can peel them for a smoother texture. After sauteing the base for a further 5 minutes I then added a couple pieces of parmesan skin (always save that last bit of rind when you've grated all the cheese for just such occasions) and then topped the soup pot up with cold water. Once you bring it to a boil with the lid off, skim the top, reduce the heat to a medium-to-low and leave it to reduce down.

When the potatoes have broken down and the smell is rich and wholesome turn off your soup and leave to steep for about 10 minutes before you serve. To make our lunch even more exciting I had some raclette cheese in the fridge from a previous dinner party. That combined with cheddar cheese and then melted on Turkish bread was the absolute perfect rainy, damp and cold long weekend holiday lunch!

I have to be honest and tell you the boys were not impressed with the dark green leaves in the soup. Max dared to try it and actually enjoyed it, Alex however, refused to like it (without even tasting it!) and then tried to pick out all the potato while asking why we didn't just have noodles for lunch? I think a few more bowls of this soup over winter should set him straight......or make him really hungry and stubborn. I'll just have to wait and see but one thing was certain, the melted cheesy toast was a big hit!

June 8, 2012

5 years on

I have been trying to sit in front of the computer for the past two weeks and blog about a few tasty meals we have eaten. However, every time I manage to peel the kids from the computer I find an invoice I'd forgotten to write, a quote that needed to be written.....or my mind goes completely blank when I begin to type.

While trying to get my mojo happening once again I started flicking through some older posts and it hit me that it has been 5 years since I first started writing my blog! A part of me thinks I had a better voice way back then when live wasn't so hectic (mind you I bet I thought it was hectic with two young kids).

 Thankfully I have improved on my photo skills, though acknowledge I still have a long way to go!
I first started this blog when we lived in Lexington, Virginia. The boys were 2 and 5, and it was back in the days of leisurely baking, vegetable gardens (despite the rabbits always getting to it first!) and cocktails on the front porch. Five years on I have an almost 7 year old and a 10 year old who constantly eat me out of house and home, no veggie garden, barely a cake in the oven and a much smaller kitchen filled with pots, pans and bakeware that could easily feed 100 people in one sitting (I think my husband puts up with a lot).

I also got to thinking that five years ago I launched my first website. It was flimsy, unprofessional and a bit out there if I was to be brutally honest (it was a do it yourself job). Then we moved back to Australia where I was fortunate enough to meet a new friend who built websites and who just so happened to be in need of recipes....lots of recipes. got a facelift and suddenly grew up into something that was useful! Now three years on and living in Sydney, starting my own catering business and developing a cooking school it was time for me to evolve once more in the world of the web. I am excited to launch my brand new gorgeous website

Kim Rahi did a fantastic job of capturing my style and food footprint, then turning it into an online site. Kim and her husband Henry are a fantastic team when it comes to the web and I couldn't recommend them enough.

Looking back I can see the cultural changes in my cooking style, I found a few forgotten family favourites recipes I'll be digging up and making again and I have also seen changes in the boys. Seeing them go from no green vegetable passing their lips without a fight to gobbling down a garden salad in 10 seconds flat. Memories I would of forgot if it wasn't for my blogging efforts.

It's been a bit hard this past month to tap out a few food moments but I love that I have reached five years as a blogger. I have met some fantastic bloggers online (still to have the pleasure in the flesh) and have read some funny, delicious and heart felt stories over the years, stories I will continue to read and enjoy. Here's to another five years on the web and seeing where it takes me. Thanks for reading x

May 23, 2012

Lamb shanks or chops?

Winter is trying very hard to settle into Sydney and I have fallen victim to the cool winds blowing in off the harbour, thinking I'd better start cooking heartier family meals. The boys are in full swing with their Aussie rules football (also a winter sport) which means they are all ways starving hungry after training and always wanting something more than what is on offer.

The boots were kicked off in the hall last week and the cries of 'whats for dinner mum?' started and quickly followed by....'Is that smell for us or your customers??'.
 I have been doing a few dinner parties of late, filling the house up with slow braising pork, marinated lamb shoulder and a few other yummy, intoxicating smells. I was happy to report the lamb shanks ticking away were in fact for the family and will be ready shortly. (I could of said they will be ready in 10 seconds and that still would of been a long wait for them).

 Max's routine of waiting for dinner after footy training or in general usually consists of him curling up on his favourite chair (always the rattiest one in the house) and reading a book while looking very pained that no food had entered his mouth the second he walked in the house. Alex on the other hand takes himself off into the land of make believe and drama where all thought of food goes out the window until he starts to feel a bit light headed.
Tonight's dinner was no exception. Max set the table and was quizzing me about lamb shanks and had he ever had them before? what do they look like and are they beef?? What? Beef! Lamb boy, LAMB!

While Max was giggling at his mistake I started the reminder calls to Alex "Alex, dinners just about ready.......Alex come and wash your hands.....Alex, dinner......DINNER IS READY NOW!'
When I am just about to loose it Alex strolls out dressed for dinner.........

'Smells good mum', he says '...but it's going to be a bit hard to eat, can I have a straw?'
I mean what do you say to that? 
Max is already a third of the way into his lamb shank when he starts telling me it is the best thing he has ever eaten, Alex on the other hand is staring at his plate thinking a bowl of soup would be more convenient for him in his outfit.

Starving or not Max, Nic and I licked our dishes clean and were really satisfied with our wintery lamb shanks. Alex on the other hand ate all the mash potato and beans then declared "Yeah well, I'm not really a good lamb eater- I prefer meat I can pick up on a stick, you know, like a chop or something".

Would that be a lamb chop Alex??

May 12, 2012

Donuts dusted in nutmeg sugar

One of my all time favourite pleasures in life are donuts just out of the oil and dusted in sugar and cinnamon. I love, love, love them! A few years ago I decided to spend mothers day with my mum in Tassie. It also happened to be the same weekend as Agfest (a massive Agricultural event) and dad was in the Rotary caravan making none other than sugar coated donuts- you betcha I volunteered to help!

I know how bad they are for you and I know you really don't need them, and this is why I haven't had one since then. However, when I got the latest Saveur email and saw the delectable photo of donuts I couldn't help but whip up a batch. They would have to be one of the easiest recipes I have made in a long time and they taste fantastic!!!! But don't take my word for it, click on this link and make them for yourself....your family, neighbours, whoever. I can guarantee one thing, they won't last long.

And while I'm on the subject of favourite things, I also am an avid lover of cake stands and lids (I know weird right?) anyways, this is a great find and a wonderful blog that kindly featured family of foodies as one of it's favourite blogs of the month, so if you have time, stop by and check it out.

April 29, 2012

TVSN recipes

It was a fabulous show today on TVSN and I won't be surprised if they have a sellout show again.
 I know there were a few viewers wondering where they could find recipes for the dishes cooked today, so I thought I'd better post them here for all the new Circulon Contempo buyers (and of course for everyone else!). If you didn't catch the show, I was showing how quick and easy it is to make yummy meals in a very short amount of time. Below are the recipes I cooked today. 

I didn't get a chance to pull out the pizza I made on set, however, I did make another one for my boys' dinner tonight and I have to say the baking tray would have to make the best crust I have made....a big call I know but I stand behind it! You'll find the dough recipe I used here.

Seared salmon with orange and chilli glazed bok choy
1 salmon fillet skin on
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of one orange
1/2 bunch bok choy with base cut off

  • Heat pan without oil for 3-4 minutes.
  • Once hot season salmon pieces, add oil to pan and place salmon in skin side down. Leave to crisp up for 4-5 minutes giving it a light push with tongs making sure the whole of the skin is searing onto the frying pan
  • Once you see the colour change up the side of your salmon pieces, turn over.
  • Add sugar to your frying pan and caramelize, stirring until dissolved (about a minute).
  • Add juice of the orange, chilli pieces a pinch of salt and keep stirring. Once you have a syrup, add your boy choy and wilt.
  • Remove salmon piece (if you have a thin piece of salmon you may need to remove before you put your bok choy in), toss your greens around in glaze then place on a serving plate with your piece of salmon and drizzle over your orange glaze.

Chicken pie
1 tablespoon olive oil
700g chicken breast, medium diced
salt and pepper
100g butter
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic glove chopped
½ cup plain flour
2.5 cups milk
1 diced red capsicum
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed

  • Preheat oven to 200°C.
  • Season the diced chicken with salt and pepper then sear the meat. When lightly coloured, remove from the pan and keep to the side.
  • In the same pot, melt butter and then add onions and garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes.
  • Add flour and stir through to form a thick paste, cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Gradually whisk in milk, stirring continually to prevent lumps. Once all the milk is added, whisk until smooth then add chopped red capsicum. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add seared chicken pieces and simmer for about 2-3 minutes for flavours to combine.
  • Remove from the heat and pour into a pie dish.
  • Cut out a lid of puff pastry and place on top of your pie mixture making sure the pastry lid is slightly larger than the dish.
  • Brush the pastry with egg wash, sprinkle with black pepper and place the pie on a large oven tray then pop it in the oven on the middle rack.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes then leave to cool for 5 minutes before eating, as they will be very hot.

Braised lamb chops
6 lamb chops
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 fresh tomato, roughly diced
1 brown onion, chopped
2 lge potatoes, par boiled and diced
white wine
1/2 cup peas (frozen are perfect)
50g butter

  • In a large frying pan with high sides, season your chops with salt and pepper then sear the chops.
  • Once seared add garlic pieces, onion and tomato. Stir making sure everything touches the base of the pan.
  • After 3-4 minutes add potatoes and about 1-2 cups of white wine (enough to just cover chops) and bring to the boil.
  • When boiled sprinkle over peas and add butter. Place a lid on top, bring to the boil again then reduce the temperature to LOW and leave for 30 minutes so it is lightly simmering.
  • After 30 minutes, break up the potato pieces with your tongs to thicken your sauce then serve with fresh slabs of bread.
For the raspberry pancakes I used this recipe but instead of blueberries I added frozen raspberries.

Happy Cooking 

April 25, 2012

Anzac Day Biscuits

How did you spend your Anzac day?
I had grand ideas of seeing the dawn service.....then read it was at 4.15am in Sydney, so I respectfully stayed in bed.
I was going to join friends in the park for a picnic, alas, quotes needed to be written, functions needed to be organised and food needed to be I stayed in the kitchen.
The only thing I did that I wanted to do today was buy alcohol for the Footy Fundraiser I was organising on Friday night.......I know how to have a good time on a public holiday!
All was not lost, as I came in from the car I could smell the all familiar smell of baking biscuits. Nic and Alex had whipped up a batch of Anzac cookies while I was out. Now our afternoon is set- a cup of tea, warm Anzac biscuits to dip in my tea while watching the Essendon/Collingwood football game on the telly.


April 20, 2012

Carrot Cupcakes

I'm taking that look on his face as pride!
It has been school holidays here in NSW for the past two weeks. Nic has been able to look after the boys while I keep on feeding the masses at work, however, yesterday I gave myself an early mark to come home and knock up a few ideas for my new website. I have decided to embrace kids classes and perhaps even do a kids 6 week cooking course for term in progress!
Anyway Alex was at a mate's house for a good chunk of the day and when they came to drop him home I sat to have a cup of tea with his mate's mum while the kids went a bit manic. The two older siblings were bored, hungry and, well, looking for something to do without really talking to each other (10 year old boy and girl). What better way to keep the noise down and them occupied- bake a cake.

Straight out of the oven
I was going to make a carrot cake at some stage and then thought this would be a great way for them to test out a recipe for me. I wanted to see if it was going to be a good one for me to teach the kids in my up-and-coming classes. They were eager, excited and, before we knew it, talking to each other about how they were going to do this (I told them I wasn't going to help and that they needed to read the recipe and figure it out).

You can understand why the older kids wanted to get into the kitchen
I have to say the kitchen looked like a bomb (actually 3 bombs) had gone off in there, but the carrot cupcakes actually looked and smelt fabulous! They were proud as punch that they made them from scratch, by themselves and even more excited that they worked. Now I just have to get them to test about 10 more recipes and I'll be good to go!

April 9, 2012

Pumpkin soup with lime pickle

If I eat another chocolate egg I think my teeth will fall out.
With half my chocolate collection scoffed (yep, a big kid at heart!) I am needing, wanting, craving food of the savoury kind. One of the benefits of having this Easter at home is having the complete use of my kitchen.
Although the cool weather hasn't set in, I was still in the mood for soup, and what soup do we make more than any other soup at chez Baker??? Pumpkin soup!

To give it a little bit of a kick start I sautéed the onions and garlic with a bit of Keens curry powder. I then added the pumpkin pieces, sweating them off a bit and finally adding the water (but only to just cover the pumpkin pieces).
It is a delicious soup as is, and the boys were stoked when I served it up with a crusty loaf of olive bread. I was craving a little more and added a dollop of natural yoghurt to mine and then topped it off with some lime pickle- Perfect!
I got a creamy, rich pumpkin flavour that was studded with the hot tartness of the lime pickle.
A savoury kick that was a hit with the whole family, with or without the pickle!

April 6, 2012

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns,
Hot cross buns,
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns...........
They weren't quite ready for breakfast as I decided a sleep in was required, however, morning tea was graced with delicious hot cross buns. 
I used the recipe I adapted in 2009 and am pleased to report it worked it's magic for another year.

Don't you just love the look of raw dough once it has finished proving. It reminds me of a fluffy pillow that smells of yeast and good!

Happy Easter and take care over the break

April 5, 2012

Easter lamb with yummy greens

In our house, it really doesn't feel like Easter unless we have lamb and go camping. Sadly last years camping trip ended at 1am Easter Sunday with us packing up the boys and our drenched tent, then driving through the night back to Sydney.

Even though it has rained every Easter since we have been back in Australia we still love packing up the tent, esky and loads of food to go and hang out in the bush or by the ocean somewhere and just enjoy our beautiful country. This year is a little different.

We threw our sodden tent in the bin when we arrived home from last years camping trip because it was the second year it let us down and we haven't gotten around to buying another one.
At first I was really devistated we were staying in Sydney but then I remembered the coast is but an hour away and we can still relax and enjoy the weekend and maybe I might be able to whip up a batch of hot cross buns tomorrow?

Anyway enough about that!

I got a bit ahead of myself last week and bought a beautiful leg of lamb at my new favourite butcher down in Glebe- Glenmore Meats. It was the second time I'd visited and picked up a 2.2kg leg of lamb for $20!! It was a bargin and tasted fantastic.

I love lamb on the BBQ, the smokey flavour mixed with my favourite herbs and spices rubbed all over it (dried thyme, cracked pepper, cumin, smoked paprika and salt) then spike the leg with big pieces of garlic- YUM!
Once the BBQ is at medium temp place the leg in a tray that is heavly layered with thickly sliced onion and eggplant, pop the leg on top then lower the lid on the BBQ and cook for about 2 hours depending on the size of leg and your barbie.

To serve the leg I whipped up some very simple beans and asparagus cooked with one roughly diced tomato and a squeeze of lemon (and yes, that is half a lemon in the with the beans, gives it more of a citrus flavour), salt and pepper. A very light and easy side dish that compliments the lamb beautifully and if you have any left over they go really well on an antipasto platter.

March 30, 2012

I think my kids are spoilt

That's right, I think I have gone to far in the world of food when it comes to my kids.
Starting out as a parent, you hope your child is going to be a good eater and not be to fussy; When they are toddlers you pray they at least try what is on their plate instead of saying no to everything; When they are school age, you hope they are eating some sort of vegetable(s) and able to eat a family meal with you without world war three breaking out before even trying your latest creation.

The other night I had some extra portions of eye fillet left over from a function I was doing, so I decided to bring them home for dinner as a bit of a treat. I don't know about you, but we very rarely eat eye fillet steak and I think it was the first time I had offered it to the boys.
To make it a super yummy dinner I decided to go all out and make a mushroom and red wine reduction (sauce), creamy mash potatoes and zucchini fritters (I'll blog these later).
My sauce was looking fabulous, the potatoes had a good stick of butter folded in and the steak was cooked to perfection. I was thinking to myself 'This is a winner for sure'.

After pouring a glass of red for Nic and I, I placed the meal in front of my family and waited for the oohs and ahhh's.....and I waited.
Nic of course was pretty excited to be getting such a delicious meal- that was to be expected. What I wasn't ready for however, was the 'Oh mum what is THIS!?' 'I don't want it and what is that disgusting red stuff on top?' (thanks Alex!)


"THIS IS EYE FILLET BOYS....EYE FILLET STEAK!! It doesn't get much better than this in the world of succulent, delicious, melt in the mouth steak"

After picking myself back up from the floor and tasting the meal just to make sure it was OK, I asked them what they thought of it after they had tried it?

'It's ok' (mind you Max didn't leave anything behind!)

Yeah well you know what else is OK- the fact that I am not waisting anymore eye fillet on these two boys until they actually understand what a luxury they have before them. To say I was traumatised from this event is an understatement.

It is all well and good to get your kids eating well but seriously, I think I missed a step somewhere that teaches them about appreciating fantastic produce so I am going back to the drawing board and god help any of their girlfriends who want to cook for them one day!