Monday, February 28, 2011

Janella's Steamed Blue Eye Cod

When I purchased my beautiful mushrooms at the markets I also spotted some fresh wood ear fungus. I remembered this recipe of Janella Purcell's from Good Chef Bad Chef and thought I must try them.

The aroma of the wood ear when fresh and when steamed was really nice, almost sweet. The texture was soft to touch but was actually not as flexible as it looks.
The recipe itself was simple with the classic asian flavours of a sesame oil and soy with the beautiful white fish topped with ginger and spring onion. I served with soba noodles as i haven't yet found quinoa noodles to buy. The fungus was steamed at the end along with a bunch of chinese greens.

It was delicious. The fungus had a mild taste that complimented the dish well, its texture was a bit strange, kind of 'squeaky'! Amazingly my daughter loved it, we had to share some of our fungus as she polished her (meagre) serving off so quick :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Anna's Giant Mushroom Ravioli

Yesterday we travelled into the city to check out Eveleigh Markets. I really love buying fresh produce from farmers markets and when I saw the post for these markets on The Adventures of Miss Piggy I really wanted to check it out. It was a really vibrant market with heaps of fresh vegetables and fruit for us to buy.
Every time we go to the markets we are so excited by the mushroom stand but have never actually bought the array of mushrooms they have on offer. That all changed yesterday.

I was very sad to chop them all up, although i did have a little taste of all of them!
I found this recipe of Anna Gare's for mushroom ravioli. I love Anna's food, I have cooked so many of her recipes and she always adds so much flavour to her food so I knew I wouldn't be disappointed.
Sadly making my own pasta didn't go so smoothly when I realised one of my eggs had cracked in the carton and was no good to use. I made up for it with olive oil and water but then the consistency was hard to work with. Luckily my lovely husband stepped in and rolled it for me, he is really good at making pasta. The next mistake we made was not to roll it thinner. We usually have it a little thicker for ravioli but we couldn't remember which setting to use exactly.

The recipe also required making a white wine reduction sauce and a roasted tomato salsa. So it was a lot of work but it was worth it. I had a little extra mushroom filling so I added this to the sauce at the last moment.

I didn't have any cream to add to the sauce and when we tried the dish it did taste a little unbalanced, like it needed the cream. Luckily at the market we bought a soft pecorino and with a few slices of this on top it was perfect.

The most exciting part of this dish was definitely the mushrooms. Even with our overly thick pasta the amazing flavour of the mushrooms was the most obvious. I loved it! (And my daughter loved it too).

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sweet Potato Tart

I have had a busy week and so my dinners have been a little unorganised, I need to do shopping and I am having to make do with what I can find in my kitchen.
When I saw the sweet potato tart on Scandi Foodie yesterday I was inspired because I love sweet potato.

I did use very unhealthy puff pastry and I also added caramelised red onion to the bottom of my tart. Sadly no feta is in my fridge but instead I topped with bacon and parmesan. I also sauteed my sweet potato and some sage in olive oil before adding to my tart. So it probably didn't give the original (most beautiful looking tart) much credit, and it certainly was not tipping to the healthy side, but it was delicious!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cornbread Pea Quiche

I am really not an experimental cook, and there is a good reason why - it rarely ends in something amazing. I should stick with tried and true recipes ;)
I spotted a recipe for cornbread quiche on foodbuzz the other day and thought it looked interesting. I decided to use the concept and make my own cornbread quiche!

Well it wasn't a complete failure and although I can see what I've done wrong I probably wont make this again.
I adapted the recipe for cornbread I used previously, making less, reducing sugar, adding no vanilla and adding corn kernels. I then made up a simple pea quiche topping to bake on top.

Well my cornbread was about twice as much as required and my quiche too little. The whole thing needed more seasoning and as my husband said 'some chilli'. But saying that we did enjoy it the more we ate. We ended up cutting a large chunk of cornbread from the bottom and eating with butter.
I think the concept could be quite delicious but my execution was far from perfect ;)

Cornbread Pea Quiche

Cornbread (this made way too much!)
1/3 cup salted butter
1 tbsp sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup milk
1 corn cob cooked and kernels removed
Quiche (made too little)
4 spring onions finely sliced
1 garlic clove finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup frozen peas
4 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
a couple sprigs of thyme (i would have used mint if i had some)

Prepare a springform cake tin and preheat oven to 180 C.
Cream butter and sugar, add egg making sure combined well. Combine dry mix ingredients separately and fold through alternately with milk. Fold through corn. Bake for 10 mins.
Soften spring onions and garlic in a little oil over medium heat. Add frozen peas until they are nice and shiny (still cold). Whisk eggs, milk, parmesan, seasoning, and thyme. Stir through the pea mix.
Pour on top of cornbread and bake for a further 35 mins.

My daughter is now used to me snapping pics of our food and she often requests she is included too!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thai Green Chicken Curry

This recipe came about because of my brothers beautiful plants covered in light green chillis in his vegetable garden. So I turned them into a curry paste!

I added to my curry some of those cute little light purple eggplants and some snow peas.
It was a really lovely chicken curry, on the light side that I kept reasonably mild (due to our visitor!).

Thai Green Chicken Curry 
I adapted from a green curry paste recipe I found a long time ago.
Curry Paste
12 light green chillis (mine had an ever so slight hint of heat in them)
1 long hot red chilli (i took the seeds out as i wanted a milder curry)
6 spring onions finely sliced
6 cloves chopped garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 piece lemon grass finely sliced
5 coriander roots/stems finely sliced
2 tbsp coriander seeds toasted
1 tbsp cumin seeds toasted
1 tsp sea salt
10 white peppercorns
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp shrimp paste

I ground all the spices and salt in mortar and pestle then added to all the other ingredients except shrimp paste and used my stick mixer to make a paste. I add the shrimp paste right before I fry the paste as it stinks so much! 
Note - I used half of this paste in my curry and froze the other half.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
400ml coconut cream
1 lime juiced
1 cup vegetable stock
3 medium chicken breasts cubed
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
3 small light purple eggplants cubed
handful of snow peas cut up
1 cup of freshly chopped basil

I fried the paste in the hot vegetable oil until nice and fragrant, added the coconut cream and lime juice then left to simmer for 10 mins. I then added the eggplant, chicken and vegetable stock and let simmer for 15 minutes. Finally I added the palm sugar, fish sauce, basil and snow peas before serving with rice.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nigella's Mexican Lasagne

When I first saw this recipe for Mexican Lasagne in Nigella Kitchen I flipped passed thinking 'no I wouldn't cook that'. As soon as I think that a part of me says 'just cook it'! And when I saw Nigella cook on the television show Nigella Kitchen I was sold.

It consists of making a salsa from basically capsicum, onion, tomatoes, coriander stalks/roots and chilli. After cooking this you layer the salsa with tortilla's and a bean/corn/cheese mix. It is then baked.
I'm not sure why the concept did not really appeal to me on first inspection as actually it was really tasty. The tortilla's hold up well in the recipe, I used wholemeal ones. It actually has a very mexican flavour, and it is really quite attractive to look at once sliced. Overall I was really happy and would cook this again.

Monday, February 21, 2011


We had a lovely sunday as it was our little boys Dedication. Lots of our friends and family came to celebrate with us and we invited them all over for a bbq lunch.

I forgot to photograph most of it but I will tell you what delicious food I made. For nibbles I made vegetarian rice paper rolls and homemade olive bread, sliced and grilled to serve with bruschetta topping.

My lovely husband barbecued sausages (out in the heat and humidity) while everyone else was in the pool! And I made some gorgeous salads to serve with our sausages...

Sweet Potato and Quinoa salad - the recipe I found on Naturally Ella. The sweetness in the potato was well complimented by the feta and the quinoa is just amazing. Loved it.

Pesto Pasta salad - I  used the recipe for basil pesto from Delicieux. We have so much basil in our garden to make this and I think the fresh basil is what gave this pesto a lovely flavour. We used a combination of walnuts and pinenuts. The parmesan cheese was only mixed through the 'green pasta' (as my daughter named it) just before serving (after my non-dairy-eating friend took her share) :)

Nigella's Tabbouleh - This is a recipe in Nigella Kitchen to help use up your leftover bulgar. It included, with the bulgar, finely chopped mint, parsley, spring onion and tomato, lemon zest and juice, olive oil and salt. I really liked it, so fresh and light tasting yet filling.

And for dessert I made the Joconde Imprime cake again (like my Valentines one) but bigger and the mousse had extra whipped cream so it was lighter. I also added a layer of sliced fresh strawberries. Everyone loved it and I had lots of fun making it. I also made some lemon curd tarts which were delicious.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Strawberry & Rhubarb Crumble

I have never eaten rhubarb (not that I remember). Its not like it was never in the house, my dad loves it. I was a very fussy child and I imagine I just refused to try it. It doesn't really look that appealing.
Well on the weekend we visited my brother and his amazing vegetable garden in the central west of NSW and I brought back (amongst many other things) some rhubarb.
I have been missing out!!! It was amazing.

In Nigella Kitchen she has a recipe for Strawberry Crumble which sounds really nice. But then while searching some rhubarb recipes I found this one for Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble from Smitten Kitchen. I have baked another recipe (Tiramisu Cake) from Smitten Kitchen and its now on my favourite cake to make list so I knew this would be worth a try. And the crumble has been inspired by Nigella and thus very similar.
Plus it was another reason to use my gorgeous new heart shaped dish :)

You must try this, it was amazing. The rhubarb just melted in you mouth, and the whole dish was so sweet with a lovely tang. The strawberries kept there consistency and were just delicious. And because the crumble has baking powder it was so thick yet light and yummy.
I served with natural yoghurt and that was just perfect.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Janella's Sesame Cases with Pumpkin

For dinner last night I made these cute little tarts. I saw Janella Purcell's recipe for this on Good Chef Bad Chef and thought it looked very interesting.

In the pastry I used wholemeal flour (I haven't convinced myself to pay the money for spelt flour as yet). It is combined with sesame seeds and sesame oil. The dough tasted great and was really versatile, I had no problems rolling it out (although I do love making pastry!).

The onion filling is cooked in vegetable stock over low heat until all the liquid disappears. I thought that was an interesting technique and although tasty it is not as yummy as caramelised onions.

The pumpkin top is basically steamed pumpkin pureed with silken tofu. The result is a beautiful soft texture and the flavour was lovely.

 When they are all assembled to make a little tart it was very pretty and tasted nice but it did feel as though something was missing. They would be lovely to present as part of a finger food party or as an accompaniment, just don't expect them to stand out.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I have never made cornbread and I don't think I have ever eaten it. It was one of the dishes on the Tiny Chef application for my iphone (anyone else addicted??). My husband gave me a gorgeous heart shaped baking dish for Valentine's and I decided that I would make cornbread in it. So I did a search and a recipe came up from Sweet Pea's Kitchen for cornbread, since I had great success with the cheesy pretzel bites I gave it a go.

What a simple recipe that results in a lovely moist cornbread. I thought that it was a savoury dish but actually it is quite sweet, and gorgeous when you serve with some honey.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nigella's Duck Legs and Potatoes and Anna's Duck Crepes

For our Valentines Day dinner I decided to cook duck. This is a recipe from Nigella Kitchen, although it is hard to really call it a recipe. You just sear the skin of the duck legs put them in a roasting dish skin side up with potatoes, season, throw in some thyme and cook for 2 hours. But I must give Nigella credit as it gave me the confidence to cook duck - something I have never tried before, and it was delicious. So moist and tender. You should have seen my daughter - she loved it!

I made a plum sauce to serve as I thought it sounded plain but really it didn't need it.

My big adventure was traveling out to Windsor to buy the duck marylands from Pepe's Ducks! All the places I have been to only sell duck breast. The ducks had been prepared the day I bought it, so very fresh, and there is delight in buying it from the grower. They produce about 70,000 ducks a week, so a huge supplier. Yet they were happy to sell me a pack at the door. It cost me $16 for five marylands.

With the leftover duck I made duck crepes using Anna Gare's recipe from Quickies in my Kitchen. They are a very simple dish and delicious, they allow the amazing duck to be the star of the show!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Valentine Joconde Imprime Layer Cake with Strawberry Mousse

For Valentines I decided that I would attempt to make a Joconde Imprime cake. There have been many posts about them (as I am sure you have seen) since it was the Daring Bakers challenge for January. I first saw it on Not Quite Nigella's blog and thought since my husband is a fruit lover and me a cake lover that a berry version should go down well :)
So I used the recipe and a version of the berry mousse from NQN's post here.

What fun it was, and I have taken step by step photos if you are interested in seeing my process.
And the final product was delicious.
The only things I would do differently is leave my sponge mix to sit a little longer as the first 'wrapper' I baked had air bubbles. And I would make extra strawberry mousse to layer it higher as well as have extra fresh strawberries to layer in the middle and garnish. But otherwise I am so proud of my efforts!

I traced out my 'design' so I could pipe the paste on to it 

In the freezer

Just out of the freezer ready for the sponge topping

Added the sponge on top of my frozen design

Prepared my mould

Just out of the oven

Turned out and paper peeled off

I made these ones for the layers in the middle of my cake

Preparing to assemble the cake

Ready for my layers of mousse and cake

Ready to eat - Evie's little fingers couldn't wait