Sunday, 20 December 2015

Vegetable and Egg Slice



Vegetable and Egg Slice with Cheese

I just could not resist getting in one more breakfast or brunch recipe  before my holiday break. I'm heading out for a few days over the festive season to catch up with family, head to the beach and relax for a few days before the new year begins again.

Where ever you are and whether you choose to celebrate or not, I wish you a safe and happy holiday and thank you for stopping by and sending me many comments over the past 12 months. See you in 2016!

What's your favourite breakfast? Are you savoury or sweet? Or both? Traditionally during the festive season, I try not to eat too much at breakfast because I know lunches and dinners are going to be big!

The last time I hosted a brunch on Christmas day I really wanted to have a great variety of dishes to select from. Often the weather is unpredictable at this time of year so I needed hot and cold options but I didn't want to spend too long in the kitchen.

My good friend Steph sent me a recipe she had pulled out of the 'Australian Women's Weekly', many years ago, called a 'Cheesy Bacon and Egg Slice'. Now while the idea is great,  there was simply not enough green things in it for me. 

Based on the same principle as the slice recipe, I have made this into a very different meal with lots more vegetables. The slice is very colourful and of course you could select a different range of vegetable for this dish if you wish. 

What I like most about is that you prepare it all, put it in the fridge overnight and bake it the following day. So easy and yet it is deliciously filling and full of goodness.  Hope you enjoy it.




Vegetable and Egg Slice with Cheese - Serves 6 - 8

Ingredients

4 eggs beaten
750ml milk, soy or almond
a small handful fresh parsley, chopped
few sprigs of thyme leaves only
4 asparagus spears chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1/2 red pepper chopped
1 small loaf of white bread unsliced
200g mushrooms chopped
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons worcester sauce (optional)
2 tablespoon mayonnaise
salt and pepper
2 zucchini thinly sliced
200g grated cheese, mixture of cheddar(tasty) and parmesan
butter or oil for greasing


You will need an oven proof dish, approx 3 litres for this recipe. 

Beat eggs and milk together and add salt and pepper, parsley and thyme.

Cut off all of the crust of the white bread (save these and make breadcrumbs)  and dice the bread into small cubes.

Prepare dish by greasing the bottom and sides with a little butter or oil.

Place the diced bread in a layer at the bottom of the dish.

On top of the bread add green pepper, red pepper, asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini and grated cheese.

Add mayonnaise, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce into the egg and milk mixture and tip this over all the bread and vegetables.

Now cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

Cook uncovered in a preheated oven 180º/350 for 50 - 60 minutes until the top is nice and brown and the liquid has evaporated.

Set aside for 10 minutes before serving with a green salad.





Thursday, 17 December 2015

Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis aux Cerises - Cherry Clafoutis

Goodness comes in ripe little red packages and I am over the moon that it's cherry season once again. I'm sure we have all tried on cherry earrings, moustaches, and hair ties when we were kids - or even older.


I could not let this season pass without making my favourite French recipe. Time consuming as it may be to take out cherry stones, you will thank yourself that you did because this dessert is so worth the bother. A Clafoutis is a creamy, custardy dessert stuffed with fruit, which should just melt in your mouth.
I think originally the stones were left in the cherries, but today I am so very fearful of losing fillings that I do pit them.

I must make an admission here - I made a Clafoutis the other day, not using my favourite recipe but trying out a new one and I'm sorry to say, it was a dud! 

Although the taste was there, the custard was rubbery and definitely not creamy.  Did I over cook it? Maybe, but I baked it for a lot less than the recipe called for.  It was a little embarrassing because I had friends for dinner! However, they weren't too unhappy to see the odd failure and the dish was licked clean nevertheless!

So here is my bog standard recipe - works every time!

Did you know?  Cherries have excellent health benefits if you suffer from Gout, as research shows that they reduce Uric Acid. Also Osteoarthritis flare ups can be reduced by drinking cherry juice every day! Now that can't be a bad excuse. Enjoy!

Clafoutis aux Cerises -  Cherry Clafoutis


Ingredients

2 cups cherries pitted
1 cup milk
3 eggs 
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp almond essence
30 g flaked almonds
60g melted butter cooled
1/2 cup plain flour
50g almond meal
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornflour
pinch of salt
Icing Sugar for dusting

Pre heat oven to 170º fan forced/325 degrees.

Butter a deep sided dish (around a 3 cup size)
Layer the bottom of the dish with flaked almonds and pitted cherries. Spread them out over the bottom of your dish but don't be too particular.

Whisk 3 eggs, in a large bowl. Add sugar, almond essence, vanilla, cornflour, salt and continue to whisk. Add almond meal, flour and gradually the milk and whisk until the mixture is a smooth batter.

Put the batter aside for 30 minutes to rest.

Place the dish of cherries in the oven and cook for 5 minutes, to allow the cherries to soften a little.

Pour over the batter and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes. The top should be slightly brown and springy. Be careful not to over cook.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Dust with icing sugar and serve either warm or cold. You do not need to add any cream or ice cream to this dessert unless you are feeling really piggish!

Should serve 6 people - unless you have friends like mine that can demolish anything this size between 4 people.








Friday, 4 December 2015

Breakfast Muffins

I was watching Jamie Oliver on TV one evening and saw him make some delicious Breakfast Muffins. I didn't take down his recipe but based on his ingredients and my own muffin recipes I concocted a version of muffins to try. Once they were in the oven the kitchen began to smell so sweetly I couldn't wait for them to finish baking and the end result was great; colourful, fragrant, tasty and very healthy.



Celebrity Chefs are becoming a regular on Australian TV. It's not just on the cooking programmes but promoting various supermarkets and competing heavily for everyone's dollar. There's also the branding - the cake mixes, frozen desserts and spice mixes which celebrity chefs, or ex Master Chef contestants are now flogging.  I'm not sure I agree with all this commercialisation. There is nothing wrong with healthy, home cooked, seasonal food prepared well. It doesn't need frozen or pre prepared vegetables sold in plastic or cardboard; just adding fresh herbs and spices will bring out the best flavours in everything you cook.

Jamie's doing a good job in encouraging people to try something a little healthier and giving a heads up on how to prepare a meal with little fat and sugar! Can't be all bad! I honestly think you can eat these muffins at any time of day and if you are running late for work grab one to eat on the way.




BREAKFAST MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS

600 grams peeled, grated sweet potato

3 - 4 large eggs
250 g wholemeal plain flour
4 spring onions finely sliced
1 red chilli finely sliced
200 g low fat cottage cheese
100 g parmesan or cheddar cheese grated
a large handful of parsley chopped
salt and pepper
Oil for greasing

For the topping


1 red chilli finely chopped

few sprigs of parsley

Grab your large muffin pan and some baking paper. Cut squares of baking paper that will fit nicely into the pans. Grease them using oil and a pastry brush and set aside.

In a large bowl add grated potato, spring onions, chilli, parsley and mix. Add the beaten eggs and the flour and mix again. Season with salt and pepper and mix in the cheeses.

You will need to use a large spoon to spoon the mixture onto the baking paper and into the muffin pans. I found the easiest way to do this was to take the paper in my hand, fill it and then drop it into the muffin pan. It made 12 nice sized muffins.



Finely slice the second chilli and sprinkle on the top with a little parsley and place in a pre heated moderate oven 180º/ 350 F for around 30 minutes. They should be reasonably firm and slightly browned on the top. Eat them warm or cold - delicious either way.











Monday, 23 November 2015

Avocado Breakfast Pancakes

I'm still harping on about breakfast and I do get it that time is precious in the mornings. If you prepare a little before you go to bed, then nine times out of ten you can still vary your breakfast menu. Or take it from me you can hold onto this recipe for a lovely, relaxed, Sunday brunch!

Avocados were way too exotic for my family when I was growing up.  My first avocado taste was when I was well into my teenage years. Not surprising that it is one of my faves now. I could live on avocados and tomatoes because they are both so versatile and you can use them both in sweet and savoury dishes; it is hard not to fall in love with them.


What do you know about this humble avocado?  It contains fibre, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and anti oxidants; they are not only delicious to eat but packed full of essential ingredients. Yes, they do contain fat but it's a good fat and that's fine. Check out the Australian Avocado  website for more information.

You can serve this pancake many ways (or get creative and make up your own version). Scroll to the end of the blog for variations! Avo good weekend!





AVOCADO BREAKFAST PANCAKES

Ingredients   This makes 8 small pancakes, suitable for 2 people


3/4 cup SR Flour
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 egg beaten
1/2 - 3/4  avocado mashed
1/2 cup of milk - or soy, almond, coconut
juice of 1 orange
Maple Syrup
Oil or butter for greasing the pan

For serving - A sliced banana, Maple Syrup, plain yoghurt

Mash avocado with orange juice and set aside.


Mix beaten egg with milk, add flour gradually and mix until smooth. Add the sugar and the avocado/orange mixture. At this stage the mixture may look a little lumpy, that's fine.


Leave the mixture to rest for 30 minutes.


Take a non stick pan and heat a little oil or butter. Once the pan is hot add a ladle or two of the mixture. Once the pancake has turned a light golden colour, flip them over and cook the other side. 


Handle them gently because they are quite soft.

Serve with sliced banana, plain yoghurt and a little Maple Syrup.





Other Serving Suggestions

Omit the sugar and orange juice - Add chopped parsley, salt and pepper to the mixture before cooking. Serve with a poached egg and finely grated Parmesan cheese on the top.

Serve with a dollop of plain yoghurt, mashed banana, sprinkle of cinnamon

Omit the sugar and orange juice -Try serving these pancakes with lightly roasted tiny tomatoes, and mushrooms and asparagus which have been cooked in a little  butter on a hot griddle.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Breakfast Eggs with Basil and Avocado

Back home after a fantastic 5 weeks walking the Thames Path in southern Britain and I'm happy to be able to share some amazing photos, ideas and new recipes over the coming months. 



It was lovely to wake up in my own bed, listen to the sounds of the cockatoos and smell the eucalyptus! Home!


Although walking was the main reason my friend Stephanie and I went to the UK, we teemed this with eating; sampling delicacies from Spain and India, vegetables from the Middle East and delicious cheeses from France; croissants, bread, nuts and salads and anything and everything that looked interesting. Plus a whole lot of summer fruit, grown in the heart of England. 

We've eaten in some pretty interesting restaurants too, Rick Stein and River Cottage Canteen  (more about these later) and tried a great mixture of wines, beers and ciders, hic!



Enjoying some of the best food that Britain has to offer comes with one drawback - extra kilos! And while the main purpose of this trip was to WALK, we had to keep the body fuelled and herein lies the problem!


To be able to get into a pair of bathers over summer, without looking like a beached whale, my eating habits have to change and now! Hopefully with some great low calorie recipes, fasting on 2 days a week, reducing portion sizes and increasing exercise I may stand a chance. I need will power!!!!

I'm looking forward to experiencing appetising salads and vegetable dishes and sharing them here, and where possible I will include the calorie count. (If you are in the northern hemisphere - think of this as preparing yourself for next summer)

Some of my worst experiences in England centred around breakfast. Feeding large numbers of people in pubs/hotels must be a bit of a nightmare, but day after day of being offered the same food became tedious.



Eggs, bacon, beans, sausage; a range of pastries, toast and packet cereals. In Winchester, the hotel had tried to make a bit of an effort by  adding a 'smoothie' but the combination of flavours was uninspiring and after one mouthful I left it alone.

I love breakfasts, its a great way to fuel up your body for the day ahead and it's in our best interest to find recipes we can keep going back to; low calorie, easy to make, but damn delicious. 

What's your favourite breakfast food? I hanker after porridge, fruit and yoghurt and now I have bought a Ninja Pro, some great combinations of smoothies.

But wait - I'm beginning to sound really boring - here's something new to start with! Its a quick easy recipe that will have you bursting with energy and your friends green with envy!





 Avocado Eggs with Pesto and Spinach


Ingredients

This recipe is for one person

2 free range eggs

2 tablespoons pesto, home made or shop bought

1/2 avocado, peeled and sliced thinly

Turkish bread

50g baby spinach

1/2 bunch of asparagus sliced vertically

knob of butter

1 teaspoon olive oil

salt and pepper


I buy Turkish bread and slice it into 4 or 5 piece and freeze it, then I'm not tempted to eat too much.
You have to multi task and get all of these elements going at the same time so everything is ready to eat as soon as it is assembled

  • Take an average slice of Turkish bread and cut into 2 and toast it
  • Take a large pan and fill with boiling water for poaching eggs
  • In a non stick fry pan heat a very small knob of butter and olive oil and
  • Saute the asparagus for a few minutes and set aside. Now add the spinach and cook until it is wilted
  • Crack eggs into the boiling water and cook for around 3 minutes
  • Place the wilted spinach on top of the toasted bread,  add slices of avocado 
  • Remove the poached eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and put on top of the avocado
  • Give a good helping of salt and pepper
  • Place a tablespoon of pesto on top of each egg then finish the whole dish off with asparagus spears
  • Check seasoning and eat!

This is the yummiest breakfast I have eaten for a very long time.














Monday, 31 August 2015

On Holiday! Collecting Recipes!

It has been a very busy few weeks and I am sorry I haven't posted many recipes. Basically although I have been trying to get myself ready for my walking trip, I have also been trying to shake off a really bad cold which has laid me low for the last few weeks and I think it will be another week before I start to feel a whole lot better.

This isn't good news because tomorrow I am heading out to Singapore on my first stop to UK. I can't wait to feel the warmth and humidity in Singapore, because I think that's what my body needs right now to help it heal quickly.

I will not be posting for 5 weeks or so, but I wanted you to know that I will be collecting a whole of of new food ideas while I am away and hope to be able to share when I return.

So wish me luck on my 350 km walk! and  hope the legs holds out.

I am leaving you with some pics of UK I took last year. See you soon!








Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Almond and Raspberry Cake - Gluten and Dairy Free

At the end of September I will find myself in Paris for just a few days. How exciting! That will be my reward for walking The Thames Path, over 250 kilometres. What's on my shopping list? - you might well ask! Handbags, shoes, leather gloves? Not at all! I have a list of the most wonderful food shops, markets and patisseries that I am hoping to visit.

A fabulous food safari to immerse myself in deliciousness (is that a word) and a huge amount of interesting new food combinations. Maybe some truffles, cheese, baguettes and of course pastries and macarons. But until then, it's back to planning and packing and wishing and dreaming.

I have had a request for a gluten and dairy free cake. One that tastes amazing, simple to make yet ticks all the boxes. So here is my recipe. It can be made using frozen or fresh raspberries or blueberries and teems very nicely with vanilla ice cream. 

In this recipe you can use butter instead of the dairy free spread if you wish.



Almond and Coconut Cake with Raspberries
Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free

1 1/2 cups (170g) almond meal
1 1/4 cups (275g) caster sugar
3/4 cup (70g) desiccated coconut
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
200g Nuttelex (or any dairy-free spread), melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (frozen works perfectly well)


  • Preheat oven to 170°C fan forced (350°F), lightly grease a 24cm springform pan and line base and sides with baking paper.
  • In a large bowl, stir together almond meal, sugar, and coconut.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla extract until combined. Stir in the melted butter.
  • Next add the butter mixture into the almond mixture, stirring until smooth. Don't over stir, just until everything is combined.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan, then dot the raspberries on the top, pushing them slightly into the batter.
  • Bake 45 - 50 minutes, until the cake is golden and the top springs back   when you press it lightly.
  • Cool in pan for 5 minutes, transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar.
This should make 8 servings


Monday, 27 July 2015

Three Cheese Cannelloni

You know the expression, "everything is going pear shaped"? No? well this Australian expression means "things are not going as expected"

So I had an arthroscopy on my knee in April and I expected it to be a breeze and I would be back walking in a couple of weeks!  Needless to say that didn't happen.

Now, after 15 weeks of pain, swelling, feelings of utter desperation, physiotherapy visits and lots of strapping, I may be reaching a turning point! Albeit, fingers crossed, rabbit foot lucky charms and black cats  - it will be fine in 5 weeks when I leave to go to the UK to walk The Thames Pathway . That's a lot of kilometres to walk while carrying a back pack.

Intense gym sessions and extended walks over the next few weeks have to be high on my list or I will never make the distance.

In celebration of seeing 'the light at the end of the tunnel', I am cooking one of my favourite fast pasta dishes. Three Cheese Cannelloni! It has nothing to do with pears either, but it got you interested.

I first made this dish about 15 years ago and I have served this to most of the people I know and everyone agrees it is pretty darn good.

Three Cheese Cannelloni

Ingredients

Dried or fresh Cannelloni (approximately 15 tubes)
350 fresh ricotta cheese (the package supermarket wont do)
2 eggs
100g grated parmesan cheese
handful of Italian parsley, finely chopped
200g Mozzarella grated
few chives finely chopped

salt and pepper


For the sauce

jar of Passata or large tin of diced tomatoes
1 onion finely chopped
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
fresh basil chopped
handful of Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 tbls tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbls olive oil
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper


  • Start the sauce first. In a large fry pan heat oil and sauté onion and garlic until soft but not coloured.
  • Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes. Lower the heat and add passata or tinned tomatoes, chopped parsley, basil,bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Continue to cook for 10 minutes then add tomato paste. Continue to cook for a further 20 - 30 minutes until the tomatoes are nicely broken down and the sauce is thick. 
  • Check seasonings and adjust if necessary.
  • While the sauce is cooking, mix up the cheese stuffing. In a large bowl add parmesan, ricotta, eggs, parsley, chives, salt and pepper and mix together gently.
  • Spoon the egg and cheese mixture into a large piping bag and pipe the mixture into the cannelloni shells and place in a single layer in an oven proof dish.

  • When the sauce is ready, remove the bay leaf and pour the sauce over the cannelloni. Sprinkle the top with mozzarella cheese. bake in a pre heated oven 180º/350 for 30 minutes until the top is nicely browned.
  • Serve with a green salad and crusty bread.
Note: You can change the type of cheese in the cannelloni to suit your taste. Also you can add chopped wilted spinach to the cheese, which is really yummy.










Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Grapefruit Whisky Marmalade

I got a good deal on grapefruit yesterday! I want to save some to make a cake, but I don't need 5 kilos for that, so I suppose I will have to make some marmalade. 



Driving around my neighbourhood, I see a lot of gardens with ripe fruit and I wonder why people plant these trees and don't use the fruit. It seems such a waste! Am I cheeky enough to knock on their door and ask if I can have some. I see a number of local orange trees that are just bursting with fruit.

In a previous house I lived in, we had two orange trees in the garden and we couldn't give enough away. I was happy for anyone to take a box of oranges so I didn't have to eat them all. I hope someone tells me they have oranges to give away soon, because I have a few new ideas to work on and I do love fresh oranges and orange juice. Orange sorbet? Orange Vegan ice cream?

But back to marmalade!

This is the first grapefruit marmalade I have made, because I generally use Navel or Seville oranges. This recipe is a hodge-podge of ones I have used when making orange marmalade. Also from a little research to find an easier way to deal with the peel and the bitter pith instead of spending hours cutting and slicing.

My biggest problem in making this was that I ran out of gas part way through the first 40 minute cooking, even though my husband had checked it the day before and announced that we had 3/4 of a tank full. (we rely on bottled gas in this part of the hills). When the gas ran out I had to wait for the grapefruit to cool down, put it back in the fridge and wait for a gas delivery the following day before I could resume cooking- so that added an extra day of it sitting in the fridge! Not sure what difference this made, if any.

I was very surprised at how quickly the fruit boiled up once I had added sugar and the set was quite robust. The marmalade has a nice tang to it because of the whisky I added and it certainly doesn't have any bitter pithy taste. The whisky has the alcohol cooked out of it but it does give it a great warming taste and the colour is a beautiful caramel.

I will be sure to take a jar to my scottish friends when we go for dinner tomorrow evening!


Grapefruit Whisky Marmalade

Ingredients

Grapefruit -  2 kilos of fruit
Sugar - 2 kilos 
whisky - 1/2 cup
Juice of 2 lemons
Water

You can change the quantity of fruit and sugar to suit how much you want to make.

Wash and dry fruit. Don't worry about taking out the pips, that comes later.
Cut the grapefruit into  quarters and finely slice.
Place in a large stainless steel pan and cover with water.
Leave to soak overnight.


Following day, bring pan to the boil and cook for approximately 40 minutes until the fruit is very soft.  You will notice that over the next hour or so that the fruit is cooking, the pips will rise to the surface. You can take them off using a slotted spoon and discard. 

After 40 minutes, add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved. Add lemon juice and bring back to the boil.

Continue to boil until the marmalade reaches setting point (See blog post on cherry jam for setting point and bottling information)

This takes approximately 50 - 60 minutes, but keep checking to make sure the fruit is not catching on the bottom of the pan. 


Once it has reached setting point, add whisky, cook for 3 minutes to burn off the alcohol and then turn off, allow 10 minutes for it to cool and spoon into prepared jars.

I ate this the very next day, but it may be better if left for a while for flavours to develop. 






Monday, 6 July 2015

Tangy Lemon Slice


A local request for some lemons was met with an avalanche. Because in Adelaide it is winter and winter means citrus and lots of it. I was overjoyed by the generosity of the community I live in and so thankful that people with abundance are prepared to share. I will certainly be sending some pickle their way once it is made.

While I was hoping to get some nice thin skinned lemons to make a gorgeous Indian Spiced Pickle,  most of the lemons had thick skins. So the pickle I was going to make wouldn't work with the thicker skinned lemons. 

Hey, no complaints, I can still make a pickle, but will need to change my recipe to suit and that means buying asafoetida powder and Nigella seeds and then I can get pickling.  

In the meantime I am making a batch of Lemon Curd and a gorgeous soft, sweet and very lemony slice.






Tangy Lemon Slice

Ingredients

21/4 cups plain flour
2 cups of caster sugar
1 cup of butter softened
4 eggs
juice of 2 lemons
icing sugar for dusting

Pre heat oven to 160º fan forced/180º/gas 4
Place 2 cups of plain flour, butter and 1/2 cup of caster sugar in a bowl and whisk together.
Press this mixture into a non stick, un-greased 22 x 33 cm (9 x 13 inch) pan, using the back of your hand. 


Bake this in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven.

While the base is baking, start making the topping. Take the remaining 11/2 cups of sugar, 1/4 cup of flour and mix. Add the eggs and then the sieved lemon juice and whisk this all together. 

Pour this over the baked crust and return to the oven immediately, baking for another 20 minutes.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack. The slice will appear quick soft at first but it will harden up as it cools.

Once the slice is cold, cut into the desired pieces and dust with icing sugar.

This is a very easy recipe and one that we all love. Hard to make enough because everyone asks for seconds and a slab of it disappears in no time. I like that! 

Gather some lemons, wait for a rainy day in the kitchen and get juicing.