Caramel Popcorn

My mother would often make this special treat for us as small children on the farm;

it reminds me of innocent childhood days spent running through paddocks among animals.

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 Pop a solid glug of oil in a deep saucepan to heat slowly. When a single corn kernel spins, then it’s hot enough.

Bung 1/2 cup of popping corn kernels into that hot oil & get the lid on FAST! Play a little shimmy shake with the pan & wait until the popping sound ceases. Mini me delights in this, as I have a glass lid on the pan, so she can watch the popcorn dance.

Whack that lot into a disposable foil tray & set aside.

Next, grab a small saucepan & into the pot goes 2 tablespoons of honey, 3/4 cup of caster sugar and half a block (125g) of butter. Stir that over low heat until the sugar dissolves completely into the melted butter & honey then turn up the heat to bring it to the boil for 5 minutes or so, just to bring it to a beautifully golden caramel colour. Stay with it, don’t walk away, as it turns quickly so you don’t want to burn it.

Pour that fabuliciouz caramel all over the popcorn & then comes the secret ingredient – SALT! Yep, that good old trick! Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt flakes (I use Maldon) over the caramel & stir it all through the popcorn.

Leave that tray aside to set, usually about 5 minutes or so depending on how hot it is where you are. Once cooled, the caramel will be solid around the popcorn. This is when you’ll be grateful for that disposable foil tray 😉

Turn out the popcorn onto a cutting board, simply pull at the edges of the foil tray for it to release. Take a sharp knife & cut it into slices before chopping into bite sized chunks.

This is great to take along to parties or other get togethers or to just nibble on at home.

Teriyaki Chicken

Fast Food at it’s home kitchen best!

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This is seriously so quick to come together, you wouldn’t have time to stop for take away!

Grab yourself a medium sized mixing bowl & bung in 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 6 teaspoons of soy sauce, 6 teaspoons of honey, 1 teaspoon of pure sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper & 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh ginger.

Give that lot a jolly good stir before whacking in 500g of diced chicken thigh & coating generously.

Heat a solid glug of oil in a wok, then pour in the contents of the mixing bowl to cook through.

Toss in cooked vermicelli noodles & it’s Chompin Time!

Devilled Sausages

It’s another absolute classic from our childhood kitchens!

Succulent sausages nestled in a rich tomato onion sauce studded with soft apples.

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Pre-heat your oven to 200c.

Grab an ovenproof dish & bung in a 500g packet of sausages, a sliced onion & a granny smith apple that you’ve peeled & sliced up.

In a measuring jug combine 1 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon of mustard powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper & 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.

Pour that lot over the snags, onion & apple in the ovenproof dish, give it a jolly good mix up before covering the dish. If your dish doesn’t have a lid then just use foil (secret tip – the shiny side of foil always goes on the inside with the food!) then whack that in the oven for 1 & 1/2 hours, just stir a couple of times during cooking.

Welsh Rarebit

This fabuliciouzly tasty Cheese Fondue recipe is a definite winner with my fam-bam.

It’s quick, it’s easy & it’s oozy, gooey cheesy!

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So if you’ve got a proper Fondue Pot (with the alcohol based burner beneath) then make this directly in the ceramic pot over a wee bit of water in the steel pot beneath it.

If you don’t have a proper Fondue Pot, then simply make this in a saucepan over medium-low heat & either eat directly from that or transfer the finished fondue into a nice warmed serving bowl for the table.

Pop 1/2 cup butter & 1/2 cup beer (I’ve used gluten free beer) into the pot & let it melt gently.

Next, whack in an entire 500g packet of shredded cheddar cheese. Stir continuously until that’s nicely melted.

Season generously with salt & white pepper.

Dig In!

Can you believe how super easy that is?!?!

This is fantastic as a dinner party with a great big platter of different stuff to dip into the cheesy mess of fondue. On the platter in the photo, I’ve opted for steamed carrots & potatoes alongside cooked Hungarian Sausage & Bacon Steaks but you can make this completely meat free by having all vegetables on the platter with fresh beans, asparagus or even sautéed mushrooms!

Traditionally, though, this was served with toasted bread to dunk.

Basic Tea Cake

It’s part of my heritage, coming from rural Australia, that in the country when someone pops in for a cuppa there’s always a tasty baked item to go alongside it.

Whether it be scones, bikkies, slice or cake

simple recipes have been handed down through generations of country women.

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This Basic Tea Cake is a versatile number to have up one’s sleeve as it carries so very many different possibilities to play with.

Start by creaming 60g of softened butter with 1/2 cup of caster sugar, beat them until they’re light & fluffy.

Next, add in an egg & make sure it’s all incorporated.

Then we’re going to have a game of tag! Grab yourself 1 & 1/2 cups of self raising flour & 1/2 cup of milk. The trick is to fold those through gently whilst adding alternatively – so a little bit of flour then a little bit of milk…..

Throw in a good pinch of salt & mix the batter well.

Pour into a greased cake tin & bake in a 180c oven for 45 minutes, or until it springs back lightly when touched in the centre.

What makes this cake so great is that you can change up the flavours to so many different combinations. In the photo, I’ve done buttercream, which in itself gives plenty of flavouring options, but you can also dress it up with seasonal fruits (apple slices & cinnamon sugar works really well!), pour over a chocolate ganache or even just dust it in icing sugar.

Apple Fritters

It’s Apple season in Australia!

What’s better than taking this fabuliciouzly healthy fruit & deep frying it?!?!

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Start by whipping up a quick Gluten Free batter by taking 2 eggs out of the fridge to separate. You want to put the 2 egg whites in a bowl but only keep aside 1 egg yolk for later.

Give those egg whites a jolly good whisk to stiff peak consistency, then add in the egg yolk. Watch it turn a beautiful golden colour as it all comes together.

Next, peel 4 apples (I use granny smiths as they’re fantastic cooking apples which hold up to heat better) & chop them into thick slices, straight through the core. After, grab yourself a round cutter & place over the core & seeds area, press down then remove the cutting to reveal a neat donut shaped apple slice.

Heat up a generous amount of oil in a large frypan.

Dip the apple rings into the batter & carefully place into the hot oil. Shallow fry each side until they’re nicely crisp & golden.

Remove from the hot oil straight onto some paper towel to drain & dust generously with cinnamon sugar while piping hot.

If they make it to a plate to serve, devour greedily!

Oriental Pork

Hubby reckons this one is so good he’d eat it every single night!

Best of all, it’s fabuliciouzly quick for me to whack together after mini me’s ballet class!

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Start with a good glug of oil in your wok getting nice & hot. Then, fry off 500g of pork mince.

While that’s doing it’s thing, pop 100ml of sweet chilli sauce into a measuring jug then top it up to make 1 cup worth altogether with soy sauce & mix well. Set aside.

Throw into the wok, half a dozen or so sliced mushrooms along with a chopped red chilli. Give it a quick toss before adding in the sauce & 125ml of water.

Bring it to a simmer & allow it to bubble away for a good 10 minutes.

While you’re waiting, cook up a packet of vermicelli noodles to bung in your bowls & scoop it over the top to serve.

 

Chicken & Potato Curry

This flavour packed curry is just perfect for a cold & rainy winter evening to warm up with.

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Pop a solid splash of oil in a deep sided fry pan before bunging in 500g of chicken mince, 2 teaspoons of minced garlic & 2 tablespoons of curry powder (I use good old Keens, of course). Fry that off until the mince is cooked through.

Add in 4 large potatoes, which you’ve peeled & roughly diced into hearty chunks, along with a tin (400g) of diced tomatoes & 300ml of water. Season it all generously with salt & pepper then give it a jolly good stir.

Bring it up to a simmer, whack on a lid & leave it alone for half an hour for those tatties to get nice & soft.

Throw in a cup of frozen peas at the end, give it another stir while you wait for those to go tender & then it’s SERVICE!!!!!!!

Cheesy Meatloaf

Fabuliciouzly hearty when served with creamy mashed tatties, 

This cheese lovers meatloaf is perfect on these cooler evenings.

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Pre-heat your oven to 180c before you start as this comes together really quickly!

Grab a mixing bowl & bung in 500g of beef mince, a finely diced onion, about a tablespoon worth of chopped up fresh thyme, 2 tablespoons of good old tomato sauce & a very generous man sized handful of grated cheddar cheese (or two lady handfuls).

Get your hands dirty with mixing that all together, then shape into a loaf in an oven-proof dish.

Whack in the oven for 20-30 minutes (until cooked) before absolutely smothering in yet more grated cheddar cheese & popping back in the oven to melt.

This one is guaranteed to make you popular!

Face the Fear!

We all have something in the kitchen that we’re secretly terrified of.

For me, it’s piping!

Last night, I attended my very first ever Cake Decorating class to try, once & for all, to conquer this mysterious skill!

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I must admit that I was filled with trepidation as hubby & mini me roared off in our car after depositing me at the door of Crafty Cakes in Somerville on the fabuliciouz Mornington Peninsula. I mean, what on earth was I doing here?!?!? A sense of impending doom descended upon me as visions danced through my mind of out of control piping bags squirting everyone & filling the room with buttercream while I desperately hung on for dear life as it took over to destroy & devour all in it’s path of destruction!

Mercifully, Chef Tiff, came to the door to greet me & burst me out of my terror. After all, I was here to whip this beast & teach it who’s boss!

I could not have felt more inadequate or out of place in that cake decorating room. I have been an avid fan of Cake Boss & Choccywoccydoodah for many years. I’ve always had the desire to make beautiful creations but have always felt I lacked any real talent. As the rest of the students arrived, I shrunk into the corner & tried to remain unseen. They were a lovely group of kind hearted ladies, but I felt extremely intimated by the level of cake awesomeness surrounding me. Once again, What was I doing here?!?!?!

The class started with us cutting the tops off our cakes. I was amazed by a nifty wee piece of equipment (which will soon be mine!) that had a couple of wires strung between metal poles that simply swiped the top of my cake off with supreme ease. Thank goodness I wasn’t asked to use a knife or there would of been cake carnage!

Next, we were to ‘dirty ice’ the cake. Suddenly, my imagination took over as I fantasised about slathering on oodles of buttercream alongside Buddy Valastro, but this feeling was short lived as we moved onto the actual piping bags – DA DA DUM!

With trembling hands I scooped up the dreaded beast, turned down it’s mighty mouth, inserted the coupling & then, couldn’t get the scissors to snip the tip off! There….it had happened….I was officially a gumby!

It had to be the station I had chosen to have the blunt scissors. DOH! My neighbour lent me hers & all was good again.

The rest of the evening went by in an absolute blur of gel paste, colours, hysterically crude descriptions of how to create the flowers & before I knew it, we were assembling our masterpieces!

Placing on the final top coat of buttercream, my novice status shone through again as I discovered I was using the smoothing tool the wrong way round! Poof! There goes the Cake Boss fantasy again!

In the end, I stood back, looked at my cake & thought WOW! Did I really make that?!?!?! This morning, I still can not believe that I created that cake every time I look at.

But Chef Tiff, has to have the last word on this topic as she absolutely stunned me when I was leaving last night in declaring that she hopes I come back for more classes as I have some “Serious Talent”!

Who woulda thunk it!