Pilaf

Food Trivia – The only continent on planet Earth where rice is not grown is Antartica.

Rice is such a fabuliciouzly versatile & quickie ingredient to keep in my post ballet easy meal plan arsenal! Here’s a wee spesh number for those days when you just don’t have the time for the kitchen.

IMG_20160725_082439

Start off by popping 4 eggs into a saucepan of boiling water to allow them to hard boil. The trick, once they’re done, to avoid that oh so ugly grey ring around the yolk is to take the pan immediately to the sink & run cold water into it. Let that cold water just run on a steady, low flow for some time, until all the water (that was boiling) is now cold & the eggs are cold to the touch also. Turn off the running water & just leave them sit until you’re ready.

Meanwhile, have a pot of water coming to the boil, add salt & cook off 500g of rice before draining & setting aside.

Heat up a good glug of oil in a frypan & cook off 500g of mince (any type that floats your boat, I use pork) & then add in a solid amount of mixed frozen veggies (about a cup or so will be plenty). Grab your favourite curry paste (I use a Madras one from India) & scoop 2 tablespoons into the frypan along with 150ml of water. Give it all a jolly good stir & cook off for about 5 minutes or so.

Add in the cooked rice to the mince mixture & stir it through really well to combine nicely. Season generously with salt & pepper.

Peel those hard boiled eggs, cut them in half & plop them right on top of your dished up Pilaf remembering to salt them too.

It’s Chompin Time!

Goulash

As you know, Hubby is Hungarian, this means he really enjoys a good feed of Goulash every now & then. With the temperature plummeting & rise in snowfall on the mountains around us, it’s the perfect time of year for me to whack one together.

IMG_20160726_064410

Now every region, & indeed every family, in Hungary have their own variation of the National Dish. Family ‘secrets’ abound about the Goulash & most cooks will jealously guard their recipe, always leaving out an essential ingredient when passing on the knowledge. This is the recipe, in full, that Hubby & I came up with for our wee fam-bam which all three of us hook into!

First heat up a good blob (about a tablespoon) of butter in a large pan & throw in 500g of diced chuck steak to just seal the meat, remembering to season generously with salt & white pepper.

Bung the sealed meat into a slow cooker before adding a tin (400g) of diced tomatoes, a tub (140g) of tomato paste, a few peeled & chopped carrots & potatoes along with a deseeded & diced red long horn pepper (if you can’t get your hands on one of those just use a red capsicum instead).

Stir through 3 overly generous tablespoons of paprika & season very well with salt & white pepper.

Make sure everything is mixed up well before whacking on the lid & cooking on low setting for about 7 hours. If you don’t have a slow cooker, then everything goes in the stock pot you’ve sealed the meat in, pop on a lid & gently simmer for 3 hours.

When time is up, use a big stick to make your way through the drooling neighbours who’ve gathered around your kitchen & add in a tub (300ml) of sour cream to stir through & make your Goulash really creamy.

Place butter tossed steamed potato chunks into large bowls then scoop the Goulash over the top & greedily devour to warm you up from the inside on a bitterly chilly evening.

Chocolate Chip Biscuits

I’ve been reading the Pigeon book series by Mo Willems to Mini Me (who absolutely adores it!) so, of course, when the wee duckling gets a cookie for the pigeon we just had to have a

Kids in the Kitchen moment!

IMG_20160726_064347

Mini Me loves being in the kitchen & cooking absolutely everything! She can’t seem to get enough always wanting to try & learn new culinary skills each & everyday. She really does get quite proud of herself with her creations & eagerly awaits Daddy coming home after a hard day’s work to present him with her latest offerings for his much anticipated critique.

For these easy choccy chip bikkies, I had her start by creaming 1/2 cup of softened butter with 3/4 cup of caster sugar.

Next, she cracked in 2 eggs to beat well before mixing in 2 cups of self raising flour.

Then came the fun part! We broke up a 100g block of Organic Dark Chocolate into tiny choc chips to fold throw the mixture. Ok, I’ll admit that the entire choccy block didn’t quite make it to the bowl!

Grab a paper lined baking tray & use an ice-cream scoop to plop out nice balls of dough onto the tray then use your fingers to gently press down to flatten the tops so that they spread like a biscuit rather than rise like a cake.

Whack that into a 175c oven for about 15 minutes.

Now…..hubby doesn’t think I’ve spotted him eating the majority of these wee beauties, but I have!!!!!

Cheesy Chicken Rissoles

Rissoles.

They are such an iconic Aussie classic that they even rate mention in just as iconic Aussie films.

IMG_20160725_082530

A rissole is a wee bit of a half way point between a meatball & a burger pattie. What makes a rissole a true rissole, however, is that it absolutely must be crumbed!

These wee nuggets of Aussie nostalgia have appeared alongside the three vege as a ‘fancy’ way to have our meat for dinner as well as between slices of bread in our school lunch boxes & pulled apart for devouring at picnics in the bush. They bring a smile to the dial of many Aussies.

Here’s my updated version of the humble yet celebrated Rissole.

Start off by bunging 500g of chicken mince into a mixing bowl then season generously with salt & white pepper. Next, add in an egg along with 2 tablespoons each of both soy & tomato sauces. Throw in a handful of crumb (I use a gluten free breadcrumb, but you know, whatever floats your boat) then combine all that up really well.

Time to get messy! This is quite a wet mix so it helps to have the hubby (with pants on) handling the stove top side of things.

Heat a solid amount of oil in a frypan. We’re going to shallow fry each side so make sure there’s enough to come half way up each rissole. You don’t want the oil to be stonking hot or you’ll burn the crumb & the meat will be raw, just a nice medium heat on this one.

Scoop out some mix into your hand before making a slight indent in the middle. Place a cube of cheese (I use aged vintage cheddar to really give it epic flavour!) right into the indent, then cover it up with another blob of mix. Pat that into a ball/burger type shape. Slap straight into some crumb to coat all over. Make sure you retain some height to your rissole whilst also creating a wee bit of a UFO shape. Remember it’s half way between meatball & pattie.

Whack the rissole directly into the heated oil. Flip only once during cooking before draining on paper towel.

Just keep going with your production line there until all the mix has been transformed into fabuliciouz rissoles!

Now that’s a recipe destined to go straight to the pool room!

Smashed Pea Bruschetta

The flavour balance of creamy avocado combined with bursts of juicy peas along with the tartness of lemon juice & feta finished off with the silkiness of a poached egg all over crunchy sourdough toast. 

Salivating yet???????

IMG_20160725_082505

So I whipped up this wee fabuliciouz number for Sunday brunch for hubby & I must admit, I kind of out did myself on this one.

Bring a pot of water to the boil, add salt & whack in 1/4 cup of frozen peas to cook before draining then set aside.

Grab a mixing bowl & mash up 1 ripe avocado with a fork to get it nice & smooth. Add in a teaspoon of minced garlic along with the cooked peas & a squirt of lemon juice (that keeps the colour a really nice green). Season generously with salt & pepper, mix it all together to combine & pop a few of those peas with the fork to smash but leave a few whole for texture.

Next, to poach an egg. I know this is considered a dark chef art, but honestly, give it a crack & you may just surprise yourself!

Bring a pot of water to a steady simmer then add a dash of white vinegar. Crack an egg into a cup before creating a whirlpool in the water. Slowly tip the egg into the swirling water. The white should slide in first then the whirlpool action will cause it to wrap around the yolk as it enters. Cook for 3 minutes exactly. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon & drain on paper towel.

Right, off to assembly. Place a lovely slice of buttered sour dough toast on the plate, spoon over the green mixture then crumble feta cheese on top before crowning with the poached egg to lift this dish to the next level. Season with salt & pepper then It’s Chompin Time!

Banana Parfait

This fabuliciouzly decadent treat is a totally guilt free pleasure!

IMG_20160722_120117

Now entering her 4th year of Classical Ballet Training, Mini Me was finally old enough to take her very first Royal Academy of Dance Examination this morning! To say this has been a greatly anticipated event in our home could quite possibly qualify for the understatement of the year award! To celebrate this monumentous occasion, I whipped up something extra super dooper special for her.

Pop 500ml of Organic Vanilla Bean Yoghurt into a mixing bowl then chop 4 over ripe bananas (the ones where the skin has turned black as they give the best flavour!) straight into the bowl as well.

Whip out good old Mr Buzzy (aka stick blender) & whazz that to a beautifully smooth consistency making sure you get tons of air into the mix.

Pour into a container & whack it in the freezer to set.

When ready to serve, scoop out your parfait before crowning with diced macadamia nuts.

It’s an all the time, healthy treat to enjoy all year round.

Encrusted Pork Steaks

Mini Me absolutely devoured this entire meal & demanded MORE!

IMG_20160721_075731

Honestly, this is such a simple combination that just works. Hubby was ecstatic by this one as well & I already have orders from both my fam-bam to ensure I make this more often! Ah, when family is happy, Mummy is happy 🙂 Bliss.

Start off by crushing up 1/2 cup of salted cashew nuts. You can do this in a food processor if you want to but I find a wonderful satisfaction in chopping through nuts with my sharpest knife before scraping up the fine powder & dumping into a bowl.

Next, grate in 50g of mature cheddar cheese. The one I use has been aged for 20 months so is very sharp & full of fabuliciouz flavour!

Combine those two ingredients together then it’s an easy task of just pressing the mixture onto both sides of juicy pork loin steaks.

Heat up a wee bit of oil in a fry pan & whack those luscious beauties in there to cook. Turn only once during cooking though, or you’re likely to lose the crust.

I’ve served this with butter tossed boiled veggies which is a total match in flavour as not as heavy as a mashed tattie.

Smoked Oyster Cigars

This has got to be the easiest (i.e laziest!), impressively decadent starter you could ever whip up in a flash!

IMG_20160719_070711

So, this is another one of those moments where I flung open my pantry & fridge doors in complete desperation of Oh My Gawwwwwwwwwdddddddddddd what can I throw together in about 5 minutes! I reckon I did alright with the result.

Take some plump smoked oysters & roll them up in the most delicately thin sliced Jamon Serrano Ham from Spain.

Heat a wee bit of olive oil to pan fry these beauties to fabuliciouzly crisp before draining on paper towel. Because the Serrano is so thin, that really is done in the blink of an eye!

Arrange them on a serving board or platter, before lightly drizzling over the best quality Chilli Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil you can find.

Finally, finish it all off with a sprinkling of dried hot chilli flakes.

Wrap your laughing gear around that lot.

Spring Rolls

My fam-bam hooked into these wee rippers & greedily devoured them all faster than I made them!

IMG_20160718_063632

Fried Rolls, or Spring Rolls, are an absolute joy to make & oh so uber easy. If you’ve never tried it yourself, you’ll wonder why & go out to get the goods! It’s also another super fantastic kids in the kitchen, get the sneaky veggies in there, kinda thing!

So start off by getting all your fillings ready. This is where you can get really creative! Use up any leftover shredded meat you have, I’ve got duck in this lot pictured, and then raid your fridge for your veggies. In mine, there’s finely grated carrots & cabbage. Next, ensure you’ve got some cooked vermicelli noodles & create your production line.

You’ll need a bowl of water & a clean tea-towel. I buy a good export quality rice paper from Vietnam (you can find those at your local Asian grocer or even the supermarkets are getting on board with the good stuff these days). Simply soak your dried rice paper in the water for a few seconds, just till it softens. This is when it is imperative that you work FAST, hence why we’ve got the production line happening.

The secret to using the rice paper is the rough side faces up as that is your inside of the roll where your filling goes, leaving the lovely smooth side as the finished exterior.

So, lay your softened rice paper on your clean tea-towel, bung your fillings in on the end closest to you (but a wee bit off the edge), being careful to not overfill it, then comes the fun part, rolling it up!

Start by taking the lip of the rice paper closest to you & tucking it in over the filling. Next, fold in each side tightly across the filling. Then, just roll it up the length to close it off.

Do each roll separately as it’s so quickly you need to work with the softened rice paper & line them all up on a plate or tray.

Heat up a copious amount of oil in your deep fryer, saucepan or wok & toss them in until they turn a nice golden colour & get crunchy. Drain on paper towel & It’s Chompin Time!

Chicken & Mushroom Mac Cheese

This has been a winner with my fam-bam for many years.

It combines all of Mini Me’s favourites in one fabuliciouz dish!

IMG_20160715_064550

So this is another one of those 3 step meal things that I seem to always manage to do. What is with that? Until starting to write my recipes down in this blog, I never realised how I break down my cooking into stages like this. Quirky.

Step 1 – Boil a pot of water, add salt & cook off a 500g packet of macaroni pasta. Drain & plop into a deep casserole dish.

Step 2 – Heat a solid glug of oil in a frypan & cook off 500g of diced chicken thigh. Remember to season generously with salt & white pepper. When almost cooked, throw in half a dozen or so sliced mushrooms to fry off. Bung that lot in the casserole dish too.

Step 3 – Making a cheese sauce. Place a pot over the lowest heat setting possible to melt 2 tablespoons of butter (use the real stuff so your sauce isn’t oily). Take it off the heat & add in 2 tablespoons of plain flour & a teaspoon of salt. Give that a good stir to combine before popping back on the lowest heat setting. Keep stirring for about a minute – this is to cook off the flour so is a really important step to not skip. Next, slowly add in 2 & 1/2 cups of milk, stirring constantly. Now, that’s your basic white sauce, to turn it into a cheese sauce you simply need to add…..CHEESE…..who woulda thunk it?! I throw in 500g worth of shredded cheese, use whatever melting type of cheeses you like. I use an equal amount of mozzarella & cheddar. When all the cheese is melted, turn up the heat a wee bit to do that, then pour it straight into the casserole dish too!

Give the contents of the casserole dish a jolly good stir to spread it all out evenly before crowning this lusciously gooey creation in an extremely generous layer of shredded parmesan cheese (I know more cheese!!!!) then whack it in a 180c oven for 20 minutes.