Polenta & Chilli Muffins

Lovely ‘little breads’ boasting a warm herbaceous flavour.

With Hubby spending so much time on the road driving the truck, muffins are the ideal fuel to keep him motoring along. They’re also jolly well nice with a cup of tea!

For these wee beauties you’ll need to start by setting your oven to 200c to pre-heat whilst we crack on with the batter. These muffins are really quick & easy, bursting with fabuliciouz flavour!

Line a muffin baking tin with patty pan papers & set aside.

Into a large mixing bowl goes, 175g of Self Raising Flour along with 175g of Polenta, 85g of caster sugar & 2 teaspoons of baking powder. Give them a mix up then add in 55g of grated cheddar cheese, a good sprinkling (about a tablespoon worth) of dried mixed herbs & 3 teaspoons of chilli paste (I use the Korean Chilli Paste from our local Asian Grocer – it wallops a heck of a lot more punch!). Stir all of that together & set aside.

Meanwhile, grab yourself a mixing jug & pour in 1 cup of milk before cracking in 1 egg & adding 1 teaspoon of mustard (I use a mild German mustard to balance out my chilli paste, but by all means, use a good English one if you really want to hurt!). Melt 85g of butter gently on the stovetop & add that into the wet ingredients in the mixing jug in a slow trickle, whisking the entire time so that you don’t accidentally cook that egg!

Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients & pour your wet ingredients in. Stir it all until it’s just combined into a batter, don’t over-mix it.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared patty pans & pop it into that 200c oven to bake for 20 minutes.

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Croquettes with Spiced Aioli

Golden crisp crunch gives way to soft fluffy potato complimented perfectly with a bold flavoured dipping sauce.

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Potato Croquettes are an absolute crowd pleaser & are the perfect vehicle to carry a plethora of fabuliciouz flavours! This is my base recipe which pairs wonderfully well with my strong Spiced Aioli.

You’ll need to start this one the day before you want to serve it.

I begin by steaming 750g worth of peeled & chopped up tatties. I prefer to steam, rather than boil, so the potatoes don’t get waterlogged. It just makes it even fluffier!

Once they’re tender, grab a masher & give them a good squish up. It’s really important that you don’t mash them in a food processor because they get way too smooth for this recipe.

Next, add in 2 tablespoons of butter along with 1 lightly beaten egg, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg & season generously with salt & pepper. Stir it all in to mix well then spread the mash out onto a flat plate, cover it in tin foil & pop in the fridge overnight.

The following day, divide your chilled mash up into equal sized portions & roll into sausage shapes. Then comes the good old crumbing production line!

  • Bowl 1 – plain flour
  • Bowl 2 – 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • Bowl 3 – whatever kind of crumb floats your boat

Once all of your Croquettes have been through each bowl, add them to a tray which you then need to cover with tin foil & pop back in the fridge for another 2-3 hours to firm up again.

Deep fry time! Get your oil nice & hot before carefully sliding in each croquette to turn a beautiful golden colour. Drain the excess oil from them & they are good to greedily devour!

But Wait! There’s More!

I promised you a fabuliciouz Spiced Aioli to dip those deep fried potato pillows of loveliness in.

This is where my food processor I got in the Christmas sales has been an absolute game changer!

Into the bowl goes 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, 12 drops of tabasco sauce, 2 teaspoons of salt & 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Give that lot a jolly good whazz until it’s all blended up nicely. Now, with the machine still running, start to pour in a slow, steady stream of 1/2 cup of olive oil until it’s gorgeously smooth. Add in 8 cloves of crushed garlic & process it until it’s also smooth & Voila! Instant Aioli! Pour into a pretty bowl to serve with your Croquettes.

Spinach Dip

This Retro Classic is a breeze to whip up & with only 3 ingredients!

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This four day pseudo long weekend, created by the iconic Melbourne Cup horse race in the world’s most liveable city, always marks the start of our Festive Social Season. It’s a time where we glam up in a fashionista style unlike any other day of the year! I love pulling on my fancy frock, securing a stunning fascinator to my tresses & downing a glass of celebratory bubbles.

Alas, tis not to be this year as we must quickly pack up our belongings to depart our mountain top abode! We reluctant nomads are being forced on the move again due to the sale of yet another rental property. Not to the other side of the country this time, though, just sliding down to the bottom of this big hill.

But, I digress. It’s always lovely to have simple, easy foods to pick at & nibble throughout any party but especially at the races. This classic Spinach Dip is a proven crowd pleaser & it’s high time it made it back onto our Celebration Tables!

Simply bring a pot of water to the boil & throw in the contents from a 120g packet of fresh baby spinach leaves. Let them boil away to wilt then drain them & allow to cool ever so slightly.

Meanwhile, empty a 300g tub of sour cream into the pot & add in a 30g packet of spring vegetable soup mix then mix that in thoroughly along with the spinach.

Cook over a medium heat, stirring continuously, until it thickens up nicely then set aside to let the flavours develop for at least 15 minutes but it’s much better if you pop it in the fridge overnight.

Traditionally, this dip is served in a hollowed out round cob loaf with the scooped out bread being used to dip with but when needing Gluten Free, rice crackers & carrot sticks get devoured just as quickly!

Spiced Pumpkin Bites

These bite sized Indian inspired balls of spice

could be directly from my witches cauldron for the grown up trick or treaters! 

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I had a 1/4 of a butternut pumpkin leftover in my fridge & thought what on earth can I do with that?!?! Read on to find out how scary the inner workings of my brain can be!

So, I started by peeling & chopping up that 1/4 butternut pumpkin, tossing it into a pot of water & bringing it to the boil.

Whilst that was happening, I grabbed out my mini wok to create a spice paste. How I did that was to pop in a splash of peanut oil along with 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, 1/4 teaspoon of hot cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger powder & 1/2 tablespoon of red thai curry paste. Then I turned on the heat to fry those spices off until Hubby came running with the fragrance!

By this time, the pumpkin was nice & soft so I drained it, put it back into the now empty saucepan & mashed it up. I added in a good knob of butter too!

Into the spice paste in my mini wok, I added a splash of full cream milk, just a normal amount that I’d use to make a mash (you know, how you do butter & milk to any mashed tattie or pumpkin) but I put the milk into the spices first to loosen them up so the milk I used for my mash was spiced, rather than placing the spice paste directly into the pumpkin.

Next, I mixed through some cooked rice to continue along with my Indian theme & which would act as my binding agent.

Pop that lot in the fridge to chill.

When you’re ready to eat, simply heat up some oil in a pan, roll the spiced mashed pumpkin into balls & coat in whatever crumb float your boat before frying them off to colour as it’s already cooked. Make sure you set the balls aside to drain excess oil off & serve whilst still hot.

Now these are soft, so not finger food by any stretch of the imagination, so you will require forks for these wee beauties.

 

Spiced Pumpkin Scones

Fabuliciouzly light & oh so devourish!

These scones, with a hint of something special, won’t last long enough for the lashings of butter to melt upon them!

Start off this culinary delight by peeling 1/2 a butternut pumpkin & chopping into rough cubes. Bung into a baking dish, sprinkle with cumin & paprika to your taste before drizzling over a wee bit of oil & whacking into a 180c oven to roast for an hour. Drain the excess oil off then mash it up & set aside to go cold.

In a mixing bowl, cream together 30g of softened butter with 2 teaspoons of caster sugar. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been told to use a wooden spoon to do this so that’s what I shall pass onto you too 🙂

Next, throw in 1/2 cup of the mashed spiced pumpkin, 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, 1 beaten egg & 3/4 cup of milk. Give that lot a jolly good mix in.

Into the bowl plop 2 & 1/2 cups of self raising flour & mix together to form a dough then get your hands in there to knead it lightly. The mix will be awfully sticky so just wet your hands to pull bits off & roll into balls. Place the balls onto baking paper lined trays then lightly press down to flatten the tops & sprinkle with a wee bit of grated parmesan cheese.

Pop them straight into a 210c oven for 5 minutes before reducing the heat to 200c for another 5 minutes.

Be mindful of the hungry hoards thrusting their hands at the hot trays as you pull out your luscious scones!

Pan Fried Ricotta Gnocchi

Delightful wee pillows of fluffy potato that simply make you smile.

I’ve always loved making my own gnocchi. There’s something which I find just so satisfying about taking a humble potato & creating a fabuliciouz meal from it. Now that Mini Me & I are both Coeliac, I thought my “fluffy pillows” ,as she calls them, were yet another distant memory of our culinary past but NO! I have discovered a Gluten Free recipe which is a somewhat acceptable alternative.

Start by popping 3 large, starchy tatties into a pot of water & bringing to the boil. Make sure you leave their skins on so that no water can get into them. Once they’re cooked through, peel them whilst hot (careful not to blister the prints off your fingertips!) then use the fine side of your grater to mimic what a potato ricer would do with a nice fine shred.

Make a well (hole) in the centre & add 1 egg yolk with enough ricotta cheese to knead into a dough.

Heat some oil in a pan to shallow fry before pinching bits of the dough off to roll into balls then use your thumb to add a slight depression in the middle before placing gently into the hot oil.

Turn the gnocchi carefully to crisp up both sides before removing to drain any excess oil.

You can team them with your favourite pasta sauce or whack them through a fresh salad.

Easy Peasy Crepes

They’re sure to send you salivating at a fancy pants cafe,

but did you know that making ooh la la crepes at home is as easy as

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  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 3 eggs

Who woulda thunk it?!?!?!

To whip up this fabuliciouz delicacy in your very own home kitchen simply grab a mixing jug & pour in 2 cups of milk before cracking 3 eggs into it & give that lot a jolly good whisk!

Next, bung 1 cup of plain flour into a mixing bowl, add the milk/eggs mix & whisk it altogether until it’s gloriously combined.

Spray a non-stick pan (cause you never can trust those things!) with some spray cooking oil – oh yeah, you’re on a medium heat here guys – then just ladle some batter into the middle of the pan & swirl it about to coat the entire bottom.

Cook it for a couple of minutes to get it lusciously golden before flipping for a minute on the other side.

Whack it on a plate & keep going to use up all the batter!

Once you’ve got your crepes, you can then really get creative with your toppings, rolling, folding etc to make something truly spectacular to serve up to your loved ones at home.

Taco Bites

This is my spin on reinventing a classic to make it finger food friendly.

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Most people love tacos, the spiced meat, luscious sour cream, a tang of cheese & a splash of sauce usually are a crowd favourite. But it’s just a wee bit messy sometimes trying to juggle a drink whilst scoffing down even the daintiest of ‘cocktail’ tacos as you try to remain the epitome of elegance. So, I have played in my kitchen to come up with this Taco Bite to give you all the fabuliciouz flavours of a Taco in the easy to handle form of a ball. You may applaud me now & call the Nobel Prize people.

Brown off 500g of chicken mince before seasoning with a 30g packet of Taco Seasoning Mix which you’ve blended in 3/4 cup of water. Give that lot a jolly good stir then allow to simmer gently whilst you crack on.

Next, bring a pot of water to the boil, add salt & cook off 1 & 1/2 cups of rice. When done, drain & bung in with the chicken mince, stirring well.

Throw in 2 handfuls of grated cheddar cheese along with a whole tub (300g) of sour cream. Mix that lot well then allow to cool & refrigerate overnight.

The following day, crush up a bag of plain salted corn chips to crumb consistency then place in a dish.

Retrieve the meaty taco mixture & roll chunks of it into whatever sized balls float your boat, then coat them in the corn chip crumb before placing them onto a tray. When all done, put the tray of taco balls into the fridge to set for about an hour.

When your guests arrive, heat up some oil in a fry pan & shallow fry the balls to golden perfection before draining on some paper towel & serving with salsa dipping sauce.

Ring Stinger Biscuits

I don’t call these Ring Stinger bikkies for nothin’ so consider yourself warned!

Ring Stinger Biscuits

First of all, pop a baking tray inside the oven as it pre-heats to 190c.

Grab a mixing bowl & combine 200g grated parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons of plain flour, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper & then salt & pepper to taste. Don’t be afraid to get messy by using your finger tips to lightly rub in the oil to make the mix nice & crumbly.

Now you’ll need to get your skates on as the trick to these bikkies actually working is speed!

Grab the hot tray out of the oven & bung on spoonfuls of the mix while pushing it gently to combine. Bake them in the oven for 10 minutes.

Whizz the tray out again to turn the bikkies over very, very carefully! Then adorn each one with a sliced ring of jalepena chilli in the centre before crowning it all off with a generous sprinkling of chilli flakes & more parmesan cheese.

Whack the tray back in the oven to bake for a further 5 minutes.

Tanz Tip ~ the bikkies are wafers so they should be lacy in appearance so don’t stress about them being so thin.

Japanese Karaage Chicken

Asian fried chicken that’s sure to be a big hit!

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Karaage Chicken is Japan’s answer to one of our Western favourites & these juicy wee nuggets have been fried to a delicious golden crunch. I just love how easy these are to prepare!

Grab a mixing bowl & bung in 5g of freshly grated ginger, 2 teaspoons of minced garlic, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce & 1 tablespoon of cooking sake. Give that lot a jolly good whisk then add in 4 plump chicken thighs which you’ve diced into lovely bite sized pieces. Coat the chook well in the marinade, cover & pop in the fridge for half an hour.

When time is up, simply drain off any excess liquid before adding in 1/4 cup of potato starch & making sure that you get all those nuggets coated. Now if you can’t find potato starch, just use gluten free flour.

Get your oil nice & hot (about 180c) so that when you sprinkle a wee bit of flour in, it sizzles.

Fry off small batches of the nuggets so that the oil temperature stays high before whacking onto a wire rack to drain whilst you carry on with the rest.

Serve these fabuliciouz nuggets with Japanese Mayonnaise & rice.