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!

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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.

Perfect Pork Crackling

It’s the holy grail of roasting, how to get that perfectly crunchy pork crackling!

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With just these few simple tips, you too will create the most fabuliciouz Pork Crackling in your very own kitchen to impress your friends. Just imagine the glory, Chef, when you whack down these beauties in a bowl instead of packet crisps to enjoy with drinks!

First of all you need to dry your pork skin, that’s just an easy dab over with some paper towel.

Next, pop it onto your baking tray & just give it a sweet kiss of oil, I’m talking just a wee sheen on there, so it’s just enough to stick the salt too.

Then, use a good quality salt. I use a Himalayan Pink Rock Salt to grind over. Make sure you cover all of that luscious skin now!

Finally, bung it in a 220c oven for half an hour. When it comes out simply let it cool & snap away with either your hands or a knife to break into bite sized chips of porky goodness.

Sushi Rolls

They’re quick, they’re healthy & they’re fabuliciouz!

Whipping up this Food Court favourite at home is easier than you may think!

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Start with the rice – you’ll need to bung 1 cup of cooked rice into a nice shallow bowl before popping over 3 tablespoons of Sushi Seasoning, you can find this in the Asian section of your local supermarket these days! Use a wooden spoon to gently fold the seasoning through the rice before allowing it to cool to room temperature. This sushi seasoning is the secret ingredient! You know how when you buy these rolls at the shops there’s always that certain special taste that you can’t quite put your finger on???? Well this is it! It also gives the rice that absolutely essential sticky consistency too.

Next, you’ll need a bamboo sushi mat, also readily available in the Asian aisle of supermarkets these days.

Lay your bamboo sushi mat flat on your bench before taking out a sheet of Nori Seaweed (how good is it now that we can get all these wonderfully exotic ingredients so easily?!?!). Lay the Nori sheet with the shiny smooth side down against the matt as this will be your outer presentation side so you want the rough, dull bit on the inside.

Spread the sticky rice in a layer all over the Nori sheet but make sure you leave a 2cm gap at the end furthest from you.

Next comes your fillings! This is where you can let your imagination run wild or simply take inspiration from the menu at your local take out.

In a narrow strip, closest to you, start layering. Just use a couple of ingredients, as the Japanese do, which work really well together. In the picture I have used curried egg & chicken, but also think about avocado, cucumber, tuna, wasabi, ginger, duck – all the classics!

Then you need to use the bamboo mat to lift the fillings end, which is the closest to you, up & over ensuring a nice tight roll. Wet your fingers to moisten the 2cm strip you’ve left at the far end of the nori seaweed & lift up & over again with the mat to seal your roll. Squeeze to ensure a nice tight roll that won’t fall apart.

Remove the roll from the mat by simply opening the bamboo mat up again before transferring the roll onto a cutting board. Finally, because the rice is so sticky, you will need to wet a very sharp knife to slice the roll into bite sized pieces.

It’s Chompin Time!