Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mid-week Chicken Casserole

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A reliable staple in my grandmother’s repertoire was chicken casserole.  She had lots of versions of the recipe, but she made it so often that she didn’t need to use one. When she was in a hurry she would use a can of soup, or a dried onion soup mix, but she would usually make it from scratch.  This dish can be served with pasta, potatoes or rice.  With the sprogs’ endless craving for pasta it is rare that we are allowed anything else.  The only thing better is Bohemian dumplings – but that is a recipe for another day.

 Recipe

  • 2 onions
  • butter or oil to saute
  • 1.5 kg boneless chicken thighs, chopped into 2 cm pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 8-10 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 T flour
  • 1/2 green capsicum, finely diced 
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 1/2 t dried sage
  • 1 t finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions in butter or oil til becoming translucent. Add chicken,  celery and mushrooms. Saute until chicken begins to colour and stir in flour. Add remaining ingredients and bake in low to moderate oven until fully cooked and starting to thicken.   This recipe also works well in a slow cooker.

Chai tea

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It was another bleak and dreary autumn day today, and when the sun went down there was a real hint of winter in the air.  The sprogs got into their winter jammies and asked for a cup of chai.  So for a bit of a treat I decided to make them a home brewed chai.

This recipe came from an old bohemian friend of mine.  She goes bush every now and then and when she does, living is truly rough.  This chai tea was something she would brew up when she could afford to get into town and buy herself some fresh milk.  She would boil it up over an open fire and fill her biggest mug, and sip it while reading a book by candlelight.  And every now and then she would turn up at my place to have a hot shower, a long chat and a cup of chai that she would make for me with spices that she brought with her.

Recipe

  • 8 cloves
  • 7 cardamon pods
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 2cm knob of ginger roughly chopped
  • 2 1/2 c water
  • 2 1/2 c milk
  • 2 t sugar, or to taste
  • 1 T formosan (not bitter) tea

Boil spices in water for about 15 minutes.  Add milk and sugar, bring back to the boil. Turn heat off and add tea.  Strain into cups. Lovely served with a light sprinkling of ground cinnamon on top.

Cup and saucer from Bormioli Rocco.

Carrots with Orange Sauce

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My grandmother didn’t really like plain vegetables – they needed to have some sort of treatment to make them truly delicious.  This is a classic example of the sort of side dish she would make for friends.

Recipe

  • 12 carrots
  • 1/2 c orange juice
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 t flour
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T grated orange rind
  • 2 T butter (optional – this will give a richer taste and smoother texture, so omit for a lighter taste)

Combine orange juice, sugar, flour, rind and salt. Add butter if using. Cook for 5 minutes over low heat stirring constantly. Steam or boil carrots until cooked through but not soft.  Pour sauce over to serve. This recipe will serve 8-10 as a side dish. I usually make half.

Sunday Afternoon Repast

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After weeks and weeks of mostly rainy weekends, you learn to grab any hint of sun and enjoy being outside in the day.  It is a day to not think about cooking. A loaf of bread, some cheese and a collection of accoutrements along with a crisp cold white wine, makes for a lovely laid back lazy Sunday afternoon.

Date Loaf

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My grandmother stopped working when she got married.  She lived in an era when most men believed it was their job to be The Provider and the woman’s role was to manage the home.  It was a shame really because she was an incredibly smart woman who had begun a highly promising career.  So anyway , she moved into her new home and diverted her boundless energies into being the best of the best home makers.  Ultimately this led to a level of domestic obsession that has become legend, but those are tales for another day.

Annie was up early each day, and she began most mornings in the kitchen whipping up some essential meal or treat.  Friends would often pop in around breakfast time for a morning coffee.  So it was a good idea to have a freshly baked loaf of something scrumptious to hand…

This date loaf is dense and filling and absolutely lovely.  Like most of my favourite recipes it is also easy to make. The recipe calls for 1 cup of nuts (I think pecans work best) but these days I just put a couple of nuts on the top because the sprogs don’t like cooked nuts.


Recipe

  • 1 1/2 c dates
  • 1 1/2 c boiling water
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c wholemeal flour
  • 1 3/4 c plain flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cream of tartar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 c nuts (optional)

Cut dates, pour boiling water over. Add butter, sugar and salt and mix well. Once cool, add egg, vanilla, flours, cinnamon, soda and cream of tartar. Add nuts if using. Bake in large load pan lined with baking powder for about an hour at 175C.

Vanilla Marmalade Slice

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  My grandmother entertained a lot, and always had people dropping in. She was keen to be the perfect host at all times, and so needed  to have something sweet ready to whip out  at a moment’s notice.  When she baked cookies she always made 3 different varieties so her guests had a selection to choose from.  So that she kept things fresh (and possibly to have an excuse to make more sooner rather than later), she only made half of each recipe at a time.

When I cook I never cook half of anything!  I go for bigger recipes often in the hopes that whatever I make will go some distance. This recipe is one for a large slice tin (25 x 36 cm) and is quite rich (as many of Annie’s recipes are) so you can cut it into smaller bars.

Recipe

  • 340 g butter
  • 5 T good quality marmalade
  • 2 c white SR flour
  • 2 c wholemeal SR flour
  • 3/4 c rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 c sugar

Melt butter and marmalade together.  While butter mixture is melting, combine dry ingredients together and mix well.  Pour butter mixture over dry indredients and  mix until it forms a sticky dough.  Pour into slice tin lined with baking paper and spread evenly over the tin.  Bake at 170 C until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.  Once cool, ice with thin layer of vanilla icing and sprinkle with cocoa powder.

Vanilla Icing

  • 3 T butter
  • 1 1/2 c pure icing sugar
  • 3/4 t vanilla
  • milk, enough to obtain consistency to spread thinly over the slice

Beat all ingredients til icing is light and fluffy.

Sashimi Tuna with Orange Soy Sauce

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We ate a fair bit of fish when I was a kid, but if anyone had offered it to me raw I would have been totally grossed out. We weren’t especially adventurous with seafood anyway, but sashimi was way beyond us.  When I look back I think of all the sashimi eating years wasted!   Now that I have seen the light, I could eat sashimi every day – which is great because it is so healthy, but less great because it is expensive.  However, Wal and I will often spoil ourselves on a lazy sunny Sunday afternoon with a trip to the fish markets. 

Recipe

  • 250 g sashimi grade tuna
  • Wasabi paste

Sauce

  •  5 T soy sauce
  • 1 T orange zest
  • 1 t finely grated ginger
  • couple drops sesame oil
  • 2 T finely chopped fresh coriander

Mix all ingredients together and leave for 20 minutes for flavours to infuse.

Arrange fish on individual serving plates, and add some wasabi on the side.  Fill very small bowls with sauce and place on plate.  That’s it!  

If you feel like being really extravagent, buy some cooked prawns while you are at the fish markets.  They are also delicious dipped in the orange soy sauce.