Monthly Archives: May 2012

Stuffed Eggplant

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If you ask the sprogs if they like eggplant they will scrunch up their faces and say “Eeewwwwww!”  However if you feed them eggplant just quietly, hidden amongst other ingredients, they love it.  I am sure that part of the problem is that while they are very pretty on the outside, cooked eggplant really isn’t visually appealing.  The beauty of this dish is that they think the eggplant is the container for the food, and they don’t notice that it is also part of the filling.

Recipe

  • 3 large eggplants
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 t tumeric
  • 1 1/2 t cumin
  • 750 g lean beef mince
  • 500 g low fat cottage cheese
  • 1 roasted red capsicum, finely chopped
  • 6 pieces sun dried tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, finely diced
  • 150 g spinach leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 125 g Edam cheese, thinly sliced
  • 50 g parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat oven to 190. Cut eggplants in half lengthways. Scoop the flesh out of each half to create a cavity, leaving a 1 cm thick eggplant shell. Saute onion, celery, eggplant flesh  and spices in oil until onions start to become translucent. Add mince and cooked until well browned. Remove from heat and add cottage cheese, capsicum, tomatoes and spinach.

Line baking pan with baking paper. Place eggplant shells in pan.  Fill them generously with the mince mixture. Lay cheese slices over the filling and sprinkle parmesan on top.

Eggplant ready to cook

Bake for 40 minutes.

Pecan and Green Leaf Salad

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This salad has a lovely combination of both flavour and texture.  In summer I would serve this as the main meal with a slice of fresh crusty bread on the side.  In winter I use it as a generous sized side dish with some poached or sauteed chicken and toasted sourdough bread.

The portions in this recipe are for a winter side dish.

Recipe

  • 100 g fresh mixed spinach and rocket leaves
  • 1 bunch broccolini, steamed until just cooked
  • 1/2 sm red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 roasted capsicum, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 3 lg pieces sun-dried tomato, finely diced
  • 3 T toasted pepitas
  • handful of pecans, chopped
  • 50 g parmesan cheese, shaved

Mix all ingredients together.  Add salad dressing just before serving. Use just enough dressing to lightly coat the salad.

Salad Dressing

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t honey
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • salt, pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients well.

Cinnamon Ice Cream

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One of my mother’s day presents this year from Wal and the sprogs was an ice cream machine. It is compact Cuisinart and a gorgeous deep blue (I love the way appliances come in all manner of colours nowadays). It has a 1.5L capacity, which is actually completely adequate, despite my initial greedy misgivings.  I keep the bowl in the freezer when not in use so that it is available at short notice.

I am not sure whether this gift was bought with me or themselves in mind, but I know they were all totally thrilled to give it to me and they have enthusiastically encouraged me in its use!  I won’t talk about how many batches of ice cream it has already made in the short time I have had it…

Recipe

  • 600 ml full cream milk
  • 400 ml thickened cream
  • 4 cinnamon sticks, broken
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2/3 c caster sugar

In saucepan bring milk, cream and cinnamon sticks to the boil and remove from heat.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually whisk milk mixture into the eggs.  Return to heat and simmer gently until thickened enough to coat a wooden spoon.

Blend in ice cream machine according to manufacturers instructions.

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Chicken and Rice Salad

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When the weather cools down, and especially at night, salads tend to lose their appeal in favour of more hearty warm dishes. The thought of crisp light cold lettuce just doesn’t grab you like it did on a hot summer night in January (or June depending on which hemisphere you are living in!).

This salad is a great blend of light and crisp, with warm and hearty mixed in.  This recipe serves 4.

Recipe

  • 300 g poached chicken breast, sliced thinly *
  • 3/4 red capsicum, roasted **
  • 4 c freshly cooked brown rice (works best if still warm)
  • 1 carrot, julienned and steamed til just cooked
  • handful snowpeas, blanched
  • handful continental parsley
  • 3 T good quality egg mayonnaise
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 10-12 pecans, cut into 3 lengthways
  • 3 T pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 sm lettuce, torn

Divide lettuce amongst the plates to create a bed. Combine rice, capsicum, carrot, snow peas, mayonnaise, balsamic, parsley (reserving some for garnish) and basil in a bowl.  Divide rice mixture over the lettuce beds. Place chicken slices over the rice. Sprinkle pecans and pumpkin seeds over, and top with remaining parsley.

* Poaching brew

I poach about a 3/4 to 1 kg of chicken breasts as a time, so I can use for multiple meals.

  • 1 litre chicken stock (or water)
  • 1 t tumeric
  • 4-5 leaves fresh basil
  • 1/3 fresh red capsicum
  • 10-12 peppercorns

Place stock mixture over high heat.  Add chicken once it is close to a boil, turn heat down to simmer.  Cook until just cooked.  Chicken breasts are easily overcooked.  Leave in liquid until ready to use.  Can be poached a day ahead.  If doing so, slice chicken and then very gently reheat in a bit of the stock. Strain before adding to salad.

** Roasting capsicums

I do about 3 capsicums at a time.  Thinly coat roasting tray with olive oil.  Slice 3 cloves of garlic and spread over tray.  De-seed capsicum and cut each one lengthways into about 10-12 lengths. Roast on high heat until soft. If desired, remove skin once cool.

Peach Cobbler

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Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers of the world!  I hope you have all been as spoilt and showered with love as I have been. Of course my spoiling included a bunch of cookbooks!  My cookbook collection is so large that I have had to build a new set of shelves in my study to accommodate them all, and yet my endless fascination with what other people can do with food never ends.

However, on this occasion I went back to my grandmother’s recipes to create a Mothers Day dessert.  She called this a peach cobbler, although I am not sure if that is technically correct.  Whatever it should be called, it is a lovely dessert that is easy to make and sure to please.  It is best served warm. I serve it with whipped cream, but my grandmother generally used vanilla ice cream.

Recipe

  • 1 kg can/bottle peaches in natural juice
  • 200 g butter, softened
  • 3/4 c caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 3/4 c wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 c plain flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 c desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 c almond meal

Strain peaches in colander over a bowl. Retain juice. Line 23 x 32cm baking pan with baking paper. Preheat oven to 170C.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time and beat well. Add vanilla. Blend flours, baking powder and soda, and fold into butter mixture.  Fold coconut into mixture, and finally fold in almond meal. Spread mixture evenly over the pan and smooth surface.

 Gently push peach slices into the batter.  Be sure to place them close together.

Once the batter is completely covered in peaches it is ready to cook.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer  into the centre comes out clean.

While cobbler is in the oven, place reserved juice and 2 T golden syrup into a small saucepan on the stove. Heat on medium until mixture is about to boil, and then turn down to low.  Heat until mixture has reduced and thickened slightly.  When cobbler has cooked. use a large spoon to pour syrup even over entire surface of the cobbler.

Serve immediately with your favourite topping!

Cauliflower Soup

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The sprogs are very good about eating vegetables – better than most. However, they aren’t necessarily big fans of all vegetables, and some vegetables are harder to feed them than others. Cauliflower is one that I have to think about to make it appetising for them.  Like most soup this one benefits from enough cooking time to allow the flavours to develop.  I always serve this one with crusty toasted sour dough bread.

Recipe

  • 1 T butter
  • 3 bacon rashers, finely chopped
  • 1 cl garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 lg potato, finely chopped
  • 1 whole cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/2 t dried basil
  • 500 ml stock
  • 500 ml water
  • 150 ml cream
  • 4 T finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

* For vegetarian option, omit bacon and replace with 1 t carraway seeds, and use 1 litre of stock and omit water.

Saute bacon (or carraway seeds), onion and celery until bacon is cooked, and onion and celery are becoming translucent. Add cauliflower, potato, basil, water and stock.

Simmer over medium heat until all vegetables are completely cooked. Allow to cool enough to be blended.  Blend in batches.  Pour some of the cream into the blender with each batch.

Return to pot and heat on low. Add 3 T of parsley 2 minutes before serving.

Serve with remaining parsley as garnish and some good quality bread toasted or oven heated.

Chicken and Vegetable Sausage Rolls

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These sausage rolls were a surprise winner at home.  Wal and the sprogs really LOVED them.

I was tired and in need of a quick filling meal and didn’t have any brilliant ideas springing to mind.  So I went to my ‘inspiration folder’ where I keep notes and recipes gathered from friends, magazines, newspapers and any other source that grabs my attention. In there I found the perfect inspiration to match my energy levels and the contents of my pantry.

This recipe is adapted from Australian Good Food, July 2010, p129.

Recipe

  • 1 T butter
  • 1 large leek, finely sliced
  • 1/2 sm red onion, finely diced
  • 500g chicken mince
  • 2 sm carrots, grated
  • 1/3 red capsicum,finely chopped
  • 2 T tomato sauce
  • 1/2 t dried basil
  • 3 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T poppy seeds

Line 3 pastry trays, and preheat oven to 180C. Lightly saute leek in the butter, set aside in large bowl. Add mince, onion, carrots, capsicum, tomato sauce and basil to bowl and mix well.

Cut pastry sheets in half.  Divide chicken mixture into 6 portions.  Spread a portion along the length of a cut sheet of pastry to create the sausage. Fold pastry over the mince and press the pastry together to seal. Cut the pastry roll into three equal portions and place on baking tray. Repeat with remaining mince mixture and pastry.

Baste each sausage roll with the egg, and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Cook for 30-35 minutes, until puffed and golden.

I served the sausage rolls for dinner with salad and vegetables on the side, but they could also be used for appetisers.  If planning to do so, I would cut each pastry roll into 4 pieces rather than 3.