Monthly Archives: July 2012

Saltimbocca Chicken

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This is a wonderfully simple dish. Ideal mid-week meal. Very easy, very healthy, and very tasty.

Recipe

  • 2 chicken breast fillets, halved horizontally
  • 8 fresh sage leaves, or 1 t dried sage
  • 100 g thinly sliced pancetta (or bacon)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 400 g can lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 150 g baby spinach leaves
  • ¼ c fresh mint, chopped

Place 2 sage leaves (or a sprinkle of dried) along the length of each piece of chicken. Top with pancetta and secure with toothpicks.

Heat oil in frying pan over medium-low heat. Cook chicken for 3-5 minutes each side until cooked.  Be careful not to overcook, breast meat dries and toughens very quickly.  You can cook pancetta side down for longer as the pancetta will help to maintain moisture. Transfer to a plate.

Using the pan from the chicken, stir in spring onion, garlic and cook until just soft.  Add lentils, spinach and mint, and cook until spinach wilts. Divide lentil mixture between plates and top with chicken. I serve with green vegetables and rice.

Recipe adapted from Australian Good Taste July 2012.

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Blueberry Orange Nut Bread

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Before I had kids I used to brag that there was no way I would ever turn into a team sport groupie.  In particular, I claimed that I would never ever EVER become a soccer mom. But then, Sprog No.1 became addicted to the game. My little soccer player lives to play.  There is no such thing as too much soccer.  He plays two games per week, trains three times, he plays in the back yard and at school, he plays soccer on the Wii and iPod, and he watches it on TV. He dreams of playing for Australia.

One day at a game I heard a loud raucous voice screeching “just kick the ball!!”. For split second I thought “who was THAT?”, and then I realised it had happened.  I had morphed into a Soccer Mom without even seeing it coming.

I have since learned the value of having a chair and a magazine so that I can distance myself from the very tense games!
Now the soccer season hasn’t quite drawn to a close, so I still have oranges to use up. This week’s game didn’t end well, so I had a sad little soccer player to bring home.  So this was a little treat for him, a bit of  comfort food while licking his wounds…

This loaf is adapted from a very old recipe of my grandmother’s.  She loved making all sorts of bread, especially sweet breads. This one is quite dense, has a lovely deep colour and a texture very much like a yeast bread.

Recipe

  • 1 ½ sifted plain flour
  • 1 ½ wholemeal flour
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • ¼ t baking soda
  • ¾ c raw sugar
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 2/3 c orange juice (fresh is best, and pulp is OK)
  • ½ c milk
  • ½ c melted butter
  • 1 c fresh or frozen blueberries (don’t defrost if using frozen)
  • 1/2 c roasted cashews, chopped (I crush lightly with mortar and pestle)

Preheat oven to 175C and line a loaf pan with baking paper.

Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine well beaten eggs with juice, milk and melted butter. Pour egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well. Add berries and nuts. Pour into pan and back for about 45 minutes or until browned and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Hungarian Goulash with Potato Dumplings

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The traditional Bohemian diet was full of hearty meaty casseroles and bakes, accompanied by assortments of potatoes, pasta, rice and dumplings. It was delicious fare for meat eaters, but I doubt that any of those recipes would have received the Heart Foundation’s Tick of Approval.

I rarely make those sorts of meals now, and when I do I squeeze in extra vegetables and serve with salad. But this has been a cold wet and windy winter, and sometimes an old fashioned hearty baked meal like this is just the thing.

Recipe

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 800 g chuck steak
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 lg carrot, diced
  • 1 lg red capsicum, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 T sweet paprika
  • 1/4 t carawayseeds
  • 400 g can diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 c chicken stock
  • 1 lg potato
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T milk
  • 1/4 c self-raising flour
  • 2 T parmesan
  • 2 T finely chopped flat parsley

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Brown the steak in batches and place in slow cooker. Set cooker to low while preparing remaining ingredients. Saute onion, carraway seeds, paprika and garlic in saucepan for 2 minutes, and add to slow cooker.  Add carrot, capsicum, celery, tomatoes and stock to cooker. Put the lid on the cooker and leave to cook for about 2 hours or until beef is tender.

Remove lid from cooker but leave the heat on. Preheat oven to 180C.

Peel and chop potato. Boil until soft and drain. Mash with butter and milk. Season to taste, and stir in flour, parmesan and parsley.

Divide beef mixture into 4 or 5 individual baking dishes. Top with spoonfuls of potato dumplings. Spray with oil and bake for 20 minutes or until dumplings are golden.

Adapted from Australian Good Taste July 2012.

Buttermilk Pancakes

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My favourite breakfast as a child was ‘fat pancakes’.  I am pretty sure we called them that to differentiate them from crepes (‘flat pancakes’), not anything to do with our waistlines after scoffing too many of them drenched in maple syrup.  I have carried on the tradition and will often make fat pancakes for my kids.

Nowadays though, Sprog No.2 – my Budding Baking Bohemian –  is just as likely to be the one to make the pancakes.  She is only 7, and already she is passionate about cooking, and is surprisingly adept.  It is so cool to be able to share the kitchen with her.

Recipe

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 c plain flour
  • 1 t vanilla essence
  • 4 t baking powder
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 t soda
  • 1/2 t salt

Preheat griddle slowly while making the batter. (It will be hot enough when drops of water sprinkled onto it bounce around on the surface.)

Melt butter and set aside to cool. Lightly beat egg. Place dry ingredients in bowl and make a well. Add egg, milk, butter and vanilla. Mix until all ingredients well combined.

Very lightly butter the griddle. Using a large spoon, or a jug, pour batter onto the griddle leaving space between the pancakes.  Cook until pancakes have puffed and filled with air bubbles. Flip them over and cook until nicely browned.  Keep pancakes warm by placing in the oven, using kitchen towels between layers.

Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.

Chocolate Oatmeal Squares

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With school starting back yesterday the sprogs were very grumpy indeed. It’s not that they don’t like school. It’s just that they like not being at school so much more. These holidays they scored an extra week off due to a visit from some of our American family, and I find that the longer the time off, the harder it is to get them back into the school head space.  It starts with begging to stay down south, “just one more night, just one…. pleeeez??” When that doesn’t work, the ‘headaches’ and coughing begin. Poor things, they strain themselves so much to sound convincing that they actually do end up with sore throats. And so it goes on…  It is really an impressive effort.

But… after lengthy discussion about the necessity of going, and the promise of a scrumptious chocolate treat for recess, they give in and agree to feel better by morning and get up early enough to be dragged off to school. The treat of choice, these chocolate squares, are very rich, loaded with choc bits, and topped with a butterscotch icing.  Very decadent and a rare treat.

Recipe

  • 8 T unsweetened cocoa (my favourite is the Woolworths Home Brand for a darker richer result)
  • ¾ c butter
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c oats
  • 1 c raw sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 60 ml cherry brandy
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 c plain flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • ½ t salt
  • ¾ c dark chocolate bits

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 33 x 23 cm baking pan. Melt butter and cocoa in saucepan over medium heat. Add water and bring to boil. Remove from heat and beat in oats, sugars, eggs, brandy and vanilla.  Add flour, baking powder and salt in 3 batches, and beat on medium til fully blended with each batch.  Stir in choc bits.

Pour into baking pan and cook for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Cool the cake before icing. The squares are best eaten the next day but are also nice when iced still slightly warm, for a softer lighter square.

Icing

  • ½ c butter
  • 1 c brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ¼ c milk
  • 1 ½ – 1 ¾ c icing sugar

Melt butter in saucepan and stir in brown sugar. Bring to boil and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in milk. Cool slightly.  Gradually stir in sifted icing sugar.  Continue to stir as mixture cools further, until it thickens to a spreadable consistency. Decorate as desired.

Brussel Sprouts with Baby Spinach and Ham

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There aren’t many vegetables that I don’t like, but I have never been a fan of brussel sprouts.  They are such odd little vegies, and odd plants – and with such a strong concentrated cabbage taste.  As a kid we had them all too often. Steamed usually.  As boring as possible.

But they are so healthy: full of anti-oxidents, vitamins C and  K, folate, potassium…  There had to be a recipe out there that would make them appealing.  And for me, this is it!

Recipe

  • 500 g brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 75 g  ham or panetta, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 150 g baby spinach
  • ½ c chicken or vegetable stock

Cook brussel sprouts in large saucepan of boiling water until just tender. Rinse in cold water.

Heat oil and butter in large frying pan over medium heat. Stir in ham and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Add brussel sprouts, spinach and stock. Mix to combine. Cook covered until spinach has wilted and brussel sprouts have softened slightly. Season to taste.

Adapted from Australian Good Taste July 2012.

Rosemary Scones

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I don’t make scones very often.  The temptation to smother them in thick cream and gobs of strawberry jam guarantees they will be too great an indulgence to enjoy often.  However, savoury scones, which only beg for lashings of butter, can be a tempting prospect!

This is another one from the  Australian Good Taste magazine challenge: http://www.taste.com.au/kitchen/food+pix/australian+good+taste+home+cook+of+the+year+2012,999?i=13119#top.

The recipes in the challenge are from the June and July issues of the magazine. These issues are full of genuinely good recipes, so I have been very inspired by the challenge.

I served these scones with homemade cream of celery soup.  Yum.

Recipe

  • 1 c white self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 c wholemeal self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 50g butter at room temperature
  • 1/3 c finely grated parmesan
  • 2 T pine nuts
  • 1 T fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • Extra buttermilk to brush

Preheat oven to 220C. Line baking tray. Combine flour and salt in bowl. Rub in butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in parmesan, pine nuts and rosemary.

Make a well in the mixture and add buttermilk. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Shape the dough into a 2cm thick square. Cut into 12 equal squares.

Place scones side by side on the baking tray. Brush with extra buttermilk. Bake for 15-18 minutes until scones are golden and sound hollow when tapped.