Comments (2) | Sunday, June 29, 2008
This weekend has been a milestone; my first official dinner party as hostess. And luckily for me it went extremely well!!
The original plan was for everyone to bring a dish and we would all share, but in the end I said I'd just bang a pasta bake in the oven and everyone else would bring along other complimentary foods to with the pasta.
I wanted a dish that could suit everyone: 5 meat eaters, 1 vegetarian, 1 vegetarian who must have gluten free goods and no dairy. It was a bit of a challenge but 3 separate pasta bakes were made: 1 with wholemeal pasta no cheese, 1 with pasta and cheese, 1 with cheese and bacon.
The table was set, complete with place cards and menu:
Iron Chef David brought along a lovely selection of dips, unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of them for here as I was too busy tinkering away in the kitchen. Made favorite dip would have to be the spicy pumpkin as I had never seen a pumpkin dip before I was intrigued to try it.
Iron Chef Kiran made some Indian vegetarian dumplings served with sweet chilli sauce. I also forgot to take a photo of this as I was busy organising the pasta! Must learn my lesson for next time!!
Iron Chef Alana brought along an adapted version of a Donna Hay Greek Salad and 2 amazing garlic breads:
Iron Chef Rob made some delicious meat balls that he slow cooked overnight. I'm so glad there were leftovers so I could have them again for dinner!
My pasta bake was taken from my favourite source at the moment; the taste website.
As I mentioned earlier I made a few alterations here and there to suit everyone. I left out the celery and added mushrooms instead which helped to enhance the flavour. Had to season the sauce a bit more and added some tomato paste for extra richness.
Rave reviews from everyone, this recipe is a keeper!
Here is the original recipe:
Tomato & Basil Pasta Bake
300g dried wholemeal fusilli pasta
2 tsp olive oil
1 leek, pale section only, halved, washed, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1 celery stick, ends trimmed, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
2 tbs shredded fresh basil
120g (1/2 cup) fresh low-fat ricotta, crumbled
Shredded fresh basil, extra, to serve
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water following packet directions or until al dente. Drain. Return to pan.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the leek, carrot and celery, and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
3. Add the tomato and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil. Season with pepper.
4. Add the tomato mixture to the pasta and toss to combine. Transfer to a 1.5L (6-cup) capacity ovenproof dish. Top with ricotta. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden. Top with extra basil to serve.
Then of course, what dinner party is complete without dessert?
Iron Chef Tristan brought along some chocolates, lollies and marshmallows.
I made the famous chocolate cheesecake slice from Donna Hay (recipe has already been blogged here). I also attempted an "Apple Crumble Slice" from the taste website. Although rather crumbly it was delicious! I would definitely make that again too!
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
180g butter, chilled, chopped
2 tablespoons chilled water
4 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 small lemon, juiced
1/3 cup sultanas
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 3cm deep, 16cm x 26cm (base) slab pan. Line with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang at both long ends. Process flour, brown sugar, mixed spice and butter in a food processor until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons chilled water. Process until mixture just comes together, adding more water if required.
2. Wrap 3/4 cup dough in greaseproof paper. Refrigerate until firm. Press remaining dough into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden. Allow to cool completely in pan.
3. Meanwhile, place apples, caster sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until soft and pulpy. Allow to cool completely. Stir in sultanas.
4. Spoon apple mixture over pastry base. Coarsely grate chilled dough into a bowl. Add oats and coconut. Stir to combine. Sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake slice for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool completely in pan. Serve.
Makes 18 slices.
Comments (0) | Friday, June 27, 2008
Was strolling through David Jones on my usual quest for homewares on sale when I stumbled into Donna Hay Chocolate!
I saw these when flipping through some old issues of Donna Hay Magazine, and thought to myself "why have I not seen these before?"
I was lucky to get the last of the first 2 in the image: "Mint Brittle" & "Toffee Crunch". However there was plenty of "Hazelnut Crunch". I stuck to one of each as I don't really need the calories, but was curious to try.
Haven't tried them yet, just wanted to take a pretty picture to savor the moment!
Also bought this plate and a few other pretty ones from Target as they are having 20% off lose kitchen ware, which was a nice surprise when I walked in!
There will be a massive blog entry after this weekend as I'm having a dinner party with some of my nearest and dearest friends. Stay tuned!
EDIT: 29 May '08
Went to another David Jones and found 2 flavours I didn't have! There was also a nice big hunk of nougat but at $18 I didn't really want to try it!
Comments (0) |
Sorry folks! There was no mid-week cooking this week. Quite frankly I was just too lazy to be bothered and needed a night away from the kitchen! So Iron Chef Rob and myself went down to one of our favourite Thai places, Lemon Leaf.
The service is always fantastic and the atmosphere very relaxing for a nice meal.
You can order from the banquet or the a la carte menu. The banquet is much cheaper at lunch time so we settled for some dishes to share from the menu.
Surprisingly these were served warm with a delicious sauce drizzled over the top. A bit like a Vietnamese rice paper roll.
The best Pad Thai we have found since eating in Thailand. The right about of sweetness and tang to satisfy any Pad Thai lover!
Gang Panang with Chicken
Gorgeously creamy & rich , not spicy and chicken cooked perfectly to melt in your mouth.
Comments (2) | Sunday, June 22, 2008
Saturday night I had Iron Chef Alana, her boyfriend and my boy over for dinner.
Decided to make my parma again and Iron Chef Alana brought over a gorgeous garden salad and garlic bread.
For dessert I decided to try yet another recipe I discovered during the week on the taste website.
To be honest I didn't like it that much. I found the texture of it almost grainy in my mouth. The chocolate layer was better than the raspberry layer. But I guess you don't know these things till you try them out! The boys loved the thing, but if I had a choice I'd leave the raspberry layer off.
1 x 200g pkt Toblerone, coarsely chopped
1 x 180g pkt good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 x 120g punnet raspberries
1 tablespoon water
2 egg yolks
1 x 600ml thickened cream
4 egg whites Mixed fresh berries, to serve
Icing sugar, to dust
1. Place the Toblerone in a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan half-filled with simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water) and stir with a metal spoon for 5 minutes or until melted and smooth. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Repeat, in a separate heatproof bowl, with the white chocolate.
2. Meanwhile, place the raspberries and water in the jug of a blender and blend until pureed. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Discard the seeds.
3. Add the eggs yolks to the melted Toblerone and stir until just combined.
4. Use an electric beater to beat the cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Fold half the cream into the Toblerone mixture until well combined. Repeat with the remaining cream and melted white chocolate.
5. Use clean electric beaters to beat the egg whites in a large clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Fold half the egg white into the Toblerone mixture until just combined. Repeat with the remaining egg white and white-chocolate mixture. Fold the raspberry puree through the white-chocolate mixture until just combined.
6. Spoon Toblerone mousse among six 250ml (1-cup) capacity serving glasses. Top with raspberry mousse. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 4 hours to chill. Top with mixed berries and dust with icing sugar to serve.
Comments (2) |
What a busy weekend of cooking this weekend! I'm glad to finally be relaxing in my bean bag whilst my boyfriend plays a bit of wii next to me! I'm exhausted!!
I was off to see my Grandma, and told her I'd bring a cake for afternoon tea. So on my daily time wasting exercise I stumbled upon the recipe for this cake. The picture looked so good, and made my mouth water. Got the recipe from the taste website: link to recipe here.
This cake was fairly easily to make and the results are amazing. I still have some dried apricots left so I think I will make one during the week to take to work.
Had some spare so brought it home and gave some to Iron Chef Alana and she loved it!
I would say this is a delicious cake to serve with afternoon tea.
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup warm milk
125g butter, chopped
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plain flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
2 cups icing sugar mixture
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 3cm deep, 16cm x 25.5cm (base) slab pan. Combine apricot and milk in a bowl. Stand for 10 minutes.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs. Mix well.
3. Stir flour, bicarbonate of soda and apricot mixture into batter.
4. Spoon batter into pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Cool in pan.
5. Make icing: Combine icing sugar, milk, butter and vanilla in a heatproof, microwave-safe bowl. Heat, uncovered, on MEDIUM (50%) for 20 seconds or until butter starts to melt. Stir until smooth, adding more milk if required. Spread icing over cake. Sprinkle with coconut. Cut into slices. Serve.
Makes 15 slices.
Comments (2) | Thursday, June 19, 2008
It's mid-week cooking time again!
I figured I better start using some of the meat mum left me in the freezer whilst they are off seeing the world. My latest time wasting exercise at work has been trawling through the taste website and finding inspiration.
After sampling my friend's mum sausage rolls that were truly the best I've ever had..ever; I thought it was time I had a go myself!
This was such a simple recipe to prepare. I defrosted double the quantity of meat so I decided to make two batches and freeze the batch we didn't eat for a night when I can't be bothered cooking.... oh I'm looking forward to that night!!
You can add anything else to the filling you want (eg: celery, zucchini, spring onions). For me I just added sesame seeds to the top to give it that "home made" look. Very tasty and would excellent as finger food at a self catering party.
Probably not the most convential dinner but we enjoyed our stack of sausage rolls!
300g beef mince
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, partially thawed
1 tablespoon milk
tomato sauce, to serve
1. Preheat oven to 220°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
2. Combine mince, onion, carrot, egg, parsley, dried herbs and pepper in a large bowl. Mix until well combined. Cut pastry sheets in half
3. Shape one-quarter of the mince mixture into a sausage and place along 1 long edge of pastry. Roll up pastry to enclose mince mixture. Cut roll into 4. Place, seam side down, on prepared tray. Repeat with remaining mince mixture and pastry
4. Brush sausage roll tops with milk. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and puffed. Allow to cool on tray for 5 minutes. Serve hot with tomato sauce.
Too pretty for me not to take a picture!
Eh Voila! Bon Appétit!
Comments (5) | Sunday, June 15, 2008
What to do when you have 4 sad looking bananas in your fruit bowl and nothing to do on a Sunday? You invite you boyfriend around to watch Seinfeld and bake!
Got to use my new muffin cases I got from Cake Deco during the week. We tried them when they were still warm and the chocolate was still melting... mmmm.
This recipe taken from the taste website.
2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup (200g) Nestle Dark Choc Bits
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a medium muffin tray (12 sections) with paper cases. Melt butter in a small saucepan or heat-proof bowl in the microwave. Set aside to cool slightly.
2. Sift flour into a mixing bowl. Stir in sugar. Make a well in the centre of dry ingredients.
3. Using a whisk, lightly beat milk, eggs and butter in a jug. Add to dry ingredients, along with mashed banana. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix ingredients until just combined. Stir in choc bits. Don't beat the mixture or the muffins will be tough.
4. Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cases. Bake for 20 minutes or until firm on top when lightly touched (get an adult to help with this). Leave in the tray for 3 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a rack to cool.
This banana bread recipe taken from the Woman's Weekly. I will post the recipe up during the week for those who are interested!
Comments (2) |
As mentioned in my previous post, my new Iron Chef's and I made a dessert. I had an excess of pears so a pear crumble was on the menu!
It was a night of Donna Hay recipes!
Rather simple to prepare and a huge hit with the crowd. We had an extra guest for dessert who was on a study break and I think the sugar helped her study a bit harder!
Pear and maple syrup = delicious!!
4 pears (1kg),chopped
1/2 cup (100g) raisins
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1.5 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup almond meal
20g butter, softened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
2. Combine the pears, raisins, sugar and maple syrup. Place in 4 x 1.75cup capacity ovenproof dishes.
3. To make the topping combine the oats, almond meal, butter and maple syrup. Pile the mixture on top of the fruit. Cook for 30-35 minutes or until the topping is golden and crisp and the pears are soft.
Comments (2) |
Saturday night I had 2 new Iron Chef friends enter the kitchen. As they are vegetarian I had to consult the vegetarian section of library! I tried to find something fairly easy for us to do and then pop in the over so we could prepare dessert as it cooked. I did want to try a vegetarian lasagne recipe I have filed away to try with them but it had about 50 different ingredients and I did not have time to get them all!
So Iron Chef David, Iron Chef Jason and myself made a simple recipe from Donna Hay. The recipe calls for capers but not being a huge fan of them we left them out. Looking back on it all, the capers would have added that saltiness we were missing.
We all worked together to layer the lasagne. As I mentioned before it did lack some saltiness. As we were eating we all started suggesting ingredients it was missing, then we concluded the quick fix was tomato sauce! And it was just what it needed. I didn't think we would finish it all, but by the end of the night there were no leftovers!
So we did rather well! I am looking forward to my vegetarian iron chef's coming back for more vegetarian cooking!
4 fresh lasagne sheets (200g)
700g low-fat ricotta
2 tablespoons chopped capers
1/2 cup milk sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
200g baby spinach leaves
8 roma tomatoes, thickly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup baby basil leaves
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Cook the lasagne sheets in a large pan of boiling water for 3 minutes or until just tender. Drain and lay the lasagne sheets out flat on non-stick baking paper.
2. Combine the ricotta, capers, milk, salt and pepper in a bowl.
3. Place a lasagne sheet in the base of an 18 x 38cm ovenproof dish. Top with half of the spinach leaves then spread with half of the ricotta mixture. Top with another lasagne sheet and half of the tomato slices. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the vinegar and scatter over half of the basil leaves. Repeat the layers, finishing with a layer of tomatoes, and scatter the cheeses over the top.
4. Bake for 40 minutes or until cooking through.
Comments (0) | Thursday, June 12, 2008
Mid-week cooking is back! Although it nearly wasn't as I was quite tired from running the household with my parents away for 4 weeks. The lucky ones are holidaying in Europe whilst I look after the house and not try to burn it down! Last time they left me the freezer blew up and I was left with discarding smelly seafood, good meat and yummy dumplings! Hoping that doesn't happen again!
I decided to try this recipe from the taste website.
Mum had frozen some bolognaise sauce for me so that made my life a whole lot easier. I couldn't find any gowgee wrappers, but I found dim sim wrappers and they tasted just like ravioli pasta should! The only problem is they came in a square shape and I wanted circles, so I got out the scone cutter and worked my magic.
My boyfriend who is Italian and has been eating pasta since he came out of the womb said it was delicious! I think the key to make this recipe a success is to have a good bolognaise sauce.
They weren't too hard to make, I'm glad I wasn't going to go with my original plan and get Latina raviolis, because these tasted sooooooo good!
I highly recommend you try these!!
275g packet gow gee pastry wrappers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
400g can diced Italian tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons Maggi Beef Stock
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
extra fresh basil leaves, to garnish
1. Place 1 1/2 teaspoons of bolognaise sauce in the centre of 15 gow gee wrappers. Brush edges lightly with water. Top with another wrapper and seal. Place in a single layer on 2 lined trays.
2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden. Add tomatoes, stock and water. Bring to the boil
3. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened slightly. Remove from heat. Stir in basil
4. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add ravioli. Cook for 2 minutes. Drain. Spoon over sauce. Garnish with basil leaves. Serve.
Comments (2) |
... well technically yesterday but still...
My personalized apron arrived from the USA!!
It's just what I wanted, black with pockets!
I wanted the logo from the banner but it was going to be very expensive to get it done, so I got over that fact and went for something a bit more simpler.
Used a lady that fellow blogger Not Quite Nigella has used before.
If you would like contact details please let me know.
Comments (1) | Monday, June 9, 2008
So going through my new stack of magazines I decided the first recipe to try out were these orange almond cupcakes from an old Donna Hay issue.
Baked these for a friendly gathering for an old friend that is down from Sweden. Had a few extras for some friends I was seeing later that day.
They were deliciously moist and tasty. I might have put too much orange juice or zest as I
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 cups almond meal
1 cup self-raising flour, sifted
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, extra
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2 teapsoons grated orange rind, extra
1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees.
2. Beat the butter, orange rind and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well.
3. Gently stir through the orange juice, almond meal and flour with a wooden spoon.
4. Spoon the mixture into 12 x 1/2 cup capacity non-stick muffin pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool on a wire rack.
5. To make the icing, combine the extra orange juice, icing sugar and extra orange rind and mix until smooth. Spoon over the cupcakes and spread with a knife.
Comments (2) |
Sorry I've been missing in action for the last week, I was very sick and have only just started recovering!
Thus, no mid-week cooking as I was stranded in bed with dvds, pillows and getting lots of rest!
Got all of these magazines on ebay for $16.50! Not bad don't you reckon! I've spent most of my weekend going through some of them and flagging all the things I want to make.
I have made some cupcakes which I will post up soon, but for now I'd thought I'd share my recent purchase!
Comments (4) | Sunday, June 1, 2008
Alana and I kick ass when playing "Cooking Mama" on wii, yet put us in the kitchen and we are not so great! But at least we have fun!
I bought some of the new Donna Hay jam at David Jones, flavour "Strawberry & Vanilla".
I was so surprised that there was a whole section of home wares by her! I love her stuff. I bought a cake stand, measuring cups and spoons. Could have bought heaps more if only I had room to store it!!
So anyway, we tried to make scones following an old Woman's Weekly cookbook, but it turned out like this:
So we added more flour, then there was too much flour, then we added some lemonade, then there was to much so we added more flour! They didn't rise very high but still tasted good! We made a big mess but managed to try the new jam!
Better luck next time! =)
Comments (0) |
Saturday night was a family affair, last gathering together before my parents jet off overseas.
I offered to make dessert and decided I'd try yet another cheesecake recipe from the Australian Woman's Weekly Cheesecake book.
Oh what a story to tell!
Usually when doing a cheesecake mum taught me to cover the base of the springform tin with glad wrap then put the biscuit base, etc. So I did all of this and it wasn't until I was about to put it in the oven I thought "Oh frick! The glad wrap is going to melt!!" So operation scoop the cheesecake out of the tin begun, with the assistance of mum, then we wash and greased the tin and then it could finally bake!
However, it was a delicious cheesecake and I had a funny story to tell that night! I think I should have chopped the figs a lot finer but it was still yum!
Ingredients were quite expensive though so won't be making this one too often!
80g brazil nuts
125g plain sweet biscuits
80g butter, melted
1 cup orange juice
250g finely chopped dried figs
1 cinnamon stick
pinch ground clove
250g cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
165g cup caster sugar
2 eggs, separated
1. Grease 22cm springform tin.
2. Process buts and biscuits until fine. Add butter; process mixture over base of tin. Place tin on over tray; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 160 degrees or 140 degrees fan forced.
4. Combine juice, figs, cinnamon and cloves in small saucepan; simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes or until most of the juice has been absorbed. Discard cinnamon stick. Spread fig mixture over crumb base in tin.
5. Make filling by beating cream cheese, rind and sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Add mascarpone and yolks; beat only until combined. Beat egg whites in small bowl with electric mixer until soft peaks form; fold into cheese mixture.
6. Pour filling over fig mixture; bake about 1 hour + 15 mins. Cool in oven with door ajar.
7. Refrigerate cheesecake 3 hours or overnight. Serve dusted with sifted icing sugar, if desired.
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