Month: February 2016

Smokey beef sliders

Smokey beef sliders

Nine years ago – has it really been that long? – when the Better Half and I were attending the wedding of our dear friends in England, we were lucky enough to take an extended break from our day jobs and clock up a bit […]

Tropical Chia pudding

Tropical Chia pudding

I was very pleasantly surprised when my sister bought over a chia seed pudding for dessert one evening over the Christmas holidays. Not usually one for seeking out health foods I hadn’t had the pleasure of sampling these little beauties before. Big sis made them into a […]

Falafel

Falafel

Falafel

I’m most definitely a carnivore and if I’m going to ditch the meat and enjoy a vegetarian meal it better be damn tasty. These falafel hit the brief perfectly. These delicious little balls of chick peas, spices and herbs were much easier to make at home than I thought they’d be and were wonderfully crisp and full of fresh flavours.

These falafel are made with uncooked chick peas and you really will get a better result if you use dried chick peas that you soak overnight. Plus dried chick peas are significantly cheaper than the canned variety. They’re generally available in the bulk bin section of your supermarket, or in the aisle with the packets of lentils and dried beans. But if you don’t have time or access to dried chick peas, go ahead and use a can, drained and rinsed. You will just get a softer texture to your falafel.

The brilliant thing about dried chick peas is you can soak them in bulk and then freeze them so you always have some on hand. For recipes that call for cooked chick peas you can also soak, cook and freeze them. My mum soaks, cooks and freezes several servings at once so she can whip up a hummus at a moments notice – but more on that in another post…

I like my falafel so full of herbs that they’re almost green so I used a lot of fresh parsley and coriander, but you can use as much or as little as you like. If you are using herbs, don’t shy away from using the stalks as well as the leaves. The stalks contain so much flavour, sometimes even more than the leaves, and are perfect in a dish like this where they’re blended up.

Add as much or as little spice as you like too. I love the warmth of ground cumin, and you can add other spices to this very versatile recipe depending on your preference – turmeric, dried chilli, or a pinch of cardamon would all make interesting additions.

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Falafel

Rating 

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Serves: 24 falafel approx

Ingredients
  • 1 cup (250g) dried chickpeas
  • ¾ cup flat leaf parsley
  • ¾ cup coriander (cilantro)
  • ½ brown onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1½ tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp flour, approx
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • oil, for frying
Instructions
  1. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Discard any that float. The chick peas will more than double with soaking so make sure there is at least 7cm of water above the chick peas. Soak overnight.
  2. Drain the chickpeas and pick out any loose skins. Put the chick peas, parsley, coriander, onion, garlic, cumin, ground coriander and salt into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until very finely chopped.
  3. Sprinkle over the flour and baking powder and then pulse to combine. You want a mixture that will hold together when you press it into a ball shape, and that doesn’t stick to your hands. If the mixture won’t hold, add more flour 1 tbsp at a time until it does.
  4. Take tablespoons of the falafel mixture and shape into slightly flattened balls. Lay the balls on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and refrigerate until ready to cook. You can cook them straight away if you like but they will hold together much better if they’ve had a couple of hours in the fridge to set first.
  5. Heat 2 cm of oil in a large, heavy based pan over a medium heat. Carefully place the falafel balls into the oil and gently fry for 5-6 minutes on each side until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

 

We enjoyed these delectable little morsels for dinner stuffed into garlic pita pockets with lettuce, cucumber and tomato, drizzled with tahini and yoghurt, but they’d make an interesting lunch wrapped in a tortilla, or a great finger food piled high on a platter with a yoghurt based dipping sauce.

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One-pan chicken with chorizo

One-pan chicken with chorizo

There is nothing quite as disappointing as a recipe that claims to be easy but turns out to be fiddly and time-consuming. I promise you this is not one of those recipes! This one-pan chicken with chorizo is so straight forward yet so wonderfully tasty […]

Pan-fried fish with lentils and roasted tomatoes

Pan-fried fish with lentils and roasted tomatoes

Eating out at a quality restaurant is one of life’s great pleasures. Exceptional food, perfect wine matches and seamless service. Pre-kids we dined out a lot more often than we do now, and at slightly different establishments, at home and abroad. Many of our most-told travel […]

Pizza dough

Pizza dough

My husband missed his calling as a baker. He has a real flair for bread. This is his pizza dough recipe, perfected over the course of the last few years. Using wholemeal flour is a relatively new tweak but we’ll never go back. It gives the end result so much more flavour, and makes it a much more substantial meal.

This is a fantastic pizza dough – flavourful, light and fluffy, and with a wonderful crisp edge.  And using my tip for achieving a crispy base means you can now make the perfect pizza at home.

 Pizza dough

We usually make the dough mid-morning on pizza day and let it spend the day happily proving away in the hot-water cupboard, though following this technique it could be ready in as little as 2 hours. Once you’ve made it once, you’ll never buy bases again.

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Pizza dough

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Serves: 2 large pizzas

Ingredients
  • 1½ cups plain flour
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour. If you don't wish to use wholemeal flour, just use 2½ cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp active dried yeast granules
  • approx 1½ cups warm water
Instructions
  1. Dissolve the sugar in about ¼ cup of the water, then sprinkle the yeast granules over. Leave them to froth for about 15 minutes.
  2. Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl, then mix through the oil. Pour on the yeast mixture and stir through.
  3. Add the rest of the water a little at a time, mixing with your hands after each addition, until a soft dough forms. The exact amount of water you use will vary every time. I believe the outside temperature, humidity and age of your flour all have something to do with how much water it will absorb - who knew!
  4. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and start to knead it. It should feel quite sticky to start with but it will gradually start to feel softer and easier to knead. Here's a good YouTube video on how to knead if you're new to bread making. Knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough is soft and springs back when you touch it with your finger. Form the dough into a ball.
  5. Pizza dough
  6. Lightly grease a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and place in a warm area, like your hot water cupboard, to prove for at least two hours or until the dough has at least doubled in size.
  7. Once the dough has proved, pull it out of the bowl onto a floured surface and form it in to a ball again. Gently pat it down and shape it into a round, then lightly flour the top and roll it out to your desired shape and thickness.
Notes
To bake the perfect pizza base: Place a flat baking tray in your oven and turn it up as hot as possible - I usually crank mine up to about 240C Fan Bake. Let the oven and tray heat for at least 10 minutes.

Take a sheet of greaseproof paper as big as your rolled out pizza base and lay it on the bench. You may need to use two sheets of paper laid in a X to get it big enough. Gently roll your base around your rolling pin, then carefully lift it up and unroll it on to your greaseproof paper. Now top it with your chosen topping (some of our favourites are noted below).

Very very carefully using a thick tea towel or oven mitt, take the heated baking tray out of the oven and take it over to your prepared pizza. Carefully lift the edge of the baking paper and pull the pizza and the paper on to the hot baking tray (the first few times we did this it took two of us). Place the pizza in to oven. After its been cooking for a couple of minutes, use a spatula to lift the edge of the pizza and carefully slide the greaseproof paper out from underneath it so the pizza is now directly on the baking tray. Cook for around 8-10 minutes until the pizza is golden and the edges are crisp.

Pizza

Suggested toppings: I prefer to spread my bases thinly with mayonnaise rather than tomato because I think it allows the toppings to shine and not be overpowered by the sauce. I also like to be fairly stally with the cheese on top, adding just enough to make the topping stick. Pizza toppings really are only limited by your imagination so put whatever takes your fancy on it. Some of our favourites include:

  • Pepperoni
  • Smoked salmon, red onion and capers with dollop of herbed sour cream mixed with chives after cooking
  • Smoked chicken, brie and cranberry sauce
  • Cumin rubbed lamb rump (roasted, cooled, then sliced) with finely chopped rosemary, cubes of feta, red onion and slivers of garlic
  • Prawns with crushed garlic and parsley
  • Thick-cut bone ham, cut into cubes, with fresh pineapple and smoked cheese

Pizza Dough

Scones

Scones

Food is evocative. And the memories it evokes can last a lifetime. Its been over 20 years since our father passed away yet I still get the strongest memories of him whenever I smell cheese scones baking. It’s one of my favourite childhood memories – […]

Teriyaki salmon

Teriyaki salmon

Make you own teriyaki salmon at home! Anyone who knows me well will confirm that I’m a bit of a salmon junkie. I will eat it as often as possible and enjoy it no matter what cuisine its with or how its prepared – raw, […]

Real fruit instant ice cream

Real fruit instant ice cream

On a long hot summers day theres nothing that beats an ice-block or ice-cream to take the edge off the heat. If your kids are anything like mine, they love a cooling treat but all that sugar and food colouring makes them little terrors, so we try to avoid too many indulgences if we can.

ice cream
I started making this as an alternative to ice-cream for a dessert for the kids but its quickly become a regular feature in our freezer that we all enjoy. I don’t mind serving it up regularly because it consists only of fruit and a little optional milk or yoghurt. And the kids love it – in fact my eldest got so excited when I was trying to take the photographs for this recipe, that this happened…IMG_3543

Eaten immediately or kept in the freezer for when a sweet fix is called for, this real fruit frozen dessert is just as popular with the grown-ups as the little ones.

There are two ways to make this healthy treat – with pre-frozen fruit for an instant, frozen dessert that has a wonderful gelato-like consistency, or with fresh fruit which you then freeze for a firmer result. Both versions are fast to prepare, refreshing and nutritious.

fruit

Both versions also keep well in the freezer, so I find they make fantastic homemade popsicles for the kids (and the big kids). Popsicle moulds are everywhere these days – ours is very plain and cost $3.00 at a local discount store, but you can get them in all shapes and sizes and from basically anywhere that sells kitchen equipment.

ice cream

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Real fruit instant ice cream

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Peel bananas and break them into 2 or 3 pieces then pop them in a snap-lock bag and freeze overnight to make this ice cream. They will keep in the freezer for a good couple of weeks but eventually start to discolour.
Ingredients
  • 3 frozen bananas
  • 1 punnet of fresh strawberries, or 1 cup frozen strawberries or blueberries
  • ⅓ cup milk or natural unsweetened yoghurt (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on a high speed for 2-3 minutes until a smooth puree has formed.
  2. Take the lid off the blender and give the mixture a quick stir to make sure there are no lumps.
  3. Serve immediately, or pour into popsicle moulds or a freezer proof container and freeze.
Notes
To make the version using fresh fruit, simply add the same quantities of fresh fruit and the yoghurt or milk to the blender and puree, then pour into your chosen mould and freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight. This will produce a much firmer dessert.

The texture of the end result really depends on whether you use fresh or frozen fruit and how much milk or yoghurt you add. Have a play, you really can't go wrong - if you find you have added too much liquid and its too soft, just call it a thick shake or smoothie!