Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Cheat's Chicken Paella

On page 56 of the October Coles Mag, there was a recipe for Cheat's Chicken Paella.  It looked and sounded so good, I could not resist.  It was so much easier than regular paella.

I was not disappointed by the results.  Although perhaps not the same as a traditional paella, it is close enough and tastes very good.

Interested in giving this a try?  If so, you will need:

4 chicken thigh fillets, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
400g can diced tomatoes
500g microwaveable brown rice
500g frozen stir fry vegetables

Combine the chicken and seasoning in a bowl and set aside.

Heat a non-stick frying pan and cook the chicken. 

Add the tomatoes to the pan and bring to a simmer. 

Stir in the rice and vegetables, and cook until both the rice and vegetables are heated through.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

TWD - Desert Roses

This week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe is Desert Roses.  These are a melt and mix concoction comprised of cornflakes, dried fruits and nuts bound together with butter and chocolate.

There's not much to say about these.  They reminded me a little of fruit and nut chocolate with cornflakes for crispiness.  Dorie describes the Desert Roses as "candies", and that's pretty much what they are.

I made a quarter batch of desert roses - I had no idea what I'd do with 40 of them, and 340g of chocolate is a big investment in one recipe for a full batch.  They were delicious, but not so wonderful that I would hurry to make them again. 

To see what everyone else made this week and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Becco Italian Restaurant, Melbourne

A few weeks ago, Tim took me out for a belated birthday dinner to Becco, a modern Italian restaurant hidden in a laneway off Bourke Street behind Pellegrinis.  

I had not heard of Becco until Tim booked this dinner, but it is I have since learned a well known and loved Melbourne restaurant.  On the night that we attended, a ringing endorsement of this restaurant arrived in the form of celebrity chef Guy Grossi and his family, who came to dine at Becco just before we left.  Guy of course owns his own Italian restaurant, so the fact that he attended another Italian restaurant for dinner is a stamp of approval indeed.

On arrival, we ordered champagne cocktails ($18):

For starter, we ordered one of the specials, stuffed zucchini flowers with raddichio salad: 

This starter was light and delicious.

For main, Tim ordered the Tagliata- Rare Grilled Porterhouse (200gm) Salsa Verde, Roasted Onion and Capers ($41):

I wanted to be adventurous and try something that I have never had before, and which is undoubtedly Italian - Veal Saltimbocca with Prosciutto, Parmesan, Sage and White Wine Reduction ($39):

This dish was really moist and tasty, and I was glad that I took the opportunity to try it.  It's a dish I'd order again.

For sides, we ordered the sautéed spinach with chilli ($12) and the buttery mash ($9):

No meal is complete without dessert, and this one was no exception. Tim ordered the hot apple pie with warm anglaise ($19), as he had heard good things about it:

He was not disappointed.

I ordered a daily special, a peach and raspberry crostata:

It was delicious, with the fruity filling being quite refreshing, and the crumb on the side adding a pleasing texture.

The service at Becco was friendly and efficient, adding to the overall terrific evening that we had at Becco.

11-25 Crossley Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 9663 3000

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Golden Harvest Slice

This month's Red Tractor calendar recipe is Golden Harvest Slice.  The name of this recipe really appealed to me and I had high hopes for it.  It comprises a buttery base topped with fruit and nuts.

The harvest theme of the recipe goes well with the quote of the month:

However, this slice was just a bit meh for me.  OK, I didn't have any dried apricots as called for in the recipe, and I forgot to add the almonds in the topping.  However, I am still not sure that these ingredients would have changed my mind in the finished product.   I also made an oopsy in forgetting to add self raising flour instead of plain flour in the topping.  Perhaps that would have made me like it better, but it wouldn't overcome the crumbly base and very sweet topping. 

I made this slice for our tap class picnic, along with a beautiful Gerard's Mustard Tart from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table:

We were going to eat our picnic in the gardens at St Kilda after our dress rehearsal and before the big concert, but it stormed, so we ate it in the cramped conditions behind the stage at the theatre where we were to perform that evening.

If you would like to try Golden Harvest Slice, you will need:


1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
125g cold butter

Combine the flour and sugar in a food processor, then pulse in the butter.  Press into a greased 20cm x 30cm slice tin.


40g softened butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup brandy
90 g chopped dates
90g sultanas
90g chopped dried apricots
90g sliced raw almonds

Mix the butter, brown sugar, brandy, flour and golden syrup together.  Stir in the fruit and nuts.

Spoon the topping over the base, and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.

Remove the slice from the oven and allow to cool in the tin on a rack.  Cut into squares.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

TWD - Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Dulce de Leche Filling

It's Thanksgiving on Thursday in the US, so the time is right for the Dorie's Cookies bakers to make pumpkin whoopie pies with dulce de leche filling.  These are light, spongy cakes, studded with cranberries, and in the recipe, filled with marshmallow crème and dulce de leche.

I made some changes to the recipe.  First, fresh cranberries are pretty nigh impossible to get here, so I used dried cranberries.  Also, marshmallow crème is not something that is easy to get here, so I substituted cream cheese frosting for the filling. (My frosting is oozing out because I had to fill the whoopee pies while they were still warm.)

As these whoopee pies are baked in muffin tins, they do not have the lovely domed shape of normal whoopee pies. However, don't hold that against them.  These whoopee pies are light and fluffy and scrumptious.  I am glad that I only made half a batch, as it would be easy to eat more than one!

To see what the other Dorie bakers made, visit the LYL section of the Tuesdays with Dorie website.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Curtis Stone's Sausage and Asparagus Pasta

In another delve into the supermarket magazines, I chose to make Curtis Stone's pasta with sausages and asparagus from the October 2017 Coles magazine.  As a disclaimer to my comments, I am not a huge pasta fan or a huge sausage fan.  So, you may ask, why did you choose to make this?  Well, because it sounded quick and easy and a good thing to make to  take to work for lunch.

Don't get me wrong - this pasta was OK, and I think it got better as the week went by.  I think part of my indifference to it stemmed from the sausages that I used (Woolworths beef, garlic and rosemary sausages; sacrilege, I know, when the recipe calls for Coles Beef Oregano and Parsley Sausages). I think plain old beef sausages would have been better.

If pasta is your thing and you like sausages, then this would be a great quick and easy dinner.

The recipe is as follows:

1 tablespoon olive oil
500g beef sausages (I am agnostic as to which ones you use)
2 chopped cloves garlic
1 1/3 cups passata
250g large spiral pasta
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 4cm pieces
20g grated parmesan

Remove the sausage meat from the casings and break into small chunks.

Heat the oil in a frypan and cook the sausage meat until golden brown.  Add the garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant.  reduce the heat and add the passata.  Simmer and cook for 2 minutes or until the passata reduces slightly.

While the sausage is cooking, cook the pasta according to the packet.  During the last 2 minutes of cooking time, add the asparagus. Drain the pasta and reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Add the pasta and asparagus to the sauce and toss to combine, then add 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid to the sauce to thin it out.  Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

TWD - Brown Sugar Tart

For Tuesday with Dorie this week, I made Brown Sugar Tart.  As described by Dorie, it is like pecan pie filling without the pecans plus bacon.

As Dorie also mentioned, this tart is sweet - super sweet.

The jury is out for me on this tart.  I didn't like it while still slightly warm - it was very egg custardy at that stage.  Once cold or room temperature, this tart was OK, although the bacon in it was not my favourite thing.  You need something to take away from the toothe-aching sweetness of the filling, but I am not sure that bacon is my preference for doing so.

This one was also not a favourite with the punters at work, and a few forlorn pieces were still left when I headed for home.

To see what the others baked this week, and what they thought of it, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Curtis Stone's Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables

I am sometimes  lost for inspiration as to what to cook.  If left to my own devices, I could slip into a routine of my fallback stir fry, roasts and grilled meats.  For that reason, I love getting the supermarket magazines and flicking through for ideas before I shop for the week.

The October 2017 Coles magazine has a very yummy recipe for stir-fried rice noodles with chicken and vegetables by Curtis Stone.  I wasn't quite sure about this recipe when I chose it as it uses chicken mince (not one of my favourite things generally), but the combination of flavours and textures transforms the chicken mince into something delicious.   Curtis says that the chilli garlic (siracha) sauce is optional, but for me, it made the dish.

This dish is quick and easy to make, and uses sauces that I already had in the pantry.

To make it, you will need:

1/4 cup oyster sauce
 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon siracha sauce
150g pad thai noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g chicken mince
120g sliced button mushrooms
1 carrot sliced into matchsticks
1 thinly sliced brown onion

Whisk the sauces and 2 tablespoons of water together in a small bow, and set aside.

Cook the noodles in salted boiling water for ~ 5 minutes, rinse under cold water and drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frypan or wok.  Cook the mince in the pan until browned, breaking it up as you go. Transfer the mince to a plate.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan, and when the  oil is smoking, add the mushrooms, carrot and onion and stir fry until the mushrooms are tender.  Stir in the chicken mince and the sauce, and combine well.  Toss the noodles through the mixture and stir until heated through.

Serve in large bowls garnished with chopped spring onions (if desired).

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Fish Curry with Ginger and Turmeric

The dish in the photo to this post may not look like much, but it is one of the most delicious fish curries I have had in a long time.

The recipe comes from the Woolworths magazine for October 2017 (p80).  I have made a number of fish curries with coconut milk which seem to taste like coconut.  This curry uses Greek yoghurt instead, and all the other flavours shone through.

The original recipe did not include any vegetables other than onion and chilli; I added frozen vegetables to the curry to make it more of a one pot dish.

The use of curry powder gives the curry a pleasant kick of flavour.

To make this curry, you will need:

750g skinless barramundi fillets (I used half this amount!)
200g Greek yoghurt
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 crushed cloves of garlic
3cm piece of ginger, grated
1 tablespoon oil (I just used olive oil, recipe says coconut oil)
1 sliced brown onion
1 tablespoon curry powder (I used Keen's mild)
2 sliced green chillies (I used just one)
coriander to serve (optional)

Cut the fish into large chunks.  In a large ceramic bowl, combine the yoghurt, turmeric, garlic and ginger.  Coat the fish with the yoghurt mixture and allow to marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a fry pan or wok.  Add the onion and cook until softened.  (Also add 1 cup frozen vegetables here if using.) Stir in the curry powder and cook for 1 minute.  Add 1/4 cup water and stir well.

Add the fish and marinade to the pan, and bring to a simmer.  Scatter over the chillies, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

Garnish with coriander (optional), and serve with brown rice (and steamed asparagus for me!).

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

TWD - Kerrin's Multigrain Chocolate Chip Cookies

This month, our first recipe pick from Dorie's Cookies is Kerrin's Multigrain Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I know that Mardi will be pleased - she has consistently voted for these for months.

These cookies are "multigrain" because the recipe calls for whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour and kasha.  Mine are a little less multigrain, as I subbed the buckwheat flour for the cornmeal that we had to buy for Dorie's recipes a while back, and I subbed the kasha for ground almonds.  The reasons for these substitutions are practical - use up what you have and don't buy even more packets of  unusual ingredients to languish in the pantry with the existing ones.

Despite my substitutions, these cookies were delicious.  I accidentally made a full batch, but they will not go to waste.  They are simply delish!

To see what the other cookie bakers made this week, visit the LYL section of the TWD website.