Thursday, 28 July 2011

Haloumi and Beetroot Salad with mint and lime dressing

You don't have to be a cheese lover like me to enjoy this meal. Haloumi can be the hero or side kick in a meal. It is wonderful for pan frying or grilling, as it forms a crisp crust and delicious springy centre as it does in this recipe.

Before I continue with this recipe, I'd like to share some ideas or quick tips gleaned from my "cheese matters" book on Haloumi.
  • Try haloumi grated over pasta, vegies or pizza.
  • As a snack, serve pan grilled or barbecued haloumi with a salsa, sweet chilli sause, or even just a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Cut haloumi into cubes, toss with chopped tomatoes, parsley and olives. Grill untill golden.
Back to the main event now. This is a meal in itself but can, of course, be served as a side salad for those who just will not be satisfied without meat.

you will need:
180g favourite haloumi cheese
500g medium size beetroot,washed and leaves removed
2 carrots peeled and cut into chunks
1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
1 tbls olive oil
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
olive oil for frying
extra mint leaves for garnish

1/4 cup olive oil
grated rind of 1 lime or lemon
2 tbls lime or lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Shake all dressing ingredients together in a container with a secure lid and use as required

Roast whole beetroot in pan at 200C for 30 minutes.

 Toss carrots and onions in oil, add to pan and roast for further 30 minutes untill beetroot is tender.

 Allow to cool, peel beetroot, cut into chunks and combine with carrots, onions, cherry tomatoes and half the mint and lime dressing. Arrange salad on serving plates.

Just before serving, quickly flash fry haloumi slices in a hot oiled pan until golden on both sides. Place pan-fried haloumi on sald, drizzle with remaining dressing and garnish with extra mint.

Another great job from our Mother!! M x

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Quick coconut & lime cake

My early memories of my cooking obsession go back to my early years watching my Mother whip up creations and also to the many dinner parties that my parents would host. I also studied home economics at school and remember how I enjoyed being partnered with a particular friend and the antics we would get up to. This was, of course, whilst following the strict instructions of our teacher. I would be in fits of laughter, as I'm sure we would eat most of the ingredients before we would even start the recipe, especially if cream was involved.

It was then on to High school and many fond memories of cooking continue to flood back. Have you ever been to a friend's places and eaten food that is unforgettably good? Something that just sticks in your memory? I have on a number occasions. So good, that I have had to have the recipe. I remember one such time when I attended a teenager's dinner party hosted by a "Ms K". It was such a great night and the fantastic food made it all the more memorable. I can sit and think about that particular time and see every detail so clearly. The fond memories of that meal are often brought to life when I cook that meal for my three darlings.

I now have my own daughter coming home asking me to make things she has eaten at friends' places! Today, I'm cooking a recipe kindly given to me by one of my Miss 9's friends, "Miss S". Miss 9 came home after a sleepover and just couldn't stop talking about the wonderful time she had, and most importantly, the wonderful "Coconut and Lime Cupcakes" they had devoured. Her first words were, can you make those cakes Mum.

This is a cake recipe, however, I have made cupcakes. All you need to do is adjust your cooking times. It is from Good Taste collection - Anneka Manning

You will need:
150g butter, at room temperature
165g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
2 limes, rind finely grated, juiced
2 large eggs
45g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut
190g (1 1/4 cups) self-raising flour, sifted
icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 170 degrees. If you are wanting to make the round cake, line the base of a round 18cm cake pan with non-stick baking paper. Brush the pan with melted butter to grease and then dust with the plain flour to lightly coat. I just used patty cake cases for mine and it made 12.
Place the butter, sugar and lime rind in the bowl of a food processor and process until pale and creamy.
Add the eggs and process until well combined. Add the lime juice, coconut and self-raising flour, and process until just combined.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and use the back of the spoon to smooth the surface. Bake in preheated oven for 55 minutes (my cup cakes took around 25 minutes) or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Set aside for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar (We made a white chocolate ganache)
They were very yummy!! Thanks Miss S and Mother of Miss says these are best eaten same day! Well I don't think we had any trouble doing that!

Enjoy M x

Monday, 25 July 2011

Cheddar, Chicken and Pumpkin Risotto

If you attended the last food and wine show in Brisbane and booked the cheese appreciation session, then you would know about this recipe. It is one from the Cheese Matters book that was available from the class.

I had never been big on risottos but after trying this version, I go back time and again to this recipe. The great advantage is, there are alternative flavours to try when you begin with a base such as this. When I feel like a rice dish this is where I return to.

To serve 4, you will need:
250g shredded tasty cheese
1tbl olive oil
2 chicken breasts, diced
75g butter
1 large onion, diced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 butternut pumpkin, peeled and diced (I roast mine for that extra flavour, (45mins)
1.5litres chicken stock, simmering
2-3tbl chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large, heavy based saucepan and cook chicken until browned, and remove.

Add 50g butter to pan and saute onion until softened. Add rice and cook, stirring for one minute or until the rice has turned an opaque white colour.

 Add pumpkin, chicken and a cup of simmering stock and cook, uncovered, stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed.

 Adding hot stock is important to maintain the cooking temperature and continue the cooking process. Continue adding stock in this manner, stirring regularly until the rice is cooked to "al dente" stage - this will take approx 15-20 minutes. If more liquid is required during the process add extra chicken stock or boiling water.

Stir in basil, half the cheese and remaining butter and season to taste. The final texture of the risotto should be moist and almost a little sloppy, not as dry as you would cook other rice dishes. Serve in pasta bowls with remaining cheese and a grinding of pepper.

Some alternatives or add-ins you might like to try:

A couple tablespoons of toasted pine nuts are a delicious addition.
When adding the onion you could add chopped bacon.
You might like to add some grated parmesan cheese to give that extra cheese bight.
If you are looking for something other than pumpkin and basil, use peas and parsley.

Hopefully you will enjoy and try the different suggestions just as I have. The variations are limitless.

Thanks Mum........M x

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Roast chicken stuffed with parsley, hazelnuts and butter

Growing up, I would always remember Sunday night being a roast dinner night. My memories include B's graphic description............"burnt dinners". The vegetables would have that beautiful crunchy appearance about them (by no means burnt) but to a small child anything with a little colour is classified as "burnt".  My Mr 6 always tells me to put the toaster on number 1 (which means the bread has only basically just warmed up and has no colour what so ever!!) Heaven forbid if it looked slightly brown.
I did like the our roast nights and I know if I admit to something, I'll never hear the end of it from some people out there??? Alright, I'm not keen on gravy. Yes, you heard correctly.....even though Mum and Dad would ALWAYS make the gravy from scratch, I just had mine plain. I do make it at home now, however, I still go without gravy on my own dinner. I'm not really sure why. I have made the effort to taste it but I just prefer it without.
I don't really have a favourite roast meat as I love them all. A standout though, is this roast chicken recipe from Karen Martini's book, "Feasting". The flavours are amazing and so simple to make. Everything goes under the skin of the chicken, creating the wonderful flavours and also makes for a great texture on the outside.
You will need:
2 red onions, thickly sliced
1 tablespoon sea salt, or to taste
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped
50g hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
100g butter, softened
1.6 kg chicken
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, sliced

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan-forced).. Line a baking dish or cast-iron dish with onion slices ( the dish should be just large enough to hold the chicken).
Gently pound the salt, garlic, peppercorns and olive oil in a mortar and pestle. Gradually add the parsley and hazelnuts and pound to a rough paste.

Spoon the mixture into a bowl and stir in the butter.
Dry the chicken inside and out with paper towel and season well. Make small pockets under the breast and leg skin using your fingers, then gently spread the stuffing over the breast and legs between the skin and meat (take care not to tear the skin).
Stuff lemon slices into the cavity and place the chicken on the onions in the baking dish.
Roast for about 1 1/4 hours, basting with the pan juices halfway through the cooking time. The chicken should be golden and cooked through. Check by inserting a skewer in the thickest part of the thigh - if the juices are still a bit pink, roast for another 10 minutes or so. Rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Mmmmmm it was good!! M x

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Spoon-dent biscuits with lemon curd

Everyone loves a good biscuit. You can admit it here with me. Some of us could be touted as loving them more than others. I am not mentioning any names, but I had better stop speaking of them in this manner or you may begin to think I have some sort of obsession with biscuits.

If you have been following our blogs, you will remember B. Yes, B is still around...... and, it just may be that she will bake again very soon! You will remember she made some yummy jam drops not so long ago which are a true favourite in this house, and I can reveal that one batch is just never enough especially if the father of M and B pops over!

Re-visiting some of my many Donna Hay mags, I came across a biscuit recipe, of course, from the Jun/Jul 2007 issue, which is going back a few years now. Instead of jam, Donna has used lemon curd as the filling. I thought, how good is that, as I make up a quantity of lemon curd from time to time in this house.

The little people on the other hand, were a little sceptical about changing from their beloved "jam drop". They had never seen anything but jam in their jam drops!! I was certain they wouldn't turn up their little noses. After all, we are talking "biscuits" here!

I am here to confirm that they were a huge hit and will certainly be on the regular baking list in this house. The quantity of curd allows for a double batch of the biscuits.

You will need:
180g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups plain flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
lemon curd
1/2 cup lemon juice
125g unsalted butter, chopped
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten

To make the lemon curd, place the lemon juice, butter, sugar and eggs in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of rapidly simmering water. Cook, stirring continuously, for 20 minutes or until the mixture had thickened slightly. Refrigerate until cool and thick.

For the biscuits, place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Add the egg and beat well. Stir through the flour and baking powder and mix to form a dough.

Roll 2 teaspoons of mixture into balls. Place on baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper, allowing room for the biscuits to spread. Press deep dents into the middle of the balls with the back of a small teaspoon, wetting the teaspoon if the dough starts to stick.

Fill each of the indents with 1/2 teaspoon of the cooled lemon curd. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes or until golden.

Happy baking! M x