Christmas has come and gone as too has New Years Eve and we’ve had lots of left overs in the fridge. Our kids are spending almost every day in the pool and that will definitely be the case for the next week as we head into a week of between 30 & 40 degrees Celsius. I decided yesterday the best way to ensure they eat dinner was to feed them by the pool so I made up a salad of diced cucumber, tomatoes, feta & lettuce dressed with a little balsamic vinegar, sliced some yellow & red capsicums (bell peppers) and cooked up some of the leftover veggies in the fridge like asparagus, add to that some BBQ sausages & lamb chops from the night before and voila you have a salad which was demolished quick smart! Although the asparagus was fed to Daddy all round though a colourful tasty combination.
We were watching Peppa Pig the other day, Sophia loves her and every time she says Peppa Pig she snorts like a pig which is hilarious – to me anyway – So Peppa’s brother George wouldn’t eat his salad which Grandpa Pig had grown in his own garden, so Grandpa Pig tore up the pieces of lettuce and made a dinosaur with it and cucumber & tomatoes.
Soph & Zachie thought it was great and tonight we had a go at it as well. I have found that a sure fire way to get the kids to eat is to get them involved in making the food. Tonight was no different. Zachie had grazed all day so wolfed down this salad followed by a bowl of weetbix, another great alternative to dinner when you know if they don’t eat something they’ll be up through the night!
Now I do have to confess that I have no issue at all with getting either of our kids to eat salad, they love it and would quite possibly eat only salad, some nights it’s a fight for who gets the most.
My dear friend gave me her wonderful garden salad recipe and it’s a staple in our house even through winter, I love salad in preference to vegies any day as does Hubby, which is probably where the kids get it from as well.
If you struggle to get your kids to eat salads or vegetables or just want to make it a bit more fun, this could be the way… stay tuned for a Semi Trailer styled salad soon.
Dee’s delicious Salad
You will need for 2 adults & 2 kids
1 tomato diced
1 decent sized Lebanese cucumber peeled, forked & quartered
4-6 coz lettuce leaves, rinsed and chopped
100gms of danish fetta, crumbled
dash of balsamic vinegar
Combine the ingredients in a salad bowl, mix well and serve. We do also add avocado &/or olives on occasion too.
This is what we had for dinner tonight and it was sensational if I do say so myself! I’ve come to the conclusion that the best way to ensure you get the delicious caramalisation at the end is to watch it for the last 10 or so minutes, or as we did tonight get everyone around the table – dished up the kids serves – then put it back on the heat to reduce the liquid to almost nothing.
The benefits are almost mind blowing, you go from a great meal to a sensational and memorable meal but really the best way to get that is to be there watching it so it doesn’t burn. Trust me it’s worth it however painful it might be, you won’t regret it.
You will need/we used:
4 thick lamb chops, BBQ or forequarter are the best
1 spanish onion, diced
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp smokey paprika
handful of parsley, finely chopped
2 medium size fennel bulbs, cut into quarters
1 1/2 cups peas
What to do:
Add a lug of olive oil into your cast iron pan (one with a lid) and saute, add the chops and sprinkle over half the cumin, paprika and some salt & pepper, brown the chops and turn once, then add the carrots and put the chops on top of them, arrange the fennel over the chops (you may need to cut them into eighths, it just depends on how large they are to begin with). Sprinkle the remaining spices and chopped parsley over the fennel and add about a cup of water. You want to not quite cover the chops. By this time the tajine should almost be at the boil, cover with a tight fitting lid and turn the heat down so it’s just simmering and cook for about an hour, keep checking it though.
About 15 minutes before you think it’ll be ready add the peas, scatter them all over the tajine and cover again. Tonight I turned ours off about 10 mins before I wanted to serve it, thinking it’s ready, I know that the cast iron pan hold it’s heat and I didn’t want it to burn. Hubby says (and he was right damn it) that there was still too much water, so we took out some for the kids and put it back on the heat for another 5 or so mins on high to really reduce the water, I kept tilting the pan so we could see what was left liquid wise and we were left with a sensational meal!
We served it with bread and ate with our hands which is really half the fun and of course reduces the need to wash up loads of dishes
Hope you give this a try and love it as much as we did xx Kate
So this working mother thing requires a heck of a lot of organisation, especially with 2 children under 4 who are starving & tired when they get home from child care. So Thursday being the day off and market day I decided to make a supply of Spag Bol or Sk betty as it’s become known by Zachie.
You will need: (to make this much and enough for 3 adults & 3 kids)
1.5 kg Minced Beef
2 large brown onions, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
3-4 large mushrooms, diced
4 400gm tins of crushed gourmet tomatoes.
handful of chopped parsley
lug of olive oil
2 tsp smokey paprika
Salt & pepper
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup tomato paste
3 tsp powdered beef stock (Massell)
3 tins of water
In your largest pan fry off the garlic & onions until they’re translucent, add the diced mushrooms & fry off. (I dice the mushrooms fairly finely so they’re about the size of the mince meat) then add the meat in batches so that it is all browned & broken up before you add more, you want to fry & brown the meat not stew it. Once it’s all cooked & mixed in you add all the crushed tomatoes & fill the tins with water and add 3 tins worth of water, add tomato paste, paprika, beef stock & salt & pepper to taste.
Don’t add too much salt at this stage as you can always add more towards the end of cooking. Add the chopped parsley & bring to the boil, simmer gently for 1 &1/2 hours stirring regularly until the sauce thickens. Pack into freezer proof containers & freeze, when I am freezing sauce I leave it a little runnier than I would if I am serving it straight away so that when the time comes to use it I can simmer it a little to increase the flavour.
This quantity gave us 2 large 2 litre containers 1 small one for the kids and a bit leftover which I was thinking I could put on nachos or something.
To serve, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook spaghetti until it’s al dente, approx 12-15 mins, serve with lots of grated parmesan.
P.S. The gourmet tomatoes I get from UCG wholesalers in Preston – Bell Street they’re 79c a tin, so unless the supermarkets have them on special, that’s the best buy in my opinion, also love Annalisa tomatoes too.
Yummy hey? Now this is a little fiddly, but oh my goodness they’re delicious and worth it. I am deliriously happy as this was my second attempt at these tasty little morsels, this time with meat & hubby loved them! They’re great because you can make them and then stick it in the fridge and leave it there for a day or so, or even freeze them and then take them out in the morning and stick in the oven when you get home from work etc.
You will need:
8 Lebanese eggplants (they’re the long skinny ones)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
500g lamb mince
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed.
1 Litre of tomato passata or 3 tins of crushed tomatoes
1 heaped tsp smokey paprika + 1/2 tsp extra
1 heaped tsp ground cumin + 1/2 tsp extra
small handful of finely chopped parsley
200g danish feta
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 brown onion diced.
Cut the eggplants in half & scoop out the flesh leaving the skins intact. Set the flesh aside. Place the skins in a large pot of boiling salted water and ensure that they remain submerged under the water. (a smaller saucepan lid on top of them works)
Dice the remaining eggplant flesh and pan fry in extra virgin olive oil with the garlic & onion until golden and tender, add the mince and ensure that you break up any lumps, continue to saute until golden brown. Add the spices & salt & pepper, then 500ml of the tomato passata and stir to combine.
Drain the eggplant skins and set aside to cool slightly.
In another saucepan add some garlic, olive oil 1/2 tsp paprika & cumin with salt & pepper to taste, and the remaining tomato passata, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 mins, check taste for seasoning.
Take a large oven proof dish and pour the tomato sauce onto the base of the dish, fill the skins with the stuffing and place in the tomato sauce – nestle in close together but don’t over fill them too much. Once they’re all done, sprinkle with any remaining meat sauce, parsley and top with crumbled feta.
Cook in the oven for 30 -40 mins at 180 degrees celsius or 350 farenheit. Serve with crusty bread & a green salad.
You can easily omit the mince meat if you’re vegetarian and add some finely diced celery & or mushrooms at the same time as you pan fry the eggplant.
You can use any vegetables you like for this one from fennel & Peas, Carrots & Cauliflower or Peas & Artichokes, as a guide the recipe below would serve 4 people depending on how hungry everyone is.
2 onions diced
6 forequater lamb chops
4 large potatoes, peeled & cut into rounds
8 carrots, peeled and cut in half length ways if they’re very thick
2 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley & coriander chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 heaped tsp paprika
Pepper to taste
1 preserved lemon
Take a large cast iron saucepan and saute the onions with spices, herbs, garlic & olive oil for 3 minutes, add the chops and seal, take the chops out, put the carrots on top of the onions, put the chops back in a single layer where possible. Put the slices of potato on top of the chops, season with a little pepper, slice the tomato in half and place in the middle of the stack with the preserved lemon, pour in 150mls of water, cover and allow to gently simmer for at least an hour, longer if possible.
You want to end up with lightly caramillised carrots and a thickish sauce, don’t add salt until the end as the preserved lemons will add salt to the dish, also you can always add more water if required but the tomato will release it’s juices and you therefore shouldn’t need much more. Serve with crusty bread and a salad if required.
We’ve been talking at work about new recipes and what we can try that will encourage our kidlets to try new dishes and I remember my dear friend Danielle gave me this recipe for Nasi Goreng. It’s great because it can use up all your leftovers, in particular meat, you can add any vegies you have in the fridge and make it your own. We have used left over roast beef, roast chicken, you could even add some chorizo sausage or something similar. Grated Carrots, Zucchini, corn, peas etc all work too, we haven’t made it with the bananas, but the egg is wonderful on it and 9 times out of 10 everyone scrapes their plate or asks for more so it’s a winner in my eyes. Thanks Dani!
Here is the recipe I use for Nasi Goreng a la mama Saaf (my mother-in-law). You’re a great cook so you will know how to adjust taste to suit. All herb and spice measurements are approximates as I just adjust to taste. This is a great dish to use up left over rice and meat.
Olive oil 1 tablespoon
Butter for baking bananas
Boiled rice 2-3 cups
Ground coriander seed 3 teaspoons
Cumin 2 teaspoons
Ginger powder 1 teaspoon
Ketjap Manis 1 tablespoon
Sambal Badjak 1 teaspoon
1 onion finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic crushed
1 leek chopped (if you don’t have any leeks on hand this dish still tastes good without them. Maybe just add more onion)
Grated zucchini (optional…I find that this dish doesn’t have enough veg in it otherwise)
250-300 grams cooked meat (we use pork or beef but you could use any type of left over meat you like), mirrepoix(?) in other words, finely diced
1 cup prawns (optional)
Bananas 1 per person
Eggs 1 per person
Fry onion and leek in olive oil over medium heat until soft.
Add rice and stir to mix well
Add all herbs and spices including ketjap manis and sambal
Add grated zucchini
Cook on low heat for about 15 minutes
In the meantime preheat oven to about 160 degrees celsius. Melt butter in an oven proof dish and cook bananas until soft (about 15 minutes).
When nasi goreng and bananas are done, fry one egg per person sunny side up. Yolk should be a bit runny.
Serve nasi goreng with a banana on the side and top with the fried egg.
Good accompanying items to this dish are white cocktail onions, mango chutney and of course, more sambal badjak.
Eet smakelijk! (bon apetit in Dutch)
So Friday night came around very quickly last week and I was in the mood to make some pizza, it became a slightly drawn out affair, but that went well for the dough which rose to the occasion perfectly.
I had picked up some bocconcini at the wholesalers and thought…Yep on pizza that will be lovely. We had some left over eggplant from dinner a few nights before, add some freshly sliced mushrooms & olives, home made tomato sauce, cheese and voila dinner is served.
You will need:
For the dough – this amount will make enough for 3 good sized pizzas
25gm fresh yeast or 1 Tbsp of dried yeast
1 tsp runny honey
500g plain flour (if you have it you can use Tipo 00 flour which is great for pizza bases but it’s not essential.
1Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp sea salt
375ml lukewarm water
Crumble the yeast into a bowl with the honey and water, mix well and set aside in a warm place. Sift the flour and when you can smell the yeast and see bubbles or foam on the top it’s ready to add the flour to along with the salt & olive oil. Mix well until it forms a smooth ball (if you have a dough hook on your mixer you are in luck). You may need to add a little extra water or flour, if the dough is too sticky or dry, you want the dough to be soft & slightly stick, but not dry. Cover & leave the dough to prove for at least 10 minutes or until it’s doubled in size.
If you like your pizza bases thin, knock back the dough and divide into 3 pieces, roll out, place on greased trays that have been sprinkled with a little semolina and proceed with your toppings.
If you like a thicker pizza base, knock back the dough and divide into 3 pieces, roll out, place on greased trays that have been sprinkled with a little semolina and set aside to rise for at least an hour in a warm place. Then proceed to top your pizza’s.
For the toppings:
Really it’s up to your imagination & taste buds, I made a mushroom & olive pizza & eggplant & bocconcini. I had made my own tomato sauce with onions & garlic (I had made a lot for a party we had on) but you can quite easily use tomato paste, an italian herb mix or fresh herbs.
Capsicum, Proscuitto, Cheese, olives, artichokes, salami etc, all the standard toppings work, but generally for a traditional italian pizza limit your toppings to no more than 4 not including cheese & tomatoes.
For something a bit different & very special try Buffalo mozzarella & freshly chopped parsley, basil, oregano & thyme with lemon zest & garlic, mix it all together and sprinkle over the cheese.
You want your oven to be as hot as you can get it to start with and then when you put in the pizzas turn it back to about 220 degrees celsius. Cook them until golden and enjoy!
Tips: Don’t forget to season your pizzas with Salt & Pepper, unless you’re using extra salty things like feta & anchovies. Put the cheese on the bottom and for an extra hit of flavour mix tasty, mozzarella & parmesan or pecorino together. If you have a pizza stone use it or buy a couple of terracotta tiles (as per Gary from Masterchef) and use semolina as your base as this really does help to prevent your pizza’s from sticking to the trays, alternatively if you’re making quite a few you can have them waiting to go into the oven on baking paper which makes it much easier to move around and onto the trays.
Oh and did I mention my Dad is building a wood fired oven!
Our idea of reducing red meat is coming along quite nicely and tonight is the first night in 10 days that we’ve had red meat for dinner. I tried a slightly different approach which did raise the eyebrows of the purist in our house along the lines of not messing with the way you cook Moroccan food. I didn’t really mess with it, I just tweaked a few things to spread the flavour around a bit more. Usually when you cook a tajine the ingredients are layered.
Onions & spices, carrots, meat, potatoes, capsicum, tomatoes. Today I mixed everything together in a bowl first so all the vegies were coated in the spices and then just put the meat & onions in first with the vegies on top, worked a treat and was delicious.
You will need:
2 brown onions
4 medium size potatoes
1 red capsicum
1 large tomato
4 lamb fore quarter chops
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
3 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp paprika
3 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
3Tbsp Olive Oil.
Dice one of the onions and cut the other into bite size pieces, peel the potatoes, cut them, the tomatoes & capsicums into bite size pieces. Put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl with all the spices & herbs, but not the oil or water.
Place a large pan that has a lid over a medium heat and add the oil, give the ingredients a good mix with your hands and place the meat pieces & onions into the pan to brown. once they’ve browned slightly on one side, turn over and add the remaining vegetables. Push the potatoes down into the pan, keep the capsicum & tomatoes on the top, add the water and cover, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer & cook for approx 40 mins, you want the liquid to reduce to almost nothing.
A couple of tips: When you add tomatoes & capsicums to a tajine, don’t be tempted to add more water as the liquid from all the ingredients will be released. I use Murray river salt flakes and call me crazy but for some reason they don’t seem as salty as other salt which is why I’ve added 3 teaspoons.
This recipe would easily feed 4 people with 1 chop each, it’s very simple to increase the quantities if you wish to people to have 2 chops each. Just increase the spices by adding an extra 2 tsp of each. You can use any cut of Lamb for this, but I do like to use meat on the bone as I believe it adds more flavour, you could use barbeque chops or diced lamb as well.
So we have had a week of no red meat which has gone really well, and I haven’t missed it at all, I don’t think Hafid has either. It’s been a bit more challenging from a what to cook view-point but that’s always good.
I have also had to take into consideration that beans mean gas and with a toddler that’s not always a good thing, so I cooked the kids pasta (which they devour) and they then proceeded to devour the beans as well. Hafid & I love this dish, it’s quick, easy, tasty & very good for you. You can serve it as dinner, a side dish with Rice, Polenta or Potatoes (but don’t tell H I told you that) we have it with crusty bread to mop up all the sauce and you could have sausages, steak or something similar with it if you like.
I should probably provide a warning with this recipe due to the effects of beans on one’s digestive system but really it’s worth the risk! Oh & I don’t think you’ll eat canned baked beans again because these have FLAVOUR!
You will need:
1 medium brown onion, finely diced
2 tins of crushed tomatoes, pureed
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tins of cannelli beans, rinsed
1/2 preserved lemon, rinsed but keep the flesh intact
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp smokey paprika
Salt & Pepper to taste
In a large saucepan heat the olive oil and saute the onions, garlic & spices until the onions are translucent. Don’t add the salt or pepper at this stage. When I used tinned tomatoes I always add some water to the tin to get all the tomatoes, add that water to the tomatoes when you puree them. Add the pureed tomatoes and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 mins or until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the beans & preserved lemon stirring to combine and again bring to a simmer. Cook for another 10 -15 mins. Taste the beans & check for seasoning, you probably won’t need to add any extra salt as the salt from the preserved lemon should be enough.
Pour/ladle the beans onto a serving plate & serve with crusty bread – go Moroccan and get into it and eat with your hands using the bread as a spoon.