Fennel, Pea & Lamb Tajine

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

5 carrots

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

Advertisements

Sweet Corn

Corn, we love the stuff – you know it’s in so many things in many different forms, but we like corn au naturale or popped as in popcorn. Autumn in Melbourne is gorgeous – no doubt about it, the mornings are cool & crisp and days for the most part a glorious sunshine, although having said that undoubtedly the weather will change in the next 10 mins and then change again as most Melburnians know. Autumn is also bring us a change in what’s available and in season at the market, corn is on that list! Yay!! For a list of seasonal fruit & vegetables click here.

Fresh corn is one of those things that you can use in a lot of other things like fried rice, corn jacks, on the barbeque, in salads, the possibilities are almost endless, we as I said like ours plain and simple.

I usually cut our cobs in half and everyone gets a half each as I’d usually serve it with other things as well, but tonight Sophia kept opening the fridge and pointing to the corn with a bit of an err err (she’s still on one to two words at 1 & 1/2 years of age) she’s definitely able to get across to us what she wants.

So corn on it’s own is what they had for dinner. Husk your corn and remove as much of the silk as you can, place them in a pot that is large enough to fit them in, cover with water and bring to the boil, boil for about 5-8 mins. Don’t add any salt to the water as this causes the corn kernels to go tough, you can add it later if you like.

That’s it.. simple, quick and easy and for kids it’s really a meal in its self. You can of course add butter, salt & pepper, even Lime juice which comes highly recommended.(thanks Liesel) pretty much anything else you fancy.

Aunty Amy’s Apricot Loaf

I recently made a banana loaf and took a photo of it and posted it on Facebook, a very dear family friend who I have known all my life asked me about my Mum’s apricot loaf recipe, so  with a bit of investigating this was forwarded to me from Mum, Aunty Amy is my Grandmother’s cousin & Grandma is 93 this year so this is a classic, well tried recipe and I have to say that initially I was a bit disappointed – the next day how ever, this loaf ROCKED!! So much so, that it didn’t last too long at all!

We were over at Mum & Dad’s on Anzac Day and we were going to make banana loaf, but thought we’d give this a go, apparently this recipe is old – slow combustion oven old – it was all in imperial measurements and we think that the temperature & cooking times were possibly for a slow combustion oven as it said to cook in a moderate oven for 2 hours – it only took an hour to cook in a fan forced oven at 150°C. For me now a moderate oven is about 180°C and I think it would have cooked it too quickly at that temp, obviously you know your oven so play it by ear and see how you go.

The consistency is quite runny once you add the fruit/juice mix and becomes quite sloppy – don’t lose heart, that’s exactly what is supposed to happen. I think if you decided to bake it as a cake then it may need a little longer, but really I do think it works best as a loaf, but that’s just me.

Now it turns out we found another Apricot loaf recipe so I am going to trial that too and post it over the next few days/week. For this recipe however you will need:

3 cups SR Flour

250g or ½ lb butter

2 eggs

1 cup milk

460g or 1 lb raisins

2 tsp treacle or golden syrup

60g or 2-3oz Almonds – chopped

180g or 6oz dried apricots

1 cup raw sugar

Zest  of 2 oranges

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

2 heaped Tbsp coffee

1 cup orange juice

Method.

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, coffee & cinnamon, in the meantime boil the raisins and apricots in orange juice for about 5 mins and allow to cool slightly. Add the flour to the butter mix and mix gently, slowly add the milk and when it’s all combined add the apricot mix.

I divided the mix between two greased and lined loaf tins & baked at 150°C for an hour. When you take it out of the oven, let it sit for 5 or so minutes before you remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Toasted Sandwiches

Winter is definitely coming our way here in Melbourne and hubby brought home enough bread to feed an army the other day from his friend who runs a bread shop. In an effort to use some of it up I figured it was cold enough to bring out the Sandwich Press, vintage I know, all I would need is a tin of Braised Steak and we’d be living in the 70’s!

Instead the kids had an old favourite – cheese & tomato – we added some of these to some Mersey Valley tasty with some olives and voila pizza in a sandwich! Delicious if I say so myself!!

Obviously there are all sorts of things you can put into a toasted sandwich, salami, straz, bacon, chicken, all the different cheeses, tomatoes, capsicums, olives, eggplant, onions to name a few. Foccacia, tortillas, ciabatta, any bread & muffins could be toasted, you could even make pancakes on your sandwich press as well, maybe even pizza?

I did a bit of a google search and there are a number of suppliers of these wonderful pickles in Australia & I would think that they’d be available around the world – I highly recommend them, you know how sometimes when you buy chargrilled eggplant it’s not actually cooked enough and is really chewy – well these are wonderful, gorgeous & silky the way eggplant (aubergines) should be.

Custard Apples

Last Thursday we went to the market and Zachie asked me what that was, pointing to a Custard Apple, “is it a prickly pear Mummy?”  (Just quietly, I don’t think he’ll ever forget the pain of touching a prickly pear). I explained that it was a Custard Apple, but that I didn’t know what it tasted like as I’d never had one, can we try it Mummy?

I asked the lady at the fruit shop what they’re like and she said they’re delicious, although you need to let it ripen a little like an avocado. So we bought one and today it was ready for eating, the skin had gone a bit black in places and the stem was easily pulled out intact which does make me wonder whether that’s a sign that they’re ready to eat?

Anyway, I peeled it & in our excitement I forgot to take a photo of what they look like inside, but it was delicious, very sweet, possibly a little too sweet, but I could see it working in a smoothie or fruit salad and apparently they work in curries too.

I don’t know if I will buy another one, but it was great to have a try of something a bit different and even more fantastic that both kidlets including the neighbour’s kidlet tried it!

Check out www.custardapple.com.au/ for some more information about Custard Apples & what you can use them in.

100’s & 1000’s Cupcakes aka Funfetti Cupcakes

I have seen a few images of these cakes or cupcakes around since joining Pinterest a while ago and thought they look amazing and delicious and would be great for birthday parties – bit of frivolous fun.

Zachie’s birthday was earlier in the week and when I was thinking about what we’d have at the party I asked him what he’d like and he went through a list of his favourite foods, cheese & chutney sandwiches, cucumber, carrots etc and cakes, red, blue, yellow, green and so on. Now while I am a bit of a whizz in the kitchen I wasn’t about to make a cake in every colour of the rainbow which is where the 100’s & 1000’s cupcakes came into play. I’d already decided on the chocolate cake for his actual birthday cake and thought I need to find a recipe for cup cakes.

The hunt began – Google has lots of ideas, but they all seem to use a packet mix and that is so far from my style it’s not funny! I then found Sweet Peony Blog who had a recipe for home made cup cakes – which looked like it would for the most part work, so we had a trial run and Voila! They’re delicious, I doubled the quantity for the party as I wanted 24 cakes and when I tried it intially I got 12 fairly perfect little cakes, I topped them with Vanilla Buttercream Icing as she suggests, but it was way too sickly sweet even for my taste buds. I have iced my cupcakes with a Lemon cream cheese icing which was perfect with just the right amount of sweetness without going over the top. Below is the recipe which I doubled to make 24 cupcakes you can halve it if you only want 12.

You will need:

450g or 3 cups plain flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
210g or 1 cup butter
450 g or 2 cup sugar
4 eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
175ml or 2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup 100’s & 1000’s

Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius or 350 farenheit & line a 12 cupcake tin with patty pans or cupcake liners.

Cream the butter, sugar & vanilla until it’s light & fluffy and the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time ensuring that you beat well after each addition, Sift the flour & baking powder over the butter mixture and as you start to mix this slowly pour the milk in and beat well to combine, remove the beaters, scrap off the excess and very gently fold in the 100’s & 1000’s – you need to do this carefully as you don’t want the dye from the sprinkles to come off, if this happens they will taste great, but you will end up with the cupcakes being a funny colour.

Divide the mixture evenly between each cupcake in the tins & bake until golden or a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cook for 5 mins in the tin before moving to a cooling rack.

For the Icing you will need:

125 g Butter softened

125g Cream Cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups of pure icing sugar, sifted

Juice of 1 lemon

100’s & 1000’s for the tops.

Cream the butter, cream cheese and sifted icing sugar together, add 1/2 the lemon juice and check the consistency, if it’s really thick still you can add some more lemon juice, if you feel that you have added a bit too much lemon juice and the icing is too runny, you can add another 1/2 a cup of icing sugar. You can also refrigerate the icing for 20 mins or so so it thickens up again.

Spread the icing over the cupcakes with a pallet knife and decorate with the 100’s & 1000’s.

Chocolate Cake

Image

So tomorrow is our son Zachie’s 4th birthday, we had a party for him today at Hays Paddock, a fantastic park in Kew East, there is an enclosed section which has an adventure playground and loads of room to run around, there are a couple of ovals as well just to make sure there is enough space for just about everyone!

It’s autumn here in Melbourne and we had a glorious day of sunshine & cool breezes without a cloud in the sky. I saw a cake similar to the design I made and always thought it’d be great for our boy who loves everything to do with trucks and construction.

You will need

250g Butter

400g Sugar

250g Self Raising Flour

50g Cocoa

1 tsp Vanilla

200ml Milk

4 Eggs

Pre heat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Cream the butter & sugar until it’s light and fluffy, add the eggs one by one beating well in between. Sift the flour & cocoa and add to the mix, while slowly beating pour in the milk, mix well for about a minute and ensure it’s all combined.

Grease & line a 26 cm spring form or round tin, pour the batter into prepared tin and bake at 170 degrees Celsius for approx 40 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.  Allow to stand in the tin for 5 mins or so and then remove and allow to cool completely.

You could leave it at that, but I made some chocolate butter icing, for which you’ll need 250g butter softened, 3 cups pure icing sugar and a tablespoon of cocoa, make sure you sift the icing sugar to remove all the lumps and add to the butter after you have creamed it and it’s light and fluffy, also add the cocoa.

I used violet crumbles & small snickers bars as the rocks, violet crumble is chocolate covered honeycomb.

Enjoy & happy happy birthday my darling boy – I love you right up to the moon and back and up again and back! xxx Mumma