Friday, March 31, 2006

Rice salad

Sigh, almost finished with all my cooking today (baked beans or fried eggs for dinner tonight, for sure!). I needed a salad which I could make today and be good for dinner tomorrow night, after we're gone all day poking around Yass. So I made 2 rice-cooker-cups of brown rice in the rice cooker, and mixed with frozen peas & corn and briefly blanched green beans and carrots (it occurred to me later that next time I should simply put the green beans and carrots in the steamer tray while the rice cooks). Then I tossed with Paul Newman Caeser dressing. This salad tastes better the longer it's in the fridge... the rice absorbs the dressing. At the last minute I'll probably garnish with some fresh tomatoes.

Hummingbird cake

Auntie Jocelyn requested a cake for our picnic tomorrow in Yass, where we're going to look at her parents' graves and the house they grew up in. I chose a hummingbird cake from a recent issue of delicious (check out the great foodie travel guides at the bottom of the home page). I realised as I was making it that it was actually my mother's recipe for carrot cake! My mother gave me my most treasured kitchen appliance, the KitchenAid mixer pictured. (Hmmm on second thought perhaps I like my dishwasher a tiny bit more.)

3 eggs
1 cup oil
1 cup (160g) brown sugar
1 1/2 cups (225g) self-raising flour, sifted
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
250g grated carrots
3/4 cup (90g) walnuts
440 g crushed pineapple, drained

Preheat oven to 180C=350F. Grease and line base of 23-24 cm springform pan.

Beat eggs, oil and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Mix flour, soda, and cinnamon until just mixed, then gently combine with carrots, walnuts and pineapple. Bake 45-55 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. When cool, ice with cream cheese icing.


250 g cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
500 g powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Whiz in food processor.

Kazza's chocolate pantry slice (bars)

We're going on a picnic and then a party for dinner tomorrow, so I am cooking in preparation today. "Slice" is Australian for bars, and "pantry" is included in the name because (1) it's likely that you have all the ingredients in the pantry and (2) it's so delicious that you will have to hide in your pantry to eat it before your kids discover it.

1 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons cocoa
3/4 cup dessicated coconut *
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
125 g melted, cooled butter
1 egg

Preheat oven to 180C = 350F. Mix flour, baking powder, cocoa, coconut, and sugar. In a separate bowl mix vanilla, butter, and egg, then stir into a well in the dry ingredients. Press into a lamington tin (7xll" pan). Bake 20 minutes (better under than over cooked). Frost cold slice with icing and sprinkle more coconut on top. Retreat to your pantry to enjoy.

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon butter
Milk to make spreading consistency.

*Coconut in Australia is different to American... smaller & dryer shredded bits... as you can see in picture.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Lentil soup

For dinner I made lentil soup (aka vegetable and ham soup to my theoretically-non-lentil-eating offspring). The following was tossed into the slow cooker at 11:30 am (small picture): a packet of brown lentils, 3 onions, 3 carrots, 4 cloves of garlic, half a bottle of passata (pureed tomatoes), a stock cube, a ham bone, and water. For the first 3 hours it was on high, then I added more water and cooked on low until it was served at 5:30 pm with toast and a Greek salad. Kids did not identify lentils. Success. (BTW: If I had started the lentils earlier in the day I would have cooked at low all day long).

Thursday produce shopping

Fruit: watermelon, apples (gala and fuji), Buerre bosc pears, rockmelon (canteloupe), grapes, avocadoes

Vegetables: carrots, red onions, cucumber, brussel sprouts, sweet potato, zucchini, eggplant, snow peas, green beans, celery, lettuce, spring onions, tomatoes

Plus eggs for a total of A$63 = US$47.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Toast pizza for dinner

The kids love this snack... dinner tonight... which I made with leftover tomato sauce. You put your toast, then your tomato sauce, then your pineapple slice, then your cheese... ouila! Perfection after melting under the griller (broiler).

Hot Hubby cooked Arabiatta

Dear Husband (DH) cooked tonight. His pasta sauce is always loaded with onions, which will be good for chasing our colds away this week. Anna was in charge of vegetables: leaf lettuce and chunky raw carrots. Grated grana padane cheese to sprinkle on top of the pasta.

Fried rice again

Fried rice cooked with no soy sauce for the purists. But soy sauce and sweet chili sauce are both on the table, along with a simple lettuce and tomato salad.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Clean-out-the-pantry crumbly crisp

In the US it's called crisp... in Australia it's crumble. I chopped up leftover fruit (Buerre bosc pears and dried apricots and apples) and covered with mysterious leftover bits from the pantry: almond meal, baker's 5 grain mix (mostly oats), wholemeal flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon and butter. I whizzed it in the food processor, which I regretted because the crispy crumble (or crumbly crisp) was too fine. Next time I will use my fingers for a coarser crumb.

Banana cake

Cyclone Larry has destroyed the main banana plantations in Australia this week, and banana prices are predicted to rise from $2 to $8 per kilogram... so we'd better enjoy our bananas now! This recipe has been adapted from the Betty Crocker cookbook. I have been using this recipe for 30 years!

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
1/3 cup water (or fruit juice)
1 cup plain white flour
2/3 cup plain wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 180C (350F) and oil a 9x5x3" loaf pan OR a bundt pan. Whiz sugar, oil, eggs, bananas, and water together, mixing well. Stir in remaining ingredients until just moistened. Bake ~55 min for loaf pan, or ~40 min for bundt pan.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Baked Moroccan chicken

A quick after-work (whee! yes I'm working!) dinner. I baked chicken breasts in a prepared Moroccan tomato sauce in a 180C oven for about 45 minutes, with whole sweet potatoes nestling alongside the casserole dish. Served with bowtie pasta and a green salad.

Rissoles and chips

Rissoles are an old-fashioned Aussie favorite... largish meatballs which occupy a similar cultural role as American meatloaf. You don't order them in a restaurant but everyone loves them at home. I make mine with minced (ground) beef, chopped spring onions, grated carrot, garlic, a tub of tomato paste with basil, an egg, and oatmeal to bind. I fashion them into meatballs and bake for about 30 minutes at 180C. To make the chips, I cook the cut potatoes in the microwave for 10 minutes until just cooked, then brown them in the same oven as the rissoles. Served with a green salad and lots of ketchup.

Stir-fried satay tofu

Monday night dinner was stir-fried carrots, red capsicum, green beans, snow peas, and tofu, with some satay sauce tossed in at the last minute, and served on top of brown rice.

Peach pie

Yummy, peach pie (before it goes in the oven, and eaten quickly before a photo was taken). When I was a child I never could understand how Mom could make the crust so PERFECT... I'd try and try to pinch the edge in in a careful pattern and it never looked as neat. But I think I'm getting better! My dad gave me this metal collar which protects the edge from browning too quickly... it works well. You remove it for the last 10 minutes of baking.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Shopping at Wiffen's

What I bought

Fruit: apples, oranges, pears, rockmelon, ruby grapefruit, sugar plums, bananas, grapes, peaches.

Vegies: potatoes, carrots, eggplants, snow peas, green beans, red capsicums, garlic, cucumbers, lettuce

Two things that made me happy at the markets

A beautiful swirled and delicious latte from my favorite Italian deli at the Fyshwick markets. And at the secondhand stall (which is occupied by a different charity each week; today: the Austrian Women's choir): a set of tablecloths, napkins, and wineglass coasters from Austria. How could you not be happy looking at these!! Especially when you have a German couple coming for dinner on Saturday!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

My kids think they don't eat lentils...

For dinner tonight I made, ahem, pumpkin and coconut curry in the slow cooker. The "before" picture was taken at 11 am: pumpkin, onion, a little curry paste, vegetable stock cube, and (don't tell the midgets!) red and brown lentils. By 6 pm it had cooked down to an unappealing brown sludge, which was nonetheless delicious, especially after adding a 185 mL can of coconut milk. And the kids liked it and are none the wiser. I served it with half brown, half white rice and steamed broccoli and beans. The adults added lime pickle to the mildly spiced curry.

For dessert Thomas got to choose among my canned fruit selections as we are all out of fresh produce.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tortellini for dinner

For dinner tonight we had cheese tortellini with leftover eggplant/tomato sauce, grated Parmesan cheese, and a salad made by Anna. I usually serve dinner family style, in big separate bowls, so the kids can choose how much they'd like and mix it up in whatever combination they'd like. The rule is that they have to try a little of everything. I find they end up choosing more than I'd expect for some things, and because they have chosen the amount, they are then more likely to be responsible about eating what they have chosen. And who can predict the strange ideas about what can and cannot be mixed. Thomas reminds me of my brother, who used to put everything separately on his plate, then eat each thing fully before moving on clockwise to the next distinct item! Since vegetables often are more likely to be disliked, I try to always have one they like in case they only eat a tidbit of one. Here, for instance, I know they both love the tomato sauce, but neither likes lettuce so they hunted out only a few cucumbers from the salad.

For dessert I stewed some mangy looking apples and mangos with some orange-mango juice... much better stewed than fresh, especially with ice cream on top.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Teriyaki tofu

This is a simple meal which we all seem to like. I marinate plain firm tofu in purchased teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, and lots of ginger. It's best if it marinates most of the day, though you can get away with a couple hours minimum. Then I put it under the griller (broiler) until it's crispy on both sides, and add the leftover marinade to stirfried vegetables: here, snow peas.
This is the first bowl of rice made in my new rice cooker, a birthday present from DH. I never am able to make brown rice to my satisfaction on my stovetop, and I was very pleased with the results. So was my son, who for the first time in his life took two extra helpings of the rice, woo-hoo.

I used the leftover tofu in a delicious salad the next day: brown rice, avocado, tofu, moistened with Paul Newman's balsamic vinaigrette.

Vegie burger lunch

Mexican vegie burger (made with carrots and red kidney beans) on grain bread with lettuce and tomato.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Spanish tapas potluck dinner

For my birthday potluck dinner (theme: Spanish tapas) I made Hot mama mushrooms (mushrooms cooked with 1/2 c chicken stock, garlic, chopped chili, spring onions and a squirt of lemon, then served warm with extra-virgin olive oil) and red capsicums (slowly cooked with sliced garlic and fresh thyme, and again, served warm with EV-OO). I bought gorgeous green olives from the Portuguese deli, and some Italian crusty bread to mop up the juices.

My (anonymously named) girlfriends brought:

Kazza: salmon pate and fried haloumi
Lizza: potato, egg and vegie frittata
Tazza: marinated baby octupi, feta stuffed capsicums, cardamon & pear tart, pink cupcakes

One of the required attributes to be my friend is to be a good cook, so we had a delicious evening!

Kid's dinner pre-party

It was my birthday on Friday so on Saturday night (when my husband went to see the Brumbies, his rugby team)* I had the girlfriends over for a potluck dinner. And this is the kids' dinner... they love it of course... baked beans, white bread, yellow cherry tomatoes and red capsicum (pepper). They love these divided plates too (30 year old Tupperware from a school Fete).

*remind me to tell you the story about marrying a man who I thought wasn't into sports... but he wasn't into AMERICAN sports... and it all changed once we moved to Australia!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Fried rice for dinner

Fried rice for dinner made with smoked tofu. I was hoping the smoky flavour would be a good replacement for ham... indeed it added saltiness and meat-like depth.


In the fridge is low-fat and whole milk, orange-mango juice, sparkling mineral water, 3 kinds of yogurt (plain, strawberry, and Swiss custard), tahini, tofu cream cheese, eggs, butter, 3 different kinds of tofu (Chinese marinated, plain, and smoked... I just went shopping at the natural food store), Mexican vegie burgers, leftover tomato sauce and beef soup, and because I'm married to an Australian, beer.

In the door (it's hard to see I'm afraid): cheese (feta, parmesan & sliced cheddar), jam (apricot & strawberry), curry pastes (Thai green, tandoori, Jalfrezi, lime pickle), salad dressing (Paul Newman vinaigrette & Caeser), fish sauce, sesame oil, capers, anchovies, French mustard, pickled ginger, chopped ginger, chopped chillis, champagne, whole egg mayo, soy sauce, lemon juice, ketchup, and teriyaki sauce. Pesto somewhere in there too.


By popular demand: a picture of my freezer. In the main part I've got vanilla ice cream, raspberries, stewed quinces in the back, coffee, carrot&apple icy poles, meat/chicken on the left side, 2 loaves of bread, crumpets, cheese tortellini, and the green basket holds the small coolers for lunchboxes. In the door I've got puff pastry, yeast, peas, corn and spinach.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Slow-cooked tomato sauce

(I can't for the life of me figure out how to upload these pictures in order... grrr)

I make this tomato sauce once a week. Very easy and delicious. First chop up eggplant, zucchini, onion, and red capsicum (pepper) and put in a slow cooker (crockpot) (3rd picture from top). Usually I use canned tomatoes but today I have too many fresh tomatoes from the garden. So I whizzed them in the food processor with 5 cloves of garlic then added to the slow cooker. They are a bit watery so I added tomato paste and 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil (go ahead, you must add that much... just close your eyes as you pour it in!). The 4th picture (from top) shows what it looks like at 10 am... and the 2nd picture (from top) at 6 pm after cooking on low for 8 hours. The 1st picture shows completed dinner.

My children eat at least a cup of this sauce (of course it has to be separate from the pasta!) and my husband confesses his undying love for me after eating this. That's why I make it once a week ;-) !