Monday, 19 November 2007

MEAT

It's been all about the meat this weekend - and how good is that!
On Saturday night GKGK and I went out for dinner for our wedding anniversary (MIL stayed at our place and looked after the kids - woohooo!). We went to Kingsley's Steak House on King St in the city. Now before you get all just-another-steak-restaurant-so-what?, this is not some dodgy suburban steak house with peanuts on the floor and the standard range of chicken wings, ribs and steak with diane sauce. This is a decent restaurant which is all about the STEAK! Normally, I would go to a restaurant, scan the menu, and very often just go straight for the steak. But that was never happening here! One page of the menu covered entrees, sides and mains and the next page only covered STEAK! It actually made it really hard to choose because there were just so many excellent options!

We considered the 1kg t-bone, but after the chef held one up for us to check out the size, we decided maybe that was just a little bit too large! GKGK ended up with the Havericks Dry Aged 450g sirloin on bone and I went with the 350g Angus Rib-Eye. One word summed it all up - YUM!! We were so full from all that meat that we didn't even have dessert (until much later, but that's another story!)

We would both highly recommend Kingley's for people who like their meat, but if you like your 50g minute steak well done, this is probably not the place for you!

BUT WAIT! The meat weekend didn't end there! Last night I had 14 members of my family over for dinner. Nothing like an easy Sunday night! My brother W(h)ine is visiting from New York, and he is on a mission to eat as much lamb as possible while he is here. A few weeks ago I tried a slow-cooked lamb shoulder from Jamie Oliver's new book - Jamie at Home. It was tasty, and easy, and good for a crowd, so I decided it was perfect for W(h)ine's dinner. The very best bit is that it cooks for 4 hours! 4 hours? How can that be a good thing, I hear you ask. Well, all four of those hours require absolutely no attention from me! Once it's in the oven, it's all done! So at 2pm yesterday, I whacked it in then went shopping! So much for slaving in the kitchen! (Apparently, GKGK cooked dinner, because he was the one at home while the lamb was in the oven. Wow. All the makings of a celebrity chef there.)

The lamb is excellent. Because it has cooked for so long, the meat just falls off the bone. It is so tender it just melts! It is also cooked with 1 whole bulb of garlic per shoulder so there are lots of roasted caramelized garlic cloves to suck on. So good! The only fiddly bit is making the sauce at the end, but considering the rest of the benefits when you're feeding a crowd, I think I can cope with that.

So if any of you are coming here in the next little while in a big group, there's a good chance you'll find lamb shoulder on your plate!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Cranberry and Choc Chip Scones



There are two words that come out at this time of year that I think might just be my two favourite words in the whole English language. They form quite an American phrase, and they are not necessarily two words Australians would put together - although they are two words that individually, Australians love VERY MUCH! So what are these two fabulous words?!??!


HOLIDAY BAKING!!!!


Each year, I feel some strange compulsion to buy all the magazines that come out with any form of Christmas theme. As much as I love all my Australian cooking magazines, when it comes to baking for Christmas, the US has some absolute gems! So far this year I have got one which is called (wait for it)...Holiday Baking. (It was my favourite last year). I also have one which I think is called Christmas Cookies. I can't quite remember its name though because my mother stole it and HAS NOT YET RETURNED IT. I also like the Australian Better Homes and Gardens Christmas special - last year they were the generous providers of the mini caramel pecan tart recipe - YUM!
So when friends were coming over for morning tea today, I took some inspiration from these magazines and decided to go with some American style scones. They're very similar to our scones, but instead of rolling out the dough and cutting them out with a round cutter, you just pat the dough out into a rectangle, cut it up into squares then cut the squares into triangles. It's much easier than mucking around with the cutter and it also means you don't have any dough scraps that need to be re-kneaded and re-rolled (which results in tougher scones).

This recipe is also a little tiny bit healthier than normal because it uses wholemeal flour, and it's got dried cranberries in it. The original recipe (from King Arthur Flour Wholegrain Baking) called for dried cherries, but they cost about $50 per cherry and strangely enough, I didn't have any in the cupboard!

I was a bit tentative, but they actually turned out pretty damn good! Boof managed to eat 2 of them before our friends even arrived, and while he hasn't yet met a cake he doesn't like, that's still quite an achievement! So have a go. They are easy and tasty!

Cranberry and Choc Chip Scones
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
125 g cold unsalted butter
3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup choc chips
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
Milk, for brushing the tops
Preheat the oven to . Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with baking paper.
Whisk together the flours, sugars, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Using a fork or pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the cranberries and the chocolate chips and stir with a fork until just combined.
Whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla in a separate bowl or large measuring jug. Add, all at once, to dry ingredients, and stir lightly and quickly with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead two or three times.
Pat the dough into a rectangle 20cm wide by 25cm long: it should be about 2cm thick. Cut the dough in half lengthwise then in quarters across its width with a lightly greased bakers bench knife. Cut each resulting rectangle in half diagonally to make a wedge shape.
Transfer the scones to a baking sheet. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake until scones are puffed and golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes.
Serve warm.

Sausage Rolls



Look at that! A pile of golden crunchy taste sensations!!!

If there was only one item of food people knew me for, it would be these sausage rolls. My mum got the recipe out of some (forgotten) cookbook many years ago, and after some tweaking then, we have made them again and again and again. Over the past 10 or 15 years, we have probably made 5000 individual sausage rolls. They are that good!

Husbands, fathers and brothers have harassed us for bigger ones, (or have even tried to make them themselves (scoff!)), but they are just not as good. This size gives the perfect balance of pastry to filling.

And the very best part is that they freeze beautifully, so mum and I, as we have done so many times before, had a sausage roll day last week. We whipped up about 150 of them in preparation for Christmas, plus or minus the 20 or 30 I gobbled down for lunch!

Now I COULD give you the recipe for these golden treasures, but, I am not going to! This post is a very special post dedicated to my brother-in-law - DirtySOD. He has been harassing me for the last 6 months for some of these tasty morsels. I have given him 3 warnings, but he has continued to whinge and whine like a 3 year old (I can make this comparison from direct experience), so this photo is as close as he is going to get to these PERFECT CREATIONS!!!

So unfortunately, because of his carryon, the rest of you have to miss out on the recipe, because otherwise he could go and make them himself!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Chicken corn and zucchini soup

Sorry I’ve been so slack. There’s been a fair bit of dodgy sickness in this house over the last couple of weeks, and talking, writing, even thinking about food has not been a priority! And for me, that’s really saying something. Anyway, enough with the excuses!

One of my new soups this winter was zucchini, corn and bacon. It is so easy and so tasty – perfect to whip up for lunch at the last minute. Because it was perfectly good, just the way it was, of course I had to go and change it! I go through these phases where there is a kind of taste-flavour thing floating around in the back of my head. It’s a bit annoying but it’s also quite handy because it’s what seems to inspire me to create new recipes (or at least change existing ones!). Over winter I had this filling-soup-with-rice-in-it thing happening, but I never really got around to cooking anything like it. I also had the zucchini corn and bacon soup which kept popping up in my head, demanding to be made again and again and again, so when the weather looked so nasty today, I decided it was finally time for my 2 head-space-flavour thingies to meet!

I started off with the basics for the zucchini soup, but I just added a bit of extra stock so the rice would cook properly. I also added some chicken to give it a bit of extra filling-ness, and I threw in some fresh thyme that was languishing at the bottom of the fridge, doing its best to become dried thyme. While the soup was cooking, I was a bit concerned that maybe I was wrecking a perfectly decent recipe, but oh no! It was great! It was thick and filling, and super tasty. The creamed corn makes it seem, well, creamy! It actually came out a bit casserole-ish, but that’s good, because it will work well for PorkChop’s dinner. So I am a pretty happy camper this afternoon! I love a good tasty creative lunch followed by a good bit of blogging!

Chicken, zucchini and corn soup

1 tbs olive oil
2 green onions, chopped, green bits reserved
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 full bacon rasher, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
200g tin creamed corn
125g tin corn kernels, drained
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup white rice
3 chicken tenderloins, sliced
Pepper

Heat large saucepan over medium heat.
Add oil, onions, garlic, and bacon.
Cook until onions are softened and bacon is slightly crisp.
Add zucchini and cook for 2 minutes.
Add corns, pepper and stock and bring to the boil.
Add rice.
Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add chicken.
Cook for a further 5 minutes or until rice and chicken are cooked.