Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Make extra

Just a brief post for today:
My next big tip for cooking is "make extra" - what do I mean by this and what is the point?
When you are making certain foods, it is often just as easy to make a little bit more - pasta sauces, casseroles, herb butters, garlic bread and things that freeze well are all relatively easy to make extras of. Just make a double or even triple batch of whatever, put the extra into containers, label and freeze. Complete meals can be frozen eg. Lasagna; or parts of meals such as pasta sauce, where all you have to do is defrost and heat the sauce and boil some pasta - dinner takes 7 minutes to make. And if you have a frozen garlic bread that you can chuck in the oven, even better!
Other good examples of partial meals are:
- Taco/burrito meat - that can be used as intended or to make beef nachos
- Bolognaise sauce - used for pasta or pasta bake when topped with cheese
- Seasoned beef and mushrooms in gravy - to make into pie

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Random Musings

Firstly, I apologise for the distinct lack of postings I have made. Life has been rather chaotic, of late. My husband and I just bought a house and we will be moving in a week! (Excuse me a moment while I hyperventilate). Today, I would like to share with you a few pearls of (what I believe to be) culinary wisdom.

1. Most things are better with bacon. Take a toasted cheese sandwich, for example. Pretty good, but nothing special. A cheese and bacon toasted sandwich, on the other hand, is a little bit of heaven.

2. Those things that are not better with bacon, can often be made better with whipped cream. Preferably chantilly cream.

3. If you can find a healthier version of something, use it... As long as it doesn't significantly alter the integrity or original intention of the dish. If the original intention of your dish is to give your "favourite" neighbour a heart attack so he doesn't keep leaving his gate open and letting it bang really loudly in the wind and waking your teething baby that you've only just got down for a nap after being awake with her screaming half the night, the go for the full fat sour cream instead of the light stuff. Also don't skimp on the butter and bacon grease. If you are making a cake for your real favourite neighbour, who suffers from diabetes, don't hessitate to use 100%fruit spread instead of sugary jam. Whole wheat pasta is also an acceptable substitute for regular white pasta. Using equal, instead of sugar when the recipe calls for creaming butter and sugar is NOT an acceptable substitute.

4. Don't mess with it. When you find something that works and works well, don't discard it with the hopes that you will find something better. Chances are you will not find something better. It's ok to experiment. In fact, I whole-heartedly encourage it, but if you find something you really love, stick with it.

5. Try and eat a variety of colours. And I don't mean eat a bag of Skittles every day! Colours are natural indicators of vitamins. If you have just meat and potatoes on your plate, you are really missing out in the colour and vitamin department. Even if you don't like veges, start of with something simple - zap some frozen peas or corn (or both) in the microwave before serving your meal. If you don't like the taste, a litle butter and black pepper, or some sauce or gravy could help you along.

6. If you make something that tastes crappy, don't make it again, but also don't get too dispondant. Get back on that horse. Try again. Practice doesn't make perfect (there ain't no such thing), but it ain't gonna hurt either.
That's all from me.
Happy cooking

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Beef Chow Mein

This recipe is highly adaptable. You can add more or less meat, noodles or veges depending on your preferences. You can add more curry powder if you like more zing or more kajup manis if you prefer a sweeter mix. This mix can also be cooled and used as a filling for spring rolls - just wrap in wonton wrappers and bake or deep fry.

Assorted vegetables sliced thinly or diced -I used cabbage, mushrooms, red capsicum, spring onions and carrots.
500g Beef mince
1 pouch of long life thin hokkien noodles
4 teaspoons curry powder
5 teaspoons hoi sin sauce
6-7 tablespoons Indonesian sweet soy (kajup manis)
Oil or oil spray

1. Heat large deep fry pan. Add a small amount of oil and stir fry the veges for 5minutes.

2. Remove the vegetables from the pan
3. Add another dash of oil and brown the mince, making sure to break it up.

4. Add the curry powder and stir to toast the spices and season the meat. Cook for 1-2minutes
5. Add both sauces, the drained noodles and return the vegetable to the pan

6. Stir to ensure all ingredients are well combined and heated through.
Serving numbers depend on how many veges you use

>< You may notice there is not carrot in the pan, but there is carrot in the bowl - this is because my husband hates carrot, and is colour blind so can't tell the difference between carrot and capsicum when I cut them up the same shape. I left the carrot out for the portion I made him, then added the carrot later for my portion><

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Beef Stroganoff

Well, kinda. This recipe has adapted and evolved so much since my mum first made it 15 or so years ago. It is almost nothing like the original and it is probably so far from being traditional that I am probably lying to say it is even a stroganoff at all. But you know what? Who cares! It's damned tasty, whatever it is.

2 heaped tbsp of crushed garlic
2 heaped tbsp ground sweet paprika (Can replace half with Smoked Paprika)
250mL sour cream
250g tomato paste
1/4 cup port (Marsala, Madeira or sherry may be substituted)
1/2 cup stock (I used chicken today, but I usually use beef)
350g mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion, finely diced
300g sliced stirfry-quality beef steak such as rump
Extra paprika and sour cream to serve
1. Heat a large frying pan and add a splash of oil. Add the mushrooms, onions and garlic2. Stirfry until the vegetables are soft and the onion is translucent. Remove from pan and set aside.3. Pour the port over the onions and mushrooms.
4. Add another splash of oil to the pan and heat until it just starts to smoke. Add the beef strips and cook very rapidly until just sealed. The beef should be still very rare.
5. Add the tomato paste to the pan and cook until it changes colour slightly and has a toast smell. This should take 2-3 mins, depending on how hot your pan is.
6. Add the paprika and stock and return the vegetables and port to the pan.
7. Stir to combine. Remove from the heat and let stand for 2 minutes.8. Stir through the sour cream and serve with a small dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of paprika.

This dish is quite versatile and goes well with rice, a jacket potato, mash potato, flat Hungarian noodles or just some nice crusty bread. I had mine with brown rice.

Kitchen list

Today, I am going to tell you a secret - To cook well, you don't need to have a well stocked kitchen, but it definitely helps. Here is what you need to have in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer so you can whip up a gourmet meal at the drop of a hat.

  • Brown Onions
  • Potatoes - a good multipurpose spud like coliban
  • Dry Pasta - Spaghetti and a shape (Spirals, penne, macaroni etc)
  • Rice - Medium grain white
  • Plain White Flour
  • Self Raising Flour
  • Sugar (I usually keep raw, white, caster and brown sugar on hand, but you can get away with just white and brown)
  • 7gram Sachets of instant dried yeast.
  • Vanilla (essence, extract, paste)
  • Tinned Tomatoes (at least 1 can)
  • Large Jar of tomato paste
  • A large variety of good quality dried herbs and spices in sealed glass containers. I recommend the following: Rock salt and peppercorns (in grinders), cinnamon, nutmeg, ground paprika, lemon pepper blend, garlic salt blend, mixed herbs, Italian herbs, chives. Chinese 5 spice powder, ground ginger, chili powder.
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Soy Sauce (and Kajup Manis)
  • A good quality olive oil, a flavourless one like canola and oil spray (I used garlic oil)
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Some kind of canned fruit - I usually have pineapple, peaches and apricots
  • Some kind of sweet biscuit - I am a softy for Arnott's Shredded Wheatmeals
  • Tea Bags
  • Instant Coffee
  • Chicken and Beef stock powder or cubes and/or "real" stock in UHT packaging
  • Long life packet of Asian noodles (either dried or vacpac pouches) such as ramen, hokkien or Singapore style
  • Long life UHT cream (250mL packs)
  • long life UHT milk (250mL packs)
  • Some kind of instant gravy powder (I like gravox supreme chicken gravy sachets and greens gravy granules)
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Barbeque Sauce
  • Alcohol - 1 bottle of White wine, 1 of red wine and 1 bottle of a nice tawny port, at bare minimum. You may also like to add brandy, dark rum, tia maria and/or Kahlua to this
  • Puff pastry
  • Frozen berries
  • Bacon
  • Ice cubes
  • Beef mince
  • Frozen veges - corn, peas
  • Oven fries
  • Vanilla Ice cream

  • Eggs
  • Capsicum
  • Carrots
  • Milk
  • Butter (Yes, I said butter and NOT margarine)
  • Some kind of fruit - apples, oranges, pears
  • Hoi Sin sauce
  • Cheese
  • Kraft Parmesan cheese
  • Jam - Strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and/or plum
  • Real maple syrup.
  • Minced Garlic
  • Minced ginger
  • Dijon mustard
  • Seeded mustard
Cookware and other stuff:
  • Aluminium foil
  • Cling film
  • Non-stick baking paper
  • Paper towels
  • Clip-lock bags - sandwich size
  • Bamboo Skewers
  • Meal-sized take'n'toss plastic containers
  • Non stick frypan - 1 large, 1 small
  • Stock pot
  • Good heavy based saucepans with lids.
  • Wooden spoons
  • Big metal spoons
  • Silicon tongs
  • Pastry brush
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Egg Flip
  • Wire rack
  • Large baking dish - I have a giant oval shaped Corningware one, that we gone as a wedding present, with a pyrex lid, but a lid is not necessary
  • Cookie slides/baking sheets
  • Round 20cm cake pan
  • Muffin pan
  • Knives - Bread knife, carving knife, paring knife, steak knives.
  • Whisk
  • Colander
  • Grater
  • Various size metal or pyrex mixing bowls

Friday, January 30, 2009

Welcome to my Kitchen

Hi Everybody,
I know there are already heaps of cooking blogs out there, but I have always wanted to start my own. I love to cook. I love providing tasty, healthy (and sometimes not so healthy) meals, snacks and desserts for my friends and family. I also enjoy creating new recipes.
In this blog, I also plan to provide hints and tips, shortcuts and organisational things, recipes/ideas for baby food and school lunches, cleaning and homemade gift ideas.
I hope you enjoy reading my blog.