Winter Garden

Our winter garden has been a learning experience. Preparing soil. Companion planting. Harvesting. And then eating the fresh organic produce.  Over the last two weekends we have harvested & cooked some delicious feasts. Broccoli soup, basil pesto pizza, roasted beetroots, beetroot relish all from the garden. Such an adventure! Here are some photos, recipes to follow.

We have decided that we won’t grow broccoli again, well not until we have a bigger veggie patch. It just takes up too much room!! The taste of fresh broccoli was  certainly one of the most delicious tastes you can have from a green vegetable. It didn’t taste like any of the broccoli I have previously eaten. So much flavor.  Just look at the colour of our bok choy & broccoli!

Mushroom + Beef Stew

Our oven got a workout today. Not a hard core workout. But rather a slow all day 80 degrees affair. The other thing in our house getting a workout is our mushrooms. They have been growing incredibly fast, I can not pick them quick enough.

Can you see them growing?

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They looked delicious, so I decided to make a mushroom stew.

More accurately a Mushroom & Beef Stew.

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Whilst this Mushroom & Beef stew took 8 hours to cook, it certainly is not as difficult Julia Child’s recipes. Ms Child’s famous Boeuf Bourguignon recipe is the only stew I have ever made. Normally I will pour my heart in the kitchen attempting to recreate one of the classics from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, reading and flicking between pages of recipes to make one stew. I have pots and pans everywhere. Butter is everywhere. Wine is everywhere.

Today I made a simple, healthier stew.

However, I must go back, and say Merci Beaucoup to Julia Child, for she has taught me to cook a stew.  Simply by meticulously following her  Boeuf Bourguignon recipe on countless occasions I have learnt how to construct the perfect stew.

 Mushroom & Beef Stew

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You will need…

2 x grass feed eye fillets (chopped in half), Shallot / Onions, Clove of Garlic, 30g Butter, Corn flour, Large Carrot, Potato, Mushrooms (as many as your can collect from the garden or the brown paper bag in the fridge), Fresh herbs (basil, rosemary, parsley), 1L Chicken stock.

One pot…& an oven.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  In a large cast iron pot, melt the butter with the onion, garlic & herbs. Wait until you can smell the delicious mix of melted butter and all of the herbs. Put the meat in the pot and carmalise, the add about a tablespoon of corn flour, making sure to coat the meat in the corn flour and butter. Place the pot in the oven, keeping the lid off for about 5 minutes. Chop the carrot and the potato in chunky pieces and leave the mushrooms whole. Add carrot, potato & mushrooms to the pot. Pour all the chicken stock over the vegetables and the meat.  Bring to the boil in the oven for about 10 minutes and then turn oven down to 80 degrees. Cover the pot in the over and cook this little beauty for 8 hours.

Pasta, mashed potatoes, gnocchi would all work as a beautiful side.

Tonight I served a rustic side of freshly baked bread. Hubby & I ripped the warm bread into chunks (just like dumplings) and dunked this into our stew. The bread recipe tonight was a new recipe courtesy of Whole Larder Love.  Thank you WLL!

Warm. Doughy. Delicious. Bread. The perfect accompaniment to my Mushroom & Beef Stew.

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Made as always with love xox

Simple Soup + Scones

I’ve had a request recently, albeit from my husband, but a request none the less. The request was simple. Please make potato and leek soup & scones. No he isn’t have some strange pregnancy companion cravings, whatever he may tell you, he asked for the scones for afternoon tea and the soup for dinner!

I love getting asked to make food, it gives me a sense of purpose. Especially now that I have entered project bed rest.

Plain Scones

I first started making plain scones when I was in high school, merci beaucoup grade eight home economics. After 15 years, I still follow the same recipe and method. (Recipe adapted from The Commonsense Cookery book)

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Ingredients 

2 cups of self-raising flour

pinch of salt

60 g butter

1 cup milk

Method

Turn the oven up to 250 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper. Mix in flour and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and then lightly rub with tips of fingers until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Make a well in the centre of the bowl and pour in nearly all of the milk (keep a little bit for glazing). Mix with a bread knife quickly until if forms into a soft dough. Turn onto a floured bench and knead three – five times (use baking paper on the bench so that flour/dough doesn’t stick to you bench, when you finish you just throw away the baking paper, flour and the mess). Roll dough into a long sausage like shape and then using the bread knife cut into triangle pieces. Arrange uncooked scones on the baking tray so they are nestled together and touching on each side. Glaze with milk.

Bake in 240 degree over for 8 – 10 minutes.

I like to serve the scones as soon as they are out of the oven, so that when you cut them in half there is steam coming from the inside and butter melts across the top. For extra indulgence jam and cream.

Potato & Leek Soup

I still remember the first time I made this soup in Paris. I had recently just purchased the cookbook Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros. I had bought it at Galignani bookstore on on rue de Rivoli and so accordingly it was overpriced but to me priceless. The first few times I made this soup I followed the recipe religiously, but now I certainly have a more laissez-faire approach to my soup making. (Adapted from Tessa Kiros)photo-26

Ingredients
3 -4 Leeks

4 -5 Potatoes

1 -2 cloves of garlic chopped in half

Butter

Herbs

Method

Cut the white of leeks finely and rinse throughly with water. Leeks love to hide dirt in their layers, just one of the many quirks of this vegetable. In a pot put about a tablespoon of butter (yes, real butter) and until it melts slowly and add the chopped garlic. Throw in some fresh herbs, bay leaf, rosemary, oregano (whatever is growing in you garden). Add in the finely sliced leeks and mix around so the butter coats all of the leeks. While the leeks are cooking, peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. Add some white wine or whisky (just a dash) to deglaze the pan. Pop the potatoes in the pot, add in a generous pitch of sea salt and mix around with a wooden spoon.  Add 1 – 1.5 litres of water & bring to the boil. Turn down heat, simmer soup and pop on lid for about 45 minutes. Every now and then stir the soup. Blitz with a barmix or leave with chunks if you prefer a country style soup. Depending on how you like your soup, you can add a bit more water if too think, or if too thin leave the lid off and cook for a another 15 minutes. Garnish with salt, pepper, flat leaf parsley, olive oil and a fresh squeeze of a lemon.

Made with Love

xxx

it is kind of a pie

The question of what are we having dinner? A famous question in most households. A question which I actually rejoice in.

Tonight’s response, ‘it is kind of a pie, without the pastry, made with rice?’ This was definitely said as a question. I didn’t know! I only knew that I felt like making the delicious Spinach, Pumpkin and Ricotta Pie which had made the status of a family keeper when I made it all those moths ago. Unfortunately I didn’t have any spinach and I’m not eating soft cheese due to my growing bébé bump.

Inspired by the beautiful vegetables at my local fruit/vege shop, I decided that tonight I would re-create the spinach, pumpkin pie and ricotta pie. Pumpkin, onion, beetroot and mushroom were roasted and then mixed with fresh herbs, (from our edible garden of course) kale, egg, green peas and parmesan cheese. Sprinkled with activated pepitas, this delicious vegetable goodness topped the base made from brown rice, egg and real butter.

And so, here is my ‘it is kind of a pie.’

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(a recipe inspired and adapted by Nat Kringoudis)

Ingredients 

Base: 1 Cup Brown Rice, 30g Butter, 1 x Eggs

Filling: Kale, Pumpkin, Beetroot, Mushrooms, Onion, Fresh Herbs (Basil, Chives, Parsley), Peas, Milk, Cheese, Pepitas

Method

Cook one cup of brown rice in 2 -3 cups of water until al dente.

While rice is cooking roast pumpkin, onion, beetroot and mushrooms in a hot oven.

Mix cooked rice with the butter and whole egg until butter is melted. Line the base of a a pie dish with the rice base mixture and cook in a moderate oven for 15 minutes until the base is crispy.

Combine kale, peas, fresh herbs, cheese together and add a dash of milk so it has a creamy texture, add the roast vegetables.

Cover the rice base with the vegetable mix and top with pepitas and roast for 20 minutes.

Lentil come back

Trying to budget coming down to one income, certainly will mean cutting out the trips to the deli. This shouldn’t be too hard, as for the past three months since I discovered those magical two pink lines, my deli trips have been non-existent. Reducing my espresso intake to zero was an easy enough transition. I was getting caffeine from the occasional cup of tea, chocolate and sip of the dreaded diet coke, a long way from activated nuts, (more on that later)! It was the deli meats; prosciutto, actually the ‘no prosciutto’ that I struggled with.  Normally an addition to every second meal, on top, grilled and sprinkled through to give a salty crunch.  On top of the no espressos and deli meats, NO CHEESE! No sneaky double Brie, no goat cheese to mix in with my salads; the only cheese I can have is ‘tasty cheddar’ which, in comparison is not so tasty.  My taste buds have slightly relaxed so accommodate this ‘tasty’ companion, as any bit of cheese is better than no cheese. Isn’t it?  Whilst the list of foods to avoid while pregnant is long and extensive I have not found myself craving anything I can’t really have. Except those sweet cravings I was able to ignore pre wedding ‘I must fit into my dress’, well, these have somewhat relaxed to ‘I know I am not eating for two, but I am certainly eating for more than one, right?’ It would seem that some people eat runny eggs, pate and have a glass of wine right through their pregnancies, and although I love the thought of pate, poached eggs and a side of pinot…(I still feel incredibly guilty for consuming and entire tub of Maggie Beer pate, to myself, in the week prior to finding out) Alors…I am trying to following ‘le guidelines’.

I decided to create something I was allowed to eat and is friendly to the cost cutting budget! It also seems timely to get back into writing about my food adventures. So tonight, I cooked a simple lentil dish, which surprisingly is making my little belly beam with happiness.  A delicious, nutritious, quick and CHEAP mid-week dinner = a winner in my books.

 

Warm Lentil Salad

Cover and soak 1 cup of Puy Lentils in a dish for 12 hours. Cut a small onion and heat with some olive oil, coconut oil (what ever you fancy). Add the lentils to the pot and cover with about 1 cup of water.   Add half to one carrot carrot and continue to cook. Mix in spices, cumin, turmeric and paprika and season with salt and pepper.  Continue to cook for about 10 mins, until lentils are soft on the inside, but still retain their shape and are slightly crunchy on the outside. Finish by adding fresh baby spinach and mix in until slight wilted and top with a generous squeeze of lemon. Voila. A one pot wonder, which is delicious as an entrée, side, main or even if you are eating for ‘not quite two’.

Served both warm or cold.

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Le petit poulet

Tonight future hubby came home to a house smelling of roast chicken deliciousness. Certainly it seems I have achieved perfection by a 1950’s housewife (future housewife) conventions. This week has indeed been a cooking success and my glorious kitchen has had a workout. No complaints from the fiance either who has enjoyed three nights of home cooking.

I have been craving chicken recently which is an unusual craving but a welcomed change.  Tuesday was an experiment poaching chicken with a vanilla bean. Not the usual spice to accompany this bird, but this shredded poached chook complimented the cous cous, avocado, coriander salsa. Oh and the hidden hint of vanilla was refreshing, delicate, fruity and spicy!

Wednesday was fish and chips! Cod en papillote, with lemons and capers, twice cooked potatoes, home made aioli and a salad. The fish was so fresh from the sea that inside the paper parcels a delicious, salty, ‘paper sauce’ was accidently and successfully created.

But back to tonight’s le petit poulet. Is there anything greater than a roast chicken? Honestly there are plenty things greater, however, I have only recently joined the ‘I can roast my own chicken club.’ This is the second attempt to roast a little hen and I do find it incredibly satisfying.  Our organic little hen, the perfect size for two, was stuffed with lemon, drizzled with a petit (ahem generous) amount of olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. The result was an incredibly moist, juicy and crispy skinned bird. Whilst this was not a Jamie Oliver 30 minute meal, it certainly was an achievement in my books to cook a roast mid week. I am also very please that I chose to get a self cleaning oven in the kitchen renovations.

Tonight our little chicken was served with a fresh salad and finished with a lemon infused gravy.

The joy of cooking is very much alive in this household!

As always, made with love 

xxx

Oh, I nearly forgot! I entered my first baking competition this week and whilst I didn’t come away with a 1st Prize, I was certainly VERY excited to be tied 3rd for my brownies. The shared $2 tuck shop voucher probably won’t go very far, however, I thought I should probably share my food first achievement.

Smoking Cod

Last week I tried to smoke cod for dinner. Had I been more organised with my time I could have purchased the appropriate equipment for smoking fish. However, I often find that my spontaneous kitchen adventures create memorable moments. In this case my smoked cod was delicious! I decided to do a stove top smoke method, which just involves lining a wok/saucepan with lid with aluminum foil. I then created a little tin foil bowl and placed some loose leaf french earl grey tea, raw sugar and onion skins. After a few minutes on the stove the smoke started to form under the lid, I then added the fish and after a few minutes a splash of verjuice. The fish took on a light yellow colour from the natural dye of the onion skins and had a slight taste of a sweet, smokey tea on the outside. The inside of the fish was juicy, white and packed with flavour and there was even a salty, smoky, sweet pan sauce to pour over the fish.

My smoked cod seems to be a successful cooking experiment it was tasty and there were no complaints from the future hubby. Oh and I managed not to set off any fire alarms!

jointing a rabbit

Last Monday I cooked a rabbit. This is a first. But it was not the cooking that I felt proud of, but the ‘jointing’. You would think a whole rabbit would mean jointed, as all the joins are together? This is not the case. To joint a rabbit simply means cracking the bones at the joints into smaller pieces. I cooked the rabbit pieces in a red wine sauce, with my mushroom al la Julia Childs.

To accompany the rabbit ragout…

Bread dumplings – a hommage to my grandma. Using stale sour dough bread, warm milk, carmalised onions and egg.  These doughy bread balls soaked up all the red wine sauce and were the perfect accompaniment to the rabbit.

Bon Appetit!

le poisson

When I lived in Paris I always seemed to be afraid of a the fish monger. The stout ‘fish lady’ with her large gumboots would often grumbled as you walked past and interrupted her afternoon ritual of hosing away the little bits of seafood that escaped away with the melted ice.  Le Poissonnier on my street had prime position on the corner of Rue Lepic and it always hosted the finest array for fresh seafood and some very ugly fish. I would regularly indulge in scallops and pan fry them in some delicious beurre sans salt (naturally) and then add a splash of white white. Delicious! Although I loved the scallops, fresh shucked oysters and fillets of fish, I regrettable never ventured into buying whole fish. Probably because I didn’t know how to say ‘can you gut this for me?’

Now I find myself living in Brisbane which some might think is the polar opposite to the culinary oasis of Paris. Although I don’t have a local fish monger on my street, I do have a brother who is more than a keen fisherman. And a few weeks ago he taught me how to fillet a fish. What surprised me about the fish was that it did not smell at all ‘fishy’, whilst I had heard this before, I always find that the fish you buy seems to have a slight ‘fish’ smell. This fish was less than 12 hours old and the only smell that ventured from the body was of the sea.  To fillet the fish was not easy, we even ended up snapping a knife! But, what I loved about learning this new skill was the delicacy involved.

I would never normally order Cod when dining, and my memory of eating this fish is of a grey, marbled flesh with a dull flavour. Obviously I had not been eating fresh from the sea fish! This Cod was pan fried, sweet and packed with flavour. To add to the mix I also did a little Cod ceviche and cooked the fish in lime juice. The fish cooked both ways was a successful midweek adventure and a surprise that Cod could be so tasty.

Now that I can fillet a fish all I need is someone to buy me an airfare back to Paris so I can find the stout fish lady and order un poisson s’il vous plait!!

My Ooh la la Cookies

Tonight I decided to bake my fiancé one of his favourite treats. Chocolate chip cookies.

These are not just any chocolate cookies but triple chocolate, made with a slab of real butter and a pinch of salt, cookies. I tend to find that when you are baking something as classic as a cookie it’s best not to skimp on the butter. Butter is a source of calcium right? Whilst this might not be great for the waist-line, it certainly does wonders for the made with love cookies.

My cookie only became a triple chocolate cookie by coincidence. Well, disaster actually, I had run out of chocolate. So I turned to my sercret chocolate stash and combined some Haigh’s Dark Chocolate Pastilles, Koko Black 64% & Lindt 50%! An ooh la la of a chocolate combination.

The only thing I can think that is better than the smell of delicious chocolate cookies baking in the oven is the very first bite of a crispy, warm, melted chocolate in the middle cookie!

So here’s my take on a chocolate chip cookie. Made with love, naturally. A generous serving of quality chocolate & a significant amount ‘straight to your hips’ but oh so tasty butter! Enjoy. Recipe to follow…