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All Hay-L Donna: Roasted Chicken and Chorizo – the dinner rescue recipe

12 Jul

It’s after 7pm. The kids are finally in bed. Phew. Time to flop on the couch and tune out with some TV. Right? Wrong. Time to start getting dinner ready. Bummer. Am already hungry and have not done a thing to get food on the table. Wait. What’s that? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. It’s Donna Hay to the rescue. Seriously, the woman’s recipes consistently get me out of dinner difficulties. I think we’re culinary soul mates. She seems to love the same flavours that I do, and has a great approach to cooking; her recipes are fast but very tasty and they’re designed for serious washing-up avoiders (I think she must have shares in a baking paper company – she uses it a lot). The main ingredient in Donna’s recipes is simplicity, with a dash of sophistication thrown in for good measure. Simplicity is important but that little touch of sophistication is key. I just can’t get into those ‘4 Ingredients’ women. Salmon rissoles featuring crushed up jatz just don’t do it for me. It makes me think 1970s housewife. But the Donnay Hay recipe below is very ‘now’. It took 10 minutes to throw together (you can’t really call it cooking – it’s more assembling) and then I had half an hour to chill out before it was ready. Couple of tips – Donna uses a whole chicken but I just used chicken marylands – avoids having to dismember a bird. And – I didn’t bother with 12 cloves of garlic. I think I did about 6. Seemed more than enough. And – I cooked enough for us to have leftovers the following night. Yay!

Ingredients
1.6kg chicken, cut into pieces
2 chorizo, halved lengthways
¾ cup (90g) large green olives
250g truss cherry tomatoes
8 sprigs oregano,
halved 1 lemon, cut into wedges
12 cloves garlic, skin on
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper

Method
1.Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
2.Add the chicken, chorizo, olives, tomatoes, oregano, lemon, garlic, oil, salt and pepper and toss to combine.
3.Bake for 30–35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the chorizo  is crisp. Discard the lemon wedges before serving.

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Cookies to cook with your kids

21 Jun

My toddler is mad for cooking at the moment. Mad for it. It’s doing my head in. She wants to help with everything. I used to enjoy the half hour round 6 ‘ish at night when my husband would get home and look after the kids, giving me a free 30 minutes to put the dinner on and listen to the radio. But ever since my little girl got the cooking bug, my relaxing half hour has all but disappeared. Cooking an adult dinner with a toddler is stressful – gas flames, sharp knives, hot ovens – it’s a recipe for disaster. But. And it’s with a capital ‘B’. I don’t want to discourage her.
Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around cooking – mainly cakes. My cook books were my most thumbed and dog eared books. I had one disaster where my hair got caught in the mixmaster but mainly it was smooth sailing. So, I do want my daughter to share my enjoyment of cooking. There’s also the fact that, if I play my cards right and teach her well, in a few years time she should be able to cook the occasional meal for the family. Why not? I watched Junior Masterchef and was astounded by kids like 12 year old Pierre whose favourite meal to cook was herb crusted lamb cutlets with stuffed mushrooms and green beans. Pierre, when can we come over? Anyway, at the moment, I’m on the lookout for recipes that I can cook with my little girls – things that allow her to pour and mix and do the things that toddler can do. The bickie recipe below fits the bill. The original recipe is from a blog, Frills in the Hills, and included nuts, which I have left out to make it kid-friendly. We made them the other day. My toddler cracked her first egg! It ended up all over her face, my face, and with shell in the bowl. But that was the only disaster. Basically, I handled the melted butter and the measuring of the ingredients, she poured them in and then helped me shape the cookie dough into balls. It was messy, yes. But fun. The stuff memories are made of.

Ingredients

•1 and a half cups plain flour
•1/2 cup self raising flour
•1 cup firmly packed sugar
•2/3 cup quality cocoa (if you don’t want to use cocoa, add ¼ cup more plain flour)
•150gr melted butter
•2 eggs
•1 tsp vanilla extract
•200g chocolate of your choice, chopped up or in pieces
Method
1.Preheat oven to 180 degrees c.
2.In a bowl or mixer combine all ingredients with the exception of chocolate.
3.Mix through chocolate with a spoon or spatula.
4.Roll into balls around the size of a golf ball, place on a greased baking tray and flatten down slightly into a cookie shape.
5.Bake for 12 minutes or until cooked. Cool on tray.

Makes 24.

Rainy day food – Lamb Shanks with Bacon and Mushrooms

15 Jun

It really is the weather for lamb shanks, isn’t it? Well, it is if you live in the southern parts of Australia. We are in the grip of what’s called a deep east-coast low. Sounds kind of cool. It isn’t. Well, it is cool in the sense of damn freezing cold and very wet. Anyway, these endless rainy days seem to lend themselve to slow cooking. So on the weekend, I busted out the old casserole dish and filled the house with delicious smells of slow cooking lamb. Shanks are very forgiving. To make them yummy you really just need to cook them for a long, long time. You can’t really overcook them, as long as they remain in some form of stock. Anyway, here’s the dish I cooked. It’s from Good Taste magazine, which have all their recipes on taste.com.au.
Serves 4
2 onions, diced
1tbs olive oil
6 lamb shanks, frenched
200g button mushrooms thickly sliced
4 bacon rashers, coarsely chopped
2 celery sticks thingly sliced
2 crushed garlic cloves
500ml (2 cups) beef stock
400g can diced tomatoes
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
80g spinach leaves

Heat oil in heavy saucepan and brown lamb shanks, 2 at a time. Remove from saucepan. Add onions, mushrooms, bacon, celery and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Increase heat to high and add stock, tomato and rosemary. Bring to the boil then reduce to low and return lamb shanks to the pan. Cover and cook for 1.5 hours or until meat falls off the bone. Transfer lamb shanks to a plate and cover with foil. Increase hat to high and simmer the sauce for 10-15 minutes or until the sace thickens and reduces by half. Season with salt and pepper. Add spinach and stir until it wilts. Return the shanks to the pan and stir to coat. Cook til heated through. Serve with mash or rice.

Warming up with chicken, pea and potato curry

10 Jun

Geez it’s cold. OK, so I’m probably the 500th person you’ve heard say that over the past couple of days (that’s if you live in Australia’s eastern seaboard). But – it’s true. It’s bitter out there. Yes, it’s winter. I know that. And I know winter means cold days. But let me throw you a stat. The average maximum June temp for Sydney is about 17 degrees. So, a day when that only reaches 14 degrees (which we have experienced this week) can legimately be called a cold day. So there.

How to remedy this? Well eating food is a start. The thought of eating a lettuce leaf in this weather just gives me goose bumps. This is weather for warming, hearty food. A couple of nights ago, I cooked the curry below. The beauty of this curry is that you don’t need to make your own curry paste (I don’t own a mortar and pestle and believe life is too short to stand around pounding up spices that you can buy pre-pounded) and you don’t need to buy curry paste. You can make it all in one dish and it’s a complete meal, due to the vegie content (just needs some rice). It’s from a fab magazine called Australian Good Taste. I doubled the quantity and froze some for the weekend.
Serves 4. Prep 10 mins. Cooking 45 mins.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken thigh fillets cut into chunks
1 brown onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2cm piece of fresh ginger peeled and chopped
1 1/4 teaspoon Keen’s Curry Powder
1 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 large potatos cut into chunchs
400ml can light coconut milk
120g (3/4 cup) frozen peas
Steamed rice to serve

Heat half oil in large saucepan or deep fry pan. Cook chicken 3 – 4 minutes till golden. Put on a plate. Heat remaining oil and cook onion, garlic and ginger till fragrant and soft. Add curry powder, turmeric and chilli powder. Cook till aromatic. Add chicken, potato, coconut milk. Simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in peas and cook for 2 minutes. Serve with rice, some fresh coriander and a dollop of sour cream.

Party food that Adults and Kids will love

16 May

Gone are the days, for me, when the word ‘party’ conjures up images of alcohol, wild dancing and peking duck pancakes. These days, most of the parties I attend are more likely to include pass the parcel, fairy bread, cupcakes and lolly bags – and lots of parents to supervise the kids. And these adults require food, just as much as their little munchkins. So – what food do you serve to suit all tastes? A sure-fire hit are home-made sausage rolls. Yes – the basic sausage roll – when it’s home made, is elevated to a level of deliciousness that will impress parents (‘you mean you made these?’) and kids, who don’t care how they’re made, they just like them ‘cos they’re yummy, and little. They are worth the effort.

Ingredients
1 packet (6 sheets) of puff pastry.
750gms sausage mince (ask the butcher)
1 onion, grated
salt and pepper
2 thick slices of white bread (crusts removed)
hot water
1/2 teaspoon mixed herbs
1 lightly beaten egg

Put bread in a bowl and cover with hot water. Stand 10 minutes. Drain and press out all excess water. Combine bread, sausage mince, grated onion, salt, pepper and herbs. Mix with hands. Thaw 3-4 sheets of pastry and cut each sheet in half. Spread mince mixture about rone centimetre from the edge. Coat edge with egg-wash. Roll into a sausage shape and press down with egg glazing to seal. Cut at 3-4cm intervals. Coat tops of sausage rolls with egg wash. Place on oven trays lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake in hot oven (225 degrees celsius) for 10 minutes, reduce heat to moderate (180 degrees celsius) and cook for another 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. It makes about 30.

Five Minute Chocolate Mug-Cake

11 May

Yes – you read it right. Chocolate cake – in a mug that takes five minutes to make AND cook. And – there’s no washing up. You mix it all in your mug. Heaven! Now that the weather has turned chilly (what’s the deal with winter arriving a month early?) I think it’s the perfect afternoon treat.
Serves 2

Ingredients
4 tablespoons flour

4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
a small splash of vanilla extract

Add dry ingredients to large coffee mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high).

World’s Easiest Healthy Cake

26 Apr

This cake contains no eggs and no butter or oil – therefore I think it falls into the category of ‘healthy’. It takes about 10 minutes to prep with no mix-master required. It’s best eaten as the day it’s made as the lack of fat means it won’t keep that well. My Mum calls it ‘Ken the carpenter’s cake’ as the recipe came from a tradesman who was working at home. Mum is old school – she always plies any people working at her home with cups of tea and coffee, cake and slice. One of these tradesman was Ken – and spotting a keen cook – he shared this recipe with my Mum.

Ingredients
1 cup of sifted self raising flour
1 cup of mixed dried fruit
1 cup of caster sugar
1 cup of milk
1 cup of shredded coconut

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and placed into a greased and lined loaf tin. Bake at 180 degrees celsius (slightly lower if fan forced) for 50 – 60 minutes.