I know, I know, I know it's been almost 2 months since I last blogged.
Unfortunately my blog has fallen by the wayside as I've got myself a full-time job! Ahhhh!
I'm the new Head Teacher at a Nursery School here in Doha and my days are now starting at 5.30am and by the time I get home all I want to do is chill out with Sadie! So my cooking has taken a big back seat. All I can muster up these days is a bit of Spaghetti Bolognese and some simple stir fry's!
I promise I'll get back to my blog eventually and hopefully it will be in the not too distant future.
I hope you appreciate where I'm coming from and will check back in with me soon for some more fabulous new recipes!
Take care and lots of love
Monday, 23 August 2010
One of things I miss most about Australia are the apple muffins from Muffin Break. I used to pick one up for breakfast on my way to work each morning and wash it down with a fresh apple juice. When Sadie and I were home in May, we indulged a couple of times at Muffin Break but I didn't feel so guilty as I would share one with Sadie so I was only eating half the calories!!
Last year whilst living in Abu Dhabi I tried an apple & cinnamon muffin recipe and they turned out to be a disaster! Very bitter in taste and too heavy on the cinnamon.
Whilst browsing the shelves at my local supermarket yesterday I came across tinned apples. I thought to myself that maybe....just maybe the sweetness of tinned apples would take away that bitter taste that fresh apples can give you sometimes, especially when we are not spoilt for choice with fresh fruits in this part of the world!
Tinned apples are my savior! It was definitely what was needed in this recipe to lift them to pure sweetness!
Now be warned, when making this recipe the batter is very very thick, much more like a dough than a traditional batter, but don't be put off, a bit of elbow work in the stirring department and all your ingredients will come together to create a very moist sweet sensation of apples and cinnamon.
The recipe makes approximately 24 regular sized muffins however I made 12 and with the remainder of the batter made small loaves which I have since sliced and frozen so they can go in Sadie's lunch box when she starts back at Nursery School next week.
2 cups caster sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil (I also think you could substitute the oil for apple sauce if you'd like, however I haven't tried this)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tin of apples
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius (350 fahrenheit). In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla.
In another large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the whisked mixture. Remember the batter will be very thick. Stir until everything is combined and then stir through the tin of apples.
Butter and flour your muffin tins or use paper liners. Fill muffin tins to the top and bake for 20 - 25 minutes.
Serve warm from the oven is best however, these are suitable for freezing. Great for school lunches!
Sunday, 15 August 2010
I know, I know...it's been a month since my last blog! My heart hasn't been in the kitchen over the last few weeks. You see, my Husband was retrenched 4 weeks ago. The last thing on my mind has been cooking and blogging but now things are looking up. Matt has scored himself a new job (well he's still negotiating his contract but we're staying optimistic!) We just aren't ready to leave the Middle East and we will be so thrilled if we get to stay!
It's also Ramadan at the moment and the Middle East comes to a stand still during the day, while Muslims fast and then at sundown it's a whole different story! The city comes to life and it's quite thrilling be a part of it. However, I must say that it's quite boring being at home all day every day but it got me back into the spirit of blogging so I'm back!
I wasn't in the mood to scour through my cook books, nor was I in the mood to try something new or difficult. I just wanted to get in the kitchen and throw a few things together! My Mum makes the BEST chicken schnitzel so that's where I started but I wanted to add an extra layer of flavour and that led me to creamy mushroom sauce.
I'm not a huge fan of mushrooms but for some reason when they're sauted with some shallots, garlic, stock and cream they taste a hell of a lot better! I became ADDICTED to mushroom sauce ten years ago when I was backpacking through Europe. I spent a month in France and I think I had chicken with mushroom sauce almost every night for dinner! I've never made it myself but I figured I would just give it a go, no recipe in sight and you know what....it was delicious!!! I'm sure there are a number of different versions of this sauce but I've kept it very light and simple and not too heavy on the cream.
I also had a new guinea pig to test out the recipe. Our friend John is a bachelor at the moment while his lovely wife Catherine (and my very good friend) is back in the UK with their boys visiting friends and family. I promised Catherine that I would take care of John while she was away as I think she believes John will be on a diet of Pizza Hut and McDonalds for the next month! John was very impressed with the sauce however he did let slip that he makes his own version of creamy mushroom sauce and I think there might be a sauce off in the not so distant future!
This dinner is really easy to make as long as you have all your ingredients chopped and ready to go and you time everything to perfection! I served the chicken with peas and roast potatoes (pure comfort food was needed) but I think it would also be lovely with a fresh salad or french style with garlic green beans and boiled potatoes.
Oh and a quick side note. You can easily serve the chicken as is without the sauce and it's still delicious! Or alternatively the sauce would be great over steak!
I hope you enjoy!
4 x chicken breasts (I used 2 per person as the chickens here are tiny!)
2 x cups of all purpose flour
4 x eggs beaten
2 x cups of bread crumbs
1 x tablespoon of dried parsley
Salt & pepper for seasoning
Olive oil for shallow frying
Creamy Mushroom Sauce
1 small shallot finely diced
1 clove of garlic minced
1 tablespoon of butter
250g mushrooms (I prefer button but whatever tickles your fancy)
250ml of chicken stock
2 generous tablespoons of thick cream
Place your chicken breasts on a plastic cutting board, cover with cling film and then beat them with a rolling pin or mallet until they are nice and thin. This is great therapy if you're in a bad mood!
Using 3 shallow bowls place the flour in bowl 1, eggs in bowl 2 and combine the bread crumbs and parsley in bowl 3. I also season my flour with a little salt and pepper. Start by dredging the chicken breast in flour, then moving onto an egg bath follwed by a further dredging in the bread crumb mixture. I suggest crumbing your chicken and then chilling in the fridge a few hours before cooking. This will help the bread crumbs adhere to the chicken.
To make the mushroom sauce, start by melting butter in a saute pan over medium to high heat. Once the butter is melted add the garlic and shallots and fry until the shallots are tender and transparent in colour. Now add the mushrooms and cook until tender. Once the mushrooms are tender turn the heat down a little and add the chicken stock and cook until the stock has reduced by half.
While the mushrooms are cooking you can start pan frying your chicken breasts. Heat up enough olive oil in a fry pan to coat the bottom of the pan so that the chicken does not stick. Once the pan is nice and hot add the chicken breasts but do not over crowd the pan. You will need to cook in batches. The chicken should take about 4 minutes per side if they are nice and thin. You will know when the chicken is cooked through when pierced with a knife the juices run clear.
Once your chicken is cooked, add the thick cream to your mushroom sauce and stir until heated through. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Sunday, 11 July 2010
I'm definitely a carb girl...but even more so a potato girl! I love potatoes any which way they come. However, I'm on a huge fitness kick at the moment so I have banished my mashed potatoes until the day comes that I can wear a bikini with pride! However, apparently, according to Weight Watchers one sweet potato is only 3 points which is not too bad. Now plain old mashed sweet potato is good but I've made it even better.
I was watching a cooking program the other night and the chef was talking about infused oil and I thought what about making a bit of infused oil to run through my sweet mashed potato?!?! I had plenty of extra virgin olive oil in the cupboard, I had a bit of butter, some fresh rosemary and my trusty dried chili flakes would this work? Would this lift my sweet potato to higher heights? Oh yes!
This side dish was so easy to make (I'm sure I say this in every blog entry I write!), it was quick and it gave the mash such an amazing kick. It ROCKED!
I served my mash along side a grilled piece of juicy rib eye and some grilled asparagus.
3 x small sweet potatoes or 2 large
2 x tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 x tablespoon of butter
1 1/2 tablespoons of freshly chopped rosemary
A sprinkling of dried chili flakes to your liking
Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into chunks. Place in saucepan, fill with cold walter and put on the boil. Potatoes will be ready when easily skewered with a fork.
While the potatoes are boiling, finely chop your rosemary and gather together the remainder of your ingredients.
Once potatoes are soft, mash until smooth. Place lid on to keep warm while you make your oil.
Heat a small fry pan on high heat. Once hot, add oil, butter, rosemary and chili flakes. Flash fry for about a minute.
Pour oil into sweet potatoes and stir through. Serve immediately as a side dish.
Monday, 5 July 2010
I have no doubt that there are a lot of variations on chicken soup...creamy, smooth, chunky etc However, I have found a recipe that is so easy and delicious that you will never want to open a can of chicken soup again!
Last week Matt had a work function and the thought of cooking a meal for just myself was too much BUT I didn't want to go down the fast food route! So I thought why not try making a soup. I could make a whole batch, freeze it and there are my suppers for when Matt is away working!
I took inspiration from the Marie Claire "Kitchen" cook book and then added my own touches.
Chicken soup is apparently good for the soul...books have been written about this!! So I decided to do a little research. Chicken soup originally stems from the Jewish kitchen and although scientific research has concluded that the soup has no healing powers I believe it is good for your soul and if something makes you feel good then why not!
I hope you enjoy!
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 finely chopped rashers of bacon
2 finely diced white onions
1 grated carrot
1 bay leaf
2 peeled and diced large potatoes
3 finely sliced celery stalks
2 chicken breast fillets cut into small cubes
1.5 litres (6 cups/52 fl oz) chicken stock
1/2 cup of small macaroni (the teeny tiny cute kind!)
Handful of flat leaf parsley
Sea salt and fresh black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the bacon and onion and saute over medium heat until the bacon is nicely browned.
Add the carrot, bay leaf, potatoes and celery stalks. Stir for 1 minute, then add the chicken breasts.
Now add the chicken stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the macaroni 10 minutes before serving.
Season according to taste with sea salt and fresh black pepper. Add the parsley just before serving.
Saturday, 19 June 2010
I am so excited to share this recipe with you! I have never made my own pancake batter before. I've always believed that the shake and pour variety were more my bag until I made these banana pancakes today!
To me pancakes mean a desert - I love nothing more than an American style buttermilk pancake with gooey maple syrup and vanilla ice cream. However, today my love affair with buttermilk pancakes has come to an end as I have now found a new love...savoury banana pancakes served with warm maple syrup and crispy bacon.
Now, this is the type of dish that you would not want to serve on a weekly basis... queue heart attack on a fork! But...every now and then when you wake up a little fuzzy from the night before and you need a stodgy meal to cure the aches and pains but couldn't be bothered getting dressed up to go out for brunch...this is the meal for you!
My mouth is still watering from these pancakes and using the sour cream in the recipe is the midas touch. The centre of the pancakes oozes deliciously with melted banana and sour cream. The combination of fluffy pancake and oven crisped bacon is a party for your taste buds.
And can I just say that taking the time to dust a little icing sugar over the plate is truly and utterly the icing on the cake!!
I encourage everyone to try this dish at least once in their life time - you will not be left disappointed.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Unsalted butter
- 2 ripe bananas, diced, plus extra for serving
- Pure maple syrup
Note: I also added to this dish rashes of crispy bacon cooked in the oven at 200 degrees celsius until brown and crispy.
Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla and lemon zest.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing only until just combined.
Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until the butter starts to bubble. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes. Distribute a rounded tablespoon of bananas on each pancake. Cook for 2-3 minutes until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned.
Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced bananas, maple syrup, icing sugar and crispy bacon.
Monday, 14 June 2010
Hello everybody! It's been well over a month since I last blogged and my sincerest apologies. However I do have a good excuse...I've been away on holidays for 7 weeks!
Matt, Sadie and I had a brilliant 2 weeks away together in Bali to celebrate my best friends wedding. The trip was pure bliss and we were spoilt rotten. Bali is such an amazing place and the locals are some of the kindest people I have ever met. We can't wait to get back there for another visit.
Sadie and I then travelled on to Sydney, our home town, for 5 weeks of catching up with family and friends. We both had a blast and it was so sad to leave but we couldn't wait to get home to Matt and become entrenched once again in our daily Doha life!
My first weekend back in Doha and we were invited to a cocktail party by our very good friends John & Catherine. J&C live on the same compound as we do and most of our weekends are filled with drinking, eating and swimming in the pool.
It was a fun filled cocktail party, as each couple had to bring their own cocktails to make for the guests. Matt and I decided on Mojito's as they are my favourite (i make mine with lemonade instead of soda water). Anyway, I thought it was also my duty to take along some canapes for us to snack on!
I have adapted this recipe from Nigella Lawson, the only thing I changed was adding sour cream to the top of the pancakes. These little morsels of deliciousness were gobbled down very quickly. We also decided that they would make a great posh looking hash brown minus the sour cream and salmon and instead served with crispy bacon (or turkey bacon for us here in Doha!).
I hope you enjoy!
125ml full-fat milk
2 spring onions, finely sliced
2 x 15ml tablespoons olive oil
60g instant mashed potato granules
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
300g smoked salmon
1 small bunch of fresh dill
1. In a jug, whisk the eggs, milk, spring onions and olive oil together.
2. Stir in the potato granules, flour and baking powder and finally the lemon juice.
3. Heat a flat griddle, and drop 15ml tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto the hot griddle.
4. Cook for about 30 seconds a side, or until golden brown and firm enough at the sides to flip.
5. Once you have made the pancakes, and they've cooled a little, top with a small blob of sour cream and then tear off tiny strips of smoked salmon and place on top.
6. Decorate each salmon topped pancake with a tiny feather of dill.
Friday, 30 April 2010
I love Mexican food and I love Nigella Lawson so what better combination than Nigella's Quick Chili! I have changed the recipe slightly however the recipe comes from Nigella Express - one of the best cook books out there in my opinion!
I served this chili with rice, cheese, sour cream and warm tortilla bread oh and icy cold Corona Beers!! Hopefully by the time you're reading this post I'm sitting on the beach in Bali enjoying a beer and meal with friends! At the moment I'm trying to cram 6 weeks worth of clothing into one suitcase and have ordered in pizza as the thought of cooking is just not an option right now! Why do I leave things to the last minute?!
Please try this chili - it hits all the right spots and is a great alternative to other mince meat recipes like the stock standard bolognese!
500g minced beef
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cardamom pods, bruised
1 x 500g jar good quality tomato and chunky vegetable sauce for pasta
1 x 300g can mexican beans (you can buy the spicy or normal variety)
1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes (optional depending how hot you like it and whether you have used spicy beans or not)
1. In a hot, heavy based pan cook the mince for about 5 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden fork to help it brown.
2. Stir in the spices and add the tomato-vegetable pasta sauce and beans. Also add the chili flakes if you so desire.
3. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Serve with rice, cheese, sour cream, tortilla breads.
Sunday, 25 April 2010
My mother in law Kate is an amazing cook! I have learnt a lot from her and can't wait to be in Sydney to learn some new recipes and tricks!
This is a very very simple rice salad that Kate has been cooking for years. You can make the salad in the morning, pop it in the fridge and then serve at a bbq, picnic or with a nice piece of steak or chicken for dinner.
I think it's the dressing that makes it!!
2 cups rice, cooked and cooled
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 capsicum, finely chopped
1 small can of tin corn, drained
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup cream
1 tablespoon chicken stock
Salt & pepper for seasoning
Cook rice and set aside to cool. Once the rice is cool combine vegetables with rice. Make your dressing. I find the easiest way to make the dressing is to pour the cream, mayo and stock into a small plastic jar and shake well. Pour over rice and vegetables and combine. Season with salt and pepper.
How easy is that!!! And the rice salad is so tasty!
Monday, 19 April 2010
At the end of last Summer as my family and I were getting ready to leave Abu Dhabi, we had a small gathering of close friends to say goodbye. My friend Nancy who became like a mother to me while I was living in Abu Dhabi made a Jewish Coffee cake for desert. Now, when I heard coffee I was instantly skeptical... you see I don't drink coffee...can't stand the stuff! So I thought I would not like the cake at all! Boy was I wrong. Nancy's cake was quite possibly the best cake I have ever eaten and there was no coffee in sight!
I decided to make the cake for Thursday night desert as we had our very good friends John and Kathryn over for a BBQ. I scoured the internet for different versions of the recipe and there were plenty. I settled on the version that seemed similar to Nancy's - where the filling was full of cinnamon and sugar.
I also decided to research the history of the cake as the Jewish faith would have to be arguably the oldest religion in our history, however I think my Muslim friends would beg to differ! Jewish Coffee Cake is actually known as Ashkenazic coffee cake and dates back to the 17th Century in Eastern Europe. The original recipe did call for coffee but today's versions are completely caffeine free. In contemporary Jewish homes coffee cake is often served for breakfast on Shabbat and holidays, and at the breakfast table after Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av.
This cake while baking makes your kitchen smell of warm cinnamon donuts and is best served warm with cream or ice cream. Also, it lasts at least 5 days in an air tight container.
On a side note, tomorrow my family and I are leaving Doha for a 2 week holiday in Bali where I don't think I'll be able to blog. Sadie and I are then off to Sydney for a month to see family and friends. While I'm in Bali I have organised for a couple of recipes to be posted.
I hope you enjoy
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan. Combine the flour, baking soda and baking powder; set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar, butter and eggs until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat until smooth. Finally, stir in the sour cream and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the nuts, confectioners' sugar and cinnamon.
Spread half of the batter into the 9x9 inch pan. Sprinkle a layer of the nut mixture, then spread the remaining batter and top with the rest of the nut mixture. Spread the melted butter over the top.
Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, until cake springs back to the touch.