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Friday, 30 April 2010

Chili Con Carne

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

Rice Salad

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

Jewish Coffee Cake

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


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


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.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Individual Banana Loaves

Sadie and I love bananas! I like mine sliced served on hot buttery toast and Sadie likes her peeled and served straight up! Unfortunately the Middle East does not produce their own fruit or vegetables so we have to import everything. I buy my tomatoes from Holland, my oranges from the USA and my potatoes from Australia....and pay dearly for them! Bananas are imported from the Philippines and my house keeper back in the UAE once told me that bananas are the Philippines biggest export and she was very proud of the fact! Unfortunately because the bananas have to travel a long distance, by the time they get to us they basically have a days' shelf life before they are too ripe and bruised to eat. This means that I pretty much buy bananas on a daily basis! 

I had 2 bananas that were bordering on dodgy so instead of wasting them I decided to bake! I searched through some of my cooking magazines and came across the following recipe from Taste Magazine. These mini loaves are delicious, very moist and sweet enough to have without the icing. I used icing just for the beauty shot. They can be stored in an airtight container for 4-5 days however, I have frozen mine so that Sadie can enjoy them in her lunch box!


Butter, to grease
1 1/4 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
125g butter, melted, cooled
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup pure icing sugar (this is optional)


Preheat oven to 180C. Grease mini loaf pans. (The recipe called for 8 x 1/2 cup pans, mine were slightly bigger and made 6). Combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl.

Whisk the butter and eggs together. 

Add to the flour mixture with the banana and mix until well combined.

Spoon the cake batter evenly among the greased pans. Use the back of a spoon to smooth surface. 

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cooled completely, mix the icing sugar with enough water to make and icing thin enough to pour. Drizzle the icing over the cakes and set aside to set. 

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Matt's Penne Pasta

Well, it's been a CRAZY week! My daughter turned 2 on Tuesday and we've had a birthday extravaganza since then! I have tried a couple of times this week to post an entry on my blog but to no avail. It started Tuesday with me trying to bake a cake in my shocking gas oven, only to have it burn to a crisp. After the cake incident, I thought I'd whip up some cupcakes which were OK but not great. And we've eaten out every night this week that there was nothing else for me to post!

However, today I set my mind to it! I was going to write my blog! Matt has been begging me for ages to cook him his favourite pasta meal. A meal that when I first came up with the recipe (yes I created this dish!) Matt turned his nose up at it but within 15 minutes he was singing its praises!

I came up with this recipe about 4 years ago when we first moved from Sydney to Melbourne. I remember feeling like a pasta dish but was over the stock standard Spaghetti Bolognese that I was cooking on a weekly basis. I flicked through a few cook books and magazines and I think I used some recipes for inspiration and truthfully whatever was in the fridge!

This pasta dish turned out to be a huge success! Such a success that Matt started requesting his penne pasta almost every week and it got to the point where I was sick of it! I actually haven't cooked this pasta in over a year so it's fitting it made its return tonight for my blog.

Lastly, for any vegetarians reading, this pasta sauce tastes great without the chicken and even staunch meat eaters won't miss the omission of chicken!



500g chicken breasts, diced
2 x zucchini, thinly sliced in circles
2 tbl spoons olive oil
zest and juice of 1 lemon
150g feta, crumbled
300g penne pasta
200ml light pouring cream
chili flakes to your liking
salt & pepper to season


Cook pasta according to packet directions. Meanwhile heat oil in a large hot pan and add chicken. Saute chicken until the meat is no longer pink.

Add the zucchini and cook until tender.

Once the zucchini is cooked through, add the lemon zest and juice and the chilli flakes. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Drain the pasta and toss through the sauce, making sure to combine the ingredients well together. Stir through the cream. Turn off the heat and add the feta cheese, combining all ingredients together gently.

Serve immediately.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Chicken Balls with Couscous Salad

Matt and I are feeling a little tender today to say the least. Last night we went to a friends house for dinner and drinks and indulged a little too much in the drinks side of things! We were supposed to spend the day by the pool and even though it was quite hot today it was too windy to venture outside (with wind comes sand storms). So we decided to have a relaxing day at home with Sadie and recover from our silly hang over!

Tonight for dinner, I wanted something light, fresh and most of all easy. I found this recipe on the internet and had it saved for quite sometime and tonight felt like the perfect moment to roll it out. Supper tonight felt very summery and mediterranean, I could have easily been transported to an al fresco restaurant on the Greek Islands!

I really love couscous as it's very good for you and is a great alternative to rice or potatoes.

I have changed the recipe and method slightly by using panko breadcrumbs instead of a soggy piece of bread. I added lemon zest to the couscous and whenever making any type of ball or rissole I think it's always best to refrigerate for at least 1/2 an hour to firm the mixture which then makes it easier when cooking in the pan. I also omitted the cumin seeds from the salad as I'm not a fan but it's entirely up to you!

This recipe is really healthy, light and fresh and I actually think it would taste just as great cold being served at a picnic.



Chicken Balls
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (these are Japanese breadcrumbs and have a great texture and crunchy bite)
250g chicken mince
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped coriander
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
lemon wedges to serve

Couscous Salad
1 cup boiling water
1 cup couscous
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lebanese cucumber, quartered lengthways, sliced (I also remove the seeds)
2 green onions, finely sliced
The zest of 1lemon and it's juice
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted




Place in a large bowl chicken mince, breadcrumbs, green onion, half of coriander and egg. Mix thoroughly and season with salt and pepper. Using wet hands, shape into about 16 small balls and refrigerate for at least 1/2 an hour. 

Heat half of oil in a large frying pan on medium. Cook meatballs in batches for 5-7  minutes, tossing frequently, until browned and cooked through. Drain on paper towel and set aside.

To make the couscous salad. Combine boiling water and remaining oil in a bowl. Stir in couscous, cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Fluff up with a fork to separate grains. Toss through remaining salad ingredients and remaining coriander. 

I plan on having the leftovers tomorrow cold for lunch!!