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    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Heaven - Little Chocolate Tarts for Little Treasures

    Heaven on a Plate
    Look at that little face. Thursday at Grandma's
    I decided to give the Kids Chocolate Tarts for dessert. It was a popular choice.
    This so simple I bought some sweet pastry shells from Faro Fresh.
    I had some Chocolate Spread left over.

    This is an excellent product. Made from Belgian Chocolate. I bought it by mistake but I think I will keep it in the pantry for emergency Kid Supplies.

    So to make the filling
    I took a large tablespoon of the Choclate
    Popped in the microwave for 10 seconds to soften
    I then folded it through some whipped cream
    Then I defrosted 2 tablespoons of frozen raspberries
    Added 1 large tsp sugar
    Mashed them up together
    And folded into the chocolate cream

    Just fill the cases
    Into the fridge to chill it down and firm up the mixture
    The proof is in the eating...What do you think?

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Cooking for Kids - Chicken Lasagne with a Twist - Sausage Casserole

    Our Grand daughter Sophia is about to turn 14 , where has that time gone, here she is with her friend Annabel, just little kids, only 5 years ago

    now they are beautiful young ladies…anyway I digress, I am contributing my Chicken and Corn Lasagne for dinner on Sunday, to celebrate her birthday.
    We are about to swan off for the weekend, so I needed to get it made and into the freezer .
    It is not strictly speaking Italian.
    The Chicken part is actually a Chicken and White Bean Chili that I have borrowed from Giada de Laurentis, Food
    The kids like it and it makes an excellent filling for the lasagne.
    I bought free range breast and thighs and minced them in the food processor.
    Nothing but the best for our kids!
    I cut out the chili powder, there are some young mouths not quite ready for heat, but I did add a little red chili flakes. You need a little bite.
    The addition of celery salt, I really like, I feel it helps to give an authentic flavour to the chili.
    I also disregarded the Swiss chard (Silverbeet) for the kids...but have left it in the recipe, I think I would like it, if making for a wider audience. it would add great colour

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    2 pounds/1 kg ground chicken
    1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
    2 tablespoons ground cumin
    1 tablespoon fennel seeds
    1 tablespoon celery salt
    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    2 teaspoons chili powder
    3 tablespoons flour
    2 (15-ounce cans) cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
    1 bunch (about 1 pound) Swiss chard,(Silverbeet) stems removed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
    11/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
    4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

    3 tablespoons chopped parsley
    Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

    In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven,
    heat the oil over medium-high heat.
    Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
    Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
    Add the ground chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, celery salt and chili powder.
    Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.
    Stir the flour into the chicken mixture.
    Add the beans, Swiss chard, (if you are using it) corn, and chicken stock.
    Bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
    Simmer for 55-60 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened.
    Add the red pepper flakes and chopped parsley, and simmer for another 10 minutes.
    Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

    Also make a béchamel sauce
    2 tablespoon unsalted butter
    2 tablespoon white flour
    2 cups milk infused with peppercorns, a peeled shallot and 2 bay leaves
    Just pop the milk into the microwave about 2 minutes
    Heats and infuse all at once.
    20 gms grated Parmesan
    20 gms grated Feta
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Grated Mozzarella for the topping
    Melt the butter
    Add the flour
    Cook for about 3 minutes to cook the flour out
    Add the strained hot milk
    Stir well and bring to the boil to thicken
    Simmer about 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

    Cool a little
    Add cheeses
    Stir well
    Taste and adjust seasoning

    To assemble
    Lightly cover the bottom of gratin dish with béchamel
    Place lasagne sheets on top
    Layer of chicken

    More béchamel
    More chicken
    Lasagne and then cover with the remainder of the béchamel

    Pre heat oven to 180
    Into the oven for 20 mins

    add grated Mozzarella then a sprinkling of breadcrumbs for a little crunch at the end

    I then covered it and into the freezer for Sunday.
    Now onto the Sausage Dish for the Thursday Night Feats With Grandma
    Veal Bratwurst Casserole

    I love Veal Bratwurst and its not easy to find in the local Supermarket, but Faro Fresh, over on the North Shore has a wonderful selection of Deli meats. IN fact all of their meat is excellent. More about that later. I bought a few packets while I was there. Some for the Freezer
    Great dinner, for the kids and to get the vege into them, how about a nice casserole.
    Just a base of carrots, onions, celery and garlic.
    I added some White Balsamic vinegar for acidity and also it has a lovely sweetness to it
    And separately, I fried some onions. Sausages and onions. Oh Yes
    This is so tasty and so, so simple, soft meaty sausages, topped with a fluffy Cheesy Potato Topping.
    A kids delight.

    5 Veal Bratwurst Sausages
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 small red onion fine chop
    1 small carrot finely chopped
    2 cloves garlic finely chopped
    1 stick of celery finely chopped
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    A little water
    2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

    For the fried onions
    1 large onion peeled and sliced
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1 tablespoon flour
    2 cups chicken stock
    I browned the sausages in a pan and then transferred them to a casserole dish

    Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery and garlic to the pan
    Season and sauté till they get a little colour and start to tenderize.
    Add a little water and let that absorb
    Add white balsamic vinegar

    Meanwhile in another pan
    Add olive oil and the sliced onion
    Cook slowly to caramelize
    Add flour stir well and let cook for a few minutes

    Add chicken stock
    Bring to the boil stirring while you do
    Simmer about 5 minutes
    Add the other vege

    Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary
    and then pour the finished sauce over the sausages

    Potato Topping
    4 large potatoes peeled and chunked
    3 tablespoon milk
    Big knob of butter
    70 gms cream cheese
    1 shallot peeled and finely chopped
    1 egg
    Sea salt and ground white pepper

    Meanwhile cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender
    Strain and make sure they are quite dry

    Heat the milk and butter in the microwave or a small pot
    Now I am with Delia Smith, when it comes to mashing.
    You can either put the hot potatoes through a ricer, or just get out your hand beater
    and whip them up with that.

    Start off slowly, you don't want to end up with it all over you
    Add the hot milk and butter

    Beat them up
    When they are smooth
    Add the shallots and cream cheese
    You can start beating with a fork now
    Add egg
    Season with salt and white pepper
    Continue to beat till smooth
    Pile on top of sausages

    I have popped this into the fridge and will finish it off tomorrow night
    From room temperature,
    180C for 30 mins
    Should be a winner

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Roasted White Vegetable Soup- Always Room for Improvement

    My friend JT liked my post of the White Soup
    and decided to make her version with the ingredients she had.
    She experimented by par -boiling the vegetables and then slow roasting them in butter and oil.
    Into the blender, whiz up and voila Potage.

    I cut the vege into large chunks I didn’t want them to be over roasted.
    Plus I sautéed the cabbage instead of roasting. I think the flavour is improved this way
    So here we go
    A lovely soup
    I will put on My Net Diary Blogs  with all of the calories for those interested.

    1/2 Cauliflower 350 gms
    1 large potato 235
    1 leek white part only 200 gms
    2 med parsnips 220 gms
    1 med swede 260 gms
    2 x stalk of celery 75 gms
    1 large onion peeled and quartered 200 gms
    1/2 white cabbage 500 gms

    20 gms olive oil
    50 gms unsalted butter
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    10 gms olive oil
    1 tablespoon Stock powder
    Cold Water about 2 litres

    Cut all the vege except for the cabbage into large chunks
    Cover with water
    Add salt and bring to boil

    Simmer for about 8 minutes, till just starting to get tender
    Strain and keep the stock
    Set aside
    Pre-heat oven to 160C

    Into a roasting dish add butter and 20 gms olive oil
    Pop into the oven to heat up
    Add the drained vege toss around to coat with oils
    Season with Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Into the oven around 50 minutes
    After 30 mins take out the leeks and cauliflower before they get too caramelized.
    It makes them bitter

    Slice cabbage
    And sauté in 10 mls of oil for 5 minutes
    Season with Stock powder, Vegeta is good but any chicken stock powder is also good
    (Vegeta is Vegetarian and also Gluten...They also make very good Beef and Chicken flavoured stock powder)
    Add reserved stock and simmer for about 10 minutes till cabbage is soft
    Put the cauliflower and leeks that you have removed into the cabbage
    Then add the rest of the roast vegetables 
    Mix well and into the blender
    Whiz till smooth
    This amount will take 2 gos in the blender
    Back into pot
    Taste and adjust seasoning
    I found it needed more salt and freshly ground black pepper

    I popped some into a plastic container for my daughter to have for her dinner.
    We had it for lunch.

    4 ladlefuls only 139 calories
    Filling and gorgeous.

    Oh My friend Phil also made it and he added some spinach.
    Nice addition

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    White Soup for White Times

    At the moment in New Zealand we are in the midst of a Polar Blast. Very unusual to be this cold.
    Katie and Chris are in the South Island for a spot of Snowboarding, which is normal at this time of the year. Great ski grounds down there. in fact they are stuck there, all flights cancelled till the weather has improved. Not too bad a place to be.
    But snow on the ground in the North Island is very unusual. Very pretty but bloody cold

    I made this soup using pale vegetables to warm the cockles of our hearts

    You can use any amount of ingredients that you like...doesn't matter, it will always taste great.
    The sweetness of these vegetables, is really intensified, just by gently frying  them in butter

    2 tablespoons of butter
    2 onions chopped
    3 stalks of celery chopped 
    3 parsnips peeled and chopped
    1 large swede peeled and chopped
    1/4 cauliflower broken into florets
    1/2 white cabbage sliced
    1 tablespoon Vegeta Chicken Stock Powder
    Ground white pepper
    Boiling water

    Melt the butter in a soup pot
    Add onions
    Soften them
    Season with Chicken stock powder and white pepper
    Add the parsnip, swede, cauliflower, celery
    Stir well and keep on cooking gently
    Add cabbage stir well.

    Cover with boiling water
    bring back to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until vege are tender
    Taste and adjust seasoning if you need to.

    Put half of the soup into a blender and whiz up
    Return to pot and serve

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Have iPad - Will Travel…Anywhere

    I really don't know what I would do one without my iPad.
    Currently I am looking after my 2 youngest grandchildren.
    While their parents are having a well earned holiday in the snow.
    My daughter emailed me a list of things relevant to the girls
    I picked it up on my iPad Email, copied the txt and pasted it in Notes.
    I also made a list of all the things I can't live without, while I'm away.
    You know, the camera, plus charger, plus chord to connect to computer for downloading.
    There’s also the ipad charger which is a multi-tasker and charges the phone as well.

    When I first started my blogs, It was all about food, (really still is, but I must sing the praises of this Gadget, The iPad)…Anyway I filled copious notepads and diaries,
    which then had to be typed onto the computer,
    Now I sit in front of the TV,
    writing on the Notes App, about the programmes, I have recorded on My Sky.
    Then I email them to myself. Voila there they are, already typed and ready to go on my Mac.

    Must just drop in here, how fabulous My Sky is.
    I used to religiously tape, every cooking programme I fancied.
    Watch it, replay, make notes, wipe, ready for the next nights viewing, then cook.
    Blog that recipe and start all over again.

    At the beginning, Chefs were rather precious about their recipes but slowly most of the Food Networks have great Web pages, with almost anything you want to make.
    I can go online, find a recipe from a Chef who has inspired me... and I want to trial...copy and paste it into Notes (which is synched into my iPhone)
    Using my Shop Shop List (which is also synched to my iPhone)
    Compile the ingredients onto Shop Shop
    Pop the phone into my purse and a-shopping we will go.
    To cook, place iPad on bench.
    Open up my recipe and away we go.
    Cook away. Make any notes
    Email finished product to my Mac

    Download pictures from the trusty camera
    And I'm ready to go with a new blog.
    Get rid of all that paper.
    AND on the Notes App, each page is dated and there is an index making it easy to find everything.

    So onto more delights.
    I have loads of book Tucked Away in my Kindle.
    So, farewell the box of heavy books, I usually used to lug around.
    There also TV shows, Movies right from iTunes.

    And to keep me up to date Wunder Radio
    I can tune into any local or overseas station that I fancy.
    Our friend Stu hosts a show on Eastside FM radio in Sydney on a Thursday
    I can tune into him while I am cooking, cleaning or blogging.
    Even listed to Mark Kennedy on 2UE on his midnight to dawn shift a few weeks ago.
    On top of that s of course the games...favourites are
    solitaire in 3 variations
    And the fads,
    Flight plan,

    Angry birds,

    So I can pick my emails, read and comment on my FB page,
    Read the paper.
    All of this before I get out of bed.
    Oh and I forgot my granddaughter Mia showed an excellent app called Relax and Rest
    Have trouble sleeping? Turn this on, when you are ready to sleep and this lovely lady does the whole Yoga wind down, to totally relax you and work out all of the stresses of the day.

    Another excellent App is My Net Diary.
    Easiest way of recording what you eat everyday
    Also synched to the iPhone and the Mac
    I have just quietly dropped about 5 kilos over 6 weeks.
    No stress…even room for a wine or 3

    So the list goes on.
    Oh how about the Maps and GPS
    And another thing, We had a power cut the other night....cant find a torch, use your iPad. (Actually I have used my phone before today, as have many of you, I'm sure) The iPad is  mush better because of their size. Bigger Screen...Bigger light.

    Thanks to the Taymacs who lent this to me, and Then, gifted it to have changed my life.
    I will never be bored in retirement.

    All I need is for my iPad to do my exercise for me and my life is close to perfect.

    Monday, August 08, 2011

    Vegetable Soup-How to Peel Garlic in a Flash

    That Vegetable Bin in the fridge, has bits and pieces of Vege in there. All looking a little tired.
    My favourite Phrase 'Waste Not, Want Not'. came to mind
    Carrot, red onion, parsnip, kumara celery and red cabbage.
    Peel and chop
    Just heat a tablespoon of oil and throw in the prepared vegetables
    Season with a tablespoon of Vegeta and some freshly ground black pepper
    Cover with water
    Bring to the boil
    Simmer till the vege are tender
    Take half of the soup and blend
    Return to the pot, stir and serve
    Great quick lunch.

    Now I have an excellent hint
    Peeling Garlic
    Normally I cut the root end off and bash it
    The skin just comes off.
    BUT here is a really easy way and you are left with an un-bashed clove of garlic.
    Just pop the garlic into the Microwave
    Zap for 10-12 seconds
    Onto the bench and the skin just slides off


    Best Beef and Red Wine Stew-Wonderful for a Sunday Lunch

    I saw this Beef Stew on TV the other day and was quite excited about all of the flavours.
    I made it for the “Sunday Lynchers Lunch Club” that we have going, six of us once a month and it was a huge success, they loved it. Beautiful tender meat with a deep rich sauce, with Brussels Sprouts scattered in there. Ginger, herbs with a hint of citrus.
    Originally, it called for Beef Cheeks but they are not easy to acquire, so I went for Cross Cut Blade steak. This is without doubt, in my opinion, the best cut of meat for casseroles.
    All of that connective tissue, just melts away and you are left with tender pieces of beef.
    The Chef on TV (I'm sorry, I don't know who he is, but he was French, and was guesting on Nevin's Home Cooking programme...) made a Bouquet Garni, which was excellent and also a little bag with dried Cepes.
    I did that, but next time I will not bother with the bag of Cepes.
    Obviously he didn’t want the actual mushrooms, just using them for flavour.
    I think the best idea is to soak the cepes in water and use the liquor…perhaps one could use the actual plumped up mushrooms for something else.
    I also made a quick stock, using the trimmings of the beef, carrots, and onions.
    Sprig of thyme and a bay leaf
    Some salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Bring to boil and simmer for about 30 minutes
    Strain and reserve
    Waste not want not

    So for 6 people
    1 Kilo Cross Cut Blade Steak , fat removed and cut into 2-3 cms cubes
    2 tablespoon flour
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    3 tablespoons Olive oil

    3 Medium onions peeled and chopped
    2 cloves garlic
    3 medium carrots cut into rings
    75 gms semi dried tomatoes

    Make a Bouquet Garni of
    Zest of orange
    30 gms chopped ginger
    Fresh thyme
    Bay leaf

    Make another bag of dried cepes 25 g
    Or alternatively, steep the mushrooms in boiling water, for about 20 minutes and reserve the liquor.
    Bottle red wine
    1/2 litre of water or beef stock

    About 200 gms of Brussels Sprout leaves
    Grated Ginger about 2 cms
    Grated zest of a small lemon

    Toss the cubed meat in the seasoned flour and brown in a skillet
    Using 2 tablespoons of oil
    Remove and place in your casserole dish
    You will have to do them in batches

    Add another tablespoon of oil and add onions
    Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Saute till soft
    Add garlic, semi dried tomatoes and carrots
    Toss around and cook gently for another few minutes

    Add red wine to pan to deglaze.
    Bring to the boil
    Reduce down for a couple of minutes

    Meanwhile prepare your little bouquet garni
    Add to casserole dish

    Add to wine along with the Cepe liquor and the stock

    Tip into casserole dish
    Make sure the meat and vege are covered
    Into a 180C oven
    Cook for about 30 minutes
    Turn down to 160C and gently cook about 2 hours

    Just before it is ready
    Blanche the Brussels Sprout leaves in boiling salted water for about 1 minute
    Drain and run under cold water to keep the colour.

    Toss in with the Stew
    Grate the ginger and lemon zest over the top and serve with Mashed potatoes.
    A real treat.
    After they had gone look at the remains.
    An excellent lunch
    The next morning, the Beloved washed the wine glasses. A work of art I feel.
    It was scary taking this piece of art apart.