Friday, June 29, 2012

Fish Friday: Mustard Prawns with garlic

I love a good creamy sauce, whether it's with pasta, prawns, meat... But I also know that it is unhealthy for me and as I'm not exactly super model weight material, I need to watch the creamy sauce intake. I found this recipe in the Jenny Craig Healthy Living for Life cookbook and was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was. I think it's a perfect (and quick) Fish Friday dish.

I've served this prawn dish as an entree and main course meal before, and even cooked it one Sunday for myself for lunch. If you want to serve with steamed rice you will have to make the steamed rice ahead of time because this is a very quick meal to make. If you have a rice cooker like me, cook the rice first and then put it on Warm mode until you need it.

What you will need: 
2 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
500g Green Prawns, peeled and deveined (optional: with or without the tails)
½ Cup / 125ml White Win
2 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoon Parsley, finely chopped
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the prawns and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. 
Stir in the white wine and cook for a further 2 minutes, or until the wine has reduced and the prawns curl up and turn pink. 
With white wine
Reduce the heat, stir in the mustard and sprinkle with parsley. 
With mustard and parsley
Serve with steam rice and a leafy green salad. Serves 4.
Mustard prawns with garlic
This is also a great dish for dinner parties because you can make it very quickly and double or triple the recipe as you need.

For more photos and updates visit my Facebook page here 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My new obsession - Lardo

My latest obsession is a bit of a naughty one – lardo. One Saturday morning the husband and I decided to visit an Italian smallgoods deli/café in Kogarah, a southern Sydney suburb. We were both expecting this small deli filled to the brim with Italian delicacies and we were half right – Pino’s Dolce Vita Fine Foods was full of Italian delicacies but not small like we had envisioned. The shop was about triple the size we were expecting and twice as good. Attached to the deli-style shop front is a small café, this leads out to a big dining room (where the owner told us they host dinner parties and live cooking demonstrations). From the moment you enter the shop front you are smacked in the face with the delicious smells of ageing cuts of meat,
Photo courtesy of Pino's Dolce Vita Fine Foods
and homemade sausages,
Photo courtesy of Pino's Dolce Vita Fine Foods
and don’t get me started on the shelves of dried pasta and sauces. 
Photo courtesy of Pino's Dolce Vita Fine Foods
We took a good look at all the products on offer and that’s when the husband pointed it out – the lardo. For those of you who don’t know what lardo is (I certainly didn’t until the husband told me), it’s an Italian charcuterie made up of pure pork fat that has been cured with rosemary and a few other herbs and spices. Most people would balk at the idea of eating pure pork fat, and once upon a time I would have to, but since I’ve been with my husband, I’ve been introduced to a wide range of foods I would never have eaten. Yes, once upon a time I was a fussy eater (I still am with some things, don’t get me wrong). We scooped up the chunk that was on offer and the owner’s son kindly sliced some of it up for us. Next we moved on to the prosciutto, and then the sausages and then the pre-made (but homemade) involtini, and of course the fresh Italian bread. 
But I’ve gotten off track. It’s all about the lardo. I have no photos for what I’m about to tell you but you will have to believe me that it was great. For dinner, we topped the Italian bread with slices of the lardo and proscuitto and indulged completely in the salty flavours and doughy bread. If I had of had a minute between each bite I would have drizzled over the top some good quality extra virgin olive oil (we have a great bottle given to us from the owners of an Italian restaurant in Tuscany). Other things you can do with lardo: melt under the grill onto bruschetta, melt over toast and sea urchin roe, fry potatoes or meat in melted lardo in a saucepan. The list is endless and dependent on your tastes. We will definitely be trying the bruschetta one (I have bruschetta marinating in my fridge as I type ready for tonight).
Everyone must visit this shop, you will never want to leave, and will be planning your next trip back before you’ve even left the building. The owner and his sons are very helpful and polite (they didn’t mind if I asked about touching the hanging sausages – I was told no but he thanked me for asking first).

Do you have a food that you would normally balk at but now love to eat?

Pino's Dolce Vita Fine Foods
Shop 10, 45 President Avenue, Kogarah, NSW, Sydney Australia

(02) 9587 4818

Shop front Photo courtesy of Pino's Dolce Vita Fine Foods

Monday, June 25, 2012

Veal Saltimbocca

It was purely by accident that I cooked another Masterchef Australia recipe lately, but then on the other hand not such a surprise because I'm watching the latest season on TV almost every night and get the magazine monthly. The weather in Sydney, as we head into Winter, has been atrocious the past few weeks so I wanted a meal that was easy to cook but still super delicious and warming. I went through my loose leaf recipes that I keep in a now bulging folder and came across Veal Saltimbocca. I haven't cooked it in months so figured it was a good time to pull it out again. This recipe is actually from Masterchef Australia 2011 and was part of the Masterclass presented by Gary Mehigan (for those that don't know about Masterclass, here in Australia they have a masterclass every Friday evening where th judges show the contestants different skills and flavour combinations in the kitchen). 

The recipe and ingredients are very simple, and if you don't like veal you could substitute with chicken or beef if you prefer. 

What you will need: 
500g Veal Loin or Veal Steaks, sliced into 4 escallops
20 Sage leaves
4 Slices Prosciutto 
Plain Flour, for dusting
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove, thinly slices
2 Tbsp Baby Capers, rinsed and drained
40g Unsalted Butter
1 Punnet Cherry tomatoes
¼ Cup White Wine
Baby Spinach
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice

A few things to think about before you start purchasing your ingredients, if, like me, you purchased veal steaks which are already sliced and bashed thin, then you may need to cut the steaks in half. I certainly did, so I ended up with more steaks and needed more prosciutto. I think it's safer to use more extra anyway because sometimes the slices can be so thin that you may need more than one wrapped around the veal. 

If you need to bash out your steaks, wrap them in cling wrap and very gently bash out thinner with a meat hammer using the smooth side, to about 8mm thick. 

Put two sage leaves in the middle of each slice of veal and wrap prosciutto around the veal with the sage facing down (you want your prosciutto slices to meet up on the side of your veal where there is no sage.  In the photo below you can see what I mean by my instructions. 

Veal wrapped in Prosciutto with sage 
Lightly coat the veal in flour, you can use a shallow dish for this but I just dusted my surface and the veal with the flour. 

Flour dusted veal
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium to high heat. Depending on how many slices of veal you have, you may need to cook in two batches. If this is the case, then cook the first batch of veal and remove from the pan, using the second batch of veal, follow the instructions below. 

Add the veal to the pan, sage side down (so the join of the prosciutto is facing you). 

Capers, Garlic, Butter, White Wine
Toss in the capers, garlic, sage leaves and butter. 

Capers, Garlic and butter in the pan

When the butter starts to foam around the veal, turn the slices over and add the cherry tomatoes. 

In with the cherry tomatoes
Veal doesn't take long too cook, especially when it's thin, so remove the veal once the cherry tomatoes are in the pan and set aside. You want the outside to be quite a golden colour and crispy, but still a little pink inside. 

Crush some of the tomatoes so their juices flow throughout the sauce. Pour in the white wine and about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Toss in the baby spinach leaves (enough for the meal) and toss around the pan constantly to avoid over cooking. The spinach leaves are done when they start to wilt. 

In with the spinach leaves
Spoon the sauce over the veal, season with pepper if desired and serve with vegetables of your choice. This time I choice carrots and beans boiled in butter. Serves 4. 

Dinner is served

For a look at the meal being made by Gary himself, and for a great tutorial on the recipe, visit  here 

You could also serve this recipe with boiled or mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, asparagus, a host of vegetables that aren't too strong in flavour, you don't want the vegetable outdoing your meat and sauce. 

For more photos and updates visit my Facebook page here 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Luscious Delights Loves....

In lieu of Fish Friday (because I haven’t even had the chance to cook something fishy all week), I wanted to do some more shout-outs. Some new blog and cookbook discoveries that have got me salivating this week:

As the name suggests, the blog is all about baked items (just what I like). With so many luscious delights to choose from, it was hard to choose what I want to try first, but here it is Oreo Mint Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache 

Photo courtesy of Mini Baker

I found this blog though Foodbuzz  and I was instantly captivated by the food photography and the simplicity of her recipes. This is a must see. I will definitely be trying the Rose Water Tartlets with Vanilla Sugared Berries here 

Photo courtesy of Tartlet Sweets
Bakerella recently posted about choc chip cookie dough truffles here , which I have not yet tried but as I’m still on the hunt for the BEST choc chip cookie, I thought it fitting to give a shout out. If you’ve never heard of, seen, or visited Bakerella’s site it’s a must. She is the Queen of Cake Pops. I do own her book and have made a few of the basic ones from it for various birthday parties. Cake pops are always a winner with the kids as well. Check out the Cake Pop action here

Photo courtesy of Bakerella
These are some of my Cake Pops  from the earliest to the latest

Ok so this one isn’t a blog but I do frequent the recipe pages often. Have a look for yourself  here  (they also just posted some food photography tips if you want to look here )

I must check out other countries Masterchef websites one day as well. Who knows what gems I'm missing out on. 

New cookbooks on the market
I’ve seen this book in a few recent magazines and I have to say it does tickle my fancy. The blurb isn't very helpful, outlining the obvious - the book is 200 pages of old school recipes and more modern recipes. The voice inside the back of my head does keep wondering how different the recipes will be from the million other cookbooks I have. 

Photo courtesy of Fishpond
Most people know Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame, but who knew her Great-Grandmother wrote and published her cookbook in 1947? This book has been featured in almost all the latest edition food mags I have picked up and so far none of the reviews are prompting me to buy it. Asparagus Soufflé and Pea Vichyssoise just aren’t appealing to me.

Photo courtesy of Fishpond
I love discovering new blogs and am constantly on the lookout for new ones. Feel free to suggest any that you think I would love as a comment below or head over to my Facebook page here 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Roast Chicken with Verjuice

I love a good roast chicken. My MIL in makes one of the best I’ve ever had but I thought it was about time I tried to make one myself. The perfect opportunity arose when DH was going out for the evening and my adorable niece and nephew were being babysat by my parents. Of course I invited myself over for dinner and offered to cook (how could they say no!). My biggest problem was what recipe to use for my first roast chicken. Out of habit, I went straight to the Masterchef Australia website and found what I was looking for – Maggie Beer’s roast chook recipe here from 2011.  It’s a simple recipe with a small amount of ingredients, my kind of recipe. Normally I would like gravy with my roast chicken but I thought I should accomplish one obstacle at a time. Gravy can be grappled with next time.

What you will need:
30 Garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 Lemon, juiced
3 sprigs Rosemary, chopped
50ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt (I used pink salt)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
125ml Verjuice* (this can be bought at speciality food stores)
125ml Water
1 Cup Chicken Stock
Preheat a fan forced oven to 200°C. Blanch the unpeeled garlic in boiling water for 4 minutes, drain and set aside. This will make the garlic very mushy and aromatic, and in most cases, the peel will fall off. Pour the lemon juice into the chicken’s butt and throw in the rosemary sprigs. Combine the olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and pepper and massage this into the chicken’s skin. Using foil, cover the breast only of the chicken. Place the chicken on a wire rack in a shallow (approximately 5cm deep) baking tray. Place the tray with the chicken on the middle shelf of the oven and roast for about 1 hour.

Chicken rubbed with salt, pepper & olive oil
Take the chicken out of the oven (watch the steam) and transfer the foil from the chicken breast to the chicken legs. Pour the verjuice over the chicken and put the blanched garlic cloves into the baking tray. Add the water to the base of the baking tray to avoid burning. Cook for another 20 minutes. Remove the chicken and place the breast side down on the wire rack and cover the entire chook loosely with foil.

Half way done

Half way mark - wrap legs with foil 
Allow to rest for 30 minutes in a warm place, like a closed microwave.

Ready to rest for 30 minutes
Before carving, check that the chicken is cooked by cutting a small incision into the part of the chook. If no pink juices run out your chicken is cooked. Or you use can use a meat thermometer. 68°C will signal a cooked chicken.

While the chicken was cooking and resting, I had plenty of time to prepare my sides. I chose to serve my roast chicken with green beans, baby carrots and mash.

To make the verjuice sauce, warm one cup of chicken stock and add this and the pan juices to a small jug. Refrigerate until a few minutes before you require. Skim off any fats from the top of the sauce, and reheat in a small saucepan on the stove. I put the sauce back into the jug and allowed guests to pour over their meal as they preferred.


I am very pleased with my first roast chicken dinner. The chicken was flavoursome and moist and went perfectly with my buttered carrots and beans, and mash.

Ready to eat
To match my very savoury dinner, I whipped up Masterchef’s Dark Chocolate Raspberry Tart earlier in the day, which I have posted about here
To see more photos and get updates visit and like my Facebook page here

* Verjuice was made available commercially by Maggie Beer (fancy that!) and is made from unfermented grapes. It can be used in place of other acidic condiments like lemon juice and vinegar.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kitchen Gadget Shopping Spree

Over the weekend I went on a mini shopping at my local Robin’s Kitchen store. It was completely unintentional. I wanted a mini whisk and knew Robin’s Kitchen was having a sale so thought I would try my luck (I did have a look in the local Big W store as well but they had none so I was forced to go elsewhere).

As soon I entered the shop I was greeted by the lovely saleswoman who advised me that there was a 20% off sale occurring in store on EVERYTHING including SALE ITEMS and LAYBY was available as well. I was in BIG trouble. Immediately a list of items I needed went running through my mind. First item, some digital scales. I have been umm-ing and aah-ing about getting new scales for months for two reasons 1) my old scales, given to me by my Mum taken by me off my Mum, still work fine and 2) do I really need new scales just because I want red ones to match the rest of my kitchen gadgets?  Reason two won in the end and I couldn't say no with a sale on. 

I had a good look around the shop twice and picked up items as I went including the mini whisk I originally wanted, a bigger measuring jug than I have at home (plus I thought it was a good idea to have a nicer one that looks better in photos), a mini flour sifter, perfect for icing sugar as well, and the piece de resistance (and something I have wanted for a million years) – an ice cream machine. Anyone who knows me will tell you I have been talking about getting one for a loooong time, and very seriously talking about it every other week since Christmas 2011.

I love kitchen gadgets, I won’t deny it, and an ice cream machine is just one of those gadgets I don’t have and need want. And let’s be honest, all the items I purchased can be used to make ice cream – measuring cups and jugs and scales for the ingredients, mini whisk to whisk the ingredients (OK not the simmer mat but it’s useful for other things). I’m not a big layby-er but I did layby all these items partially because I didn’t want to admit to DH that I finally succumbed to my need want and bought an ice cream machine, which I did confess to him later that afternoon, partially because I couldn't contain my excitement. 

I can’t wait to test it out, I’m thinking a simple vanilla ice cream to ease me into the process will be my first experiment.

Do you have an ice cream machine, or a shameful kitchen gadget obsession like me?

All the items I bought (except the mini flour sifter, couldn't find a pic of that) through Robin's Kitchen
My mini shopping spree items

ARIS Simmer Mat

threehats silicone mini whisk

Cuisinart 2L Ice Cream Machine

Marinex Measuring Jug 1000ml

Monday, June 18, 2012

Hungarian Veal Goulash

When DH and I were honeymooning in Europe, we spent a glorious week in Austria. It was absolutely beautiful and it was our week to relax, do a little bit of sightseeing, but mainly regroup and rest for the next leg of our trip. We went to a few bookstores to try and buy some culinary cookbooks as momentoes from our trip. One book we picked up was Culinary Austria by Helmut Deutsch. To match the winter weather here in Sydney I wanted to try the Veal Goulash and recreate some of the magic I spoke about here

Love this photo taken in Austria on our honeymoon
What you will need:
600g Veal Shoulder, cut into chunks
2 medium Onions, finely chopped
50g Butter
1½ Tbsp Paprika
1 Garlic Clove, sliced or crushed
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
125ml Sour Cream
125ml Pouring/Thin Cream
1 Tbsp Flour
The instructions in the book aren't the best and I think it's because the book has been translated into English, but I did my best! 

In a large saucepan melt the butter and sauté the onions and paprika until the onions start to go soft.
Onion & Paprika 
This is where the recipe got a little tricky. The recipe doesn't mention water until this point nor does it mention how much water to use, so all of the water measurements are my guestimates. Add half a cup of water, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil. 
Ingredients in to simmer 
Add the veal chunks, tomato paste and water (I probably added a little too much so in retrospect I would add maybe 1 cup and see how you go, it's easier to add than take away). Simmer this gently, partially covered, until the meat is tender. The timing of this will depend on how big your veal chunks are. To test for tenderness, pull a piece out with a fork and try it.  

When the meat is tender, pour the sauce through a sieve and keep the sauce and meat separate. Combine the flour and sour cream and add to the sauce.

Flour & Sour Cream
It will appear very unappetising (like the photo below) but the sour cream will melt into the sauce.  
Flour & Sour Cream mixture into the sauce
Add the pouring/thin cream to the sauce and allow to boil until thickened. Careful that it doesn't over boil like mine did so you end up with  a saucy mess on the stovetop. Pour the sauce back into the saucepan with the meat and heat until the meat is hot again. This shouldn't take too long. 
Sauce back in with the meat
Serve with mash potatoes, butter noodles or spatzle (German pasta). 
Hungarian Veal Goulash
Next time I will try it with beef. For us, the veal was a little to tough, which could also  come down to not knowing exactly how long to cook the meat for or how much water to use. But the sauce was sensational. 

For more step by step photos visit my Facebook page here 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sticky Buns (or Cinnamon Buns) - call them what you will

Recently when I was getting a few things at Woolworths I picked up the latest Feast magazine (Issue 11). I've seen it on the shelves over the past few months but never picked one up so decided to give it a try. Honestly, I wasn't overly impressed with the content but a few recipes interested me. I seem to harp on about this lately but truly, the weather has been bad in Sydney, with the past weekend rainy and no warmer than 11°C. I wanted to make something that would be warming and comforting so I chose the Feast Magazine one ingredient recipe for Sticky Buns, or as we like to call them in Australia, Cinnamon Scrolls. I've never really been a sticky bun liker but the desire to try something I've never done before and that was a little out of my comfort zone was my motivation. 

Be warned this is not a quick recipe. There is resting time in total of about 3 hours plus baking time of at least 45 minutes. Be prepared for a lot of waiting and a lot of washing up! But well worth the effort. 
Have a timer handy!
I have divided the recipe into sections (in different colours) to make it easier to navigate. 

What you will need for the Dough: 
7g sachet Dried Yeast
75g /  Cup Caster Sugar
124ml /  Cup luke warm Milk
3 Eggs
375g / 2½ Cups Plain flour
135g Unsalted Butter, separate into 125g and 10g, cut into cubes at room temperature
Dough Ingredients 
Put the yeast, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and all of the milk into a bowl and combine. Set aside in a warm area of the kitchen for about 5 minutes or until the yeast starts to bubble. Lightly beat 2 eggs in a bowl. Whisk together the yeast mixture and the eggs until smooth. 
Yeast mixture with eggs
Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or similar), combine the yeast mixture with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt and mix on low speed until very soft and sticky. 
Dough with butter added
Keep the mixer running and add the butter in cubes, ensuring that each cube is mixed in before adding the next cube. You will notice the dough will look like it's really wet but the longer it's mixed, the more dough-like it will become. Mix for bout 8 minutes or until the dough is soft and silky. 
Dough completed & ready to rest
Transfer the dough into a lightly greased bowl (I greased mine with melted butter). Melt the remaining 10g of butter and brush over the dough. Cover with cling wrap and set aside in a warm place for  hours or until the dough doubles in size. 

What you will need for the Caramel: 
125g Unsalted Butter
75g / ⅓ Cup firmly packed Brown Sugar
125ml Thickened Cream
60ml /  ¼ Cup Maple Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
180g Pecans, toasted and chopped
Caramel ingredients
To make the caramel, combine the butter, brown sugar, cream, maple syrup, vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of salt in a small saucepan over high heat. 
All ingredients in 
Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 8 minutes (careful not to burn the bottom or touch the caramel with your skin, it will be very hot). 
When the mixture is glossy and reduced by a third, pour two thirds into a 35cm x 21cm x 5cm baking dish (or similar), tilting the dish to ensure that the bottom and sides are covered with caramel. 
Caramel in dish
Set aside the remaining caramel in a warm place. Sprinkle one third of the pecans over the caramel in the baking dish. 

What you will need for the Filling: 
125g Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
165g / ¾ Cup firmly packed Brown Sugar
3 tsp Ground Cinnamon
¼ tsp Nutmeg (either freshly grated or ground)
Filling Ingredients
To make the filing beat with an electric mixer the butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ½ teaspoon of salt on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. 

All in to be mixed
Stir through half the remaining pecans and set aside. 

Filling complete

Press the dough down in to the bowl and then turn out onto a lightly flour bench top. Roll out to ½cm thick rectangle (about 30cm x 40cm). Spread the filling evenly over the dough, allowing a 2cm border around the edges.
Dough with filling
Tightly roll the dough like a swiss roll. 
Swiss rolling
Trim the edges and cut into 12cm even sized pieces. I lightly marked the dough before I cut right through to make sure I would get enough pieces. 
Dough cuts
Place cut-side up on top of the caramel in the baking disc. Loosely cover the baking dish and set aside in a warm place for about 1½ hours or until the dough doubles in size. 
Ready in the dish
Abut 30 minutes before your dough is ready preheat the oven to 180°C. Whisk the remaining egg with ½ teaspoon of water in a small bowl. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash and bake for about 45 minutes or until the buns are golden brown (remember that all ovens are different so it may take less or more time than the recipe states). If your buns are browning too quickly cover them with foil. Cool the buns for 5 minutes then spoon over the remaining caramel (if the caramel has gone hard reheat gently n the stove neil just reheated you don't want to burn or recook the ingredients too much). Scatter over the remaining pecans and allow to cool. 
Buns fresh out of the oven 
What you will need for the Glace Icing: 
160g / 1 Cup Pure Icing Sugar
15g Unsalted Butter, melted
2 Tbsp Milk
Glace Icing Ingredients
To make the icing combine all the ingredients in a bowl until smooth. 
Completed icing 
Drizzle the cooled buns with the icing and let stand for 10 minutes to set. 
Completed buns

Sticky Buns Cinnamon Scroll) 
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