Category Archives: Food

Girls Night

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If you’re going to host a girls night you should go all out. Bubbles, treats for dinner, taking silly photos and face masks and Destiny’s Child. And of course, make sure you have great company. This night lead to shennanigans and blasting ‘Say My Name’ so loudly that I’m sure every one of our neighbours could hear all the lyrics.

Here are the basic recipes for what I made that dinner:

Broadbean, Pea and Avocado dip: From Dish magazine issue 34, 2011

In a food processor blend together 2 cups cooked and shelled broadbeans, 1 avocado, 2 cups of cooked frozen peas, the juice and zest of a lime, a big handful of basil, 1/3 cup of thick plain yoghurt, 1 clove crushed garlic, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve with something crispy and more-ish.

 

Asian style steak salad: From Dish magazine issue 34, 2011

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In a small saucepan bubble together 1/4 cup rice vinegar and 1/2 cup brown sugar. When syrupy, tip into a bowl and mix with 2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 clove of crushed garlic, 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce and 1 tbsp rice bran oil. Place steak into a shallow dish, pour over half of prepared marinade, cover and let sit for at least an hour.

Place a pan on a high heat and fry the steak for 2 minutes on each side. Slice the steak thinly and toss with chopped cucumber, baby spinach, thinly sliced carrot, mung beans, sliced spring onions and top with crispy fried shallots. Dress with some of the reserved marinade.

 

 

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding:

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Link here. Seriously, make this pudding it is crazy good.

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This is a story of beetroot meets caramel

My next holiday cooking project comes from my new absolute favourite cookbook, Treats from Little and Friday. Little and Friday is a legendary bakery set up by Kim Evans. If the recipes in her book are anything to go by, she is a fairy with mystical culinary powers. The recipes are absolutely mouthwatering and have great step by step instructions. The photographs are divine and the book itself is so pretty i’m scared of bringing it into the kitchen! I was lucky enough to be given this book for my birthday and have been obsessed with it ever since.

Seeing as I had a large amount of time on my hands today, I tried making a caramelised beetroot and blue cheese tart from the above cookbook. I made pastry, caramelised beetroot and put it together in a quiche form.

I need to take a second to talk about caramelized beetroot. Let us all pause with solemn faces.

Now, I love beetroot in any way shape or form and thought caramelized beetroot, yeah, cool.

OH MY LORD CARAMELIZED BEETROOT IS THE BEST THING PERHAPS EVER

Seriously, seriously!! I did not think beetroot could get any better, oh how I was wrong and foolish to think so.

Plus it’s seriously amazing with some creamy blue cheese. Oh what? Yeah, hi it’s Claire’s palate and I have matured. Yeah who would have though I would delight so much in blue cheese? Not me.

It’s cool, I’ll give you the recipe, ain’t no thang… but I plead with you, make this and prepare to be amazed.

 

Caramelized Beetroot Recipe from Treats from Little and Friday by Kim Evans

6 big-ish beetroot

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 Tbsp brown sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C. Give the beetroot a quick scrub, then chop off the tops and bottoms and chop each into 6-8 wedges. Pop them into a large saucepan and cover with water, adding a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and boil for 10 mins.

Drain the beetroot, reserving 2 cups of the cooking water. Place the beetroot in a roasting pan, spread them out and pour the reserved cooking water and balsamic vinegar on top and sprinkle the brown sugar over them.

Pop into the oven and cook for 10 mins. Baste and return to the oven, removing to check and baste every 10 mins (mine took about 40 mins all up). The beetroot are ready when they look gooey and sticky and the liquid is reduced.

I used most of the beetroot in a tart with blue cheese and baby spinach (oh yeah, I made the pastry too, just casually, cos I’m on holiday and I can). What’s more is that I have some leftover which I shall be enjoying with leftover blue cheese mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

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Banana flavoured disaster

I AM ON HOLIDAY! Woohoo!

This means that I have time to cook and cook and bake. No more assignments (well for this week at least), no more shifts. The most strenuous thing that I will be doing is kneading some pastry and blowing the dust off my sewing machine. Too good, such a shame it will only be this week.

Spring is also showing its head from time to time, so I’m hoping that this week I can skip through some flower filled fields or something similar. Right now, unfortunately, it is pouring down and the wind is shaking my room. I was particularly unimpressed when it started to bucket down when I was going to the supermarket.

So, I will share what I have made in the past couple of days. Including… last night’s puddle pie!

The recipe was actually supposed to be a banana cream pie, from my beloved Milk Bar cookbook. DISASTER!

Sadly, my crust was too thin, the banana cream did not set and so we ate a textural, luminous yellow puddle

Taste-wise? Incredible. Imagine the flavour of your favourite banana bread combined with a luscious custard and intense dark chocolate biscuit.

Here is a lovely picture, taken before we attempted to set the pie and eventually serve it.

I won’t share a picture of it served up. It ain’t pretty. There are no redeeming features. I threw a wee tantrum… it was late… I’d spent hours making this… then I read some Harry Potter and all was ok.

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Gnocchi with leeks, blue cheese and walnuts

My apologies for the long time between posts, things have gotten a little hectic. This has mostly been due to the fact that my laptop was stolen a few weeks ago, from my flat, while I was in it. Pretty terrifying. I was in the shower and came out and my laptop was gone. This has been endlessly frustrating meaning that I have not had a computer to use for study or research etc etc. and that there have been very fitful nights’ sleep, which all up contributes to a state bordering on meltdown most of the time.

A dish for times like this is gnocchi. These little potato dumplings give you a warm hug and make you feel like things are going to be ok. And cheese, cheese just screams comfort whether it be a cheese toastie, Mum’s macaroni and cheese or cheese scones with a cup of strong tea. I haven’t been a blue cheese fan for very long, something about that pungent taste and the fact that it contained blue bits really put me off. I am starting to be converted though and feel rather proud that I voluntarily included it in a dish.

Gnocchi with leeks, blue cheese and walnuts Adapted from Cuisine Magazine Issue #152

Serves 4

2 tbsp oil

1 leek, cleaned and roughly sliced

1 packet of gnocchi

a good handful of walnuts

about 100-150g blue cheese (any kind you want, pick your fave)

2-3 handfuls of baby spinach

Put a large pan of water on to boil, when it comes to the boil, add plenty of salt. While you are waiting for the water, heat your oil over a medium heat, add leek with a pinch of salt and cook slowly, stirring every so often to get leeks that are soft and melt in your mouth. When the water has boiled, throw in your gnocchi and catch them with a slotted spoon and immediately put them in the pan with your leeks. Add walnuts, blue cheese and spinach to the leeks and gnocchi and mix until the cheese has gone all melty.

Oh yeah, use a big pan when you’re cooking the leeks… I use my big, non-stick wok with a flat base. Yeah, a wok, I pretty much use it for everything, seriously one of the best things I have ever purchased… pasta sauces, stir fries (duh), curries… You name it, I would try and cook it in my wok!

 

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Kedgeree

Gotta say, this is one of my favourite dishes, how could it not be? The individual components are fantastic- smoked fish, hardboiled eggs, spiced rice- and when they come together it’s sublime. Surprisingly, given the amount of butter in this dish, it’s light, but the butter does give it a real comfort food feeling. And speaking of butter, David Lebovitz, who writes one of my favourite food blogs, has just written a damn good post on what he eats. He is a butter lover, not afraid to hide it.Reminds me very much of one of my favourite sayings “everything in moderation, even moderation”. So, yup, this dish has lots of butter, and what?

On the night I made this, I had bustled up to Mum and Dad’s with the purpose of doing some study, lugging textbooks with me (catcall along the way “Hey girl, that’s a really big book”. Well yup, yup it is). This is great food for when you’re studying, it’s quick to whip up, and you can grab a steaming bowl and curl up with your books.

Kedgeree- Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef

Serves 4

250g rice

1 bay leaf

a small handful of peppercorns

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

150g butter

2 heaped tsp curry powder

375g smoked fish

6 hardboiled eggs, sliced into wedges

Juice of 1 lemon + Lemon wedges to serve

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt it well. Add rice, bay leaf and peppercorns and boil, stirring occasionally, until the rice is nearly cooked. Drain well and remove bay leaf and peppercorns.

In a large pan or wok, melt butter over a medium heat, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Then add the curry powder and cook for a minute, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice, fish and rice to the pan, heat through, then gently fold in the hardboiled eggs. Serve in warm bowls with lemon wedges.

Delicious. Next time I make this, I’m gonna try making it more fragrant, not quite sure how I’ll do this yet, but maybe playing around with spices added to the rice when it’s cooking, or making my own curry powder. Also, I’ll add something green and herby, lots of it.

 

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Chicken Noodle Soup

In these days of Southerlies, a flat so cold I can see my breath when I wake up in the morning, and frustrating assignments, there is only one thing that can keep me going: Chicken Noodle Soup!

Here’s the good news: If you can boil water in a pan, you can make this soup! Seriously, that’s pretty much all it takes. Also, this makes HEAPS, yay, which meant that I could have chicken noodle soup for lunch and dinner the following day and the next day too, happy, frozen girl. The recipe I used had no vegetables, so I added some, because it feels bad bad bad to have a meal without veggies. I urge you all to make this and keep warm and rugged up.

Chicken Noodle Soup Adapted from Made by Hand by Julie Le Clerc

serves 6

1L liquid chicken stock

750 mL water

350g (ish) chicken mince

250g rice vermicelli noodles

2 bunches of bok choy, washed and chopped

3 spring onions, sliced thinly

Good handful of coriander, roughly chopped

Chili sauce (I used Huffman’s Hot Sauce- hooray!), soy sauce and lemon wedges to serve

Put chicken stock and water in a large pan or wok and bring to the boil. Once boiling put in chicken mince and boil for 5 minutes, breaking up the mince if it goes clumpy. In the last couple of minutes of cooking add in the rice vermicelli and the bok choy. When cooked, divide into bowls, sprinkle with spring onion and bok choy. Serve with soy sauce, chili sauce and lemon wedges, let people add as much or as little to their taste.

The chili gives some heat and the soy sauce adds to the depth of flavour and I love that the spring onion, lemon and coriander give a little ray of lightness, dee-lightful. This soup is so warming, nourishing even. It warms you from the inside out (effect is heightened of course if you add lots of chili harhar), I think at this time of year we all need some nourishment, so grab some soup, wrap up in a blanket and grab your favourite book- wonderful.

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