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Food, general thoughts, food…


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A small slice of coffee

I did do some baking over the weekend. I decided I needed to fill in some of my alone time by stocking the freezer up with things I don’t really need.

My first thought was something ‘coffee’. I don’t often drink coffee these days although I used to be a consumer of large quantities some years ago. I am developing quite an appreciation for tea these days as coffee, for some reason, leaves me feeling a little ill and gives me the ‘I must clean my teeth right NOW’ feeling that is hard to ignore and harder to achieve when you are out in public.

I still appreciate the flavour of coffee though and wanted something to mimic that without making me want to race for a sink and a brush.

I found this recipe and I was a bit sceptical, 3 layers, refrigerating the topping, grating the topping, cooking on the stove, it all seemed too hard. I persevered though and I am glad that I did.

A little reminiscent of caramel slice, this is less obviously a dessert masquerading as a biscuit. The coffee flavour is there but delicate. It was good on its own but would make a great dessert with a good vanilla ice-cream.

Enjoy!

Coffee Streusel Slice

BASE
125g (4oz) butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self-raising flour

FILLING
400g can sweetened condensed milk
30g (1oz) butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
3 teaspoons instant coffee powder
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts (I used pecans coz I had them)

TOPPING
1 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
125g (4oz) butter

Base: Cream butter and sugar until just combined, stir in sifted flours in two lots, mix to a firm dough. Press evenly over base of well-greased 30cm x 25cm swiss roll tin.
Bake in moderate oven 10 minutes, spread with filling.
Grate topping evenly over surface, bake in moderate oven further 10 to 15 minutes,
or until topping feels firm to touch. Stand 15 minutes before cutting; leave to cool in
tin. Cut into bars or slices.

Filling: Combine condensed milk, butter, golden syrup and coffee in saucepan, stir over medium heat until mixture begins to bubble on base of pan.
Continue stirring briskly for about 3 minutes, or until mixture is thick and beginning to catch on base of pan; stir in walnuts.

Topping: Sift dry ingredients into basin, rub in butter. Mix to a firm dough, refrigerate 30 minutes before grating coarsely.

P.S. I double batched this so I’d have plenty to freeze (thank goodness it was good LOL) and cooked it in 2 pans. Worked out fine.

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Simple Fare

This is Bacon & White Wine Sauce over spiral pasta. Maybe not my most inspired recipe (and it looks REALLY yellow in the photo) but it tasted like pasta with pizza, so the kids thought it was a winner. Also it took me mere minutes to whip up, once the pasta was cooked it was ready.

Served with lots of black pepper (and tomato sauce in the husbands case) it was a meal I’d make again if I was in a hurry.

Bacon & White Wine Sauce

1 Tbls butter or oil
125g bacon, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tbls tomato paste
pepper
1/3 cup cream
1 egg, beaten

Heat butter or oil. Fry the bacon until crisp.
Add wine, tomato paste and pepper.
Simmer gently for 5 mins, stirring occasionally.
Pour tomato mixture over cooked pasta.
Mix cream and egg together and pour over pasta.
Mix and reheat very gently.


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What a find!

Rummaging about in the freezer the other day I came upon this gem. How excited was I?

This, for those of you who can’t tell (just about everyone with my crappy photos), is a basil stuffed chicken breast. I actually made these a few weeks ago and haven’t posted them (for reasons unknown but guessing I’d say, laziness/forgetfulness), they were exceptional fresh from the oven. I had a lone leftover (actually I wrestled it from the grasps of the husband who was going back for 3rds) that I popped in the freezer, knowing I was going to be freezer diving for a few weeks in the near future.

And, tahdah!, from the depths of the freezer came something that wasn’t pasta, curry or casserole, to brighten my day. I teamed it with a little couscous and spinach, easy peasy and tasty.

I don’t always have everything for this recipe on hand but it is certainly worth making the effort once in a while, and it freezes really well.

Basil stuffed chicken
Serves 4

1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup ricotta
1 Tbls chopped sundried tomatoes (I used sund dried tomato pesto I had on hand)
1 garlic clove crushed
1 Tbls chopped basil
4 large chicken breasts (of course I used chicken thighs and just wrapped them up)
2 large tomatoes
4 slices of prosciutto

Preheat oven to 220C.
Line a baking tray.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl and season.
Slice each chicken breast to form a pocket.
Fill each breast with 1/4 of the cheese mixture.
Top with tomato slices and season.
Wrap each breast in a slice of prosciutto and secure with a tooth pick.
Drizzle with oil and bake for 20-25 mins.


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Random Happenstance

I have a canary. To be more precise, the neighbourhood has a canary.

Yesterday evening my cat was chattering at the window, I went to investigate, there on my back lawn was a little bronze bird nibbling the grass seeds. He looked cheekily at me when I opened the window and boldly continued to nibble heartily at the grass.

Seeing as my lawn needs mowing and I don’t think a canary is going to eat much anyway, I left him to his own devices.

We have a lot of crows in our area so, sad to say but I didn’t think he would last too long since he obviously slipped his aviary to flit about in the wilds of suburbia. He would have been far more likely to meet his demise quickly should I have brought him inside to meet my cat.

This morning though I was greeted by cheerful carolling coming from under a large leaf over shadowing my side fence. There is my little bronze blow in singing his tiny heart out. He, very sensibly, clams up instantly when a crow flies over but burst back forth into tune as soon as the coast is clear.

He is a cheerful addition to my life at this point, and should he mysteriously not appear one day I shall just happily assume that he has found his way back to his home aviary, not that dark and dreadful things have befallen him. I am grateful that he found the time to visit me and bring me the gift of his song.


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Rainbow Jelly

It has been a fair while since I last posted and I am pretty sure it will be a while yet before I cook something worth posting. I am currently living off of my freezer meals as I am alone for a couple of weeks. Lots of nights of beef curry and pasta bake in front of me. I am providing a lunch for a training client next week so there might be something to post then. In the meantime here is a picture and a recipe of something I used to make for my kids for special occasions, always at Christmas without fail. It takes some time to do properly hence the ‘only on special occasions’. I have even been known to transport it to my workplace (when I worked in town) to keep it in the fridge and complete an extra layer during the day.

As you can see, the colours and flavours are totally optional. Family members have also made this as individual serves in wine glasses, which is quite a nice way to go, especially if you have grown ups to impress.

For those of you who are American, jelly = jello, not jam 🙂

RAINBOW JELLY

2 boxes cherry Jelly
2 boxes orange Jelly
2 boxes lemon Jelly
2 boxes lime Jelly
3 cans of sweetened condensed milk

Before you start, clear enough space in your refrigerator to place a large clear glass bowl on a FLAT surface (a square bowl would give the best effect). It is very important that the space is FLAT and LEVEL.
Prepare the first layer – Dissolve one box of lime Jelly with 1 cup of boiling water, stir until all the Jelly is dissolved.  Add 1/2 cup of condensed milk and stir thoroughly.  Pour the mixture into the glass bowl SLOWLY.
You do not want the Jelly to splash up onto the side of the bowl or it will ruin the rainbow effect.
Place the bowl in the refrigerator on a level surface.  Wait at least two hours for the layer to solidify.  NOTE – It is important to make sure the layer is sufficiently solidified, as you will be pouring another
layer of warm Jelly on top of it, always let it chill for at least two hours even though it may appear that the layer is done (I try to leave it overnight).
Prepare the second layer – Dissolve one box of lime Jelly with 1 cup of boiling water, stir until all the Jelly is dissolved.  Add 1/2 cup of cold water and stir thoroughly.  SLOWLY pour the mixture on top of the first layer.  Do not pour all on one spot as you could melt a hole in the first layer (I pour the new layer over the old by pouring it over a spoon to stop it all pouring onto one area).
Place the pan in the refrigerator on a level surface for at least two hours.  You will repeat this process with lemon and then orange and then cherry – two layers of each flavour, the bottom with
condensed milk the top with cold water.

NOTE – As I mentioned before this recipe requires quite a time commitment, at least 16 hours if you
worked straight through, although I would be more inclined to take more time to make sure it is a success, so be sure to allot enough time.
Also, with the large variety of Jelly flavours available now, you can use what ever colours and flavours that you prefer or are appropriate to your celebration.


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Mushroom heaven, just watch the angels!

In keeping with the mushroomy theme and because I still have quite a few field mushrooms left from my last trip to the supermarket I made a mushroomy chicken dish for dinner last night. This recipe sounded good to me when I read it but nothing could have prepared me for the flavour of the finished dish. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this dish, angels cavorting on my tongue would not compare (I am not sure how big angels are but I just had this horrific image of my tongue being stomped to death by fat babies while I lay weeping in supplication, tongue extended before me. This is not the image I was trying to portray)

Anyway, try to shake all thoughts of angels and/or angles out of your head and get to grips with this recipe and its delicious tastiness. If you like mushrooms, chicken and wine this is a winner. It certainly did it for me. It was earthy and savoury, the fragrance of the wine and mushrooms just made it magic. I cannot recommend this one highly enough!

Chicken and Mushrooms in White Wine

Serves: 4

4 skinless, boned chicken thigh fillets, diced
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
1 onion, cut into wedges
1 teaspoon butter
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
300 mL thickened cream
½ teaspoon chicken stock powder
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Dried thyme leaves
3 tablespoons white wine

Place chicken, mushrooms, onion, butter and garlic into a large pan.
Cook until chicken and mushrooms are browned.
Add cream, stock powder, mustard, thyme leaves and white wine.
Cook, simmering on low heat, until cream sauce reduces and thickens.
(Can’t say my sauce was particularly thick, I was hungry and probably rushed things. It was fantastic soaking into the rice anyway.)
Serve over cooked basmati rice.


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Winter morning breakfasts

When I was little my Father and I used to ramble about on our property early in the mornings and gather mushrooms if we could find any. Due to the (I won’t say unique because there are ALL sorts of families out there) interesting make up of our family he and I were the only ones in the household that liked mushrooms. If we were lucky enough to come across them we would bring our bounty back to the kitchen and indulge in mushrooms on toast for breakfast. I have been eating mushrooms like this for all of my life and it never fails to take me back to those crispy, dewy, frosty mornings rambling around with my Dad. We didn’t really do too many things exclusively together but this is one of the things that we did at least a few times a year and I treasure that memory.

This can hardly be called a recipe but it is one of my favourite (and easiest) breakfasts. Memories aside, it just tastes wonderful!

Mushrooms on Toast

2 pieces of bread, toasted (whatever bread you like, used to be brown bread when I was growing up)
½ a small onion diced small
2 field mushrooms or a good couple of handfuls of buttons, diced
dash of salt
knob of butter (no margarine, its nasty)

Spread butter on your toast, yes butter this is good food, not health food.
Place (sounds better than dump) your onions in a small bowl with knob of butter.
Microwave on full for 1 min.
Add mushrooms, stir and microwave of full for another minute. Grind in a teeny amount of salt
and microwave for another 30 seconds.
Pour over your buttery toast and eat it.

Heavenly!