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Food, general thoughts, food…


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Chicken and maple syrup….who knew?

This meal was a one dish wonder, sweet and savoury all at the same time. The beans were tender and the potatoes, half roasted, half soft and sweet. It was an interesting dish that incorporated flavour not usually found in traditional Australian cooking but I found it tasty and definitely one for the ‘keepers’ pile. Like the title says ‘chicken and maple syrup….who knew?’ well probably a lot of people, but I didn’t….now I do….see, learnt something new today!

Bacon Wrapped Chicken & Roasted Maple Vegetables

Serves: 4

4 thigh fillets
1kg potatoes, diced
4 strips of bacon
3 cups frozen or fresh green beans
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup 100% pure maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 finely diced onion
1/2 tsp thyme (fresh from the garden)

Heat oven to 200C.
Place greens beans in the bottom of a casserole dish.
Add potatoes on top of green beans.
Wrap the bacon around the chicken thighs.
Drizzle oil over chicken and veggies evenly.
Season with salt, pepper, diced onions and thyme.
Slowly pour maple syrup over the entire dish.
Bake for about an hour or until potatoes are tender.


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Chocolate Rough Squares

As you know by now, I have a soft spot for any recipe that meets both my ease and taste criteria. Although I don’t mind fiddling with a complicated recipe once in a while, I prefer my day to day cooking to be as straight forward and, of course, as tasty as possible. This one hit the mark in every way. It was one of those ‘might as well try it, the kids will eat it even if it is just okay’ kind of recipes that you just cannot believe how good it really is, considering it took you such little effort.

I made this on one of those stereotypical ‘I just want to sit on the couch and each cheesecake’ kind of days. It wasn’t cheesecake but it might be my next new ‘go to’ when I have a day like that.

Chocolate Rough Squares

Base
1 packet Marie biscuits
1 x 400 g tin condensed milk
1 cup coconut
1½ tablespoons cocoa
55 g butter (melted)
Topping
55 g copha
200 g milk chocolate (I used ‘top deck’ the store was out of plain milk chocolate)

Base: Process biscuits to fine mixture.
Add cocoa, coconut and mix through.
Add condensed milk and melted butter and press mixture into a foil lined 28 cm x 18 cm lamington tray.
Place in refrigerator whilst making topping.
Topping: Microwave the copha and chocolate together and pour over base.
Place in refrigerator to set.

Keep in the fridge once you have cut it. Your topping is likely to melt.


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Comfort food

Not much to look at but really simple to make and tasty to boot, this chicken dish is one we will have again. Good hearty winter type food, this will stick to your ribs and warm the cockles of your heart as my Grandfather would have said. He also used to say ‘call me anything you like, but don’t call me late to dinner’. He was a wise man.

Without further ado:

CHICKEN AND POTATOES OREGANO

Serves 4

5 Potatoes
125g Butter
1 Onion, chopped
4 Split chicken breasts (I used chicken cutlets, bone in thighs)
Salt & Pepper
3/4 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Italian seasonings
1 Tbls Chopped parsley

Peel potatos and cut into 2cm cubes. Set aside.
Melt butter in heavy skillet, such as cast iron. Add onions and
saute till golden brown. Add chicken breasts and potatoes. Sprinkle
with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on medium heat 20 minutes,
turning often.
Sprinkle with oregano and italian seasonings. Continue to cook,
turning often, for another 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with parsley and continue to cook until chicken is done to your satisfaction.


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Mushrooms as big as your head

I made these an age ago. We had a BBQ and I wanted something different to have along with meat and salad. My daughter was home and my son was coming down, perfect time to whip out a mushroom recipe while there would be more than just me to eat it. The picture is pre baking, there wasn’t any time to take a photo afterward, they were whipped of the dish and down the hatch. This is the best stuffed mushroom recipe I have tried so far and as you can see, we didn’t scrip on the size of the mushrooms.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Serves: 4

12 large button mushrooms (I used 3 massive mushrooms)
1 rasher bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon stale breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine (the red wine sounded weird to me but i am glad I used it, it added a real depth)
¼ teaspoon dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper

Wipe mushrooms with a cloth and remove stems.
Finely chop stems and add to medium bowl with other ingredients.
Stir well to combine. Mixture should just hold together without being wet.
Using a dessertspoon, pile the mixture onto the mushrooms, pressing down firmly.
Hold mushrooms in one hand over the mixing bowl so any excess mixture falls back into bowl.
Bake in 160°C oven for approximately 45 minutes. The mushrooms will shrink slightly.
Can be served hot or at room temperature. Try varying the cheese to your taste.


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Presentation

Dinner was an exercise in presentation that was appreciated by my daughter but lost on my husband. It was a fantastic meal and one which I will definitely make again. I love Thai flavours (although coriander leaves are totally blech!) Next time I’ll just dump it on rice and serve it like a normal person, but it was lovely to have a nice presentation for a change. My husband ate one serving as intended but the second was unceremoniously dumped on top of some left over rice from the refrigerator. He enjoyed it, that’s the main thing, because we ARE having this again!

‘Teacup’ Thai Chicken Pie

1 small onion finely chopped
400 g chicken thigh fillets, diced
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp mild chilli paste
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp lemon grass paste
1 tin coconut cream
fish sauce, salt and pepper to season
200 g diced cooked sweet potatoes
3 sheets filo pastry, brushed with olive oil or butter (and then rolled and sliced into ribbons)

Cut sweet potato into cubes and cook in a covered microwave safe dish for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Heat and grease a frying pan with a little vegetable oil then add onion and chicken. Allow the pan to get nice and
hot and the chicken to almost brown off on one side then turn.
Add the garlic, cooked sweet potato cubes, chilli, ginger and lemon grass and cook over a medium heat for about 5-8 minutes.
Add the coconut cream and allow to cool.
Spray 4-6 teacups or other 1 cup serving dishes on a baking dish with canola spray and
then add the cooled chicken and sweet potato mix.
Top with the shredded sheets of pastry and bake in a pre-heated oven at
180°C for about 15-20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.


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Cake for breakfast

What a day for cooking yesterday was! I should have kept on going. It was a true Midas day, everything I touched turned to gold. It started mid-morning, I was hungry, always a good enthusiasm booster. I have been spending the last few days refiling old tax documents, all the way back to 1999, for the company I work for. It has been hot and physical work (yeah filing can be a bitch LOL) lugging boxes full of archived files and transferring them to more secure filing boxes. Anyway, regardless of how it makes my fitness level sound, it was hard work. It made me hungry.

I went scrounging in the fridge and found 3 small, decidedly past their best by date, bananas, just crying out to be made into something delicious. Of course I had just received a wonderful sounding recipe for banana cake with cream cheese icing, what where the odds?

The good thing about cakes is that they don’t take long. They bake for a while but they can do that on their own. The mixing and preparing only took a few minutes and then into the oven. I hardly felt a twinge of guilt for taking a few away from the filing and it gave me another good excuse to wash my hands, I hate touching paper, but that is a subject for another time…

Anyway, needless to say the cake was a success, the icing is dreamy (I love cream cheese icing). Most of the cake is history, just one lonely piece waiting for my daughter to get up this morning and devour it. Who said that cake for breakfast was bad? It has fruit in it….

Banana Cake

2 eggs
½ cup buttermilk  (milk and yogurt in my case)
100 mL extra light olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup lightly-packed brown sugar
1/3 cup caster sugar
1¼ cups self-raising flour
¼ cup flour
Cream cheese icing
200 g cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind (did without this)
¾ cup pure icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Shredded coconut, to top cake (didn’t have any so, no)

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan forced).
Whisk eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla essence in a medium bowl until well combined.
Stir in the banana.
Add the brown sugar and caster sugar and stir until combined.
Sift the combined flours over the egg mixture and stir until well combined.
Pour into greased 11 cm x 21 cm loaf pan. (or a square cake pan)
Bake for 40-45 minutes until skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Set aside and cool, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Icing: Using an electric beater, mix the cream cheese and lemon rind in a bowl until
smooth. Gradually add the icing sugar and the lemon juice until well combined.
Spread over the cake and top with the shredded coconut.


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Summer dessert

Yes, okay, it does look like a spoon full of filler foam, no that is not what it is. What it actually is is Pineapple Mousse, my answer to providing something ‘light’ for dessert on Christmas day this past year. For all those who can’t handle a hot roast dinner and hot Christmas pudding and custard in 40C heat, this is my answer. Light and fruity, creamy and cold, it seemed to go down alright with the locals.

Meanwhile I will stare at pictures of snow falling in the less temperate climes and wonder what a white Christmas must be like as I wipe sweat off my forehead in the kitchen, checking the roast, on my way out to the pool…

Pineapple Mousse
Serves: 6

1 x 375 g can evaporated milk, chilled
1 packet lemon jelly crystals
1 x 450 g tin crushed pineapple

Drain pineapple well, reserving juice.
Heat juice and dissolve jelly crystals in it. Set aside until just starting to set.
Beat chilled evaporated milk until very frothy and thick.
Beat in jelly mixture and pineapple pulp.
Set in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Try using other flavours like Port wine Jelly and tinned cherries, strawberry jelly and tinned fruit salad.
I’ve been told that light evaporated milk doesn’t seem to work as well.