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Food, general thoughts, food…

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No Bake Hazelnut Caramel Slice

You have probably noticed the caramel trend lately and just as obvious the nut trend. Not my fault, I just had a lot of nutty caramel recipes but I am hardly complaining. Nuts are one of my favourite things. I am coming to the end of my caramel slice recipes now. I only have another 4 or so to try out. I am so glad to have come across this one though. Oh, this was divine. I will most definitely make this one again.
I toasted my hazelnuts in the microwave, which worked surprisingly well.
Even my husband, not a nut fan, loves this one and the nuts are glaringly obvious.

Next in line are all of my chocolate slice recipes so I am very much looking forward to moving on to the next folder in my collection.

Really though, you have to give this a try. Not even any baking to do…

Hazelnut Caramel Slice

125 g butter
100 g white cooking chocolate
150 g Marie biscuits
150 g hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed
1 x 400 g can sweetened condensed milk
50 g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
200 g dark cooking chocolate
75 g copha

Line the base of a 18 cm x 23 cm lamington pan with baking paper. Overlap paper a little at opposite long ends.
Place butter and white chocolate into a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until melted and smooth. Cool slightly.
Place biscuits and half the hazelnuts into a food processor and process until smooth.
Add butter mixture and mix well.
Press biscuit mixture over the base of tin. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Combine condensed milk, butter and golden syrup in a medium saucepan over low heat.
Stir constantly until butter melts and mixture just comes to the boil, thickens and turns golden. Remove from the heat and stir in remaining hazelnuts.
Working quickly, spread the hot caramel mixture over the chilled base. Refrigerate.
Combine chocolate and copha in a small saucepan over low heat.
Stir constantly until melted and smooth.
Spread over the chilled slice and refrigerate until set.


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Fruity Lamb Chops

A change from lamb barbequed ‘just as my husband does it’. I put them in the marinade in the morning and we had them for dinner. Sweet and Sourish for want of a better description.

Fruity Lamb Chops

8 lamb midloin chops
1 x 450 g can crushed pineapple
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chilli sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato sauce

Combine, pineapple, garlic, chilli, soy and tomato sauce in bowl. Marinade chops for few hours.
Heat barbeque or frying pan and cook chops to taste.
Remove chops, add marinade to pan and simmer until it bubbles.
Pour sauce over lamb and serve.

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Balsamic Chicken and Onions

I have a grandmother, who I am, more or less, responsible for. She is just shy of 100 years old so she’s seen a lot, done a lot and has pretty much a strong opinion on everything under the sun. I ring her 3 times and visit once a week. I love my grandmother and have the utmost respect for her.

That said, sometimes she just kills me with some of the things she says. Sometimes she reads things in the newspaper that she doesn’t understand, sometimes things make sense but she gets confused and asks me to make sense of it all. Sometimes I have to bite my tongue.

My grandmother is very proper, she doesn’t (as a rule) swear, as I say she has strong opinions on everything, including other people’s behaviour. Don’t get me wrong, she wouldn’t hurt a fly but her tongue can be sharp at times when she disapproves of something said or done.

Last week I visited her. She was reading an article on a politician who was involved in something of a sex scandal (big no-no!), she had put it aside as she didn’t understand some of the terminology and wanted me to help her with it.

Picture this, if you can…

I am sitting at her dining room table, calmly discussing the news and sipping a cup of strong tea (the only kind she makes). My grandmother picks up the news article and asks me with a wave of her hand ‘what has he been up to now? Do you know what dry humping is?’

I snort a good portion of my tea up my left nostril and struggle to maintain my dignity while I choke on the laughter bubbling up in my throat. My eyes tear up and I frantically dig in my purse for a tissue while covering a burble of laughter with a coughing fit. I finally manage to resume some semblance of normality, enough at least to deny having ever heard the term in a fairly steady voice. I am not sure if she believed me but we left it there, thanks be to whatever higher power decided to distract her in that moment.

Not too many of our conversations end this way, she is surprisingly hard to distract and reroute when she gets her mind set on something but in this case I was just lucky. How the hell do you explain ‘dry humping’ to your very proper grandmother without getting yourself ejected from the premises?

Let’s hope for news of a more steady, moral stance next week!


Balsamic Chicken & Onions

Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon oil, olive
500g red onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine, or reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used the wine and a little stock powder for depth)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

In a plastic resealable food storage bag, place the chicken pieces.
In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar through the salt & pepper to taste.
Pour over the chicken pieces and marinate for 30 minutes.
Discard marinade and cook chicken over medium-low heat in nonstick skillet with a bit of olive oil until almost done.
Add red onions; cover and cook for 13 to 15 minutes or until onions are tender,
stirring occasionally. Uncover; cook and stir over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes more
or until golden. Carefully add wine or broth and balsamic vinegar.
Cook and stir over medium heat until the liquid has evaporated. Stir in salt and pepper.
Serve over rice.


My simple tasty lunch

For lunch today, just because, as my daughter would say

…. Cue TONS of attitude…..

‘I do what I want’.

Simple & Cheery Sausage Rolls

4 sheets of puff pastry
40 Cocktail Frankfurts

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Cut each pastry sheet into 5 lengthways and then cut each strip in half to make 40 rectangles.
Wrap each frank in a strip of pastry. Place seam side down on a baking tray.
Brush pastry with egg wash if desired (I don’t bother).
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until cooked and golden.
Serve with your favourite dipping sauce.

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Confectionary is not something I have taken the time to thoroughly explore in a cooking sense. I dabbled a bit when I was younger but nothing since my teens really. Reason? Confectionary is so easy and cheap to buy, there just doesn’t seem to be an enormous point in making your own. Just occasionally though, a recipe looks like a winner and you find yourself having to try, regardless of the ease of buying something fairly good from the supermarket.

Now I have had many things sold to me under the guise of fudge, so many things in fact that I find that I am not even sure what fudge is. I have had every kind of crumbly, sugary, hard, brittle, soft, chewy, smooth, grainy confection sold to me as fudge and there seems to be no relation, one to another, excepting the high sugar content. I am not here to knock any of these products, they all had their attractions, some more than others, and I enjoy the convenience of being able to purchase decent confectionary easily.

This recipe though, makes me want to run out and start a confectionary company of my own. It MUST be shared with as many people as possible, it is really so good. As for texture, this little number is more reminiscent of a very soft toffee than anything else in my opinion, although this texture may change if you cook it a little longer than I did. Definitely a ‘store in the fridge’ confection. A tray is a whole lot of fudge when you are trying to find appropriate containers for the refrigerator but it disappears quickly (at least around me). You could just as easily leave the nuts out if you are not fond of them but I think they are a tasty addition.

Caramel Macadamia Fudge

125g butter
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
395g condensed milk
2 Tbls liquid glucose
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped macadamias

Line a 16 x 26cm pan with baking paper.
Place butter, sugars, milk and glucose on a small saucepan.
Stir over medium heat until melted.
Reduce heat to low and stir for 20 mins until thickened and a deep caramel colour.
Be careful mixture does not stick.
Stir in vanilla and macadamias.
Pour into tin and tap firmly to remove air bubbles.
Cool for 1 hr and refrigerate for a further 2hrs or overnight.
Cut into squares using a hot knife.

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Banana pudding and a shout out for caffeine

Singing the praises of a stodgy English pudding 🙂
This dish sounded interesting to me from the get go, particularly because I have bags of sliced and frozen bananas in the freezer waiting to be made into something sweet and gooey at the first opportunity.

This recipe reminds me (in texture) of many savoury English puddings but, of course, the flavour was something completely different. I expect that this would go very well with a good dollop of clotted cream or some good vanilla ice cream but it was very good just on its own. Although I followed the recipe on this one, I would suggest that there could have been less butter, it seemed a bit much to me, maybe half the amount would do? I used less sugar on top than the recipe called for, maybe 1/3 cup.

All in all a great way to use up bananas that are past their prime as long as you have a lot of eggs on your hands at the same time.

Baked Banana Pudding

6 servings

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 Tbls all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tbls vanilla extract
3/4 tsp salt
3 large bananas, cut into 1cm slices
3 Tbls butter, cut into bits

Preheat oven to 205C.
In a blender puree together 1/3 cup of sugar, flour, eggs, milk, vanilla and salt until mixture is smooth.
Arrange banana slices in one layer in a buttered square glass baking dish. Pour pudding mixture over bananas and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes, or until the top is puffed and springy to the touch.
Sprinkle top with remaining sugar, dot with the butter and broil the pudding under a preheated broiler about 6cm from the heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it is browned.

By the way, as an infrequent indulger in caffeine, I will sing its praises to the heavens when it comes to helping treat long term migraines. It doesn’t always work for everyone but when it does it is like a unexpected blessing sent to ease your suffering.  After 5 days of a debilitating migraine I ended up with a sugary caffeinated soft drink in my hand on the couch. Within minutes my symptoms eased. I should have thought of it earlier, I have suffered from migraines for years, but they don’t call it a fog for nothing. Sometimes it is hard to think around the pain.
Like I say, it doesn’t always work but when it does….there are just not words. It is certainly worth trying. For more on migraines click here for a good article to get you started. If you don’t suffer, it might help you understand friends or family that do, if you do, then it might give you some tips on how to cope.

Happy Days!

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Catnip Tea

Nothing much inspiring has come out of my kitchen this week. I bought a butchered lamb for the freezer the previous week so we have been having a lot of lamb chops and roast potatoes. My husband does the chops on the BBQ and they are amazing. I did make a chicken dish but although it was pleasant enough, it wasn’t anything to write about or anything I will make again.

I was ill over the weekend; I am still staggering about the place dizzy and with a grade A migraine, unable to regulate my body temperature. Hot, cold, hot, cold, it’s a cycle that repeats itself every half hour. Unable to face solid food I intend to make a comforting chicken based soup that I always go to when I am unwell. My daughter will need to run and fetch me some Bok Choy first (an essential ingredient) as I am in no condition to drive. The husband is currently winging his way across the country on business, he felt bad leaving me this way but what choice do you have sometimes?

This morning I have hauled my carcass up the stairs to the home office, at least I can be productive here for a while. Before I came up I made a quick trip to the garden for some catnip and made myself a cup of tea. I enjoy the woodsy flavour and it (apparently) comes with benefits that I could use today. In any case it tastes good to me and is an easy way to get something fresh and keep my liquid intake up.

More on Catnip Tea: Thanks Lifehacker, full article here.
Catnip tea contains vitamins A, B, and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and sodium. According to tea enthusiast site The Right Tea, catnip’s calming properties can help relieve stress, anxiety, and help treat insomnia and migraines. It is a natural antacid and can help with colic, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, and flatulence.