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Food, general thoughts, food…

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Chewy Choc Chip Biscuits

These worked out very nicely. Don’t leave them in the oven too long, they literally take minutes to cook and the bottoms are susceptible to scorching if left too long on a bottom shelf.
Those disasters are fairly easily avoided by paying attention to what you are doing, I am easily distracted so it’s harder than it sounds some days. This aside, mine turned out pretty well indeed.
Munching on one of these as I write, I can tell you they are more soft than chewy but they are certainly delicious.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 28 cookies

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and brown
sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth,
scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir or beat into
butter mixture until well incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and
pecans, if using.
Drop dough in 2-tablespoon portions, 5cm apart, onto
buttered baking sheets.
Bake in a 200C oven until cookies are lightly browned and no longer wet
in the center (break one open to check), 6 to 8 minutes; if baking more
than one pan at a time, switch pan positions halfway through baking.
Let them cool on the trays, they will break apart if you try to move them while they are too warm.



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Buttery Lemon Bars

I bought a bag of lemons recently and considering I had to almost re-mortgage my home to get them, I thought it prudent to actually use them for something as opposed to watching them disintegrate in my refrigerator. I have used a few of them in various dishes lately, mainly the peel as a flavouring.

I fancied making some biscuits today and after deciding what to make I realised that using up the lemons was probably more important right now than using up a bag of choc chips. So I revisited my recipes and this is what I came up with.

Buttery Lemon Bars

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
6 tablespoons lemon juice
4 large eggs

In a bowl, with an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in 2 cups flour until dough is no longer crumbly. Pat into a ball.
Press dough evenly into a buttered and floured 22x33cm baking pan.
Bake in a 180C oven until golden, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, or in a bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, whirl or beat granulated sugar, remaining 1/3 cup flour, baking powder, grated lemon peel, lemon juice, and eggs to blend. Pour onto hot crust.
Bake until lemon mixture is no longer runny in the centre (cut to test), 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and dust with remaining 2 tablespoons powdered sugar.
Let cool completely in pan, then cut into 24 bars. Serves 24.

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Indian Mexican combo

On Friday we had a house full of teenagers. I had decided on baked tandoori chicken for dinner and just to mix up everything I decided to make tortillas again (link here to the recipe) and let everyone serve themselves. I had a cup or so of rice leftover from the night before so this got stirred into the chicken to absorb some of the juices and make it a bit easier to incorporate into wraps.

My daughter diced up tomato and dressed hers with extra Greek yoghurt, which was really tasty but I just plonked in the chicken, wrapped and ate with one hand while I finished cooking the remaining tortillas with the other. I was genuinely afraid I would miss out otherwise.

While being an odd combination of Mexican flat breads and Indian chicken, this worked out to be a quite spectacular meal.


Baked Tandoori Chicken

1 cup plain yoghurt
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 piece ginger root, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
2 Tbsp canola oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon (2 to 3 Tbsp)
5x chicken thigh fillets, sliced into small strips

In blender or food processor, combine yogurt, onion, garlic and ginger; puree.
Add coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, oil and lemon juice; blend.
Place chicken in plastic bag or a glass, stainless steel or plastic container large enough to
hold the pieces in one layer.
Pour yogurt mixture over the chicken and rub to be sure it coats the meat on all sides.
Marinate chicken in refrigerator one hour to overnight. (Mine was in for the day)
Preheat oven to 190C.
Arrange chicken in one layer in shallow baking dish. Bake 35 to 45 minutes.


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Rack of Lamb with White Wine

I mentioned a new recipe for a lamb rack yesterday and, oh my, was it good!
This was only my second lamb rack ever attempted and although the first one was awesome this one transcended even that first great experience. This would definitely be my go to recipe for future lamb racks (of course new recipes that I MUST try come along all the time so that could change in an instant). The wine and fresh herbs gave the lamb a subtle flavour and the meat was tender and delicate, lamb has never been so good!

Rack of lamb with white wine marinade
Serves 4

1 rack of lamb, 8 chops
coarse salt
coarsely crushed black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
rind of 1 lemon, shredded
3 Tblspns chopped parsley
1 Tblspn chopped fresh rosemary, thyme and sage OR 1 1/2 tspns mixed dried herbs
4 spring onions, chopped

Cut any excess fat from the meat, rub the entire surface with salt and pepper and set aside.
Mix together all marinade ingredients, pour over the meat and marinate for 4 hours or more.(mine went into the fridge for the day and got turned once)
Preheat oven to 180C, place the lamb into a baking dish with the marinade, another generous slosh of olive oil and par boiled potatoes.
Use foil to tent around the bone ends to prevent burning.
Cook for 20 minutes.
Flip the potatoes. Place in the oven for a little longer.
Cut with a sharp knife to test when meat is cooked to taste.


Fresh greens

I often worry excessively about the green component of our meals. My husband isn’t a massive fan of vegetables of any kind so our meals tend to lean toward the meat and rice end of the spectrum without the addition of too many vegetables. I however, very much enjoy my vegies and incorporate at least a few broccoli florets in my meal even if he is not interested in partaking.

Chopping up this mountain of herbs from the garden for inclusion in today’s meal has made me reconsider my worrying tendencies. We may not get a lot of traditional vegetables in our diet but I’d have to imagine that at least some of accepted proportions would be made up by our somewhat ‘over the top’ herb consumption.

This little lot was predominantly parsley, some spring onions, sage and thyme that was to be part of a white wine marinade for a new rack of lamb recipe. Along with the lemon rind, garlic and some dried rosemary (my plant is still a little small for harvesting) this will all be seasoned with salt and pepper, rubbed into the lamb with some white wine and olive oil and placed in the refrigerator until later this afternoon. It smells wonderful, I can’t wait to start cooking it later.

Meanwhile, looking at the pots, you would never know I’d been harvesting. Things are growing lush and fast right at the moment and there certainly isn’t a shortage of any herbs except, of course, basil. I will harvest another bunch of parsley later in the week and chop it up ready for freezer bags, for those stormy days you don’t want to go outside and harvest (parsley freezes very well)

Currently I have basil, thyme, sage and parsley in the freezer, flat packed in little sandwich bags. Most of these herbs are growing well in the garden but sometimes self-preservation kicks in and I just don’t want to go out in the rain to pick fresh herbs. The freezing also give me an excuse to get out in the garden and harvest when the weather is good, so it is win win for me. Over and above all of that, I just love the way my kitchen smells when I have chopped up a mountain of herbs, the place smells fresh and green and wonderful.

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Sunday Breakfast

I Love pancakes, however, I do not make pancakes, that is the domain of my husband. He, however, does not like to make pancakes. As he is an absolute pancake wizard, this is somewhat of a shame not to mention a disappointment. This is also what makes me avoid making pancakes at all costs, they will just never measure up.

I do however make pikelets. Pikelets are a small, puffy batter cake fried in the frying pan, just a smear of butter in the pan for taste and to stop them sticking. The batter is thick so that they don’t spread far and contains baking powder so that they rise as they cook. They are sweet and good and my favourite way to have them is smeared in yet more butter whilst they are still hot.

Lots of people like jam, peanut butter, syrup or any number of other spreads on top but I am a plain butter girl. Lots of people also like to add additions such as sultanas or choc chips, I find this a travesty and a crime against all that is good and pure in the world. Not that I have strong opinions about it.

These were a staple in our home growing up and often featured as both an after soup dessert for Sunday lunch and a quick tasty offering for unexpected guests (back in the days when people just dropped by unannounced). They are one of those things that I grew up being able to cook and I can whip up a batch at short notice at any time.

I Love pikelets only slightly less than pancakes, they taste quite similar and they are super simple to make. They are my answer to not being able to persuade my husband to make me pancakes, as such they often feature as a Sunday breakfast.



2 cups flour
4 tsps baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
Milk, enough to form a thick batter

Mix flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl.
Add eggs and add milk gradually stirring vigorously until a thick batter is formed.
Melt a little butter in a hot pan.
Drop spoonfuls of batter in pan.
Allow to bubble and dry slightly on the top side.
Flip and cook until browned on both sides.
Monitor pan heat carefully.
Serve hot with butter or desired spreads.


Testing the Frozen Basil

In answer to the burning question ‘how is the frozen basil?’ my answer is Fabulous! This was the perfect recipe to showcase basil and it was a real fingers crossed moment for me when I opened my first packet of frozen basil leaves harvested this past summer from the garden. Happily, although they are bruised and a little miserable looking after being snap frozen (you could never palm them off as fresh leaves) they retain that freshness of taste and scent that basil straight from the garden has. The look was no problem, after it was sliced up and added to the coconut cream sauce, it looked no different than it would have if it was used fresh.

This was a tasty dish with a little heat provided by the sweet chilli sauce. I think you could probably cut out the brown sugar altogether, I put in only a dessertspoon but the result was still quite sweet, the sweet chilli sauce would probably provide enough sweetness in the end or substitute some palm sugar that isn’t so strongly sweet.

Anyway, if you have access to bunches of basil you could certainly do worse than this recipe. It was a little taste of the tropics here in dead of winter. Fabulous!


Thai Basil Chicken
Serves 6

5 chicken thigh fillets
2 Tbls oil
1 large red capsicum, sliced
100g snow peas
1/2 cup shredded basil
1 Tbls brown sugar
1 tbls oyster sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbls sweet chilli sauce
1 cup coconut cream
2 tsps fish sauce

Cut each fillet into bite sized pieces and cook in oil for 4 mins.
Set aside and keep warm. Add capsicum and snow peas to the wok.
Stir fry for 3 mins. Set aside with chicken.
Add remaining ingredients to pan and stir until simmering.
Add chicken and vegetables. Cover and simmer for 10 mins.
Serve with rice.