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Food, general thoughts, food…

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Baked rice pudding

I photographed this prior to cooking. It was requested by my son when he came down to lunch over the weekend, it was something he had recently discovered his girlfriend was very fond of. Of course, his first though was ‘arrange lunch with Mum and have her cook rice pudding’. It is nice to be thought of….

Baked rice pudding

2 cups (500ml) milk
300ml thin cream
1/2 cup (110g) medium grain (calrose) rice, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped (I didn’t have a bean handy so added 1 tsp of extract after simmering)
Pinch of ground nutmeg, plus extra to sprinkle
2 egg yolks
Preheat oven to 160°C.
Combine milk, cream, rice, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean and seeds and nutmeg in a medium saucepan.
Cook over meduim heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until it reaches a simmer.
Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes to infuse.
Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.
Add egg yolks and stir to combine.
Pour rice mixture into a 4 cup (1 litre) capacity ovenproof dish.
Sprinkle with extra nutmeg.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until rice is tender and custard is set.
Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.


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Berry Cobbler

Time for sweets! The kitchen was a mess from an earlier baking foray (by persons who shall remain nameless) when the need to bake hit me. Not particularly wanting to clean up trays to bake biscuits on before I even started, I opted for a dessert (then cleaned everything afterwards). I enjoyed this recipe; it was certainly different from the normal cobber recipes that I have tried previously. I will cook it again but try different fruits next time. Berries whilst lovely, can be a bit overpowering for me at times so I would like to experiment with different flavours, I am thinking apricot for a start.

We had this with cream or ice cream depending on preference. The syrup absorbed into the dish completely and as I noted below, I didn’t bother to sugar the top, it was sweet enough for my tastes as it was. The sugar on top would have given the top a caramel crunch which would have been a lovely but over the top edition to something already so sweet.

Berry Cobbler

1 cup butter, divided
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1/3 cup milk, room temperature
2 cups fresh or frozen berries
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar

In a 25cm round or oval baking dish, melt 1/2 cup butter; set aside.
In a saucepan, heat sugar and water until sugar melts; set aside.
Place flour in a mixing bowl; cut in remaining butter until fine crumbs form.
Add milk, stirring with a fork until dough leaves sides of bowl.
Turn out onto a floured surface; knead three or four times.
Roll out to an 20x25cm rectangle 5mm thick.
Spread berries over dough; sprinkle with cinnamon.
Roll up, jelly-roll style. Cut into 5mm thick slices.
Carefully lay slices in baking dish over butter.
Pour sugar syrup around slices (syrup will be absorbed).
Bake at 180C for 45 minutes.
Sprinkle sugar over top and bake 15 minutes more. (I didn’t bother with this step)
Serve warm or cold.

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Apple Pie

It was my daughter’s Birthday recently. I have been promising to make her an apple pie for months now so we made a deal, I’d make the pie for her birthday. The only condition was that it all had to be homemade, no store bought pie cases or ready-made pastry, everything from scratch. This of course, was the whole reason I had been dragging my feet on the apple pie project from the start. I make a mean apple pie but I have to make it from scratch, it’s just a personal preference, I don’t like to use pre-made pastry products for an apple pie. Trouble is, I HATE to make pastry.

I am good at it, it isn’t complicated but for some reason, I just don’t like to do it. So I don’t.

For my girl, for her birthday, I did.

And I made sure I made a whole lot so that I could make another few things while I had nice homemade pastry on hand. I always make a short pastry without sugar so it does nicely for both sweet and savoury applications.

To make the extra pastry I used 2 cups flour & 1 cup butter, this made a lidded apple pie, a quiche and another open fruit pie.

Apple Pie

225g flour
100g butter
pinch of salt
cold water

5 or 6 apples, cored, peeled and sliced (whatever will fit into your pie dish, the more the better I think)
1 Tbls lemon juice
5 cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup sugar (I like my apples tart, adjust sugar to your liking)

Sift flour and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl. Add butter and rub lightly into flour with your fingertips until it combines and resembles breadcrumbs. Add a small amount of cold water and cut in with a knife. Add additional water as needed and once it begins to combine begin to work it with your hands into a ball. Chill the pastry while you prepare the apple filling.

Stew the apples with all other ingredients; either on the stove or in the microwave. Remember to count the cloves so that you can remove them all prior to making the pie. Once the apples have begun to break apart remove them from the heat and remove the cloves.

Roll out half of your pastry until it is the correct size for your pie dish. Place pastry in dish and slice of any overhang. Fill pie base with the apple. Roll our remaining pastry to create a lid. Dampen base edges and place pastry lid over pie, use a fork or fingers to crimp the edges down.
Cut a cross in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar if desired.

Cook pie in a 180C oven for 40 mins or until golden brown.


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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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Tropical Chicken

Chicken, chicken, chicken. As you can see we can never get enough and no matter how the recipe says to prepare it, I seem to find a way to cut it into little chunks before cooking. In my defence, I do this not only because it means more surface area to get coated in the yummy sauce but it also makes it easier for me to serve a portion out for 3 people when I normally have 4 or 5 fillets to prepare.

This recipe is reminiscent of the Chicken with Lime Sauce that I made a while back. I didn’t add sherry to this one but I did add a good additional squirt of lime juice at the end, just to give it that real tang before serving. There was not much additional sauce aside from what clung to the chicken but that was enough to flavour everything in the bowl as it was pretty intense.

Tropical Chicken
Makes 4 Servings

Juice of 1 large lime, about 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the chicken
1 tablespoon canola oil
500g thin-sliced skinless boneless chicken breasts   (diced thigh fillets as per usual)

Combine the sauce: Squeeze 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice  into a small bowl. Add the vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cayenne and stir  to combine.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 2 minutes per side, until golden brown and the chicken lifts easily off the surface of the pan without sticking.
Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
Pour the sauce mixture into the pan and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.
Return the chicken to the pan and heat it briefly, turning it once to coat with the sauce. Remove the pan from the heat. Serve each breast with a little sauce spooned over   it.


Carrot Cake outweighs stupid….doesn’t it?

I just had one of those ‘thank goodness no-one was watching’ moments. Of course due to my somewhat perverse nature I cannot wait to tell someone about it…
I just yesterday, received a new phone via courier. I didn’t need one, my old phone works fine but it is a plan thing so I have a new phone regardless. I will of course pass my old phone on to my daughter who is rabidly frothing at the mouth to get her hands on it, but that is by the by. The real story here is my own ridiculous stupidity. I am one of those people who use a phone as a phone, as long as it rings when people want me and I can call people on it, I am happy. Needless to say I didn’t spend hours poring over its many exciting features. I just took it out of the box, activated it and forgot about it.

So I have this new smart phone, very fancy, very smart. I don’t have any screen protectors that will fit it, I am big into screen protectors since my cat likes to chew on my phone. I decide that until tomorrow when I can get to a store, I will just leave the factory protector sheet on the phone glass, that will keep it safe. I will also do my best to keep it up out of reach of the cat.

I go about my daily business until I receive a phone call…wait a minute, you are very quiet, I will just turn my phone up… no good, must be a bad line. All is well until I receive another call…wait a minute, you are very quiet, I will turn my volume up….volume is already at maximum, call is stupidly soft…Grrrr

This went on until mid-morning today when I was almost ready to go into the store and complain about this stupid new phone with half the volume of my old phone, until I sat for half a minute and actually looked at my phone…

The factory screen cover, it doesn’t have an ear speaker hole. I peeled it off and immediately rang my husband to tell him what a nitwit I am. The phone works beautifully. Then I sat down to tell you…thank goodness I worked it out before the long suffering teenaged techxpert at the store had to point it out to me. That would have made me feel old and stupid, right now I just have a funny story….

Onto things that make me look slightly less ridiculous, this cake was a huge success.

Sour Cream Carrot Cake

You will need to finely grate about 2 large carrots for this recipe.

3/4 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream (I used Greek yoghurt)

Cream Cheese Frosting
60g packaged cream cheese, softened
30g soft butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups icing sugar

Grease a 20cm ring pan, line base with paper; grease paper. Sift flours, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into bowl, stir in sugar and carrot.
Combine oil, eggs and sour cream, stir into flour mixture.
Pour mixture into prepared pan, bake in moderately slow oven for about 50 minutes. Turn on to wire rack to cool. When cold, spread with frosting, decorate with walnut halves.
Cream Cheese Frosting: Beat cream cheese. butter and lemon juice in small bowl with .electric mixer until light and fluffy. gradually beat in sifted icing sugar; beat until combined.

Keeping time: 4 days.

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There will be Naan of that…

I drove close to 400kms on Saturday so on Sunday I was beat. I was alone and just wanted to bum about doing not much at all. I managed to vacuum the house and put on a couple of loads of washing but that was my job lot. I had decided to make a curry the day before and this recipe was perfect for a lazy day. Not much preparation and all day to simmer it slowly. Just what I was looking for! The plan was that we would eat it tomorrow, the husband being home then, but he managed an earlier flight, glory be! I had intended to make Naan to go with it, not sure what happened to that plan, just know that when we sat down with it in the evening there was no Naan anywhere to be seen. I am planning another curry later in the week, maybe the Naan will surface then, who knows?

Anyway, I tweaked it a bit, it just didn’t seem fragrant enough. I might toss in an additional cinnamon stick next time too. It was a good rainy day, belly filling, warm meal. I had a nice day preparing it and it filled my belly nicely for dinner. Who could ask for more? Although a little Naan on the side would be nice….

Creamy Lamb Curry

Serves: 4

750 g diced lamb
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 stick of cinnamon
6 cloves
6 cardamom pods
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 cup yoghurt
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
Chilli powder, to taste
½ cup almond meal
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 x 400 mL can coconut milk

I didn’t have cardamom pods so 3 tsps of cardamom went in instead.
Towards the end I decided it needed something so a generous shaking of coriander and cumin (probably a tsp of each) went in also, along with some vegetable stock powder.
I probably used a tsp or more of cayenne pepper instead of chilli,
it ended up with a pleasant heat not too hot. This recipe is a bit like Korma.

Heat oil and fry the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom pods for 2 minutes.
Add chopped onion and fry until golden.
Add grated ginger and crushed garlic.
Add lamb, fry until sealed and browned.
Combine yoghurt with the turmeric and chilli powder and add to the lamb.
Make a paste of the almond meal with a little water, then add to the lamb.
Season with salt and pepper, cover with lid and simmer for approximately 15 minutes.
Stir in coconut milk.
Cover and simmer until lamb is tender, for 1-1½ hours.