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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.



Banana-Apple Muffins

The ubiquitous left over bananas were joined this week by a couple of wizened apples that had most definitely reached middle age, some time ago if I am to be honest.

I didn’t have a suitable recipe on hand that used both so I replaced the blueberries (which I am not terribly fond of if the truth be told) in a Banana/Blueberry recipe with apple. What a good idea! Worked well, tasted good, was no hassle and was all eaten up within 2 days.

That is success! Enjoy!

Banana-Apple Muffins

2/3 cup  milk
1/4 cup  vegetable oil
1/2 cup  mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)
1 egg
2 cups  all-purpose flour
2/3 cup  sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1/4 teaspoon  ground nutmeg
1 cup  chopped apple

Heat oven to 200C.
Grease bottoms only of 12 medium muffin cups, or line with paper baking cups.
Beat milk, oil, banana and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except
apple just until flour is moistened. Fold in apple.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (cups will be almost full).
Sprinkle with sugar if desired. (of course it is desired!)
Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Immediately remove from pan.

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A truck load of ricotta

So, after making cannelloni the other day I had a truck load of ricotta cheese (larger than needed quantity purchased on special) and a keen interest in finding something to use it up before it went bad. Side note: you can freeze ricotta as long as you intend to cook it in/with something, the texture isn’t great for eating alone once frozen and defrosted (people do that?).

I did a search through my database and came up with this little gem. I knew there was a bottle of maple syrup somewhere in the back of the cupboard and luckily for me it contained just the right amount for this recipe. This dessert is very much like a crème caramel but has (due to the ricotta) a grainier, more rustic, appearance and texture. It was very tasty though and certainly worth a try if you are a ricotta fan or you just have a truck load lying about going begging for something to do.

Maple Ricotta Flans

1/4 cup plus 1 tsp pure maple syrup
4 beaten eggs
425g container ricotta cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Ground nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 160C. Divide the 1/4 cup maple syrup among six 180ml custard cups; tilt custard cups to coat bottoms evenly.
In a bowl combine eggs, cheese, sugar, vanilla, and remaining teaspoon maple syrup.
Mix until well combined but not foamy. Place the custard cups in a 3L rectangular baking dish.
Divide egg mixture among custard cups. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
Place the baking dish on an oven rack.
Pour boiling water into the baking dish around custard cups to a depth of 2.5cm.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the centres comes out clean.
Remove cups from water. Cool completely in custard cups. Cover and chill until serving time.
To unmold flans, loosen edges with a knife, slipping point of knife down sides to let air in.
Invert a dessert plate over each flan; turn custard cup and plate over together.

Makes 6 servings.


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Banana-Blueberry Muffins

In using up the bananas I was going to just stick to banana bread which used 3 bananas but then discovered that I actually had 6 hiding in the drawer. I only have one loaf tin so a plan had to be devised to use up the remaining 3 bananas. So Banana Berry Muffins were born (with the addition of a spoonful of pineapple pieces that I had floating about in the refrigerator.

I used a Banana Blueberry Muffin recipe that I had on file. Along with the addition of the pineapple (just to use it up) I also used mixed berries because that was what I had handy. To be honest I am not a huge fan of blueberries, they lack the tartness of other berries that I find attractive when included in sweet recipes. I used 3 bananas and doubled all of the other ingredients to make 24 muffins.

Banana-Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

2/3 cup  milk
1/4 cup  vegetable oil
1/2 cup  mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)
1 egg
2 cups  all-purpose flour
2/3 cup  sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1/4 teaspoon  ground nutmeg
1 cup  fresh or frozen (thawed and well-drained) blueberries

Heat oven to 200C.
Grease 12 medium muffin cups, or line with paper baking cups.
Beat milk, oil, banana and egg in large bowl.
Stir in remaining ingredients except blueberries just until flour is moistened.
Fold in blueberries.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (cups will be almost full).
Sprinkle with raw sugar if desired. (makes a lovely crunchy top)
Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Immediately remove from pan.

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Banana Treats

These biscuits surprised me. I was expecting them to be pleasant enough but they far exceeded my expectation by being just marvellous. They were simple to make, the banana flavour was stronger than I expected and the cereal added a pleasant nuttiness. You could make many more biscuits than I did depending on the size you like your biscuits, I made these about 2 Tbls each in size and I found them just right for us.

They lasted 2 days and that was only because I hid half of them. I’ll be making these again this week, before we eat all of the bananas or all of the toasted muesli (granola).

Banana Treats

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 mashed ripe banana
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups toasted muesli
Vegetable cooking spray

Cream sugar and margarine at medium speed of a mixer until fluffy (about 3 minutes).
Add banana, vanilla, and egg; beat well.
Combine flour, baking soda, and nutmeg; stir.
Add to creamed mixture, beating well.
Stir in muesli.
Drop the dough by level tablespoons onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 160C for 12 minutes or until lightly browned; let cool on pans 1 minute.
Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.



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Old Bay Seasoning

Being an avid collector of recipes means coming up against ingredients that are not always readily available in my area. The easiest solution is just to research the item and see if I can either reproduce or substitute; this often gives me an entirely new recipe to add to my collection. One such item that recently became a must to try for me was ‘Old Bay Seasoning’.

Straight from Wikipedia – Old Bay Seasoning is a blend of herbs and spices that is marketed in the United States by McCormick & Company, and produced in Maryland. It is produced in the Chesapeake Bay area where it was developed by German immigrant Gustav Brunn in 1939 and where the seasoning is very popular to this day. (Learn more here)

It is apparently a popular spice in its region to use with anything and everything but most used with seafood and chicken.

Anyway, as I have had a few recipes sitting on the back burner because of a lack of ‘Old Bay’ I decided to do something about it. Seasonings are one thing that you can reproduce with a fair amount of accuracy, just so long as you can get a good recipe and the right ingredients. What follows is a recipe garnered from several internet pages and melded together to suit what I had available (luckily I have a ridiculous collection of herbs and spices)

Old Bay Mix

1 tablespoon ground dried bay leaves
2 teaspoons celery salt
1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Store in an airtight container and store in a cool place.
Use with seafood or chicken.

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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.