I enjoyed taking part in the first instalment of the Ready Steady Cook! challenge so much that when I found out Tandy was hosting the second instalment I signed up immediately. The premise of the challenge, like the TV show that inspired it, is that each contestant is given a mystery bag (list) of seven ingredients along with a pantry full of staples with which they are to create a three course meal. My list was supplied by Jessica from Tiny Oven Adventures.
- Red Onions
- Exotic Mushrooms
- Any cheese you choose
Here is what I made.
Starter: Sweetcorn Fritters
Based on this recipe, I used the sweetcorn from my list, cornflour and coconut oil to make these crispy fritters. I mixed a tin of cream style sweetcorn with four heaped tablespoons of cornflour. Once thoroughly mixed I shallow fried spoonfuls of the mixture for a few minutes on each side until golden and crispy.
Main Course: Stuffed Butternut
For my main course I chose to make stuffed butternut. I removed the seeds from the bowls of two small butternuts and filled the cavities with roughly chopped red onion, bacon lardons, the cubed flesh from the butternut stems, shimeji mushrooms and some fresh thyme (from the pantry). I then baked them covered in foil for an hour at 180°C. Removing the foil after forty minutes and placing a slice of chevin cheese on top of each butternut to melt into the filling.
Dessert: Plum Tarts
For dessert I chose to make plum tarts based on this recipe. I cheated a bit here by using ready made puff pastry instead of using the pantry ingredients flour and butter to make my own. I cut squares out of the pastry, folded the edges in using a little water to help stick them down and then arranged slices of yellow and red plums on top. I brushed the tarts with a diluted honey (from the pantry) mixture before baking at 200°C for twenty minutes. I glazed them with the remainder of the honey mixture while they cooled.
Posted in Recipes
Tagged bacon, butternut, cheese, chevin, plum, plum tart, ready steady cook, red onions, shimeji mushrooms, stuffed butternut, sweetcorn, sweetcorn fritters
The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John from Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
I was really excited when I found out what the challenge for this month was, hot water canning is something I’ve been wanting to try my hand at for awhile. I’d gotten as far as buying a book on the subject, attending a preserving basics class at Oded’s Kitchen and even had a few Consol canning jars patiently waiting for me to start.
I chose to make the apple butter and I used 1.25kg of granny smith apples which I peeled and cored before proceeding with the recipe. This produced enough apple butter to fill two 500ml canning jars, with about 200ml leftover to put in the fridge for eating over the next few days.
So I had the jars, but I didn’t have a pot deep enough to submerge them in or anything to lift them out of the hot water without burning my hands. I spent some time debating if I should use smaller jars or buy myself a pot that was deep enough to accommodate the jars I already had. Then I had an inspired idea, why not borrow my mom’s pasta pot? It was deep enough for the jars and it had an inner basket I could use to lower the jars into the hot water and lift them out again after they had been processed. And as an added bonus the basket had a raised base eliminating the need for a rack inside the pot. I’m happy to report that the pasta pot worked perfectly in it’s new designation as hot water canner.
Although I completed the challenge I’m not sure if I did it successfully. I guess I didn’t do a good enough job removing the air trapped in the jars because once they where cooled I noticed these tiny bubbles inside. Anyway this is definitely something that I’m going to do more of in the future and perhaps improve my air bubble removing technique as I go.
All recipes from this month’s challenge can be found here
This is my third and final course for LadyRaven’s Ready Steak Cook challenge. I’d like to thank her for hosting this fun event and I hope it gets turned into a regular feature on her blog.
When I received my list of ingredients from Sam I decided almost immediately that I wanted to try and use the beetroot in my dessert course. Initially I wanted to use this beetroot cake recipe but there where so many ingredients that I couldn’t use I had to think of something else. I’ve used Browniegirl’s banana bread recipe previously with great success, so I thought with a few small alterations I could turn this into a beetroot and banana bread.
I’ve included the recipe here with my alterations in brackets.
- 180ml Milk
- 115g Butter
- 300g Sugar
- 275g Self Raising Flour (Used a bran-rich self-raising flour)
- 2 Large Eggs at room temperature
- Pinch Salt
- 4 Ripe Bananas (Used 2 bananas (about 90g unpeeled) and the equivalent weight in puréed beetroot)
- 2 ml Bicarbonate of Soda (Omitted this as it was not an allowed pantry ingredient)
- 12,5ml extra Milk (Omitted this as I didn’t use the bicarb)
- Preheat oven to 190oC (Adjusted this for my table top oven to 160oC)
- Grease & flour a large or 2 small loaf pans
- Heat butter and milk until butter has melted
- Sift flour & mix with sugar in a large bowl (Didn’t sift the flour as it had bran added to it)
- Beat eggs & salt together until light and frothy
- Mash bananas well then add to the egg mixture (Mashed the bananas with the puréed beetroot)
- Stir banana mix into the dry ingredients
- Add milk & butter and fold in to form a very soft batter
- Stir the baking powder into 12,5ml of milk and fold in last (Omitted this step as bicarb was not an allowed pantry ingredient)
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes
- Change oven temperature to 180oC and bake for another 20-25 minutes until lightly brown and skewer comes out clean (Adjusted this for my table top oven to 150oC and baked for 35 minutes)
- Allow to cool slightly before serving
The batter had such a vibrant pink colour which I had hoped would carry through to the final product. Unfortunately upon slicing the baked loaf I was not greeted with the happy pink colour I had been hoping for, but rather a pinkish-orange hue.
The bread itself has a rather distinctive flavour of both beetroot and banana, perhaps an uncanny pairing but not unpleasant. A perfect accompaniment to an afternoon cup of tea and would not be unwelcome as a sweet end to a meal, perhaps served warm with custard alongside a cup of coffee.
This is my main course entry for the Ready Steak Cook challenge. Tournedo of beef fillet served on top of butterbean mash with slices of grilled beetroot and brinjal.
I cut the beetroot and brinjal into half centimetre thick slices, brushed with garlic infused avocado oil and grilled in the oven for about twenty minutes.
The steak I cooked in a hot pan for three minutes and then flipped over and cooked the other side for another three minutes.
While the steak was resting I prepared the beans, using canned butterbeans instead of soaking and cooking dried ones. I drained and then heated the beans in a small saucepan adding some pepper and a little smoked salt. Once heated through I mashed them using a potato masher and dinner was ready to be served.
Although suffering from the dreaded monotone brownness this meal was very tasty and best of all was fully cooked and ready to eat within half an hour.
OK so here it finally is… the first course of my Ready Steak Cook challenge entry. After deliberating over my list of ingredients I decided to make these cute little bacon and brie tartlets. More on the canapé side of things then a starter, still a perfect option to serve as a pre-meal snack with drinks while you wait for all your dinner guests to arrive.
Having all the necessary ingredients in the challenge pantry, I decided to go with a shortcrust pastry for the tartlet shells. For a little help I followed this thorough how to on Delia Online.
- 110g cake flour
- 50g butter – at room temperature cut into small pieces
- 1 Tbsp water
- 125g bacon – chopped into small pieces
- 125g brie – chopped into small pieces
- Place flour and butter in a large bowl and rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips.
- Once the flour and butter is combined and has the consistency of breadcrumbs add the water a little at a time. While you are adding the water bring the dough together with your hands until you have a solid mass.
- Cover the dough and let it chill out in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Turn your oven on to preheat at 180°C.
- Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out to a thickness of 3mm.
- Cut 15 rounds out of the rolled dough, you can use a cookie cutter or glass for this task.
- Line a 15 hole silicone mini muffin try with the 15 rounds, pressing the dough down into each hole to form a little shell.
- Place the muffin tray in the fridge for the dough to chill out some more.
- While the unbaked shells are chilling, chop the bacon and brie into small pieces.
- Remove the lined muffin tray from the fridge and place a teaspoon each of the chopped bacon and brie into each shell.
- Place the muffin tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
These tartlets are delicious served warm or cold. Besides being a lovely start to a multi course meal I think they would also be a welcome addition to a packed lunch or picnic spread.
The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.
I used the challenge as an excuse to buy myself a new toy from Yuppie Chef, one I’ve been lusting after for awhile now. A Joseph Joseph adjustable rolling pin, what an improvement from the old Spray and Cook can I’ve been using up until now!
I opted for the Russian style pierogi dough as it seemed a little simpler and had a shorter list of ingredients. The dough was fairly easy to make and after a little kneading came together into a satisfying golden orb.
I prepared two fillings, the first of which was the Russian style potato filling supplied with the challenge. I substituted the bacon with finely diced chorizo for a different flavour. For the second filling I sautéed onion, garlic, mushrooms and some thyme in a little butter until all liquid from the mushrooms had evaporated and the mixture was deliciously fragrant.
Next came the rolling and filling stage, this is the part where my new toy really shined. The final result was a small army of delicately scalloped dumplings patiently waiting to be cooked.
The reward for my efforts? A plateful of boiled pierogi topped with a little sour cream and a dusting of smoked paprika.
Another fun challenge this month, now if only I could get into the habit of not waiting till the very last minute to perpare my entry. All recipes for this month’s challenge can be found here.
This lunch is my entry into the My Easy Cooking Thai themed first blogging event. After my success with nut butter in the last Daring Cook’s Challenge I though I might try my hand at making satay from scratch, but after picking up a small brick of tamarind pulp at the New Asian Spice Supermarket in Sea Point I finally decided on Pad Thai. For inspiration I turned to Chez Pim and her method of making Pad Thai.
- Pad Thai with
- chopped peanuts seasoned with a little chilli powder and
- a wedge of lemon
The first step is to prepare the Pad Thai sauce, but before I could do that I had to process my brick of tamarind pulp. For 250g of tamarind I used two cups of warm water letting it soak for a little while, then working the seeds and fibres from the pulp and finally straining the soaked tamarind to catch any bits I might have missed. This is the fun messy part 🙂
Once I had my tamarind paste I heated a 1/4 cup each of fish sauce, tamarind paste and unrefined brown sugar and 1 tsp chilli powder over a low heat until the sugar melted. This was enough for three portions. Now the sauce was completed I could move on to preparing the rest of the ingredients.
Ingredients (per portion):
- prepared Pad Thai sauce
- 1 tsp peanut oil
- 1/2 a chicken breast, thinly sliced
- 1/2 a clove of garlic, chopped
- 1 egg
- 60g rice noodles (approx 1/6 of a 375g bag), soaked in water till pliable
- 6 prawns, cooked and shelled
- 6 sugar snap peas, cut in half diagonally
- 2 ears of baby corn, cut in half lengthways and then into thirds
- 1/4 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 spring onion, sliced diagonally
- chilli powder (for serving)
- Thai basil (for serving)
- chopped peanuts (for serving)
- lemon wedges (for serving)
- Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan.
- Add chicken, garlic and a spoonful of prepared sauce. Stir-fry until chicken is nearly cooked.
- Add noodles and another few spoons of sauce. Continue stir-frying until noodles soften.
- Push chicken and noodles to the side of the wok/pan, crack egg into empty side and quickly scramble till cooked.
- Add prawns, sugar snap peas, baby corn and yellow pepper. Stir-fry all ingredients together until vegetables are just cooked.
- Serve immediately, sprinkled with chilli powder, spring onions, torn Thai basil, chopped peanuts and spritz of lemon.
Posted in Packed Lunches, Recipes
Tagged baby corn, chicken, egg, garlic, lemon, Pad Thai, peanuts, prawns, rice noodles, spring onion, sugar snap peas, Thai basil, yellow pepper
If you follow me on Twitter you probably read my tweets about my newly acquired bento from The Crazy Store. Fellow Tweeter and bento fan Amanda pointed it out to me and I’m so glad she did! It’s a great little set and I got to take it out on it’s maiden voyage today.
- Greek flavoured pasta salad: pasta tossed with garlicky braised tomatoes, feta cheese, cucumber and yoghurt dressing (recipe below) topped with wilted pea shoots,
- apple slices,
- almonds and
- wasabi peas.
I received a jar of Kara’s Original Greek Herb Dressing in my goodie bag at the SA Food Bloggers Conference earlier this year and since the conference I’ve used it to dress leafy salads and steamed vegetables with great results. Here is my simple recipe for a Greek flavoured yoghurt dressing using this herb mix.
- 3 tsp Kara’s Original Greek Herb Dressing Mix
- 6 tsp warm water
- 1/2 tsp celery salt
- juice of half a lemon
- 150ml plain yoghurt
- Add warm water to herb mixture and leave to rehydrate for a few minutes
- Add celery salt and lemon juice
- Stir into plain yoghurt
This is enough to dress half a packet of pasta (250g dried). I think it would also make a great marinade or dip, although if you plan to use it as a dip you may want to use less salt.
Posted in Packed Lunches, Recipes
Tagged almonds, apple, cucumber, feta, garlic, pasta, pea shoots, tomato, wasabi peas, yoghurt
The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.
The first part of this month’s challenge was to produce a fresh nut butter using nuts of our choice. I chose to make a raw almond butter and because the end result would be used in a savoury dish I loosened it up with a little garlic infused avocado oil. For awhile I thought my little food processor wouldn’t be able to handle the nuts or produce anything but nuts crumbs. But with a little patience and a few added teaspoons of avocado oil we eventually got there.
The final part of the challenge was to produce a savoury dish using our freshly made nut butter. I chose the butter chicken recipe as it is a dish I’ve wanted to cook for awhile. It came out really well and yet again I find myself wondering what I was so afraid of and thinking that sometimes things are not as complicated as you think they are.
All recipes from this months challenge can be found here.
I made this braised red cabbage as part of Mothers’ Day lunch and it was a big success. It is equally delicious hot or cold, so it makes a great addition to a packed lunch or picnic.
- Sliced chorizo from Rudi’s Sausage Deli,
- sliced tomato,
- green beans,
- braised red cabbage and
Braised red cabbage – recipe from Best Food Fast Christmas Made Easy
- 450g red cabbage, sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 Bramley apple, peeled, cored and chopped
- 4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp muscovado sugar
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp redcurrant jelly
- 25g butter
- Put the cabbage, onion and apple in a flame-proof casserole.
- Stir in the red wine vinegar, the sugar, nutmeg and redcurrant jelly. Cut the butter into pieces and dot all over the top of the cabbage.
- Cover with a tight-fitting lid, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for about 1 hour, stirring now and again. The cabbage should be tender and most of the liquid evaporated.
I substituted a granny smith apple and balsamic style vinegar for the Bramley apple and red wine vinegar. I also omitted the red currant jelly and used about half the amount of butter listed.
Makes enough to serve 8 people as a side dish.