Sunday, 28 September 2014

Welsh Rarebit Breakfast in Bed

Here is a Sunday night 'I don't feel like cooking' option.  Ever heard of breakfast for dinner? Sounds interesting?   How about some eggs, cold cuts, cheese and some lightly toasted bread?

Gourmet Welsh Rarebit is on the room service menu for tonight.  This is an old classic form Jamie Oliver, with a few tweaks over the years.

Suitable for 2 foodie lovers

4 slices of your favourite bread, toasted
2 tbsp herb cream cheese
4 slices cold cut meat (country ham/salami/Parma ham)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp paprika (smoked is best)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup strong cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 spring onion, finely chopped
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Pre heat broiler (aka oven grill)
Toast bread in a toaster to your liking and allow to cool
Spread 2 slices of toast on one side with cream cheese
Add cold cut meat to each slice and add another toasted bread on top to make 2 sandwiches
Place on a lightly greased baking tray
In a bowl whisk with a fork eggs, paprika, salt, pepper, cheese, spring onion and balsamic vinegar
Spoon egg mix evenly over toast
Place under broiler in the middle of the oven and bake for 5 min until golden brown
Remove from oven, garnish and serve immediately

Enjoy the last day of weekend
          ~ Michelle ~ 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Homemade Beef Burgers

Enough of the fancy food, let's get back to the good old basics, and what could be more basic than the humble REAL homemade hamburger!

What makes this a REAL homemade burger you ask?
I don't use bought beef mince or store-bought ready-made patties, as I have no idea what has been added to the mix.  I literally make my own from a solid piece of sirloin, and add a little bacon for the fatty portion.

It sounds complicated but it is so easy as I whizz everything up in a food processor - no fuss, no mess!  Two important points to remember when making the BEST homemade burgers:

  1. You need to season well - think of it as an input, output system. If you don't put it in, you aren't gonna get that burst of flavour out.
  2. Do not over process the meat and handle it as little as possible.  You don't want the proteins to start breaking down as they will become tough.
What you place on the buns is up to you.  I like to keep it simple.  Lettuce, onion and of course cheese (life is not life without cheese) with a little red onion chutney. 

This is suitable for 2 very hungry foodie lovers (go big or go home)

500g sirloin steak
100g bacon bits
1 egg
3 Tbsp steak sauce or HP or brown sauce
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp onion flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 big burger buns

Add everything - apart from the buns - in a food processor
PULSE 5 times, give or take until the meat is just cut up.  Do not make porridge ...
Divide mix into 2 portions and lightly tap into 2 burger rounds
Remember, don't squeeze or squash them - work lightly like you are handling cracked eggs!
Grill, BBQ or dry-fry to your liking to a medium state
Remove and wrap in foil and stand for 5 min before dressing the buns

Yum .. enjoy and remember to eatloveplaywithfood
          ~Michelle ~

Friday, 26 September 2014

Jack Daniel's, Apricot & Cinnamon Cake

There is no better smell than something being baked with cinnamon in your kitchen.  It's a warm and comforting familiarity that makes a house a real home.

This particular cake is one of our favourites, which we usually enjoy over the Festive Season as it is made with Jack Daniels' Whiskey, Cinnamon and Apricots - comfort at its best!

You don't have to use whiskey and can easily substitute it with some orange or apple juice.

Also feel free to adjust the icing consistency according to your preference.  If it is too runny for you, add more icing sugar a little at a time to get the right texture for you.

I have also used this recipe for cupcakes - same everything, just keep an eye on your cooking time.  Cut it down by more than half. Remember the golden rule ... if you can smell them, they are done!

200g dried apricots, roughly chopped
225g flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
200g brown sugar
3 large eggs
100ml olive oil (make it a good one)
100ml natural yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp Jack Daniel's Whiskey

Place apricots in a bowl and cover with boiling water, allow to rest for 20 min
Heat oven to 180'C
Grease a 20cm round cake tin with a loose bottom
Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl
In a jug mix eggs, olive oil, yogurt, vanilla and whiskey
Pour wet ingredients into dry ones and mix until smooth.  Do not over mix
Drain apricots and stir into cake mix
Pour into baking tin
Bake for 50 min or until a skewer comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.

140g cream cheese
80g butter, softened
250g icing sugar
1 tsp Jack Daniel's Whiskey

Mix all ingredients together with an electric hand whisk until smooth.
Spread generously over top of cake and sprinkle with some cinnamon.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Banana, Walnut & Ginger Muffins

I have tried so many muffin recipes and have never really found one I have liked up until now.  I have specifically been looking for a moist, fairly loose bake but with a high volume of health and flavour.

We are keeping an eye on what we eat and these have proved to be a great option for breakfast.   They are awesome served with some fresh assorted berries and a drizzle of honey.  If your waste-line is not a problem ...  a thick slice of Camembert cheese works well before you drizzle the honey.

IF YOU CAN ... try and use unprocessed wheat bran, which is the outer layer of the wheat kernel removed during milling.  It is also known as "miller's bran" and can be found in the baking section of your local store.  Try not to substitute bran cereal in this recipe if you can!  Bottom line, it is so much better for you and your digestive system.

2 eggs
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 medium bananas, mashed
1 cup low fat Greek yoghurt
1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup walnuts, rough chop

Preheat over to 200'C (400'F)
Whisk eggs and sugar in a medium bowl
Add bananas, yoghurt, wheat bran, oil, vanilla and mix
In a large separate bowl mix whole-wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt
Make a well in dry ingredients and add wet ingredients, stirring with a rubber spatula to combine
Stir in walnuts
Scoop batter into a prepared muffin cups - make them full
Sprinkle with more walnuts if you like (optional)
Bake for 17 min
Check they are cooked by inserting a sharp knife - they are done when knife comes out clean
Allow to cool for 5 min before removing them from muffin pan

Friday, 19 September 2014

Caesar Salad

Who doesn't love a good chicken salad? Although rather plain, the secret is all in the dressing with the key ingredient being the anchovy and good olive oil.

Did you know that anchovies are usually classified as an oily fish? Always use salted anchovies that are in oil rather, to get maximum flavour rather than those that are pickled in vinegar -  which is more common in Spanish dishes - and are mild in flavour.

Now talking olive oil ... you have 2 choices.  

  1. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - which comes from the virgin oil production only and is of the higher quality giving you a superior taste with some fruitiness to it.   
  2. Virgin Olive Oil - comes from virgin oil production as well but with has slightly lower quantities of free acidity but also offers a good taste
Suitable for 2 foodie lovers ...

6 chicken legs
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pkt bacon, smoked
Fresh rosemary
Cos (Romaine) lettuce
Croutons (store-bought)
Parmesan, shaved

Turn oven on to 200'C
Rub chicken legs with salt, pepper and your favourite spice
Place on a baking sheet
Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic
Drape bacon strips over the legs (this allows the bacon fat to drip into the legs and keeps them moist)
Place rosemary on top and drizzle again with some olive oil
Bake one shelf up from the middle for 20 min or until chicken is tender and bacon is crispy.
Pull lettuce roughly apart and place in a bowl with lots of croutons
Tear bacon strips and pieces of chicken (keep them chunky) and add on top of the salad. 

Dressing made in a bottle: 
Mix 1/2 clove minced garlic, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, 1 tbsp natural yoghurt and 4 anchovies minced (essential) with a 3:1 ratio olive oil to fresh lemon juice in a bottle. Add lid and shake it up like you have never shaken anything before.  

Add dressing to the salad, mix through WITH YOUR HANDS to coat well 
Add shaved Parmesan on top and serve immediately

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Smoked Salmon & Blank Ink Pasta

This sounds far more glamorous that what it actually is.  It is all about simple, fresh ingredients and if you don't have black ink pasta, normal pasta is just as good.  The liquorice pasta colour is a great contrast to the salmon but carries little flavour actually.  

250g pasta of your choice
8 Tbsp milk
2 tsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
200g light Philadelphia cheese
180g smoked salmon, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste
Splash of hot sauce / Tabasco sauce

Cook pasta as per instructions on the packet
Warm milk in a saucepan on medium heat
Add dill, mustard and cheese and stir until melted
Stir in slithers of salmon, lemon juice, salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste
Strain pasta and whilst still hot, pour sauce over and toss to coat

Serve with fresh dill and shaved Parmesan cheese
Bon appetite! and enjoy the Sunday evening movie ... wherever you are!

          ~ Michelle ~ 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Grilled Pork Loin Steaks

Boneless pork loin steaks are so simple to cook.  Quick, easy and a perfect, affordable family meal. Marinade them in a tangy, sweet and savoury mix with a hint of spice, grill them up - inside or out - and you will be the star of the evening.

Lesson one-on-one on pork ...
Pork loin is a cut of meat from the pig, created from the tissue alongside the top of the rib cage.  It is a popular meat that is usually cut into chops (bone in) or steaks (bone out) as in this recipe.  The loin can also be cured to make bacon.

Remember, the longer you marinade the steak, the better the outcome.  Also keep an eye on your cooking time as the thicker the loin, the longer the time is needed.  You do not want to overcook a thin steak.  If in doubt on pork cooking times, always check.  You do not want to eat undercooked pork - EVER! Here is a great reference guide if you need one.

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce / HP sauce
1 tsp ketchup
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper / chilli flakes
450g pork loin steaks (off the bone)

Suitable for 2 foodie lovers ...

Mix garlic, honey, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, ginger, onion powder, cinnamon and cayenne pepper in a bowl to make a marinade.
Pour half the mix into a plastic bag
Place pork chops in the bag and seal after squeezing the air out
Marinade from 4 - 8 hours, turning occasionally
Refrigerate remaining marinade
Preheat outdoor grill to medium heat and lightly oil grid (you can also use a griddle pan inside)
Remove pork from bag and shake excess marinade off
Grill chops until just done - no pink showing (meat thermometer 145'F or 63'C)
Brush with remaining marinade if necessary

Enjoy with some seasonal veg on the side

           ~ Michelle ~

Friday, 12 September 2014

Roasted Carrot & Tomato Soup

Friday night = soup-night!  Bring it on with my all-time favourite recipe ... ROASTED CARROT & TOMATO SOUP.  It is healthy, quick, easy and oh-so-delicious!  

Did you know that most carrots contain 88% water, 7% sugar, 1% protein, 1 % fibre and 0.2% fat? They contain almost zero starch and enjoy free sugars including sucrose, glucose, xylose and fructose.  Bottom line, they are good for you.

Now talking tomatoes ... I like to use plum tomatoes also known as 'processing' or 'paste' tomatoes. They are generally oval or cylindrical in shape and have significantly fewer seeds than standard round tomatoes, making them ideal for this recipe.  

Suitable for 2 foodie lovers ...

Non stick veg oil spray
1 large onion, thinly sliced
500g plum tomatoes, halved
250g carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
1 garlic clove, UNPEELED
Salt / Pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp French tarragon, dried (optional)
2 cups water
3/4 cup low-fat milk
1 cup lite cream
Thyme for garnish

Spray baking sheet with oil spray
Arrange onions, tomatoes, carrots and garlic on tray and sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika, tarragon
Drizzle with some olive oil
Roast vegetables, turning occasionally for 45 min at 200'C
Peel garlic and transfer all vegetables to a large bowl  
Add 1 cup water to the baking sheet and scrape brown grizzle off the bottom
Add grizzle, vegetables and water to a blender and whizz until smooth
Transfer to a large saucepan
Gradually add enough milk and cream to your desired consistency
Adjust seasoning

This keeps in the freezer for months - so make it count and do a big batch.  Enjoy!
           ~ Michelle ~

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Slow Roasted Lamb Shank

A lazy Sunday afternoon calls for so slow roasted lamb shanks.  These super tender individual ones I make in a Tagine and are delicious and very easy to make.  You can use one big leg of lamb on the bone if you like, just adjust your cooking time.

Now about a Tagine ... a tajine or tagine is a historically Berber dish from North America that is named after the type of earthenware pot in which it is cooked.  A similar dish, known as tavvas, is found in the cuisine of Cyprus.  If you don't have a tajine, use a Dutch oven (a heavy pot with a tight fitting lid), it works just as well.

Suitable for 2 foodie lovers

Generally it is hard to find green masala - so make you own in a processor:
50g green chilli
30g fresh ginger
30g peeled garlic
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 Tbsp veg oil to form a masala paste)

2  x 600g lamb shanks with bone
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup beef stock
1 cup dry red wine
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
Zest of 1 lemon finely grated
Bunch of rosemary
1 heaped tsp masala

Preheat oven to 180'C
Season shanks with salt and pepper
Heat oil in a Tagine or Dutch oven (heavy pot with tight fitting lid) and brown all sides
Add onions, stock, wine, tomatoes, zest, rosemary and masala and nestle between shanks
Add lid and pop into the oven for 2 hrs until tender (time depends on size of shanks)
Turn once or twice to ensure even cooking
When done remove from sauce and boil down to thicken.

Delish served with some creamy herb mash potato.  Enjoy

          ~ Michelle ~

Friday, 5 September 2014

Steak & Red Onion Salad

This is certainly a new take on salad and it is all about protein, protein and more protein with a balance of some greens.  So no rabbit food here!  Guys, this one is for you!  It is a meaty main-course packed with flavour thanks to the glazed rib-eye steak (as big as you want) and mustardy vinaigrette, with a little blue cheese for some decadence and depth.

The success of this salad is about having a good steak, so don't cut corners on this one.  I like to use an aged rib-eye beef steak, which is from the rib section.  It is both flavourful and tender, coming from the lightly worked upper area of the animal.  Also try and choose a steak with a good 'marbling' of fat which makes it perfect for grilling.

So the recipe called for sherry vinegar which I did not have in the pantry, so I simply mixed 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar with 2 teaspoons medium sweet Sherry, and the result was fine. After all, playing in the kitchen should be about trying new things anyway.

Red onions are good to use as they are generally large and look great on a salad and offer a mild, sweet flavour.

Suitable for 2 foodie loves

450g rib-eye steak
3 Tbsp butter, melted

For spice mixture
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Piri Piri
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme

4 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp garlic spice
Salt & pepper to taste

1 medium red onion, cut into rings
5 cups baby salad greens
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
60g blue cheese, crumbled

Heat griddle pan on a high heat
Mix spice on a dinner plate and coat steak generously on both sides
Dip both sides of the steak in the melted butter
Add to the griddle pan and cook for 3 - 5 min each side - pending how you like it
Transfer to a cutting board, wrap in foil and rest
For vinaigrette, combine vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil
Brush onion slices with 2 tsp oil, add to the the same griddle pan, cooking 3 - 4 min each side
Toss greens, tomatoes and enough vinaigrette to coat lightly over 2 plates
Remove steak from the foil and cut across grain into strips
Add on top of the greens with some onions
Sprinkle with blue cheese and drizzle with additional dressing.