Fried Rice

Fried rice is perfect for using up leftover rice, vegetables and meat you might have in your fridge. In fact, it’s the only time I really make it. Last night on MasterChef the contestants made fried rice in a challenge, so I was feeling a little inspired. I also had heaps of coconut rice left over from a few days ago and some other things I wanted to use up, so fried rice was an obvious choice.

In addition to the pre-cooked rice, I ended up using:

  • garlic
  • red onion
  • spring onion
  • shallots
  • red pepper
  • carrot
  • mushrooms
  • peas
  • corn
  • chicken

Really you can use whatever you want, in any quantities, but it’s best to have a source of protein or two plus a good selection of flavoursome vegetables.

Ideally you should use peanut or sesame oil for frying as they add a nice flavour, but any oil is fine really. Get the wok or pan really hot before adding the rice, and maintain a high temperature whilst frying. I fried the chicken, garlic, onions and shallots separately first and then added them after the rice. I used a little fish sauce, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and curry powder towards the end, but it’s important not to add too much.

I haven’t made a lot of fried rice but I’m getting better at it. Next time I think I’ll use Chinese sausage or barbecued pork for the meat and maybe some bacon too. I’d also like to boost the flavour a bit more with some ginger, and perhaps some shao hsing wine or vinegar, and a little sugar to balance out the flavours. I might replace the fish sauce with oyster sauce as well.

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Published in: on May 24, 2011 at 9:42 pm  Comments (4)  
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Apple & Custard Pastries

I’ve had green apples in the fridge for about a month, and have been feeling guilty about not using them. Today I was thinking about making apple and cinnamon sticky buns, but I was out of butter and didn’t fancy another trip to the supermarket. I was ready to give up on this dream when I spotted some puff pastry in the freezer and decided to experiment.

I love green apples. They are so fresh tasting (and looking) with firm white flesh that stays crisp many weeks after you buy them. Granny Smiths are perfect for cooking with and hold their shape well.

For the pastries I peeled and chopped a couple of apples, which I couldn’t resist photographing.

Then I caramelised them with brown sugar and margarine (I would have used butter if I had it).

I made a super thick custard just using custard powder and milk, and added sugar to sweeten.

I spread some custard on a floured sheet of puff pastry and topped with apple. Then I rolled it up and sliced it into scrolls. It was an extremely messy process, hence the lack of photos. I baked them on lined trays at about 200C for 15 minutes or so.

They taste pretty good I think. Muffy came home and ate about all of them and didn’t throw up after. That usually means success with Muffy.

Dusted with sugar and served with cream

Published in: on May 19, 2011 at 2:03 am  Comments (6)  
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Sugar Cookies

I wanted to bake something for two friends for their birthdays, and these are sort of my go-to gift cookies. They are perfect for cut-outs because they hold their shape whilst baking. Plus they taste deliciously buttery and crumbly.

I had a moment of inspiration and decided to make scrabble tile cookies for Sarah with the letters Z and Q iced onto them. This has special significance to her because it is the name of the little production company she created (ZQ Productions), which came from the two highest scoring letters in the game of Scrabble – both worth 10 points each. There is a whole deeper story behind it but I won’t get into that.

For Genevieve I made squirrels iced in pink and baby blue, but I forgot to snap pics!

Sugar Cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 250g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat oven to a moderate-low temperature, around 160C (fan forced).

Cream the butter and sugar for a few minutes, add the egg and vanilla, and beat until smooth and creamy.

Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Add to the butter mixture and stir until a ball begins to form.

Knead together on a floured surface to an even consistency. Roll out between two pieces of baking paper to pencil thickness. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Cut out shapes from the chilled dough and place onto an oiled or lined tray with a little space between each. If the dough gets too soft or warm put it back in the fridge for a few minutes; this will help the cookies keep their shape.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a light golden brown appears around the edges. They will harden up quite a bit when they cool so don’t be too concerned if they’re a bit soft coming out of the oven. Cool on a wire rack once they’re hard enough to move.

The cookies in the picture above are a bit thicker than I would usually do them and took about 12-14 minutes.

For the scrabble cookies I rolled out some pre-bought white fondant (hard icing, a bit like marzipan) very thin and covered each cookie with it. I used royal icing to pipe the letters with a ziplock bag – I need to get a real piping bag! Royal icing dries hard and dry so it’s perfect for cookies or anything that needs to hold it’s shape really well. It is usually made with icing sugar and egg whites (or egg powder/meringue powder) but I don’t like to use raw egg whites in unrefrigerated products and egg powder is hard to find, so I use a substitute. It’s called Pavlova Magic and it comes in an egg shaped container; you will probably find it with pudding mixes, jelly and custard powder type things. I use this royal icing recipe – the link has lots of useful information too. It’s a simple recipe though so I’ll re-type it here.

Royal Icing

Makes about 3 cups

  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Pavlova Magic or other egg powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence or other flavouring
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • colouring (liquid, powder or paste)

Add the water gradually to the other ingredients. If you are using a liquid colouring you may need less water so keep this in mind. Beat with an electric mixer until very glossy and stiff peaks form. To get the consistency you are after add more water, or more icing sugar.

Published in: on May 14, 2011 at 4:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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Creamy Pizza With Bacon, Mushrooms and Onion

I came across this blog with an interesting looking pizza recipe so I decided to try something like it. I am a huge fan of homemade pizza because they always seem to taste better than anything you can buy and you get to choose exactly what you want on it. I have never made pizza with a creamy base before so I was curious how it would turn out. Plus anything with bacon and caramelized onions has to be good. That’s a fact.

As well as the bacon and onion I also felt like using mushrooms, feta and a few rocket leaves. I used ricotta and sour cream in the sauce which I think worked really well and the overall sensation was quite light and tasty with just enough flavour from the toppings.

I made the pizza bases as well and they came out lovely. Thin, with crispy edges and a nice bready texture.

How to make them (with pictures)

Published in: on May 10, 2011 at 1:34 am  Comments (3)  
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Black Forest Cocktail

I was inspired by my latest cake adventure (see previous post) so I decided to make a black forest dessert cocktail.

Use equal parts:

  • cream
  • cherry brandy or kirsh
  • creme de cacao or chocolate liqueur
  • vanilla vodka

Shake very well in a shaker with lots of ice. Pour into cocktail glass and garnish. It’s creamy, rich and tastes distinctly like cherries and chocolate.

Published in: on May 6, 2011 at 11:55 pm  Comments (3)  
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Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte or Black Forest Cake

Chocolate and cherries and cream, oh my!

I made this cake a few weeks ago for my birthday. I’ve never really been a huge fan of black forest cake but I put this down to the fact that I’ve just never been lucky enough to try a good one. Nevertheless, I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making one just because they look so magnificent.

Scouring the web for recipes made me realise just how many different versions there are of this classic dessert. There are a myriad of adaptions and deconstructions that are barely cakes, let alone the real deal. I knew that if I was going to make this I wanted to make it right and stay as true to the original as possible.

The real name for this cake is Schwartzwalder Kirsh Torte which is German in origin and translates literally as Black Forest Cherry Cake. The Black Forest is a region in Germany which is famous for producing a distilled cherry liquor known as kirshwasser (or kirsch for short). Needless to say, kirsh is a very important ingredient in this cake. I have also read that the flaked chocolate usually pressed to the sides of the cake is supposed to represent the branches of trees in the Black Forest. I like the notion even if it’s not true.

Unfortunately I had a difficult time finding kirsch that looked anything like the real stuff. In the end I gave up my search and settled for a nice bottle of cherry brandy. Germans would probably look down on this, but I think it’s a far better choice than Cointreau or brandy used in many recipes, including the popular version by Gary Mehigan which has little in common with a Schwartzwalder Kirsh Torte.

Apart from the choice of liquor used, the other most important ingredient is sour cherries for the filling. I used sour morello cherries which are actually quite easy to find in most supermarkets. I encountered a number of conflicting opinions during my research about what makes up the rest of the cake; some use a biscuit base for the first layer, some use dense chocolate cake, others swear by sponge, and one even argued that cream is not supposed to be used at all.

I did a practice sponge to see if I could pull it off. It came out more like a biscuit and wasn’t very chocolatey, so I decided to just use my go-to chocolate mud cake which is actually quite light with a tender crumb. It is very easy to cut into thin layers as well which is important for this cake.

I was very conscious right from the beginning that any fillings would have to be able to stand up to the weight of the cake. Whipped cream does not have a lot of structural integrity so I experimented quite a lot beforehand with different ways to make it more stable. I also made a thick cherry filling using my sour cherries, sugar, cherry brandy and gelatin. Both stood up to the test very well, but it is important to allow plenty of preparation time for this cake so that it can be refrigerated a few hours after assembly just to make sure it sets well.

I put the cake together in this order: cake layer sprinkled with cherry brandy, cherry filling, whipped cream filling, cake (with cherry brandy), cherry filling, cream, cake, cherry filling with extra frozen cherries added for the topping, cream sides, piped cream rosettes, shaved bittersweet chocolate pressed to the sides, and cherry brandy marinated glace cherries on top. Phew!

A slice oozing with goodness

It tasted pretty amazing (especially the next day) and definitely had the wow factor I was hoping for. I don’t think I’ll be making it again in a real hurry because it is time consuming and black forest cake just isn’t my favourite of all time, but it’s definitely worth a go if you feel up to it. If I did make it again [edit: I did] I would definitely try a chocolate sponge and would possibly use more cream in the layers. If I could find kirsch I would use that too and add it to the cream; the only reason I didn’t do that with the cherry brandy is that it’s not clear like kirsch so the cream would have turned pinkish.

Continue to recipes for mud cake and fillings

Published in: on May 6, 2011 at 11:36 pm  Comments (7)  
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Two-Tiered Jellies

We had a couple of packets of jelly in our pantry just sitting around begging to be used, so I put these together. I’m a fan of the newish JellyLite range which has interesting flavours like cranberry & raspberry, dark cherry, pink grapefruit or peach & apricot. My hatred for everything ‘lite’ aside, they are pretty good. For these I used orange & mango with port wine and a few berries. Nothing special, but zig-zag martini glasses make everything more fun.

I have made my own jelly flavours before using various citrus fruits, juices and tea; some successful, most not. One that I did like a lot was ruby grapefruit and mint which I should try again sometime, when grapefruits are in season.

Published in: on May 6, 2011 at 6:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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A Very ‘Farmhand’ Lunch

Today I was required to do physical labour. Those who know me will understand that this is possibly my least favourite thing to do. Just thinking about lifting something of moderate weight makes me feel like a nap. It would probably be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

My mother has commissioned me to complete a series of tasks around her backyard which includes the likes of pruning enormous trees, digging up other trees and planting them elsewhere, shoveling compost, more trees, and did I mention digging? I am not a fan of digging.

Anyway I powered through it all, pouring sweat the entire time, and was beginning to consider just dying in one of those holes I’d dug when suddenly the day’s work was done and I was presented with a delicious lunch that my brother had whipped up.

Toasted turkish bread, feta and the finished product

 It was a bruschetta of sorts, but with a lot more than just tomato. My brother tells me he pan toasted the turkish bread in olive oil and then topped it with fried mushrooms, red onion, cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, red caspsicum and a salty danish feta.

A glistening closeup.

I was quite impressed and the flavours were so good in a simple, rustic way. No garlic was used and I didn’t even notice until I’d finished, but you could add that if you wanted a more traditional bruschetta.

Well my fingers are getting tired from all this typing so I think I’ll finish up. A nap is in order.

Published in: on May 4, 2011 at 3:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Tomato and Bacon Pasta Bake

This is pure comfort food – pasta, cheese, bacon and rich tomato. It’s incredibly quick and simple and great on a cold night. It also makes a good summer side dish served warm or cold with barbecued meat.

Mmmm I can feel my arteries clogging

 

  • 500g of pasta (I prefer curls, spirals or shells)
  • 1 can of condensed tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 onions
  • a few cloves of garlic
  • a decent amount of bacon
  • cheese – something melty like cheddar or mozzerrella plus something  flavoursome like extra tasty cheddar or romano (or whatever)

Cook pasta in salted water til al dente or just prior.

Fry finely chopped onion and garlic with sliced bacon until bacon is cooked and onion is soft. Season with salt and pepper if you like. Pour in soup, milk and a handful or two of melty cheese. Mix through until cheese melts and it becomes a deliciously thick cheesey hot mess. Stir in pasta immediately after draining plus a little of the starchy water.

Pour it all into a baking dish and sprinkle with other cheese. Bake at around 180C for about 20 minutes or until slightly browned – if you can wait that long. It is delicious served with a vinaigrette salad to help your palate cut though the fat, but it is equally delicious alone or perhaps with bread. I believe this dish would also be good with the addition of chopped tomato, mushrooms, chicken or a sprinkling of italian herbs. It could also be made gluten free with the right pasta.

Published in: on May 3, 2011 at 1:37 am  Comments (2)  
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Welcome to my blog, bitches.

For some time now I’ve wanted to create a collaboration of recipes from friends, family and myself. I’m talking favourites; recipes that you always go back to, or those that should be shared because they are unique enough that similar recipes are hard to find.

This will be a place for that. Hopefully over time it will become a resource for dinner ideas and inspiration to get into the kitchen! “What’s for dinner?” is a question I labour over daily, and I know I’m not alone.

I also want to review restaurants in Perth and share photos of food I eat, if it’s worth taking a photo of (most of which isn’t). I enjoy dining at a variety of multicultural eateries which I do quite regularly. I haven’t exactly experienced much fine dining but it’s something I would be interested in trying.

I am an enthusiastic amateur baker, self-taught in most of the skills I’ve learned. I was always the baker in the family. I like baking cakes, muffins, cookies, bread, even cupcakes! (I’m not immune to their charming, yet pretentious ways). I predict that many of my posts will be about my baking achievements and failures; and probably full of tips for readers to avoid such failures as well as recommendations for my favourite brands and supplies.

I should note that I’ve forgotten how to use words and my brain has turned to mush since leaving school so you will have to excuse my madtypehskillz and emphatic use of semi-colons if you intend to stick around.

I hope you find something you like here!

Published in: on May 1, 2011 at 5:00 am  Comments (6)