A tale of two best friends on opposite sides of the world and their quest to cook everything from
Stephanie Alexander's 'The Cook's Companion'

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Well, the blog has basically fallen by the wayside...and with good reason...this little man has arrived. He takes up all of my time, so for the moment, the blog has been forgotten.

I hope everyone has enjoyed the recipes we've put on the blog and I'm sure we'll return to it soon, but for the moment it will be silent.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fennel Bread

Fennel Bread

I'd been wanting to make some bread for a while and the idea of fennel bread, really got my tastebuds going. The bread started off nicely, but the loaves didn't rise very well the second time, going out rather than up. So while they didn't turn out looking great, they did taste very nice.

Fennel Bread (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Fennel Seed Breadsticks, pg 438
makes 2 small loaves

tiny pinch saffron
1 cup warm water
2 tsp dried yeast
2 tsp salt
250g plain flour
125g semolina flour
2 tsp fennel seeds

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sweet Corn Soup

Sweet Corn Soup

Whenever hubby is sent to the supermarket unsupervised, there are a few things he always 'accidentally' comes home with... chocolate, berries, toy yoghurts (those chilled custardy treats for kids) and sweet corn if it's summer. Seeing as we had a few cobs in the fridge, I thought I'd do something different with them, so went through Stephanie and found a recipe for Sweet Corn Soup. It sounded nice and simple and I was interested to see how it would taste as the only corn soup I've ever had has always been the Chinese version.

This soup was easy enough to whip up, although passing it through a sieve did take a little while, but was definitely worth the effort as the soup was beautifully silky. The ingredient list is quite short, so you really do need to use the best produce for this one; It's not a recipe for canned corn.

Sweet Corn Soup (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Sweetcorn Soup with Spiced Butter, pg 350
serves 4 as a starter

40g butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 litre water
kernels from 4 corn cobs

Monday, August 30, 2010

Red Cabbage with Apple

Red Cabbage

I've had this recipe marked to test out for a while, so when hubby said he wanted sausages for dinner, I thought I would finally get around to cooking this up. Unsurprisingly, this tasted a lot like cabbage...a bit too much for me. I think I was hoping it would have a bit more going on, but given the short list of ingredients, I shouldn't be surprised with how it turned out. It was nice, but I think I'm more of a fresh cabbage person than a boiled cabbage person now that I've tested this out.

Red Cabbage with Apple
adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion, pg 215
serves 6

1/4 cup water
1 red cabbage, sliced, washed and drained
4 tbsp brown sugar
pinch salt
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
100g butter, cubed

Red Cabbage

Put water, cabbage, sugar and salt into a heavy based pan. Add apple, cover and cook on lowest heat for 1 hour.

Take off the lid, and stir the apple through the cabbage. Add the vinegar and butter. Cook, covered for another 15 minutes and stir once more. The butter should give the cabbage a nice shine.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thai Beef Salad

Thai Beef Salad

On the weekend, hubby came back from 2 weeks overseas. This was great as I was sick of talking to myself and making dinners for one. With all the family and work functions he'd be going to, he was craving something light to eat. I flicked around the book and came across the recipe for Thai Beef Salad. I've made Thai Beef Salad before, but have always made it up as I went along. It always turns out pretty much the same, so I thought that by following a recipe, I could see if there are improvements to my usual one to be made.

Surprisingly, this was heaps nicer than the one I usually make! Surprising as I thought the one I usually make was pretty good, but this was fantastic! The marinade gave the steak an extra flavour boost and made it taste more bbq'd, and the additions of garlic and spring onion to the dressing really pepped it up!

Thai Beef Salad (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Thai Style Beef Salad, pg 157
serves 2

1 x 400g rump steak
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 capsicum, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 small cucumber, cut into quarters and sliced
handful mint leaves, chopped
handful coriander leaves (I use the stems too), chopped
handful cashews (peanuts would be nice too), toasted
your choice of noodles (I used 2 cakes wholewheat egg noodles)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Boil and Bake Fruit Cake

Well, not really, but in our house it certainly smells like it! Apparently Selfridges are opening their Christmas Shop this weekend, only 140 days before Christmas! Crazy! Anyway, I was more interested in the culinary side of Christmas. I had a craving for some fruit cake, but didn't want to wait the week or so it usually takes to make one. Luckily, Stephanie delivered with a recipe for Boil and Bake Fruit Cake. It was quick and easy to make and had a lovely gingerbread flavour, thanks to the dried ginger. The only thing I thought it was lacking was some glace cherries, but that's a personal preference, because I love them. Next time I make this, and there will be a next time, I'll chuck a handful of the cherries in too.

Recipe and directions can be found on my new blog thingsforboys, Here.

We stored a quarter of the cake on a plate wrapped in cling wrap. It was fine sitting on the bench, and was still nice and moist when we ate it a few days later. I have frozen half of the cake, mainly so we couldn't eat it and the other quarter was eaten as soon as the cake had cooled. Sure, it sounds like a lot of cake for 2 people to eat, but what can I say, I'm pregnant?! Yeah, I'll blame that.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Potato and Spinach Soup

Potato and Spinach Soup

Once again, we had some spinach in the fridge that need to be used up. I was at the market earlier in the day and spotted some delicious looking, freshly baked bread, so decided to make a soup to go with it. It turned out to be a fairly warm day, so a hearty soup probably wasn't the best choice.

One word of caution: because of the high potato content of the soup, don't overblend the soup as it may turn out gluey. Ours was slightly on the gluey side...not good!

I didn't bother peeling the potatoes, because they were very small, and I find the skin adds a nice 'potatoey' flavour to the soup. I cooked this in my 22cm Le Creuset pot.

Potato and Spinach Soup (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion, pg 927
serves 4

2 onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tbsp oil
500g potatoes, cut into chunks
stock (I just used some powdered vegetable stock)
120g baby spinach
1 tsp ground cumin

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bircher Muesli

Bircher with craisins and raspberries

I love bircher muesli. It's so refreshing and you really feel good after eating a bowl of it. During Lent, when we can't have any dairy, this is usually what I have for breakfast instead of cereal and milk. As long as I remember to get the mixture going the night before, we're all good. We pretty much always have everything on hand and at its most basic can be made with just oats and water, although I don't think it would taste that good.

Stephanie's original recipe uses the oats with water, lemon and honey as the base. I did try this, but found it a little bland, and prefer to make it with fruit juice. My favourite is apple juice, but any juice can be used. I also like to mix up the fruit, using nuts, seeds, shredded coconut...whatever is going really! The original recipe also adds a grated apple, which I think is optional when using fruit juice, but it is nice to put something in there, whether it's a grated apple, pear or even some stewed fruit in winter. Again, I find the yoghurt optional and think it's pretty good without it.

The picture at the bottom shows the muesli as made to Stephanie's original recipe. The recipe given below, is the way I like to eat it and is shown in the main picture. Mind you, it's not really a recipe, more of a starting point.

Bircher Muesli (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Bircher Muesli, pg 79
serves 2

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup cloudy apple juice
1/4 cup craisins
raspberries and yoghurt to serve

Tuesday, July 27, 2010



Madeleines are something that I had never eaten before, but just knew I would love. On our trip to Paris, I made a special detour to a cooking store just to pick up a madeleine tin. I liked the idea of getting the tin in Paris for the quintessential French cake. A madeleine however, is not quite a cake, not quite a biscuit...it's somewhere in the middle. Made of sponge batter, the cakes are pillowy soft on the inside with a nice crisp outside.


For my first attempt, these turned out pretty well and a few of them even got the nice dome on the tops. I think they could probably have been a little lighter in texture, so next time I will whisk the eggs a bit longer. The honey flavour was very light and I had to really think about it to be able to taste it. I'm looking forward to making many, many more of these.

Honey Madeleines (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Honey Madeleines, pg 498
makes 20 - 24 regular madeleines

90g butter, plus 20g extra for coating the tin
1/2 tbsp honey
2 eggs
1/3 cup castor sugar
1 tbsp brown sugar
tiny pinch salt
90g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

An evening at River Cottage with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall

River Cottage

My fantastic hubby decided to totally spoil me for my birthday and got us tickets to River Cottage. My birthday was a month ago, so I had been waiting excitedly for our trip.

We headed off on our way and sadly the weather started to turn. Just as we arrived it started spitting. We parked in the carpark at the top of the farm and hopped into the trailer being pulled by a big blue tractor to take us down the steep path to the farm (see pic 1 below). The trailer was a bit foggy so it was hard to see out the windows, but I managed to catch a glimpse of River Cottage and the garden (see pic 3 below). It is just as beautiful as in the TV show.

River Cottage

We headed inside, where chairs were setup conference style for the cooking demonstration part of the evening. There was also a handy mirror above the cooking bench (see pic 2 above). Hugh came out and greeted us all. He was just as charming as I imagined he'd be and I think hubby was almost as keen to run away with him as I was. He walked us through the four courses we'd be eating and cooked up a serve of each one.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Chilli con Carne

Chilli con Carne

I had been feeling a little tired lately, so decided that a week of red meat dinners to boost my iron would hopefully sort me out. I had a flick through Stephanie, but nothing from the beef or lamb sections really took my fancy. In the dried beans section, I came across the recipe for chilli con carne and thought I would give that a go.

Chilli Con Carne
adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion, pg 137
serves 4

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Welcome Back Lidia / Wintery Pumpkin Soup

Hi Everyone, it's been such a long time since I've posted on this blog. Apologies all round. Finally, we are in the new house and unpacked, and the renovations are about to commence. My poor Stephanie book has hardly been touched, but it does take pride of place in my bookshelf with all my other cookbooks. Still using it regularly as a reference, but we have hardly had an opportunity to cook too much in the past month. Fortunately, I still had a recipe or two saved up my sleeve for when I had the time to post them.

This Pumpkin Soup recipe inspired me a bit. I love pumpkin soup ordinarily, but I have always liked spicy food, so the combination of the Asian flavours and spice, along with the creaminess of the pumpkin soup base and the coconut milk, well, I was in heaven. I have always found that adding spice to a soup intensifies the heat tenfold, I'm not sure why, but soups always taste extra spicy.

I made a few tweaks to the recipe (of course) but this was mainly because I wanted a lower in fat version, without compromising on taste too much. The main difference is that I chose to use good old Carnation Light and Creamy Coconut Milk instead of coconut milk. It's only about 3% fat, and it adds the delicious hint of coconut without the heaviness of regular coconut milk. For a weeknight dinner, it's important to keep the fat content reasonably low, otherwise I would be the size of a house!

Allan & Michele's Asian Inspired Pumpkin Soup (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion, pg 800

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Strawberries on my mind

Choco Hazelnut dip

Before coming to the UK, I thought the only fruit and veg you could get here were potatoes, carrots, apples and pears. Boy was I wrong! The selection of fruit and veg is fantastic, even at the supermarkets and there is a great range of organic prduce too!


Summer is in full swing, and luckily for me, so is strawberry season! The selection of varieties available is fantastic and I have not yet been disappointed. I can walk in to some supermarkets and smell them from the door. We have been eating kilos and kilos of them and I'm sure the baby will be quite the strawberry fan too, given the amount of them I have been eating. They seem to come a lot smaller here than back in Melbourne, which I like as they're super sweet and picture perfect. This is a quick fruit dip that I whipped up to enjoy with some strawberries on a picnic.

Chocolate Hazelnut Dip for Fruit
makes about 2/3 cup

1/3 cup Nutella
100g fromage frais

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Apple and Blueberry Muffins

Apple and Blueberry Muffins

Lately, the blueberries have been in abundance and nice and cheap, so I thought I'd make some muffins for snack time. I like muffins that aren't too sweet...that's what cupcakes are for. That way, you can have them for breakfast or afternoon tea without feeling like you've indulged too much. I only managed to get 11 muffins out of the recipe, but I think my cupcake cases are bigger than the average.

Apple and Blueberry Muffins (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Basic Muffins, pg 40
makes 12

240g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1 tbsp honey
1 apple
125g blueberries
raw sugar, optional

Friday, June 4, 2010

Picnic Time

Bacon and Onion Quiche

The weather has warmed up a bit lately, so one afternoon I decided we should embrace the British way, and while we didn't sunbake in our underwear in a public place, which is apparently not at all weird, we went on a picnic in the local park. I went to the shops and picked up a picnic rug and other supplies and then went home to make our dinner. Being pregnant can make picnic food a little tricky, so I settled on a quiche which was still warm from the oven when we sat down on the new rug to devour it. We had the quiche with potato salad, green salad and some fresh fruit for dessert. This recipe is only very loosely based on a recipe from Stephanie, as I wasn't really sure where to start, but the ingredients are quite different.

Bacon and Onion Quiche (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Quiche Lorraine, pg 114
Serves 6

2 medium onions
olive oil
6 thick rashers bacon
375g puff pastry, thawed ready to use
6 eggs
2 tbsp milk

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

en Français

Laduree macarons

The blog has been very quiet for the past few weeks, and with good reason. Lidia has moved house so aside from the fact that all her cooking gear has been packed in boxes, she also has no internet. I have been travelling a bit, which has meant I have not been doing my blog homework. Hubby went back to Melbourne for 2 weeks on business and while he was gone, I went up to visit the family. Last weekend we went to Paris, which had been booked for a while. We met up with hubby's cousin and her husband on their honeymoon. It was an action packed weekend with a lot of tourist attractions squeezed in, but we made time for more culinary escapades. I managed to get to a few cookware shops and bought a madeleine tin. They're such iconic little French cakes that I loved the thought of having a 'French' tin. I also bought a book on molecular gastronomy and while it's in French, so I can't read it, the pictures are enough, although I think I'll give some translation a go one day.

Sunday, May 16, 2010



Hubby had to go back to Melbourne for a week or so, and I decided to go up and stay with the family rather than be a hermit. In the process of cleaning out the fridge, I decided to make some spanakopita rolls. These are strong and cheesy and great for lunch, dinner, or a snack. The original recipe calls for 2 eggs to be added to the mixture, but I forgot to put them in. It tasted pretty good with out them.

Spanakopita (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion, pg 928
makes 12

1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
150g baby spinach, chopped
2 tbsp chopped mint
2tbsp chopped parsley
pinch nutmeg
125g fetta crumbled
125g ricotta
50g freshly grated pecorino
40g butter, melted
12 sheets filo

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Chocolate Healing

Walnut Brownies

I was feeling a bit homesick lately, and nothing cures an emotional ailment quite like chocolate. I love the crunch of nuts or chocolate chips in brownies and when I couldn't find any choc chips, I went with walnuts. I have a standard brownie recipe that I always use, but I had never actually tried the recipe from Stephanie, so was keen to give it a go. Boy have I been missing out! These brownies were rich and chocolately, with a nice bitter tang from using cocoa instead of melted chocolate. I prefer to use cocoa, because I hate melting chocolate, but that's because I'm lazy. The walnuts provided a nice crunch to these gooey brownies. I have to admit that I didn't really follow the method for these, but they turned out great. This is now my go-to brownie recipe.

Walnut Brownies (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Double Chocolate Brownies, pg 311

180g butter
100g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup dutch cocoa
1 1/4 cups golden castor sugar (you can use regular castor sugar)
pinch salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups walnuts (you can use any nuts or choc chips)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lois's Almond and Orange Biscuits

Ok, so now it seems that I am responding to requests. Kirsten, this one's for you. This was what I took to her place last weekend, and she sent me a text asking for the ingredients, so it was about time I blogged it! I was having a baking frenzy at the weekend, so the oven was already going, and these were ready in an instant. They were great to eat when warm, and once the syrup had soaked into them, they were even better. I think they can still be eaten without the syrup, as hubby confirmed, but I honestly didn't try them without, so I cannot be the judge of it.

I found that the almond meal makes the mix a bit dense, and hard to roll out, but if I wet my hands a bit, it was really easy to roll into shape. I was probably too precious in getting a nice shape to them, but in the end they get coated with the icing sugar so it hides any imperfections. I think these would also work with other citrus flavours, especially lemon. I think I may have to try that one next!

Lois's Almond and Orange Biscuits (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion, pg 617

375g finely ground almonds (I used almond meal)
1 tablespoon plain flour (I used gluten free)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 egg
icing sugar for coating

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sunday Roast

Roast Chicken

No, this isn't a post about Nicole Kidman's daughter, but about the ubiquitous roast. Since moving to London, hubby has craved roasts, and they are hard to escape. Every pub does it's version of a Sunday Roast for lunch. Our local does a fantastic Roast Lamb, but it's a little on the pricey side, so I thought it would be best to make our own. Hubby decided on chicken, and while our free-range, organic chicken wasn't cheap, it fed us for 2 nights and was still less than the cost of one pub roast.

Roast Chicken (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Roast Chicken - The All-time Favourite, pg 298
Serves 4

1.8kg chicken
1 lemon, halved
4 cloves garlic
a few sprigs of rosemary
small knob of butter
salt and pepper
vegetables to suit*, cut to size
olive oil
2 tbsp plain flour
1/2C white wine
1/2C chicken stock

Monday, April 26, 2010

Nut Meringue Cake With Passionfruit Curd

Stephanie's Nut Meringue Cake. I made this because with a bit of clever thinking, it was easily gluten-free. My sister-in-law has a gluten-free diet, and it's nice to share foods that she can also enjoy. I just ensure that I buy gluten-free cornflour now, which is a slightly different colour to the one I used to use, but definitely has the same properties and function. I think it's the White Wings one that I use now. I had some passionfruit curd in the freezer - there is a story that goes with this too. My darling husband decided to have an early breakfast while I was showering yesterday. He came upstairs, stating proudly "Oh that passionfruit curd was yum!" It was 4 in the morning on Anzac Day. All I could say was "How much did you eat? That was supposed to be my filling for the cake" (Plus expletives) and "Since when do you eat stuff in the fridge without checking first?" It was probably the first time he did it, and I think it will never happen again. Poor bloke. Fortunately, I made the first layer a little thinner, and then I made do with what I had. It worked out ok.

Nut Meringue Cake (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion, pg 619

Anzac Biscuits

Yesterday was Anzac Day, and as one of my missions is to empty the contents of my pantry before the move, I decided to make Anzac Biscuits. I managed to finish the coconut, and almost finish the sugar in this recipe. This also was not from The Cook's Companion, but a taste.com.au recipe. I have steered away from this site of late, considering my cookbook collection is bursting at the seams, so I have tried to get back into reading them for inspiration.

Hubby and I went to the Dawn Service at the Shrine of Rememberance, so I thought we would need some sustenance at 5am. We took a Thermos of tea and a few of these bikkies with us. Kept us going until we needed breakfast at a more human hour.

I also gave some of these to my folks, and Dad, who does not have a sweet tooth, apparently gave them the thumbs up. Some also made it to the family birthday party on Anzac evening, and were happily demolished. I was tempted to drizzle some chocolate over the top of them, but honestly couldn't be bothered. Perhaps next time.

Anzac Biscuits (Printable Recipe)
adapted from taste

1 1/4 cups plain flour (recipe says sifted, meh, I don't)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons golden syrup or treacle
150g unsalted butter, chopped (I only had the salted variety, whoops!)
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 and 1/2 tablespoons water

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stephanie's Satay Lamb

This dish solved two problems for me. 1) I needed inspiration for Lamb Monday and 2) I needed to get a dish on here, so here it is. I used lamb, of course, but any meat would do - chicken, beef, or even prawns. It was my first go at making a satay sauce from scratch, and a word to the wise, don't take your eye off the wok, as the nuts will start to burn immediately!

This was not too hard to make, and I prepared the marinade and meat the day before. Hubby skewered the meat on for me while I was preparing the rest of the dinner. He also managed to cook the meat for me, so he was a great help.

The recipe suggests it makes enough marinade and sauce for 500g meat. I did closer to 1kg of lamb, and it was still plenty. Stephanie advises to cut the meat into 2cm or smaller cubes, as a satay should be cooked quickly. The substitution for this recipe could be 250g crunchy peanut butter instead of the fresh peanuts. Also, don't forget to soak bamboo skewers for at least half an hour before threading the meat on and cooking it. That way you can ensure the skewer does not burn before the meat is done.

Satay Marinade and Sauce (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Satay Marinade and Sauce, pg 610

2 teaspoons red curry paste
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 stalks lemongrass (tender part only)
2 tablespoons palm of brown sugar

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fruity Oatmeal Slice

Fruit and Oat Slice

This recipe is not from Stephanie, but one I made up to use up some things in the cupboard. The slice is great for afternoon tea and the fruit and nuts can be changed to suit your taste or whatever you have hanging around. The honey adds a lovely floral note to the slice and a bit of depth to the flavour. 75g of self raising flour can be substituted for the plain flour and baking powder if you wish.

Fruity Oatmeal Slice (Printable Recipe)

125g butter, chopped
1/3 cup (70g) firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp honey (I used orange blossom)
1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups (135g) rolled oats
1 cup (130g) sultanas
1 cup (140g) raw almonds

Friday, April 16, 2010

Broccoli or Brocolli?

Broccoli Pasta

I can never remember how to spell the stupid thing, but regardless, broccoli (that is the correct spelling) is actually great with pasta. I quite like broccoli and eat it a fair bit, but I'm always looking for a new way to serve it. This pasta is great as I usually have all the ingredients lying about and it is also Lenten, which is handy when Easter is almost here.

Broccoli Pasta (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Broccoli as a Sauce for Pasta, pg 201
Serves 2

1 large head of broccoli, cut into small florets
olive oil (or anchovy oil)
200g pasta spirals
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I use ones lurking in the freezer)
2 cloves garlic
6 anchovy fillets, chopped
ground black pepper
handful of pitted olives (optional)
chilli flakes (optional)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Olive Focaccia

Ok, so this recipe is a variation of Stephanie's Olive Bread, pg 192. I have decided it is my goal to try and use most of the food in my pantry before we move house (which could be as soon as five weeks away). The more we consume means the less we have to move. It also means I can start with fresh products when we move into the new place. The disadvantage of this method means that my first grocery shop will probably cost hundreds of dollars. Oh well, you can't have it both ways.

My whole body was sore from grape picking the day before, so hubby came in handy with this one. Ordinarily, I would knead the dough with the dough hook of my stand mixer, but unfortunately that was at Mum's in "storage", so I had to improvise. Sometimes hubby does come in handy ;) and this was definitely one of those occasions. I set him up on my marble tile that I use for rolling out my dough (thanks, Mum) and he was at it. I used less olives than the recipe suggested in the dough, as we studded them across the top of the focaccia instead, which looked kind of cute. The oven we have in the apartment is very good at retaining heat, and maintaining temperature, so I have always found it good for baking. I will definitely miss the oven once we move out, although it is is probably a little smaller than my ideal oven. We shall see what we end up with in the new house.

Olive Focaccia (Printable Recipe)
600g unbleached strong flour
150g stoned black olives, halved
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant dried yeast
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
1/3 cup olive oil
300ml warm water
sea salt

Lime Ice-Cream

What do you do when you get given some fresh limes? I usually stick them in a Corona, or make some cupcakes. This time I decided to try my hand at making ice-cream. I am currently taking care of Abby's ice-cream maker while she is living overseas, and so far I can happily say that I am definitely a fan! Last week I made Stephanie's Vanilla Ice-Cream as my first attempt. I thought that one came out a little too yolk-y and yellow for my liking, but it was only my first go, so maybe I just need to get the hang of it. I also think that it may have been the egg yolks I used. The eggs were from a work colleague, and compared to the standard free range eggs from the supermarket, the yolks were huge!

On Sunday, we had our Honeymoon friends come over for lunch. It was pretty cold all day, so we just sat around inside catching up, eating and drinking tea. Kat kindly brought over a banana cake, and when I tasted it, I realised it had a familiar flavour. The recipe was of course, Stephanie's Simple Banana Cake (p120), and it was so funny, as Kat was so proud to rattle off "it's on page 120" the same time I said it. I've used that as my staple banana cake for years, and the recipe has always been requested by people who have tried it. This just demonstrates how popular Stephanie Alexander recipes are with everyone.

So, I digress...lime ice-cream. Creamy whilst tangy, this ice-cream passed the taste test, but I don't think hubby loved it. "It was alllllllriiiight" (read as: "I'm happy with Streets ice-cream any day, but thanks for going to the effort of making it").

It's not a complex recipe, but I was definitely in daydream land when I made it, as I accidentally mixed the sugar with the egg yolks and forgot to melt it into the lime juice. Whoops. I safely scooped out about 3/4 of the sugar, and successfully dissolved it, and the finished product didn't end up tasting grainy at all.

Lime Ice-Cream (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Lemon or lime Ice-Cream, pg 557

1/2 cup lime juice*
6 egg yolks
finely grated zest of 2 limes*
250g caster sugar
3 cups cream, lightly whipped

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Glazed Carrots

Glazed Carrots

These were served with the Slow Cooked Lamb at our final Lamb Monday.

Glazed Carrots (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion, pg 222
Serves 6

2 bunches baby carrots
handful of parsley

The Last Lamb Monday

Slow Cooked Lamb

This was actually cooked quite some time ago and in another country. Hubby and I have now settled in to our flat in London and are getting the hang of everything, including the terrible weather! Yes it is as miserable as everyone says it is.

I suppose the true reason for creating this blog will now really come into play. It should be quite interesting to see as we will be in opposite hemispheres so the produce will be different and in line with this, so will the seasons, so one of us will be cooking warming comfort food, while the other may be making salads and refreshing sorbets.

This slow cooked lamb was actually the feast of our final group Lamb Monday. It was quite sad to have to say goodbye to the tradition, as it was still going strong and showing no signs of stopping. None of us were seeming to run out of ideas and it was nice to catch up with great friends every week.
This recipe is based on Stephanie's 7 hour leg of lamb, but I thought I'd test it out in the slow cooker, rather than the oven. The resulting lamb was quite nice, but not as juicy and tender as I was expecting. I'm not sure if this is a result of the piece of lamb, or the slow cooker, a kitchen appliance I still haven't made my mind up about yet.

Slow Cooked Leg of Lamb (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Seven-hour Leg of Lamb with Anchovy and Garlic, pg 532
Serves 6

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cantonese-style sweetcorn and crab meat soup

Further to my last post, I still had fresh garden corn kicking about in the fridge from the in-law's garden. They have an acre of land and are both retired, so they have the time to work in the garden, and they also have the water tanks to keep the vegetables green! It's been fantastic for us, as it means we get to reap the benefits from a pesticide-free garden.

I thought I'd dish the sweetcorn and crab meat soup up to hubby's parents for dinner, as it was showcasing some of their produce. I did cheat a little, and used the tinned crab meat, rather than fresh, but it was hardly noticeable. In the end, it was a weeknight, and everyone is entitled to a shortcut here and there. It was also a pretty busy time at work, so I think I was busy working until about 6.30 anyway, but still managed to whip this up in no time. It always helps when you have frozen chicken stock on hand too.

Cantonese-style Sweetcorn and Crab Meat Soup (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie Alexander's The Cook's Companion, pg 351

5 corn cobs, grated (yes, it is worth the effort, creamed corn is ok for a shortcut, though)
vegetable oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onion
1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
250g picked crab meat
1 tablespoon mirin, rice wine or dry sherry
600ml chicken stock
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon black or red rice vinegar

Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a saucepan or wok. Sear the spring onion and ginger for 30 seconds. add the crab meat, then sprinkle with salt, mirin and stir it lightly. Pour in the corn, stock and the soy sauce, stirring the mixture until the soup comes to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer it for a few minutes. Mix cornflour, water and sesame oil in a bowl and stir until smooth, then add a little of the hot soup into the bowl and stir it to combine. Pour this mixture into the soup, ensuring that you swirl it in evenly. Turn the heat off and trail the egg whisked with a pinch of salt and 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil over the surface, stirring slowly to break up the strands. Add vinegar and taste the soup for seasoning, adjust if required with soy sauce. Serve and enjoy immediately.

Hubby absolutely loves this soup. I've been cooking variations of this soup for years, but nothing compares to this one with the fresh, sweet corn from the garden. It's so much better than tinned kernels or creamed corn. He requests this soup whenever he's a bit cold. This can also easily be a great gluten-free recipe for those with dietary requirements, if you use the right soy sauce, chicken stock and cornflour.

Stephanie's Rat-a-touillie

The finished product looks less than appetising, but is a flavour explosion. Eggplant in any dish creates a balance that you just can't reproduce.

I think virtually everything in this bowl came out of either my Dad's or my father-in-law's gardens. Thanks guys for the delicious produce!

Well, Abby and Greg have left for the UK, so now the purpose of this blog is really going to come into light. The last time they came over for dinner was the last official Lamb Monday with the 6 of us at our place. I cooked a Maggie Beer lamb dish, but served it with a ratatouille from Stephanie.

I had been given a mass of fresh vegetables and herbs from the in-laws and my parents, so I made an effort to use as many of them in the ratatouille as possible. I love cooked vegetables, especially eggplant, and having them home grown is an added bonus!

The best thing about cooking a dish like this is that it can't really go too wrong. It was prepared well and truly before the guests arrived, and all I did when they came was stick the dish back in the oven to heat it through again, and stirred through a small handful of fresh herbs to freshen it up a little.

Ratatouille (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Ratatouille, pg 1070

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Raspberry Vodka


Keeping in theme with the previous post, I'm currently half way through making some raspberry vodka, so here are the details for making that.

Raspberry Vodka
Makes 1 litre

450g raspberries (3 punnets)
1L vodka
sugar, to taste

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What's better than Vodka? Flavoured Vodka!

musk sticks

I've had a fondness for flavoured vodka for quite a long time, and over the years we have experimented with many different fruits, spices and lollies. Being essentially tasteless, vodka easily draws the flavour out of whatever you put in it, allowing some delicious liqueurs to be created. Now, making these can take quite a while, but the reward is definitely worth the effort.

Full details on how to make this with recipe and cocktail ideas on my new blog:
Musk Stick Infused Vodka

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shrove Tuesday

Today is Shrove Tuesday, and the day before the beginning of Lent on the Roman Catholic calendar. Mum always used to make us crepes for Shrove Tuesday when I lived with her, and it’s something I really haven’t kept up for the past couple of years – more laziness on my part, I suppose. This year however, I decided to make crepes for breakfast. Honestly, I don’t really like pancakes all that much, I find them far too dense and quite bland. I do love crepe
s though. Mum always had the Bessemer crepe maker, and I have fond memories of helping her cook stacks of crepes to make her delicious pancake lasagne.

Last night, I mixed the batter, and t
hen refrigerated it overnight. This made it easier in the morning to cook them up. Texture-wise, the batter was still fine, I just gave it a quick whisk before I cooked them. The batter made about 10 or so crepes, but who can count when you’re demolishing them as fast as you can cook them? The mixture is about the same consistency as Mum’s recipe, but I don’t think Mum puts butter in hers. The butter in the batter meant that the non-stick pan definitely didn’t need any butter on it. I also found that they were quite easy to flip, which was fun at 6:45am!

I like to eat my crepes with a squeeze of lemon and a sp
rinkling of sugar, which is exactly what we did this morning. It was a pleasant way to start the working day. This year, hubby and I have decided to ditch the soft drinks for Lent. Let’s see how we go for the next six weeks. Bring on Easter, I say!
Crepes – Master Recipe (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Crepes, pg 42

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Passionfruit and Coconut Sponge Fingers

sponge fingers

A friend recently mentioned to me that she had tried to make some lamingtons and had a great deal of trouble making the sponge. She said it turned out ‘like an omelette with sugar on top’, which did not sound very appealing. I had never tried to make a sponge before and with a glut off eggs in the fridge, I thought it was a perfect chance to give one a go.

I found that the sponge worked out very well, and while it did smell a little ‘eggy’ cooking in the oven, it did not thankfully, taste like and omelette when cooked. With the idea of lamingtons planted firmly in my head, I thought that would be a great way to use the sponge. I failed to remember that I had given away all my cocoa, so the sponge instead became coconut and passionfruit sponge fingers. I used up some passionfruit curd lurking in the fridge and made a simple coconut icing for the top with desiccated coconut, icing sugar and water.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Middle-Eastern Baked Fish With Garlic & Coriander, Carrot Salad and Lentil & Coriander Salad.

On the menu at the MacPerri house tonight was a Middle-Eastern feast. Fortunately, none of it took terribly long to cook, as the in-laws were coming over for a coffee after dinner. I raced to the shops after work, brought home some fish and other fresh ingredients for dinner, and whipped up dinner within the hour. Considering that until about lunchtime today, I had no idea what I was going to cook, but I was happy with my choices today. We had to reset the server at work today, so in the downtime I quickly flipped through Stephanie and found the fish dish I wanted to cook. Once that was sorted, I thought it would be nice to have salad with it, considering the hot, sticky, humid Melbourne weather we've endured this week. I didn't feel like anything too heavy, so I settled on the warm carrot salad and a lentil salad. Fortunately, hubby has grown to love legumes, so there are no complaints from him when it comes to eating these days.

The Middle-Eastern Carrot salad (side margin of p224) was easy to prepare, and I got to use one of my favourite kitchen gadgets - the mortar and pestle. All I did was roast a handful of cumin seeds, and then crushed them with some garlic and a good quality salt. I then added some extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice. In the meantime, I sliced the carrots and cooked them in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Then I drained the carrots, tossed them into the dressing, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste and threw in a handful of chopped coriander. The recipe also called for roasted pepitas on top, but I just used raw ones. I enjoy the flavour of those anyway, so I thought I didn't want to burn them and run the risk of them turning rancid!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Crab balls and Asian Salad with Soy and Tamarind dressing

crab balls

I initially thought that we wouldn't start this blog until I was already on the other side of the world, but once I set it up I was itching to get going.

While we still don't have our flights booked or visas approved, we think dday is in about one month! With this in mind, I have been happily emptying the pantry and trying to use up our stockpile of ingredients. Tucked away in the pantry I found 3 cans of crabmeat. I'm not sure that this is the kind of crab that Stephanie had in mind, but I was willing to give it a go. The original recipe makes 4 crab cakes coated in the breadcrumbs, but I had a bit of trouble shaping the mixture into patties so crab balls it became.

The meal itself was light and refreshing for a hot summer night, but substantial enough to fill me up. The crab balls were golden and crunchy, with a slightly bitter taste to the crumb from the butter. They had a strong crab flavour, which I think was more to do with the canned crab than anything else. The salad was fresh and crunchy and contrasted nicely with the softness of the crab balls.

Crab Balls (Printable Recipe)
adapted from Stephanie's Crab Cakes, pg 360
Makes 16 balls, enough for 2 for a light, summer dinner

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We Love Our Lamb

Well I thought I'd try my hand at this blog thing too. This is our first attempt (joint or otherwise) at creating a blog, so while we're still on the same continent, we'll try to tweak any bugs.

So why the obsession with Stephanie? We have often been caught out talking about her like she's a good friend of ours, only to have to explain to unsuspecting friends that actually, it's a cooking bible written by a wonderful Australian chef who works with lots of fresh, local produce. We have both owned this book for years, and some of our favourite dishes have come from The Cook's Companion. I remember buying Mum one of the first editions years and years ago.

Why do we love it so much? Well it's pretty simple, actually. Aside from the informative introductions for each section, it really is like a bible, or a dictionary. If I have ever been given lots of, say, lemons, I would just thumb through the lemon section and have a look at the many recipes where I could use this core ingredient. There are just so many useful tips in this book, and if I was only allowed to have one cookbook, this would definitely be my all-rounder.

The purpose of this blog is to try and keep the two of us sane while we are nearly 17,000 km apart. This is probably the biggest challenge, considering we have lived 5.7 km from each other for the past two years.