Friday, September 28, 2012

diy gelato and hello xmas menu!

Whenever we get away for a break we don't always have internet access or even a t.v. It's kinda weird not knowing what's happening in this crazy world of ours; if only for a few days!

One of the first things I do on Holidays, after I have re-aquainted myself with my husband and let said husband know that if he doesn't spend some quality time with our children the holiday is over! I head to the nearest Vinnies in search of old foodie magazines. I've collected a few over the years. My favourite, Gourmet Traveller. I just love them! They always inspire me; sometimes leading me to other ideas or cuisines. By the time we get to take a holiday both my husband and I are usually exhausted and I've almost always lost my enthusiasm for cooking - especially those last few days when I was making 3 different dinners in one night!'s a long story.

Holidays are my time to find a comfy spot under a tree, a sunny day and a few magazines to re-ignite me! One of the 3 issues I picked up during the break was the 2005 Christmas issue and you wouldn't believe it except that I am telling you right now - I have worked out the menu forthis years Christmas Lunch!! Yay!

So, this Christmas I am using KISS as my theme - Keep it simple stupid! For starters I am going to serve King Prawns with a fresh lemon pesto - easy; for main I am going to serve chicken.  My brother in law doesn't eat red meat and he's not a huge fan of seafood which leaves me with pork or chicken. So then I had an idea! Usually I'm slaving away in a hot kitchen creating a Roast with all the trimmings in 40C heat. Not this year people. This Christmas I've decided on Schnitzel. Now, just hear me out first before you start thinking it's going to be like the dodgy deep fried you may find at a leagues club. I'm thinking a parmesan crusted schnitzel each piece about the size of your palm, crumbed the night before, quickly pan fried and set aside as I'm getting the entree together. Then placed over a simple Ceasar Salad with some crusty garlic toasted bread. See, Simple : 0

Ok, so Dessert is the big finale! The thing we all hang around for at the end. Usually, at our place, it's a sad fruit platter that one family member (who shall remain nameless) has pre-cut that morning and then driven over an hour with fruit platter flying around the back seat to our house. Then we try for a while to fit the fruit platter in our tiny fridge but there's allready enough food in there to feed the whole extended family and anyone who happens to walk past our house......for  the next year; so then it just stays out on the kitchen bench which is slightly hotter then the sun until the end of the day when we finally eat what the ants have left us.

Back to the Dessert! Did you catch "The Living Room" on t.v the other week? We just happen to flick the channel when Miguel was blitzing some frozen strawberries, strawberry jam, a fully scraped vanilla bean and some cream - Wa-La.....Instant Gelato! This totally blew my mind!! Can you believe it? No stirring over a hot stove until the sugar melts; no need for an expensive icecream maker and there wasn't a sugar thermometer in sight! I knew I had to try this. Back to our holiday, a few pages later I had 2 ideas that I really wanted to try (2 ideas that will become the dessert component of my xmas menu) - Watermelon and Rosewater Gelato and Pineapple and Passionfruit Gelato  - here's the recipe for the doesn't get easier then this!

Pineapple and Passionfruit Gelato


1 ripe pineapple
1 small tin of passionfruit or at least 5 - 10 fresh passionfruit, depending on their juice content
1 tin of light or full fat organic coconut cream (you will only need 3 heaped teaspoon fulls)


Chop ripe pineapple  into small pieces (as you want them to blitz easily in your machine) the night before and place in a zip lock bag in the freeezer - you should have about 500g. Separate seeds from passionfruit pulp. Keep seeds in a zip lock bag in the fridge (you can use them as garnish if you like)  You should have at least 1/2 cup of pulp. Pop this is a zip lock bag in the freezer. Keep the tin of coconut cream in the fridge. When you are ready to serve, blitz everything together and dollop into your gelato cup of choice. Serve! Decorate with the passionfruit seeds or without or even add a few pieces of some reserved frozen or room temperature pineapple to garnish. The possibilities are really endless!

I'm ready Christmas!.....Bring it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

dreaming of paris

I can't quite remember where my desire to go to France came from. Whether it was my love of Art or pain au chocolat's! When I think about it I really can't recall where the idea started and why. The interior of my home is not overly french and I don't really eat french food; I think the most french thing I've eaten in a while is a croissant! I've travelled a little but I've not been to France as yet......but I dream of flying into Paris and going straight to a boulangerie and downing a croque monsieur!
 Many years ago, before I met my husband, an ex-boyfriend of mine was going to France with his brother and his brother's new wife. I asked him if he could buy me something from France. I remember at the time I had no idea what to ask for so I just said, " Anything French". He brought me back the Picasso mug you can see in the 3rd pic. I fell in love with it. I was so proud of this gorgeous mug.... It was  my small piece of Paris! and I have had it on show in every place that I have lived.
A few months back my Mother-in-law announced she was taking a trip to France. (It was to be just before the Tour de France, which was a double whammy for us as my husband is a bike guy!) I said the same thing to her as I'd said to my ex-boyfriend, "Bring me back anything French" and she did! She bought this beautifully simple silver bangle and had my name engraved on it and she found herself in an old antique place she saw the old soup ladel in the 2nd pic and thought of me! Gotta love French enamel!!

I also love looking through French stores on Etsy....places like French Find and Magalerie are always filled with beautiful, beautiful things!
Vintage photos Bordeaux, A booklet with small photos from Bordeaux, France by French Find

Titled: Eiffel Tower Paris by Magalerie

a girl can dream...............but if anyone has a spare ticket.....I'm there!
: )

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Spring Boats

It's here! It's here! Spring! hooray for everybody! We've been out in the garden pulling out the weeds, mulching everything within an inch of it's life and finally bringing the pool back to life; pumping it with 1000ml of algae killer - CLEAR!. The place is finally starting to sparkle again after a very long and very dull Winter. I love this time of year. Sure, the magpies manage to swoop only me in a crowd of people and the August winds love to blow every little bit of debri from the air into our pool, including a lonely sock ( if you're missing one, we've got it!) otherwise, Spring is all good!

Spring Boats - serves 4 as a snack or serve as nibbles - makes 12


12 chat potatoes (try and buy thin longish ones)
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

1 x 160g (4 x 40g) mini tubs philadelphia cream cheese (either plain or I love the sweet chilli one with this dish)

200g Asparagus
1/2 red capsicum
1/4 cup baby rocket leaves
1/4 cup coriander leaves
lemon juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper

How to make your Spring Boats

Pre heat oven to 240C. Pop the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water adding salt and bring to the boil. Boil for 15 mins. Drain well and place on a baking tray with baking paper and using a heavy spoon press down. Not too hard as you want them to hold together but squash them a bit so that you can pop the toppings on. Now drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and bake for 25 mins.

Bring a small pot of water to the boil. When ready pop in the spears for a few minutes and then drain and refresh under cold water. Chop into 2cm lengths. ( You could also char grill the aspargus if you prefer) Dice capsicum. Chop up the baby rocket leaves and the coriander leaves roughly.

When the potatoes are ready take them out and leave to cool for a minute or 2. Meanwhile, dress the salad with the lemon juice and salt and pepper. Place potatoes on your serving dish, top with the cream cheese of your choice and then top with the salad and serve!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

how i met your father - spring lamb and lemon broccoli pie with minted pea puree

It's Father's Day tomorrow and I am well prepared....for a change ;-) Pancakes for breakfast, Banitsa for lunch and this pie for dinner - plus a gift or 4 in between!

Most people, when asked how they met their partner, will usually say,"Actually, it's a funny story...." Well, ours is a little funny-ha ha but more lucky, I think. A few years passed before we actually met face to face but it's always the getting there that's the interesting part.

After HighSchool I decided to do a Bachelor of Arts in Communication ( I think I wanted to be a writer of some kind....?) and was thrown into a group of great individuals from all walks of life. One person in my year who I was a little in awe of (she was an incredible photographer) was in love with all things American. One day her and I were working on a project in an editing suite. Anyway, next door she overheard this American accent and nearly jumped out of her chair to go speak to them. His name was Jasper and he was actually Swedish but had lived in America for a short time. My friend quickly lost interest but I ended becomming good friends with Jasper and we would often catch up for lunch or we'd go grab a coffee or a beer! He lived in an apartment with  a young guy who was doing his HSC. Attached to the Apartment was a house  where the Mother of the young guy lived. Whenever she was out of town, it was party time! It was at those party's that I would often hear about the young guy's older brother who was living and working in Ireland. So after 4 years, 3 boyfriends, a tattoo and a trip overseas later I turned up to another party. This time I was on my own. I walked into the apartment and realised that I didn't know anyone in the room. I could feel a set of eyes burning into my back and I turned around - it was my future husband  - not that I thought that in that moment!  He was sitting between two girls but I gave him a smile anyway, turned back around and then went on to find my friends. I ended up sleeping over the night, next door in the main house. Jasper told me that Rob (the older brother) was in the bedroom opposite me and that a few other people were crashing on the couch. The next morning I was up early, I found some breakfast and then being the neat freak that I am..... I cleaned the kitchen. yep.... and.....  mopped the floor.....I know! who does that, right?  After I finished I went into the bathroom to find some toothpaste. Rob appeared at  the door and asked in a gruff voice, "Did you clean the Kitchen?" Thinking I was in trouble I answered with equal gruffness, "So?". He smiled and said, "Wow, you can come back whenever you like"......the rest as they say is history.


1 onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1 stick celery, finely sliced
1 carrot, finely sliced
salt and pepper

500g lamb shoulder cubed
1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets (approx. 200G)
1 teaspoon lemon zest and splash of lemon juice
40g butter
18g plain flour
1 cup milk


600g orange sweet potato,(chop into 2cm cubes, boiled until tender, approx. 20 mins from cold water till done).
Dash of milk Mash 
30g  butter
30g parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

3 sheets of shortcrust pastry

To serve on the side

1 and a half cups of  frozen peas
A few mint leaves

How to make your spring lamb and lemon broccoli pie with minted pea puree

For this dish you need to have everything ready to go. Pre-heat oven to 200C and have your baking dish(es) ready to go. Spray with olive oil spray. set aside. Get your sweet potatoes on. When they are ready, drain well and add the butter, parmesan cheese and the dash of milk and mash. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large frypan add some oil over a medium heat. Saute the onion, garlic, carrot and celery until soft. Place in a bowl. Add the lamb in 2 stages, turning and cooking through. Start the roux.  Take out the pastry from the freezer! Place the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat. When melted add the flour and stir to a paste. Slowly add the milk and the keep strring. Don't stop! It should take approx. 5 minutes to thicken. When your meat is done add it to the cooked vegetables and set aside to cool slightly. When the roux is done, set it aside to cool slightly. You should have your sweet potato ready too. Now pop your broccoli in a microwave safe dish with the lemon juice and lemon zest and microwave for 4 minutes (850 watt microwave) Now add everything to the roux and add salt and pepper to taste.

Place your pastry in your desired dish(es) Add filling and top with sweet potato mash. Bake for approx. 30 minutes depending on your choice of dish. Just keep an eye on it.

Just before serving pop the frozen peas in a plastic container with a splash of water and cook with an 850 watt microwave for 4 minutes 40secs. drain, add the mint leaves and puree with a stick blender just before serving. season with salt and pepper.

To serve you can have the minted pea puree on the side or pop a bit on the top of the pie. Delicious!
Happy Father's Day Rob and yes, I am still cleaning your kitchen!