Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chinese Beef Stir-Fry


Oriental food is very popular. Try this authentic yet simple stir-fry. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) lean rump steak
1 small onion
3 spring onions, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) lengths
6 ounces (185 g) snow peas, stalk ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly chopped ginger
1 teaspoon freshly crushed garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1/2 cup beef stock
2 teaspoons cornflour

Method:

1. Trim steak of any excess fat. Cut steak into thin strips across the grain. Peel and cut onion into sixths, separating leaves.
2. Mix soy, sherry and beef stock with cornflour, set aside.
3. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a wok or fry pan. Add onion and spring onions and stir-fry over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add snow peas and toss over heat for further 5-7 minutes sprinkling with a little water to create steam to soften vegetables. Remove to a bowl.
4. Add remaining oil to wok or fry pan with ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Increase heat, add beef strips and stir-fry until beef changes color and is just cooked through.
5. Return vegetables to wok and toss over heat for a few seconds. Stir mixed liquids again, pour into wok contents.
6. Toss ingredients over medium heat until sauce thickens to coat meat and vegetables. Serve hot with boiled rice.

Creamy Vegetable Crown


Packed with spinach and cheese, this easy quiche makes a great meal for vegetarians. Recipe serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups wholemeal all-purpose (plain) flour
Pinch of salt
3 ounces (90 g) butter, chilled and diced
Filling:
1 ounce (30 g) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
8 ounce (250 g) packet frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
3 large eggs
1/2 pint (300 ml) fresh cream
2 ounces (50 g) Cheddar cheese, grated

Method:

1. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Gradually add 1/4 cup cold water, mixing in with a round-bladed knife, until a soft dough forms. Compress with a cold hand, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disc. Wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for 20 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out the pastry to a round and line a 9 inch (23 cm) pie dish. Trim the edge; cut 1 1/4 inch (3 cm) slits in from the edge, 1/2 inch (1 cm) apart. Fold in alternate strips to form a border or 'crown'. Prick the base with a fork. Line with
greaseproof paper and a layer of baking beans.
4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until pastry shape is set. Remove paper and beans; bake for a further 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
5. To make the filling, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, stirring frequently. Stir in the spinach, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Leave to cool.
6. Beat the eggs and cream with a balloon whisk. Stir in the spinach mixture and cheese. Pour into the pastry case. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until set.

Coconut Rice

The delicate coconut flavor makes this rice an excellent side or accompaniment to curry dishes. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

2 cups long grain rice
4 cups water
2 1/2 ounces (75 g) creamed coconut
1 medium onion, quartered
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Method:

1. Wash rice until water runs clear.
2. Place in saucepan with all ingredients. Bring to boil then reduce heat, cover saucepan and simmer 20 minutes without stirring.
3. When liquid is absorbed turn off heat and stand 5-10 minutes to tenderize rice in stored heat. Fluff with a fork and serve hot.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cream-filled Brandy Snaps


With their luscious whipped cream filling, these dainty treats will be the focal point of any afternoon tea party. They can also be served for dessert. Recipe makes 12-15 brandy snaps.

Ingredients:

2 ounces (60 g) unsalted butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
8 teaspoons golden syrup
1/2 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
150 ml fresh or thickened cream

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease two baking trays.
2. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a heavy-based saucepan and melt over a low heat. Remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl.
3. Sift the flour and ginger onto the butter mixture. Add the vanilla and mix well.
4. Spoon heaped metal teaspoonfuls of mixture onto the prepared baking trays, leaving at least 4 inches (10 cm) between each to allow room to spread.
5. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the brandy snaps are bubbling and golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 minute.
6. Loosen the brandy snaps from the baking trays with a palette knife and quickly roll round the handle of a wooden spoon. Gently twist the brandy snaps off the spoon and put on a wire cooling rack to set.
7. Before serving, whip the cream until it holds firm peaks. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large star pipe/nozzle. Pipe the cream evenly into the snaps.

Tip: If a brandy snap sets before you roll it round the spoon handle, return it to the oven for a minute to warm through.

Pea Risotto


Although not a true risotto, this dish made with fresh green peas is equally delicious. It is very tasty and easy and a complete meal in itself. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 ounce (25 g) butter
2 ounces (50 g) bacon, chopped
2 pound (1 kg) fresh peas, shelled
31 fl oz/900 ml chicken stock
12 1/2 ounces (400 g) Italian Arborio rice
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
2 ounces (60 g) Parmesan cheese, grated

Method:

1. Saute onions in butter until softened. Add bacon. Cook for a few minutes and add peas and stir.
2. Add 3 cups (26 fl oz/750 ml) stock, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add rice, parsley and remaining stock. Cover and cook over low heat until rice is tender. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Stir in half the cheese. To serve, add Parmesan cheese separately.

Golden Honey Cookies


These sweet and easy-to-make cookies have a wonderfully light, cake-like texture. Recipe makes 20-25 cookies.

Ingredients:

3 1/2 ounces (100 g) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
8 teaspoons honey
1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease two baking trays.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until light and creamy.
3. Add the egg, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and honey.
4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Gently fold into the creamed mixture using a large metal spoon.
5. Put heaped teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto the prepared baking trays, allowing room for the cookies to spread. To make decorative grooves, press the top of each cookie with the prongs of a fine fork, dipping the fork into flour to prevent the mixture from sticking.
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden, swapping over the baking trays halfway through the baking time. Cool for 2-3 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Tip: For a different flavor, add 1 teaspoon ground ginger instead of the cinnamon. For a citrus tang, add the grated rind of 1 large lemon or 2 limes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rich Chocolate Sponge Cake


Melted dark chocolate adds richness and flavor to this tempting and easy to mix cake. Recipe serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter, diced, or polyunsaturated margarine
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups self-rising (raising) flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup milk
2 ounces (50 g) dark cooking chocolate, melted
Icing sugar, to dust

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease an 7 inch (18 cm) round cake tin. Line the tin with greaseproof or baking paper.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition.
3. Sift together the flour and cocoa, then carefully fold into the creamed mixture using a large metal spoon.
4. Stir in the milk and the warm, melted chocolate, until evenly combined. Transfer the mixture to the tin. Level the surface, making a slight hollow in the center.
5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a warm skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Tips: If baking the cake in a ridged tin (as the cake in the photograph has), grease the tin thoroughly, then dust with 4 teaspoons flour, and tap out any excess. This stops the cake from sticking in the ridges and makes it easier to turn out. For a milder, sweeter-flavored chocolate cake, substitute drinking chocolate for cocoa and use milk chocolate instead of dark cooking chocolate.

Cucumber in Yogurt

This is a traditional Greek recipe which can be served as an appetizer or as a side dish to a main course. It is simple and refreshing. Recipe serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

1 telegraph or 2-3 Lebanese cucumbers
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 fl oz (200 ml) natural yogurt
1 teaspoon freshly crushed garlic
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
White pepper
1 tablespoon fresh parsley or mint, chopped

Method:

1. Peel and finely dice the cucumber. Place in a bowl and stir in salt. Leave for 15 minutes.
2. In another bowl combine the yogurt, garlic and vinegar.
3. Drain the liquid from the cucumbers then add to the yogurt mixture and stir. Season with pepper.
4. Just before serving sprinkle with parsley or mint.
5. Serve with crackers or pita bread.

Veal and Fennel Casserole

This hearty veal and fresh fennel casserole is easy to make and good for a family dinner or an informal dinner party. Delicious served with mashed potato. Recipe serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound (800 g) veal, diced
2 ounces (50 g) butter
A little flour
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon tomato puree
4 fennel bulbs
1 large carrot
2 onions, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Coat meat in the flour. Heat butter in a heavy based saucepan and brown the meat.
2. Increase the heat, add diced onion and cook for a few minutes. Add wine and cook until it has reduced to about a 1/4 cup.
3. Reduce heat, add chicken, stock, bay leaf, parsley, thyme, oregano, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, slice base from the fennel, discard outer stalks and wash. Slice. Peel and slice the carrot.
5. Add fennel and carrot. Cook for 1 hour over low heat or until the meat is tender, adding water if necessary.
6. Discard bay leaf and serve.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Date and Walnut Loaf Cake

Don't limit yourself to dates and walnuts; substitute any other dried fruit and nuts you choose. Recipe makes 10 slices.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup chopped dates
1 1/2 cups wholemeal self-rising (raising) flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons margarine
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 egg, beaten
1 cup skim milk

Method:

1. Pour boiling water over dates and let stand for 30 minutes.
2. Mix flour and spices in bowl.
3. Rub in margarine until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
4. Add sugar, dates, soaking water and walnuts to dry mixture and mix lightly.
5. Stir in egg and skim milk.
6. Place in lightly greased nut loaf tin.
7. Bake upright for 45 minutes or until cooked (see below).
8. Leave in tin for 10 minutes before turning out to cool.

Oven Temperature: 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 20 minutes, then lower to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for a further 25 minutes.

Stuffed Eggplant


A classic and easy Middle Eastern vegetarian dish. Great as a light meal or to accompany a main course. Recipe serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

3 small-medium eggplants
3 cups chopped onions
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
4-5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons freshly crushed garlic
2 cups breadcrumbs

Method:

1. Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise, sprinkle cut surface with salt. Lay face down in colander to draw for 1/2 an hour. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry.
2. Meanwhile saute onions in 1/4 cup oil until soft. Add parsley and basil.
3. Remove from pan and combine with tomatoes. Add salt to taste.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and oil a large roasting pan.
5. Heat oil and butter in fry pan. Saute garlic and breadcrumbs, stirring constantly until oil is evenly distributed and crumbs golden brown.
6. Rub eggplants with a little oil. Mound each half with vegetable mixture and top with breadcrumbs.
7. Add enough water to just cover base of roasting pan. Add eggplants. Cover with foil. Bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes until browned.

Garlic Puree

This fresh puree is a useful and tasty addition to soups, stews, sauces, salad dressings - especially bought or home-made mayonnaise - and as a relish with cold meat. The cooking takes away any acrid flavors and the puree is far less crude and bitter than the commercially-produced version. It is also delicious spread on toast under poached or scrambled eggs.

Ingredients:

About 50 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Simmer the unpeeled garlic cloves in lightly salted water for about 20 to 25 minutes, until soft. Drain and cool.
2. Peel the garlic cloves, cutting off the tough root end and any discolored patches.
3. Mash to a smooth, sticky paste with a fork.
4. Stir in the oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Pack into a glass jar and cover securely.

This puree will keep in the fridge for 4 or 5 days, and can be frozen in cubes, using an ice-cube tray reserved for this purpose.

Red Pepper (Capsicum) Soup

You need to start making this roasted red pepper soup one or two days in advance. It can be served as an appetizer but also makes a delicious complete or vegetarian meal when served with herb bread. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

4-5 large red or yellow peppers (capsicum)
2 quarts (2 litres) chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
A few drops of Tabasco sauce
4 tablespoons rice (uncooked)
1/4 bunch fresh chives
Oven bag (regular size)

Method:

1. Arrange peppers, skin side up, on foil covered baking trays. Cook under a hot grill or in the oven until skins are blistered but not blackened. Turn as necessary.
2. Place in an oven bag for 10-15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, skin. Cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) squares.
3. Bring chicken stock to the boil, add pepper, tomato paste and paprika. Season and add Tabasco sauce to taste.
4. Add rice and simmer gently for 10 minutes or until rice is tender. Cool and refrigerate for 1-2 days, or freeze until needed.
5. Warm the soup and serve with freshly snipped chives on top and herb bread.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Corn Relish

This fresh corn and vegetable relish is pleasant served with hot or cold meats or on sandwiches. However, it will only keep for 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Recipe makes 6 cups.

Ingredients:

5 cobs corn
1 1/2 cups purple onions, diced
1/2 cup green onions, diced
1/2 cup red pepper (capsicum), diced
3 cups white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Method:

1. Cut kernels from cobs, separating any sticking together.
2. Place in a saucepan and combine with remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 40 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and cool.
3. Transfer to sterile storage jars and refrigerate.

Carrot Cake


You will never buy carrot cake again after making this, the most simple and delicious of recipes. Serves 8.

Ingredients:

1 cup grated carrot
6 1/2 ounce (200 g) canned, crushed pineapple, drained of juice
1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
5 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Icing:
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces (250 g) icing sugar

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). In a bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and sugar.
2. Add eggs and oil. Mix very well. Stir in the carrot, pineapple and walnuts.
3. Pour into a baking tin lined with baking paper. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool before icing.
4. For the icing, place all ingredients in a bowl and beat well. If it is too thick, add a little milk.

Cauliflower Salad

This easy side salad can be served with an entree or with seafood or cold meat dishes as part of a main course. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower (approx. 3 pound/1.5 kg), cut into florets
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
4 eggs, hard boiled
2 ounces (60 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup green pepper (capsicum), chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Steam cauliflower until tender. Rinse immediately in cold water. Drain.
2. Slice avocados and eggs. Whisk cream cheese, mayonnaise and lemon juice together until smooth.
3. Place all other ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with mayonnaise mixture until evenly coated.
4. Serve chilled.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Quick and Easy Apricot Danish


Ready-made puffed pastry makes a quick alternative to traditional Danish pastry. For a different fruit flavored pastry, replace the apricot jam with plum jam and use 12 chopped pitted prunes in place of the dried apricots. Recipe makes 12 pastries.

Ingredients:

2 sheets frozen ready-rolled butter puffed pastry, thawed
1/3 cup apricot jam or preserve
12 plump dried apricot halves, diced
Beaten egg, to glaze
1/2 cup icing sugar

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 440 degrees F (220 degrees C). Place one pastry sheet on a lightly floured work surface; brush lightly with cold water. Place the second pastry sheet on top and roll over lightly to seal together. Roll out the layered pastry sheets to a 16 x 12 inch (40 x 30 cm) rectangle. Trim the edges with a sharp knife and cut into twelve 4 inch (10 cm) squares.
2. Mix the jam and apricots together in a small bowl. Spoon the jam mixture evenly onto the center of the pastry squares. Fold over 2 opposite pastry corners to the center. Fold the remaining corners over to the center to enclose the filling.
3. Transfer the pastries to a non-stick or greased baking tray. Brush pastries with beaten egg, avoiding cut edges. Bake for 10 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Using an egg flip, transfer the pastries to a wire cooling rack.
4. Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl. Stir in 2 teaspoons of warm water to make an icing thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.
5. Spoon the icing over the pastries while they are still warm. Leave the icing to set.

Mushroom and Herb Stuffed Chokos

When prepared in an interesting way, even the humblest fresh vegetable comes alive. This easy baked choko (also known as 'chayotes') dish, that can be enjoyed on its own as a vegetarian meal or served as a side to accompany meat, fish or chicken dishes, provides just one example. Recipe serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side.

Ingredients:

2 large chokos (approximately 1 pound/500 g each)
8 ounces (250 g) field mushrooms
2 large onions
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
Pinch ground cayenne pepper
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Wash and halve chokos lengthwise.
2. Boil some salted water and cook chokos until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, cut side down. When cool enough scoop out pulp with a spoon, leaving a thick shell (about 1/2 inch/1.5 cm). Carefully peel away the skin.
3. Dice the onions and chop the mushrooms finely. Heat butter in a fry pan and saute onions until golden. Add mushrooms, herbs, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, cooking until the mushrooms are soft.
4. Remove from heat. Cool slightly and stir in the Parmesan cheese and all but 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs.
5. Fill the choko halves with the mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs and dot with butter. Bake for 20 minutes or until browned. Serve hot.

Corn on the Cob with Savory Butters


One of the nicest ways to eat fresh corn is on the cob. Here are some flavored savory butter recipes to make it a little different.

Ingredients:

Fresh corn cob, 1 per person, steamed, boiled, microwaved or barbecued

Pepper (Capsicum) Butter

Ingredients:

4 ounces (125 g) butter
1 fresh pepper (capsicum), skin blistered, removed and finely diced
1 teaspoon dried chopped chives
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Method:

1. Have butter at room temperature. Place in a bowl and soften further with a fork.
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Spicy Butter

Ingredients:

4 ounces (125 g) butter
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly chopped chili

Method:

1. Place butter which is at room temperature, in a bowl. Soften further with a fork.
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Baked Celery with Herb Sauce


This easy celery casserole, which can be served as a vegetarian main or as a vegetable side dish, can be cooked in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator until ready. Add the breadcrumbs just before baking. Recipe serves 2 as a meal or 4-6 as a side.

Ingredients:

1 large or 2 small bunches of celery
2 teaspoons salt
2 ounces (60 g) butter
1 ounce (30 g) fresh breadcrumbs
Sauce:
1/2 cup white wine
2/3 cup thickened cream
2 teaspoons dried chopped parsley
2 teaspoons dried sweet basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried chopped chives
1/4-1/3 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Rinse celery.
2. To make sauce, combine wine and herbs in a small saucepan and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. Add stock and cream plus salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Add celery and cook for 10-15 minutes, until almost tender. Do not overcook. Drain.
4. Grease a baking dish with some of the butter. Arrange celery in the dish and pour sauce over. Cover completely with breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining butter. Bake for about 30 minutes or until browned.

Concentrated Tomato Sauce

This rich sauce can be served with pasta as it is, or with ground beef (mince) and liquid added. It is delicious poured over chicken pieces or fish steaks before baking, or used to top homemade pizza. It will also flavor soups and stews and is an excellent relish for cold meats, hamburgers and frankfurters.

Ingredients:

2 medium onions, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons tomato puree (paste)
3 tablespoons wine or water
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Fry the onions and garlic in the oil until they begin to brown. Turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until softened.
2. Add the tomato puree (paste), wine or water, oregano, paprika and sugar, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Allow the sauce to bubble for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, and serve.

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake


Cream cheese is marbled with fresh or frozen fruit in this simple crumb crust dessert. Recipe serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

8 ounce (250 g) packet sweet wholemeal biscuits, crushed
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Filling and Decoration:
2 x 8 ounce (250 g) packets cream cheese
1/4 cup plain flour
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup caster sugar
Finely grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
4 ounces (125 g) fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed and sieved
1/2 pint (300 ml) fresh or thickened cream

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line the base and side of an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form tin with non-stick baking paper. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly mix the biscuit crumbs with the butter and cinnamon. Press over the base of the prepared tin. Chill.
2. Meanwhile, make the filling. Put the cheese, flour, egg yolks and half the sugar into a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until smooth and evenly combined.
3. Put half the mixture into a separate bowl, and beat in the lemon rind and juice. Reserve 8 teaspoons of the sieved raspberries. Stir the rest into the remaining cheese mixture.
4. In a cleanly-polished mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually whisk in the remaining sugar until shiny. Fold half into the lemon cheese mixture and fold the other half into the raspberry cheese mixture.
5. Place alternate spoonfuls of mixtures on top of the crumb crust in the tin. Drag a knife through the mixtures to give a marbled effect. Bake for 45 minutes, or until just firm. Cool in the tin.
6. Whip the cream until soft peaks form, and spread over the filling. Spoon the reserved raspberry mixture over the top of the whipped cream. Drag a skewer over the surface to create a marbled pattern in the cream. Serve.

Tip: To save time, mash the raspberries with a fork instead of sieving them. This method retains the seeds, which are an excellent source of dietary fiber.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Celery and Zucchini Salad

Eaten with fresh, crusty bread this easy salad, with its crunchy celery, juicy red tomatoes and aromatic basil, makes a delicious healthy meal or snack, especially for vegetarians. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

10 ounces (300 g) celery
5 ounces (150 g) zucchini
7 ounces (200 g) tomatoes
12 kalamata olives
5 ounces (150 g) feta cheese
2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Wash the celery and cut into fine strips. Wash the zucchini and tomatoes and cut into thin slices. Place in a bowl.
2. Cut feta cheese into cubes. Add feta cheese, olives and basil to the bowl. Mix.
3. Combine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over salad and toss. Refrigerate before serving.

Blackberry and Apple Pie


This easy and traditional fruit pie uses fresh blackberries with apple slices for a delicious dessert or treat. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
3 ounces (90 g) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
4 teaspoons caster sugar
Filling:
8 ounces (250 g) blackberries
3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup white sugar
Milk, to glaze
Caster sugar, to sprinkle

Method:

1. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the caster sugar.
2. Sprinkle 1/4 cup chilled water over the mixture and, with a round-bladed knife, mix to a firm dough. If necessary, add a little more water, and compress the mixture into a firm dough with a clean cold hand.
3. On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a disc. Wrap in greaseproof paper and chill for at least 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 440 degrees F (220 degrees C).
4. Layer the prepared fruit and sugar in a 1 quart (litre) deep, round or oval pie dish. Brush the rim of the dish with cold water.
5. Roll out the dough 1 inch (2 cm) larger than the top of the pie dish. Cut a 1 inch (2 cm) strip from the edge of the dough. Fit the strip on the rim of the dish, pressing it down firmly. Brush this pastry rim with more cold water. Place the remaining pastry over the pie dish. Press around the edge to seal to the pastry rim. Trim, flake and flute edge with a knife. Make 2 steam slits at opposite edges. Use remaining pastry to decorate. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
6. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and bake for a further 25-50 minutes, until crisp and golden. Serve hot with cream or custard.

Garlic French Beans

A deliciously Gallic - as well as garlic - way of serving green French beans (also known as string-less or crawler beans) as a side dish. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) French beans
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or pressed
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Pepper to taste

Method:

1. Wash, top and tail beans.
2. Plunge into lots of boiling water and cook on rapid boil for 5-6 minutes. (They should still be crunchy but not taste raw).
3. Drain and plunge them immediately into cold water. Drain again.
4. In same pan, over low heat, stir garlic into olive oil for 30 seconds.
5. Stir in beans until they are well coated with the oil and the garlic. Season to taste and serve.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Brussel Sprouts with Maple and Walnut Vinaigrette

This is a simple way to dress up steamed fresh brussel sprouts. For those who like a slightly sweet touch to their food. Recipe serves 4 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

4 cups brussel sprouts
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup walnut oil
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Method:

1. Cut a cross in the base of each brussel sprout. Steam until tender but firm.
2. Meanwhile, whisk vinegar, maple syrup and mustard together. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
3. Toss hot brussel sprouts with walnuts and vinaigrette.

Chocolate Cup Cakes


Chocolate bits add a distinctive texture to these easy and moist morning or afternoon tea-time favorites. Recipe makes 18 cup cakes.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup light brown sugar
4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 cup self-rising (raising) flour
1/4 cup cocoa
8 teaspoons milk
3/4 cup plain chocolate bits or drops
Icing and Decoration:
1 ounce (30 g) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup cocoa
6 teaspoons milk
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
Plain chocolate bits or drops, halved or quartered, to sprinkle

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line 18 patty tins with paper or foil patty cases.
2. Put the brown sugar and butter into a mixing bowl and beat well, using an electric mixer, until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one by one, and beat well after each addition. Sift the flour and cocoa over the mixture and stir in gently using a large metal spoon. Fold in the milk and the chocolate bits.
3. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases, filling them two-thirds full.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
5. For the icing, beat together the butter, cocoa, milk and icing sugar until smooth. Spread over the top of each cup cake. Sprinkle chocolate bits over the top of each cake.

Tip: These cup cakes freeze for up to 3 months, without the icing. Coarsely chopped or grated chocolate may be folded into the cake mixture instead chocolate bits or drops.

Carrot and Apple Salad

This is an easy, light and refreshing side salad that takes no time to prepare. The amount of sugar you add to the dish (if any) will depend on the tartness of the apples. Recipe serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 cups grated apple (approximately 4 apples)
2 cups grated carrots
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons currants
Salt to taste
2-3 tablespoons sugar (optional)
Mint leaves

Method:

1. Combine the lemon and orange juice and place in a bowl.
2. Grate the apples into the juices to prevent them turning brown.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and toss.
4. Garnish with mint leaves and serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Red Cabbage with Apple and Walnuts


The tartness of the vinegar contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the apple in this easy fruit and vegetable dish and makes it perfect to serve as a side with rich meats such as pork or duck. Recipe serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

1 red cabbage
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 onions, sliced
1/2 cup oil
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup beef or chicken stock
2 apples
Grated zest of 1 orange
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 1/2 ounce (200 g) packet walnut halves

Method:

1. Halve the cabbage, discard stalk, wash and slice.
2. Place the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a large dish. Add the cabbage. Mix and soak for 1/2 hour.
3. Fry the onion in the oil in a large saucepan. Layer with cabbage. Add bay leaf, cloves, orange zest and pour stock over. Cover and cook over low heat for 2 hours. Add water if it begins to dry out.
4. Add the peeled and sliced apples and the walnuts 30 minutes before cooking is complete. Do not stir.
5. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Lamb Tagine

The tagine is an easy traditional North African dish, usually of meat (I use a boned leg of lamb) cooked with spices and sweetened with fruits or honey. Enjoy with couscous or rice. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) lean lamb (boned leg)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered cumin
Few strands saffron (optional)
1 cup veal or chicken stock
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped leek
2 ounces (50 g) almonds (lightly browned in dry pan or oven browned)
Couscous or rice to serve
Natural yogurt, pepper, paprika and almonds to garnish

Method:

1. Cut the meat into bite-sized cubes. In large pan, brown it in 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat (about 3 minutes). It is important the pan is hot enough for the lamb to brown without rendering juices and starting to stew. Remove from pan, drain and put in casserole dish.
2. In the same pan used for browning lamb, put remaining oil, reduce heat and cook onion until softened.
3. Add juice of lemon, honey, coriander, parsley, cinnamon, cumin, saffron, and stock.
4. Stir well then add carrots and leek pieces and pour mixture over lamb. Cover tightly and simmer for 2 hours in very low oven (240 degrees F/120 degrees C).
5. A few minutes before cooking is finished, stir in almonds.
6. Serve with couscous or rice, garnish with yogurt, black pepper, paprika and almonds.

Spicy Cauliflower and Potato


This tasty and easy Indian-style vegetable dish is great served as a part of an Indian meal or eaten by itself as a vegetarian main course. Recipe serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) cauliflower, cut into florets
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) dice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon freshly chopped chili
1 teaspoon freshly crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chicken stock

Method:

1. Heat oil in a wok or fry pan. Fry seeds until they begin to pop. Add chili, garlic, ginger, turmeric and ground cumin and cook for 1 minute, stirring.
2. Add potato, cook for a few minutes, then add cauliflower and water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.
3. Transfer to a serving dish. Add chicken stock to pan and cook until reduced by half. Pour over cauliflower and potato and serve.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Spaghetti with Pesto

Vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike will enjoy this easy pasta with fresh basil pesto dish as a quick lunch or dinner. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

2 ounces (60 g) fresh basil leaves, plus basil sprigs for garnish
3 tablespoons pine nuts
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons mild olive oil
12 ounces (375 g) spaghetti

Method:

1. Combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, sugar and salt in a blender or food processor. Process briefly to mix. With motor running, gradually add oil through lid or feeder tube, as when making mayonnaise. The mixture will form a thick sauce. Scrape pesto into a bowl or jug, cover and set aside.
2. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add spaghetti and cook until just tender.
3. Drain spaghetti and tip it into a heated bowl. Add pesto and toss until all the spaghetti is evenly coated. Serve at once, garnished with fresh basil.

Brussel Sprouts with Horseradish


The horseradish gives these easy, freshly-steamed vegetables a nice 'bite'. It is an excellent side dish to accompany beef. Recipe serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound (750 g) brussel sprouts
3 large carrots
3 leeks, washed
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons horseradish cream
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon dill leaf tips
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Trim outer leaves of brussel sprouts. Cut carrots into 3/4 inch (2 cm) slices and leeks into 1/2 inch (1 cm) pieces. Steam all vegetables until tender (10-12 minutes). Drain.
2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Toss well with hot vegetables and serve immediately.

Clarified Garlic Butter

This butter can be used for frying, especially potatoes, and can be brushed over pastry before baking, and over cooked buns and bagels before heating. It is also particularly good with fresh vegetables such as asparagus and artichokes.

Ingredients:

3-6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1/2 cup butter
Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Blanch the unpeeled garlic in boiling water for 1 minute, then drain and peel.
2. Slice the garlic and heat gently in the butter with a little salt and pepper for 5 minutes.
3. Skim the butter and strain it through a piece of muslin (cheesecloth) or a very fine sieve. Keep covered in the fridge until needed.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chicken with Chinese Broccoli


In many Asian dishes meat and vegetables are cooked together, as they are in this easy dish. Served with rice it forms a complete meal. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

12 1/2 ounces (400 g) Chinese broccoli
3 teaspoons freshly crushed garlic
1 chili, finely sliced
5 spring onions, finely sliced
6 ounces (180 g) chicken thigh or breast fillets, finely sliced
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/3 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons cornflour made into a paste with some water
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) oyster mushrooms

Method:

1. Wash, trim and slice broccoli.
2. Heat oil in a wok or fry pan. When it is very hot add the garlic, chili and spring onion and cook for a few minutes.
3. Reduce heat, add chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and stock and bring to the boil.
4. Add the broccoli and mushrooms and stir-fry for 3 minutes over medium heat until the broccoli has reduced in bulk.
5. Move meat and vegetables to one side and add the cornflour paste and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Serve immediately.

Layered Lamb and Potato Bake


Please the family with this easy dinner dish of cubed lamb chops and vegetable layers with a potato and baked-on tasty cheese topping. Serve with vegetables or salad, as desired. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds (750 g) lamb chump chops
1 tablespoon oil
4 ounces (125 g) mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 zucchini, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
1 cup water
1 small chicken stock cube, crumbled
3 potatoes, thinly sliced
1 ounce (30 g) butter, melted
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese

Method:

1. Remove fat and bones from chops, cut lamb into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes. Heat oil in medium saucepan, add lamb, stir over heat until lamb is browned all over.
2. Add mushrooms and zucchini to pan, stir over heat for about 2 minutes until mushrooms are soft. Stir in flour, stir over heat further minute. Remove from heat, gradually stir in combined water and stock cube, bring to the boil, reduce heat, simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until lamb is tender.
3. Spoon half the lamb mixture into 4 ovenproof dishes (1 cup capacity), top with a layer of potato slices. Repeat layers, finishing with potato slices.
4. Brush potatoes with butter, sprinkle with cheese, bake in moderate oven for about 25 minutes or until potato is lightly browned.

Orange Butter Teacake


Traditionally served at either morning or afternoon tea gatherings, this easy layered teacake with decorative fruit and cream topping also makes a spectacular dessert. Orange butter filling can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept, covered, in the refrigerator. Recipe serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

2 ounces (60 g) butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
1 cup self-rising (raising) flour
2 tablespoons chopped pecan nuts or walnuts
3/4 cup thickened cream
Icing sugar
Orange Butter Filling:
2 tablespoons custard powder
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 ounces (60 g) butter, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten

Method:

1. Grease a deep 7 inch (18 cm) round cake pan, cover base with greaseproof paper; grease paper. Cream butter and sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, add eggs 1 at a time, beat until combined.
2. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, stir in milk, then fold in sifted flour and nuts. Spread into prepared pan, bake in moderate oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Turn cake onto wire rack to cool.
3. Using a sharp knife, cut cake into 2 even layers, place 1 layer onto serving plate, spread with orange butter filling, top with remaining layer. Beat cream in small bowl with electric mixer until firm peaks form. Cover side of cake with cream and pipe remaining cream around top. Dust cake with sifted icing sugar.
Orange Butter Filling: Blend custard powder with water in a medium saucepan, add remaining ingredients, stir over medium heat for about 3 minutes (or microwave on High for about 3 minutes) or until mixture boils and thickens. Pour mixture into medium bowl, cover; cool to room temperature.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ravioli with Bacon


This easy cheese-topped fresh pasta, vegetables and bacon dish is suitable for lunch or dinner. Recipe can be made 1 day ahead; keep, covered, in refrigerator. Serves 4.

Ingredients:

8 ounces (250 g) green beans, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 red capsicum (pepper), chopped
6 bacon rashers, chopped
8 ounce (250 g) fresh ravioli
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
1 ounce (30 g) butter
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

1. Boil, steam or microwave beans, zucchini, celery and capsicum until tender. Add bacon to small frying pan, stir over medium heat until golden brown and crispy; drain on absorbent paper.
2. Add ravioli to large saucepan of boiling water, boil, uncovered, for about 12 minutes or until tender; drain.
3. Combine jelly, butter, oil and parsley in large saucepan, stir over medium heat (or microwave on High for 1 minute) until jelly is melted, add vegetables and ravioli, reheat gently. Serve sprinkled with cheese.

Creamed Cabbage

This easy side dish is simple to prepare. It can be cooked in advance and reheated at serving time. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1/4 green cabbage
1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Method:

1. Thinly slice cabbage and simmer in water for a few minutes until tender. Drain.
2. Add sour cream, caraway seeds and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley just before serving.

Fruity Cabbage Salad


This easy cabbage and carrot side dish provides a variation to the standard coleslaw with a sweet and fruity dressing rather than a creamy mayonnaise. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

4 cups cabbage
1 cup grated carrot
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 cup pineapple, cut into chunks
1/3 cup lemon or lime juice
1/3 - 1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Method:

1. Thinly slice cabbage. Place the cabbage, carrot, chives, pineapple and pine nuts in a bowl.
2. Combine juices, oil, salt, pepper. Whisk until creamy.
3. Pour over salad and mix well.
4. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pita Pockets with Satay Bean Shoot Salad

This makes a delicious snack or easy light lunch. It can also be served, without the bread, as a salad with meat or fish. For picnics: dressing and bean shoot mixture can be made ahead and stored in a snap lock bag ready to be put into pita bread at the picnic. Recipe makes 8 pita breads.

Ingredients:

8 wholemeal pita breads
2 packets mung bean shoots
10 spring onions, finely sliced
1 red pepper (capsicum), finely diced
11 ounces (350 g) white button mushrooms, finely sliced
8 ounces (250 g) redskin roasted peanuts
Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil and 3 tablespoons vinegar (mixed together to make vinaigrette)
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1-2 tablespoons satay sauce
Lemon juice to taste
Garnish:
Handful redskin peanuts
Fresh mustard cress or coriander sprigs

Method:

1. Cut pita bread in halves, crosswise. Set aside.
2. Combine bean shoots, spring onions, pepper and mushrooms in a large bowl. Toss well. Add peanuts, setting some aside for garnish.
3. Combine vinaigrette, peanut butter and satay sauce in a food processor and process well. Add extra satay sauce or lemon juice to taste.
4. Add dressing to bean shoot mixture and toss gently.
5. Fill pita bread halves with salad and serve on individual plates or a large platter. Garnish with peanuts and mustard cress or coriander.

Harvard Beets


The orange juice and vinegar dressing emphasizes the beetroot flavor in this easy and colorful vegetable side dish salad, which can be served hot or cold. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

2 pound (1 kg) beetroot, well rinsed
1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons cornflour
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
Grated zest of 2 oranges

Method:

1. Place beets in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until tender, 40-50 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool.
2. Remove skins and cut into 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) dice. There should be 4 cups. Place in a serving bowl.
3. Combine sugar, vinegar, orange juice, cornflour, salt and pepper in a saucepan. Whisk well and bring to the boil over a medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture is clear and thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
4. Whisk in the butter and zest. Cook until butter has melted. Remove from heat.
5. Pour sauce over beetroot. Toss. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Garlic Butter

Fresh garlic butter is a great topping for steaks, hamburgers, grilled (broiled) fish or chicken and is a handy shortcut to Garlic Bread. It can also be used to enrich soups, stews and sauces, and in sandwiches, makes a welcome and tasty change from plain butter.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened
3-6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Cream the butter until light and fluffy.
2. Blanch the garlic in boiling water for 1 minute, drain and peel.
3. Crush the garlic to a fine paste with a pinch of salt and gradually mix in the softened butter.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, wrap in foil and chill until needed.

Variations:

Parsley Garlic Butter: add 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley.
Herb and Garlic Butter: add 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mixed herbs.
Mustard Garlic Butter: add 1 tablespoon of mild French mustard.
Horseradish Garlic Bitter: add 1 tablespoon of grated fresh horseradish.
Chili Garlic Butter: add chili powder to taste, and 2 teaspoons of tomato puree (paste).
Tomato Garlic Butter: add 1 tablespoon of tomato puree (paste).

Mini Prosciutto Pizzas


These easy individual prosciutto and mozzarella cheese-topped pizzas on crusty bread roll or pita bread bases make great light meals or snacks. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

2 crusty bread rolls, cut in half
3 tablespoons tomato puree
8 small slices prosciutto
4 slices mozzarella cheese, 3/4 inch (5 mm) thick
2 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper (capsicum)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Spread each half roll with tomato puree. Top with two slices of prosciutto, then add cheese. Combine red pepper and parsley in a small bowl and sprinkle a quarter of mixture over each roll.
2. Arrange rolls on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese has melted. Serve at once.

Variations:

Pita pizzas: Slit small pita breads in half through the middle. Arrange on baking sheets with the soft bread uppermost. Top as suggested above or with thinly sliced tomatoes, onions and crisp fried bacon. Omit the mozzarella; sprinkle with grated Cheddar cheese instead. Bake as suggested above.

Lemon Beef Stew

Easy enough to make for a mid-week dinner, this simple one-pot, oven-baked beef stew of cubed steak, chopped vegetables and seasonings will make a big impression on family and friends. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon oil
2 pound (1 kg) beef chuck steak, cut into cubes
2 large onions, chopped
2 lemons, peeled and chopped
1 medium green capsicum (pepper), cored, seeded and cut into rings
12 1/2 ounce (425 g) can tomatoes
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Pour the oil into a shallow baking dish and add the beef and onions. Put into a preheated hot oven, 450 degrees F (230 degrees C), and cook for 30 minutes or until the beef is browned on all sides, stirring frequently.
2. Reduce the heat to moderate, 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Cover the meat with the chopped lemons and green capsicum rings. Mix together the tomatoes with their juice, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste and pour over the top. Return to the oven and cook for a further 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender. If necessary, add a little water to the dish if it seems too dry during the cooking.

Spiced Pear and Walnut Cake


Scrumptious warm or cold, this easy cake with an optional glazed fresh fruit and walnut topping makes a handsome dessert offering after a meal with friends. Serve with custard or cream. Recipe serves 10-12.

Ingredients:

6 1/2 ounces (200 g) butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream (light sour cream is fine)
1 1/2 cups self-rising (raising) flour
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
2 pears, cored and sliced (peeled or unpeeled)
Optional Topping:
1 pear, cored and sliced
6 - 8 walnut halves
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon butter
Squeeze of lemon juice

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (170 degrees C). Line a 9 inch (23 cm) spring form cake tin. Cream butter and sugar until pale. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in sour cream. Fold in the flours, spice and walnuts.
2. Spread the mixture evenly in tin. Arrange the pear slices on top and bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean (about 40 minutes). If desired, the cake can be decorated before serving with a glazed pear and walnut topping.
To make the topping: Place all the ingredients in a pan. Toss together over moderate heat until pears and nuts are glazed. Arrange mixture in the center of the cake.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Italian Beef Casserole


Budget-conscious ground beef stars in this easy dinner casserole with an authentic Italian flavor that the whole family will enjoy. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 bacon rashers, rind removed and diced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 pound (500 g) ground beef (minced)
10 ounce (300 g) can condensed tomato soup
13 1/2 ounce (425 g) can tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper
8 ounces (250 g) noodles
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion, garlic and bacon and fry until the onion is softened. Add the carrots and celery and continue frying for 3 minutes. Stir in the beef and brown well, then add the soup, tomatoes, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Cook gently for about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook the noodles in boiling salted water until tender. Drain well. Add the noodles to the beef mixture and fold together, then turn into a casserole. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Cook in a preheated moderate oven, 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). for 30 minutes.

Apple and Apricot Pie


This easy homemade dessert pie has a simple fruit filling made with quick and convenient canned apple slices and apricot halves. Delicious served with whipped cream, ice cream or custard. Recipe serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

3 cups self-rising (raising) flour, sifted
8 ounces (250 g) butter
3 tablespoons water
Fruit Filling:
14 ounce (440 g) canned apple slices, drained
14 ounce (440 g) canned apricot halves, drained
3/4 cup sultanas
2 tablespoons sugar

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place flour in a bowl, rub in butter with fingertips until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Remove one-third of mixture and set aside. Add enough water to mix to a firm dough. Roll out dough and line the base and sides of a greased and lined 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan.
2. To make filling, combine apples, apricots and sultanas in a bowl. Spoon into pastry case.
3. Mix sugar into reserved pastry crumbs and sprinkle over fruit. Bake for 10 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and bake for 20 minutes longer or until golden brown.

Pasta with Broccoli and Anchovy Sauce


The distinctive flavor of fresh broccoli combines well with that of anchovies in this easy but different pasta sauce. Recipe serves 4-6 as a light meal.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) broccoli, cut into florets
4-6 anchovy fillets, drained
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly chopped chili
Ground black pepper to taste
12 1/2 ounces (400 g) pasta of choice

Method:

1. Cook broccoli florets in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, ensuring they are still crisp.
2. In a fry pan heat the oil. Cook anchovy fillets and garlic slivers, stirring until anchovies disintegrate. Add the chili and stir. Add cooked broccoli and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and add sauce. Mix carefully and serve.

Tomato Salad

Serve this simple summer salad of ripe fresh tomatoes and chopped fresh herbs as a tasty side dish. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

6 ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Dressing:
2 fl oz/60 ml French dressing
2 fl oz/60 ml mayonnaise

Method:

1. Slice the tomatoes thinly and evenly. Arrange in concentric circles on a plate.
2. Combine the basil and vinegar in a small bowl. Spoon over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the parsley over the top.
3. Whisk the French dressing and mayonnaise together in a jug, pour over the tomatoes and serve.

Asparagus Omelet

This easy omelet made with canned asparagus spears is ideal for a quick cooked breakfast, light meal or snack. Recipe serves 1.

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon melted butter
3 drained canned asparagus spears

Method:

1. Warm an omelet pan over very low heat.
2. Lightly mix the eggs and water in a bowl. Brush the pan with butter, raise heat and pour the egg mixture into the pan. Tip the pan so that the mixture coats it evenly.
3. Gently drag the uncooked egg mixture to the center with a spatula as the omelet starts to set, allowing uncooked mixture to flow to the edges.
4. When the top of the omelet is set, place the asparagus spears across the center. Flip the outer edges over in turn to cover the asparagus. Using the spatula, slide the omelet onto a serving plate. Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Asparagus with Prosciutto and Cheese

Select evenly sized fresh asparagus spears for this easy and delicious entree. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

24 asparagus spears, lightly steamed
24 small slices prosciutto, sliced very thinly
8 thin slices melting cheese (Raclette, Fontina or Mozzarella)

Method:

1. Roll each asparagus spear in prosciutto.
2. Arrange asparagus side by side on individual ovenproof plates (6 per plate).
3. Place in moderate preheated oven (400 degrees F/200 degrees C) or under grill until cheese is completely melted. Serve immediately.

Chocolate and Banana Cupcakes


The whole family will go bananas over these moist chocolate-studded cakes. Recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups self-rising (raising) flour
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 ounces (90 g) unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
8 ounces (250 g) bananas (about 1 large standard or 2 small sugar bananas), peeled and mashed
8 teaspoons golden syrup
1/4 cup milk Choc Bits

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Thoroughly grease a 12-hole muffin tin with melted butter.
2. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, bananas and golden syrup. Stir into the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Fold in the choc bits. Spoon mixture evenly into the prepared tin.
4. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and firm. Leave to cool in the tin for 3 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Tip: To freeze, pack into plastic freezer bags, seal, label and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for 2 hours before use.

One Step Artichokes

This fresh artichoke, vegetable and herb dish is easy to prepare as well as being colorful. It is good both hot and cold and may be enjoyed as an appetizer or a side dish. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

6 whole artichokes, trimmed
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon oregano leaves
1 tablespoon sweet basil leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Place artichokes in a deep heavy pan and just cover with water. Add remaining ingredients. Cook partially covered, at a gentle boil until leaves pull away easily, about 40 minutes.
2. Transfer artichokes to a large serving platter.
3. Strain the cooking liquid and strew the vegetables and herbs over the artichokes. Serve hot or cool to room temperature.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Asparagus with Vinaigrette


A deliciously quick and easy way to serve fresh asparagus that everyone can enjoy. Serve warm or cold as an appetizer or a side dish. Recipe serves 2-4.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Finely chopped parsley and snipped fresh chives to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1 bunch asparagus

Method:

1. For the vinaigrette, measure mustard into bowl. Whisk in vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and herbs to taste.
2. Continue whisking, slowly adding oil until mixture thickens. Cover until ready to use.
3. Remove the hard, cut ends of asparagus by breaking or cutting. Nodules should be trimmed from the thick part of the spear with a vegetable peeler or knife. Steam for 5-10 minutes until tender but crisp.
4. Arrange on a plate and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Chicken Potato Salad

A classic of Turkish cuisine from the days of the Ottoman Empire, this delightfully easy chicken breast and vegetable salad has been updated using potatoes. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) potatoes
2 pints (1 litre) chicken stock
1 small onion spiked with 3 or 4 cloves
2 sprigs thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
2 chicken breast pieces, skinned
2 slices bread, crusts removed
1 small onion, grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 ounces (50 g) pecan nuts, finely chopped (or walnuts)
1 cup finely chopped parsley or basil
Few lettuce leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or macadamia nut oil)
2 teaspoons paprika

Method:

1. Wash potatoes, cut into cubes (with skins still on) and poach in chicken stock.
2. Add clove-studded onion, thyme and the chicken breasts and let the breasts poach slowly with the potatoes for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, soak bread in stock, squeeze out excess. In a bowl, crumble bread, add grated onion, garlic, nuts and herbs. Mix thoroughly adding a little chicken stock to make a smooth paste.
4. When chicken breasts are cooked, remove from stock and allow to cool. Chop finely and add to nut mixture. This process could be done in a food processor for a smoother mixture. When potatoes are cooked, remove from stock, drain and allow to cool.
5. To assemble salad, place a few lettuce leaves on a serving plate, add potato cubes and spoon over the chicken/nut mixture.
6. Heat olive oil, add paprika and heat for a minute. Drizzle this oil/paprika mixture over salad.

Tip: The stock may be used again. Simply remove the clove-studded onion and store stock in the refrigerator or deep freeze.

Raw Beetroot Salad

As the beetroot doesn't have to be cooked this is a very quick and easy salad to prepare. Recipe serves 4-6 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

4 medium beetroot, trimmed, peeled and coarsely grated
2 zucchini, coarsely grated
Coriander leaves, to garnish
Dressing:
3 tablespoons hazelnut oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1. Combine dressing ingredients and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Combine beetroot and zucchini in serving bowl. Add dressing and toss well.
3. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fresh Orange Cake


Coconut adds extra flavor and texture to this easy, quick-to-mix fruit cake. Recipe serves 10-12.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
8 ounces (250 g) polyunsaturated margarine spread
Grated rind of 3 large oranges
1 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups self-rising (raising) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Icing and Decoration:
3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
2 ounces (50 g) polyunsaturated margarine spread
4 teaspoons fresh orange juice
Orange slices and mint sprigs, to decorate

Method:

1. Put the coconut and lukewarm milk into a mixing bowl, mix well and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease and line a deep, 8 inch (20 cm) round cake tin or a deep heart-shaped tin.
3. Add the margarine, orange rind, caster sugar and eggs to the coconut-milk mixture; sift over the flour and baking powder. Beat together with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon until evenly combined.
4. Put the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1-1 1/4 hours, or until well risen and brown. The top of the cake should spring back when lightly pressed.
5. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Remove the lining paper and cool.
6. Beat together the icing sugar, margarine and orange juice until smoothly blended. Spread over the top of the cake. Decorate with orange slices and mint.

Tip: Beat the cake ingredients with a hand-held electric mixer for 1 minute or with the back of a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes. Over beating will make the cake heavy.

Green Beans and Mustard Sauce

In this fresh vegetable side dish the beans are served with a rich and creamy sauce, perfect for a special dinner party. A delicious accompaniment to beef. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) green beans
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon French mustard
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 cup cream
2 teaspoons vinegar

Method:

1. To make the sauce heat the egg yolks, mustard and butter in a double boiler over simmering water. Mix continuously until mixture is frothy.
2. Add cream and mix for 3 minutes. Add vinegar. This can be set aside at this stage and reheated over simmering water when the beans are cooked.
3. Wash and top and tail beans. Steam until tender but still crisp.
4. Pour sauce over beans and serve.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mango and Coconut Bread


Fresh mango pieces and shredded toasted coconut add sweetness and crunch to this easy homemade bread with a cake-like texture. Recipe makes 1 loaf.

Ingredients:

2 cups self-rising (raising) flour, sifted
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups shredded coconut, toasted
1 mango, roughly chopped
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a loaf tin with baking paper. Put the flour in a bowl, add the sugar, coconut and mango and stir.
2. Combine the eggs and the buttermilk, then add to the flour mixture and stir to combine.
3. Spoon mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle. Remove from the oven and stand on a wire rack to cool.

Tangy Mango Sorbet


Try serving this easy-to-make fruit puree sorbet topped with slices of fresh mango for a simple but stylish summer dessert. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

2 large ripe mangoes
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 egg whites

Method:

1. Process flesh of mangoes until smooth; you should have 1 1/2 cups puree. Combine sugar and water in saucepan, stir over heat without boiling until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes without stirring; cool.
2. Stir in mango and lemon juice, pour into slab or bar pan, cover, freeze until partly set.
3. Process egg whites and mango mixture until smooth, pour back into pan, cover, freeze until sorbet has set.