Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ricotta Cream

Sweetened and whipped low-fat ricotta cheese is a good substitute for cream as a topping for desserts such as fresh or poached fruits, sweet pancakes or a slice of cheesecake. Recipe serves 4-5.

Ingredients:

8 ounce (250 g) tub smooth low-fat ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon sugar (or sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
2. Whisk with an electric beater until the mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Refrigerate until required, and serve cold.

Tip: Ricotta cheese is noted for its sweet 'eggy' flavor. It is excellent as a sweet filling, and as a savory filling for pasta such as cannelloni.

Easy Strawberry Tea Bread


Fresh strawberries give this light and fruity tea bread the subtle taste of summer. Recipe makes 1 loaf.

Ingredients:

6 1/2 ounces (200 g) strawberries, hulled
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups self-rising (raising) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces (175 g) polyunsaturated margarine spread
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 large eggs
8 teaspoons marmalade

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 2 pound (1 kg) loaf tin and line with non-stick baking paper.
2. Put the hulled strawberries into a food processor or blender with the lemon juice. Mix for 30 seconds, or until the fruit is just pureed. Alternatively, put the berries and lemon juice into a mixing bowl and mash with a fork.
3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add the margarine, sugar, eggs and marmalade. Beat well with a wooden spoon to a smooth, soft consistency. Lightly stir in the strawberry puree with a metal spoon or plastic spatula, being careful not to beat the mixture.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for 1 hour, or until a warm skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
5. Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Slice and serve plain or with strawberry, or any other berry conserve.

Tip: Make sure the strawberries are ripe and juicy as under-ripe strawberries have less flavor and sweetness. For a stronger strawberry flavor, add 8 teaspoons of strawberry conserve at Step 3.

Cucumber and Tomato Salsa

This fresh and spicy cucumber and tomato salsa is delicious served with chicken, poached or grilled fish, or with homemade pita chips. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 small cucumber, peeled and finely diced
2 medium tomatoes, finely diced
1 small Spanish (red) onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
1 small red chili (seeds discarded), chopped finely
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method:

1. In a bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, coriander and chili together.
2. Pour the lemon juice over.
3. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 1/2-1 hour.
4. Stir the salsa before serving.

Variation: Substitute 1/2 small capsicum, diced, for the hot chili; or add 1-2 tablespoons of corn kernels.

Tip: To peel one tomato, remove the core and slash the skin vertically in three or four places. Place the tomato on a microwave-safe roasting rack, and cook on High (100%) for 45 seconds. Allow to stand to cool slightly (1-2 minutes), then peel.

Cauliflower and Pepper Pickles


Made from fresh whole cauliflower, onions and red pepper, these quick and easy to make spicy vegetable pickles will keep for a year if stored in a cool, dark place. Recipe makes about 4 cups.

Ingredients:

1 medium cauliflower
2 medium onions
1 medium red pepper (capsicum)
1 tablespoon coarse cooking salt
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon seeded mustard
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/4 cup white vinegar, extra

Method:

1. Cut cauliflower into small florets, chop onions and pepper into similar sized pieces. Place all vegetables in large bowl, sprinkle with salt, mix well, cover, stand overnight.
2. Next day, rinse well under cold water; drain well. Combine vinegar, sugar, allspice, cloves and bay leaves in large pan, bring to boil, add vegetables, cover, simmer about 20 minutes or until vegetables are just tender; stir occasionally.
3. Blend remaining ingredients in bowl with extra vinegar, stir into vegetable mixture, stir over heat until mixture boils and thickens. Pour into hot sterilized jars; seal while hot.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Parsnip Chips

These crisp fried vegetable treats are an easy and delicious alternative to potato chips. Recipe serves 4 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

6 parsnips
Oil for frying

Method:

1. Peel parsnips or scrub and leave skins on. Cut as for thin chips.
2. Heat oil in a saucepan or deep fryer until very hot, but not smoking.
3. Carefully immerse parsnips in the oil and cook until golden.
4. Remove with a slotted spoon or tongs and drain on absorbent paper. Serve hot.

Macadamia Nut Cookies


These favorite bush nuts add richness and crunch to these easy to make cookies. Recipe makes 30 cookies.

Ingredients:

4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
4 teaspoons coffee and chicory essence
1 1/4 cups self-rising (raising) flour
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease 2 large baking trays with melted butter.
2. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and creamy in texture.
3. Add the macadamia nuts and coffee and chicory essence and stir to combine. Sift the flour and ginger over the mixture; mix well until evenly combined.
4. Roll the mixture into pieces the size of a walnut with clean cold hands. Place the pieces 2 inches (5 cm) apart on prepared trays. Press each piece down with the tines of a fork to flatten into a neat round.
5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden. Stand the baking trays on wire cooling racks for a few minutes until the cookies are firm, then transfer them to the rack with a palette knife, to cool completely.

Tip: Store macadamia nuts in the refrigerator to keep them fresh. Their oil content will turn stale and rancid if the nuts are stored at room temperature.

Pork, Rice and Lentil Salad

This high-protein salad is easy to make, and you cook it in just one pot, so there is hardly any cleaning up. Recipe serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

3 cups water
1 cup dried lentils, sorted and rinsed
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 strips lemon zest, 2 inches (2 cm) long by 1/4 inch (5 mm) wide
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
1 cup frozen green peas
6 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
4 ounces (125 g) cooked pork, cut into thin strips
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method:

1. In a large saucepan, bring the water to the boil. Add the lentils, garlic and lemon zest. Cover and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add the rice, cover and simmer for 17 minutes, stirring occasionally with a fork. Add the peas, cover and simmer for a further 3 minutes or until the rice, lentils and peas are tender.
2. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the radishes, pork and lemon juice. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Will keep, refrigerated, for 2 days.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bocconcini, Tomato and Pesto Sandwich


If you prefer, you can substitute low-fat mozzarella cheese for the bocconcini and roasted red pepper (capsicum) for the sun-dried tomatoes in this delicious Italian-style sandwich. Recipe makes 4 sandwiches.

Ingredients:

For the Pesto:
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
For the Sandwich:
2 loaves (10 inch/25 cm long) French or Italian bread, preferably wholemeal
4 ounces (125 g) sun-dried tomatoes, blanched and patted dry on paper towels
8 ounces (250 g) bocconcini or low-fat mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

Method:

1. To prepare the pesto, combine the basil, garlic, oil and pepper in a food processor or blender. Blend for about 40 seconds or until smooth.
2. Cut each bread loaf in half horizontally. Spread each bottom slice with half of the pesto; top with half of the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Cover with the top slice of the load and cut in half.

Caramelized Sweet Potato

These rich and crunchy sweet potatoes will soon become one of the family's favorite side dishes. Recipe serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound (750 g) white sweet potato
1 ounce (30 g) butter
3 ounces (90 g) brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Method:

1. Peel potatoes and boil in water until almost cooked. Drain and cut into quarters.
2. Melt butter in a large fry pan. Add sweet potatoes and sprinkle with the sugar and orange zest. Coat the potatoes and cook for about 7 minutes. In this time the sugar should dissolve and melt and form a crunchy coating over the potatoes.
3. Transfer to a serving dish and serve.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Green Pepper and Spring Onion Spread

Bursting with vitamin C, peppers (capsicum) have crunchy, moist flesh that makes them an ideal raw component in spreads. Recipe makes 1 1/4 cups.

Ingredients:

2 spring onions, sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper (capsicum)
1 cup Creamy Yogurt Spread or thick Greek yogurt
Black pepper to taste

Method:

1. In a small bowl, mix together the spring onions, pepper and yogurt spread. Stir in the pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Spicy Red Pepper Variation: Substitute 1/4 cup red pepper for the green capsicum and 2 drops Tabasco or chili sauce, or to taste, for the black pepper.

Chinese Cabbage with Ham


This easy Chinese vegetable stir-fry is perfect for using up leftover cooked ham. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 small leek
10 ounces (315 g) Chinese cabbage
11 ounces (345 g) cooked ham
2 cloves garlic
3/4 inch (2 cm) fresh root (green) ginger
1/4 cup sunflower or corn oil
Salt to taste
Freshly milled pepper
1 tablespoon medium sherry
2 teaspoons cornflour
1/2 cup vegetable stock
3 tablespoons soy sauce

Method:

1. Trim leek, slit length-wise and wash thoroughly under cold, running water to remove grit and mud between layers. Shake dry. Cut into thin rings.
2. Separate Chinese cabbage leaves. Wash each leaf thoroughly under cold, running water and drain. Cut leaves into thin strips, discarding stalks.
3. Cut ham into thin strips, removing any fat and gristle.
4. Crush garlic on to plate with garlic press. Peel, slice and finely chop ginger.
5. Heat oil in wok until hot, but not smoking. Add ham, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute.
6. Mix in leek and strips of Chinese cabbage leaves and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Moisten with sherry.
7. Mix cornflour with stock and soy sauce until smooth. Add to vegetables in wok. Bring to boil. Reheat until piping hot, stirring. Adjust seasoning to taste.
8. Serve straight away with rice or rice noodles.

Blueberry Muffins


These easy muffins, studded with succulent fresh berries, are best served warm. Recipe makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients:

2 cups self-rising (raising) flour
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 large eggs, beaten
8 teaspoons milk
4 ounces (125 g) blueberries

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Lightly grease 12 muffin tins or stand large paper cases on a baking tray.
2. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Rub in the butter lightly with your fingers. Stir in the sugar and lemon rind.
3. Beat the eggs and milk together, then add to the flour mixture. Mix in with a wooden spoon until combined.
4. Spoon the muffin mixture into the prepared tins or paper cases. Make a hollow in the center of each muffin with a teaspoon and carefully spoon in the blueberries.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until well risen and springy to the touch.
6. Turn out the muffins and leave to cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm.

Tip: You can use other fresh fruits in the muffins, depending on what is available. Try cherries, raspberries or blackcurrants. If using frozen fruit, thaw and drain well before using.

Artichoke Vinaigrette

Fresh artichokes are a wonderful spring-time vegetable and a real treat - especially when simply boiled and served warm with a lemon vinaigrette dressing. Recipe serves 4 as an appetizer or side dish.

Ingredients:

4 artichokes
2 lemons
1/3 cup virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper

Method:

1. Rinse artichokes well in cold water. Chop off the stalks and pop them into a pan of boiling water. Squeeze in the juice of a lemon and, for added flavor, drop in the peel as well. Put a plate on top of the artichokes to keep them under the water and boil for 40 minutes.
2. While they are cooking, make the dressing by mixing the olive oil with the mustard, pepper and the juice of the other lemon. Stir well.
3. To test if the artichokes are cooked, pierce the base with a fork. It should be soft. Leave them to drain upside down for a few minutes, then pour over the dressing.
4. To eat, pull out a leaf at a time and suck the fleshy part at the base. When you've enjoyed this experience, you'll find the succulent heart of the vegetable waiting for you. Remove the furry choke before eating the heart.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


Chunks of chocolate are scattered through this easy and delicious banana tea bread. Recipe makes 1 loaf.

Ingredients:

3 large ripe bananas
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups self-rising (raising) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 ounces unsalted butter, softened
5 ounces (150 g) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup plain chocolate chips

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a 2 pound (1 kg) loaf tin with butter; line with greaseproof or non-stick baking paper.
2. In a bowl, mash the bananas with the lemon juice and set aside. Sift the flour and baking powder together onto a sheet of greaseproof paper.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Carefully fold half the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Fold in the mashed bananas, then the remaining flour mixture and the chocolate chips. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin; spread level.
5. Bake for 1 hour, or until a warm skewer inserted in the center of the tea bread comes out clean.
6. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Turn out, remove paper and cool on a wire rack.

Tip: If you do not have any chocolate chips, make your own by chopping a dark chocolate bar into small chunky pieces.

Turkey Curry with Celery and Carrots


Unlike most curries, this quick and healthy turkey breast fillet and vegetable stir-fry takes just minutes to cook. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 medium head celery
10 ounces (315 g) small carrots
1 pound (500 g) turkey breast fillet
3 tablespoons sunflower or corn oil
Freshly milled pepper
3 teaspoons Korma or Madras curry powder
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon seedless raisins
Salt to taste

Method:

1. Separate celery into sticks, reserving leaves. Remove and discard tough outer strings from each with vegetable knife or peeler. Cut celery into very thin slices. Coarsely chop leaves.
2. Cut carrots into thin slices.
3. Skin turkey breast if necessary. Cut flesh into thin strips.
4. Heat oil in wok until hot, but not smoking. Add turkey breast strips and stir-fry briskly until they start to turn golden. Sprinkle with pepper and curry powder.
5. Add celery and carrots to wok and mix well with turkey. Moisten with soy sauce and stock. Stir in raisins. Simmer for 3 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Sprinkle with chopped celery leaves.
6. Serve with rice or vermicelli noodles.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Apple Turnovers


These canned fruit and frozen prepared puff pastry treats are very easy to make and taste yummy. Recipe makes 16 turnovers.

Ingredients:

4 sheets frozen pre-rolled butter puff pastry, thawed
Beaten egg, to glaze
Caster sugar, to sprinkle
Filling:
1 lb 10 oz (780 g) can pie apples
4 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup sultanas

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 440 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease 2 large baking trays with melted butter.
2. For the filling, mix the pie apples to a puree in a food processor or blender. In a bowl, combine the puree with cornflour, cinnamon and sultanas. Mix well.
3. Place the pastry sheets on a lightly floured work surface. Cut each sheet into quarters to make a total of sixteen smaller squares.
4. Spread the filling equally over the center of each pastry square. Take care not to overfill each square.
5. Lightly brush the edges of each pastry square with cold water, then fold each in half diagonally, to make 16 triangles. Pinch the edges together to seal, then decorate by pressing with a fork.
6. Put the turnovers on the baking trays. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown and puffed.
7. Transfer to a wire cooling rack. Serve warm sprinkled with extra caster sugar.

Tip: For homemade apple sauce, peel, core and slice 1 pound (500 g) Granny Smith cooking apples in a heavy-based pan. Add 1/4 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat; cover and stew over a medium-low heat for 15 minutes, or until soft and fluffy. Cool slightly and puree in a food processor or beat well with a fork.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Microwave Seafood Bake


A tasty and attractive casserole of rice and shellfish, with hard-boiled egg and parsley for extra color. If you are using fresh mussels, remember to scrub them well before cooking. Recipe serves 4.

Power Setting: High (100%)

Ingredients:

2 ounces (60 g) butter
1/2 onion
8 ounces (250 g) cooked long-grain rice
8 ounces (250 g) peeled shrimp (prawns)
8 ounces (250 g) shelled cooked mussels
1 cup stock
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Method:

1. Place the butter in a shallow casserole dish and cook for 1 minute to melt.
2. Peel and chop the onion. Stir into the butter and cook for 1 minute.
3. Stir in the rice, blending well. Mix the shrimp with the mussels and spoon over the rice mixture. Pour over the stock and sprinkle with the parsley. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes.
4. Serve hot garnished with sliced hard-boiled egg.

Note: The mussels should be opened in a small amount of water (or white wine) over medium-high heat, and any that refuse to open should be discarded. The liquor remaining in the pan should be included in the stock.

To freeze: Cool, cover, label and freeze.
Freezer life: 1 month.
To use: Thaw then cook for 3-4 minutes until hot.

Microwave Salmon and Lemon Burgers


In this delicious and quickly prepared lunch or dinner dish, lemon juice is combined with salmon and potato, then the mixture is shaped into patties and cooked in a browning dish. For a change, the recipe can be easily adapted to use canned tuna or mackerel. Serves 4.

Power Setting: High (100%)

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) boiled potatoes
2 tablespoons milk
1 ounce (30 g) butter
7 1/2 ounce (215 g) can of salmon
2 lemons
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
4 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons oil
Lettuce leaves

Method:

1. Mash the boiled potatoes with the milk and butter. Drain the canned salmon and discard the skin and bones. Mash the flesh and add to the potatoes.
2. Squeeze the juice from 1 of the lemons. Add to the salmon mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and bind together with 1 of the eggs.
3. Lightly beat the remaining egg. Spread the flour and the breadcrumbs on separate plates. Divide the salmon mixture into 8 portions and shape each into a flat cake. Dip first in flour, then eggs and finally coat lightly with dried breadcrumbs.
4. Preheat a browning dish for 5 minutes or according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add the oil and cook for 2 minutes. Add the fish burgers and cook for 2 minutes, turn over and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until golden and cooked.
5. Remove from the dish and arrange on a serving plate. Serve immediately, garnished with lettuce leaves and the remaining lemon, cut into wedges.

To freeze: Make as Steps 1-3. Leave to dry, then open freeze until firm. Wrap and label.
Freezer life: 1 month.
To use: Thaw then proceed as from Step 4.

Microwave Cod and Apples

An extremely quick dinner party or main meal fish casserole, easy to prepare but with sophisticated flavors and appearance. Recipe serves 4.

Power Setting: High (100%)

Ingredients:

1 3/4 pound (800 g) cod (tail or 2 fillets)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large onion
3 Granny Smith apples
2 ounces (50 g) butter
Salt and pepper
Pinch of brown sugar
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 pint (300 ml) good white wine
1 ounce (25 g) butter
2 tablespoons brandy

Method:

1. Rinse the fish under cold water and dry with absorbent kitchen paper. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and leave to stand for 15 minutes.
2. Peel and chop the onion. Wash, core and slice 2 of the apples. Place the butter in the casserole and cook for 1 minute to melt. Add the onion and apple and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste with the sugar, curry powder and flour, blending well. Cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the wine, blending well, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Place the fish on top and cook, uncovered, for 6-8 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.
4. Peel, core and slice the third apple. Preheat a browning dish for 5 minutes or according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add the butter and swirl to coat. Add the apple and cook for 2 minutes, turning over after 1 minute.
5. Remove the fish from the sauce and arrange on a warmed serving dish. Add the brandy to the sauce and pour over the fish. Garnish with the golden apple slices. Serve with rice or potatoes.

To freeze: Cook cod in its sauce to end of Step 3. Cover, label and freeze.
Freezer life: 1 month.
To use: Thaw then cook for 3-4 minutes till hot, then complete Steps 4 and 5.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Date and Fig Spread

Dates and dried figs have all the sweetness you need as a substitute for traditional sugar-laden fruit jams. Recipe makes 2 cups.

Ingredients:

1 cup seedless dates
1 cup dried figs
6 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice

Method:

1. Chop fruit finely.
2. Add to bowl, pour juice over, cover and soak overnight.
3. Spoon into blender or food processor and blend for approximately 2 minutes until smooth.
4. Store, covered, in a jar in refrigerator.

Beef Fillet with Bean Sprouts


Strips of beef combine with fresh bean sprouts and spinach in this quick and easy stir-fry. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) fillet of beef
1/2 teaspoon cornflour
1/4 cup sunflower or corn oil
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup soy sauce
5 ounces (155 g) fresh bean sprouts
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) fresh young spinach
Salt to taste
Freshly milled black pepper to taste
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon medium sherry

Method:

1. Cut beef fillet into very thin slices across the grain. Sprinkle with cornflour.
2. Heat oil in wok until very hot, but not smoking. Add beef, slice by slice, and stir-fry briskly until browned. Remove from wok with ladle. Drain on rack or on absorbent kitchen paper.
3. Crush garlic into bowl with garlic press. Add soy sauce and mix in meat. Cover and leave to marinate.
4. Rinse bean sprouts under cold, running water. Drain thoroughly.
5. Wash spinach thoroughly to remove grit and drain. Pull leaves off stalks.
6. Add bean sprouts to remaining oil in wok and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add spinach to wok and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Moisten with stock and sherry.
7. Add beef to wok with soy sauce and ginger mixture and mix in well. Bring to boil and cook for 1 minute. Adjust seasoning to taste.
8. Serve with mixture of brown and wild rice, cooked separately then forked together.

Fresh Strawberry Jam

You can vary this easy low-sugar preserve by using other berry fruits instead of strawberries. Recipe is suitable to microwave and makes 1 cup.

Ingredients:

8 ounces (250 g) strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 level teaspoon gelatin soaked in 1 1/2 tablespoons water
2 sachets Equal or other artificial sweetener equivalent to 4 level teaspoons sugar

Method:

1. Place strawberries in saucepan with water and lemon juice.
2. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, or microwave on High for 5 minutes.
3. Mash fruit slightly and stand for 10 minutes.
4. Dissolve gelatin according to instructions on packet, add to fruit.
5. Stir in sweetener.
6. Pour into a clean hot jar. Cover, cool and refrigerate.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Spanish-Style Microwave Hake


This easy main meal of hake fillets casseroled with a tasty combination of tomatoes, chili, peppers and garlic comes from Bilbao on the northern coast of Spain where fish are in plentiful supply. Use olive oil for an authentic Spanish taste. Recipe serves 4.

Power Setting: High (100%)

Ingredients:

2 pound (1 kg) hake fillets
2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
Salt and pepper
8 ounces (500 g) tomatoes
1 fresh green chili
2 green peppers (capsicums)
4 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 garlic cloves

Method:

1. Wash the hake and pat dry with absorbent kitchen paper. Cut into large chunks and coat lightly in seasoned flour. Blanch, peel and chop the tomatoes. Remove seeds and finely chop the chili. Remove seeds and slice the peppers.
2. Place the oil in a 3 pint (1.75 litre) casserole and cook for 2 minutes. Add the fish and cook for 2 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook for a further 1 minute. Remove from the casserole with a slotted spoon or fish slice.
3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chili, peeled and crushed garlic and peppers, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes.
4. Return the fish pieces to the casserole, cover and cook for 6-8 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Adjust the seasoning and serve immediately with crusty bread.

To freeze: Cool, turn into a rigid container, cover, label and freeze.
Freezer life: 2 months.
To use: Thaw and cook for 3-4 minutes till hot.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sweet Cheese Danish


Made from an authentic European recipe, this pastry has a delightful creamy center. Serves 8.

Ingredients:

2 cups strong white flour
Pinch of salt
1 ounce (30 g) butter, chilled and diced
6 teaspoons caster sugar
1 sachet rapid-rise dried yeast
1 egg, beaten
4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter, softened
Beaten egg, to glaze
Filling:
1/3 cup seedless raisins
6 1/2 ounces (200 g) cream cheese
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon cornflour

Method:

1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Rub the chilled butter into the flour with fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and yeast. Mix in the egg and 4-5 teaspoons lukewarm water to form a soft dough. Knead until smooth.
2. Place the dough in an oiled bowl; cover with oiled clear plastic wrap. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
3. Put the softened butter between 2 pieces of plastic wrap or greaseproof paper. Flatten with a rolling pin to a 5 inch (12.5 cm) square.
4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 10 x 8 inch (25 x 20 cm) rectangle. Put the flattened butter in the middle; fold the long sides of the dough into the center so that they overlap. Fold the top and bottom ends into the center.
5. Turn over and roll into a 10 x 8 inch (25 x 20 cm) rectangle. Repeat the folding and rolling process two more times, chilling whenever too soft to handle.
6. To make the filling, in a small bowl, mix together the raisins, cream cheese, egg yolk and cornflour. Chill until ready to use. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 440 degrees F (220 degrees C).
7. Roll out the dough to a 16 x 10 inch (40 x 25 cm) rectangle. Spread the filling down the center, leaving 2 inches (6 cm) uncovered at the top and bottom and 2 inches (6 cm) on either side. Brush the edges with beaten egg. Fold in the ends just over the filling.
8. Cut the dough into strips on both sides of the filling at 1 inch (2.5 cm) intervals. From alternate sides, fold the strips over the filling until it is covered. Trim any ragged edges.
9. Transfer to a large baking tray and brush with beaten egg. Leave to rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.

Lemon and Garlic Chickpea Spread

This versatile spread can be used as a sandwich filling or a dip. For variety as well as for extra nutrition, stir in a chopped small red pepper (capsicum) or 8 ounces (250 g) of chopped fresh English spinach. Recipe makes 3 cups.

Ingredients:

1 can (1 pound/500 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
11 ounces (320 g) frozen green peas, thawed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 drops Tabasco or chili sauce, or to taste

Method:

1. In a food processor or blender, blend the chickpeas, green peas, lemon juice, oil, cumin, garlic and Tabasco sauce for 1 minute or until pureed. Refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour before serving. Will keep, covered and refrigerated, for 2 days.

Tex-Mex Variation: Omit the garlic and Tabasco sauce and stir in 1/4 cup chopped mild green chilies and a finely chopped spring onion.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Creamy Chocolate Fudge


Sweet, creamy and chocolaty, you'll find this easy to make homemade fudge irresistible. Recipe makes about 16 squares.

Ingredients:

1/2 pint (300 ml) double cream
1 cup white sugar
2 ounces (60 g) dark cooking chocolate, grated

Method:

1. Thoroughly grease an 8 inch (20 cm) square cake tin and line the base with non-stick baking paper. Combine the cream and sugar in a heavy-based saucepan. Dissolve the sugar over a low heat, stirring occasionally.
2. Slowly bring the sugar mixture to the boil, stirring occasionally, over a medium heat, then cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (110 degrees C) on a sugar thermometer.
3. Stir in the grated chocolate until melted, then quickly pour it into the tin. Allow the mixture to cool at room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator until firm.
4. Cut the fudge into squares. Store in an airtight container. If liked, wrap the squares individually in pretty paper to give as small gifts.

Tip: A sugar thermometer is an essential piece of equipment for making confectionery. Ensure the sugar has dissolved completely before boiling the mixture. Once dissolved, boil rapidly, without stirring, to prevent the sugar crystallizing and giving the fudge a gritty texture.

Tangelo Bran Muffins


An easy and light way to start the day. Tangelo (a hybrid fruit produced by crossing a grapefruit with a tangerine) zest gives these breakfast muffins a refreshing zip. Recipe makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup tangelo juice
1 cup bran cereal
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons grated tangelo zest
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sultanas
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
Pinch salt

Method:

1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate soda and salt.
3. Add to the bran mixture along with the currants and sugar. Stir until combined.
4. Spoon into greased deep muffin tins, filling 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) or until golden brown.

Chicken with Asparagus


Low in calories, this easy boneless chicken breast and vegetable stir-fry is an excellent choice for slimmers. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

8 ounces (250 g) asparagus spears
Boiling water
Salt to taste
7 ounces (220 g) snow peas
1 pound (500 g) boneless chicken breasts, skinned
Freshly milled pepper
2 teaspoons cornflour
3 spring onions or pickling onions
3 tablespoons sunflower or corn oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon medium sherry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
6 sprigs chervil or flat parsley

Method:

1. Cut woody ends off asparagus. Cut spears into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces. Cook asparagus in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water straight away to retain fresh green color.
2. Top and tail snow peas. Cut into diamond shapes.
3. Cut chicken breasts into thin strips. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer to round dish. Sprinkle with cornflour and rub well into flesh with fingers.
4. Peel and finely chop spring onions or pickling onions.
5. Heat oil in wok until hot, but not smoking. Add chicken and stir-fry briskly for 1 minute. Remove from wok. Drain on rack or absorbent kitchen paper.
6. Add spring onions, asparagus and snow peas to remaining oil in wok. Stir-fry briskly for 1-2 minutes. Add chicken, stock, sherry and soy sauce. Mix thoroughly, cover and simmer for 3 minutes. Return chicken to wok and stir in well. Adjust seasoning to taste. Flavor lightly with nutmeg. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes.
7. Wash and dry chervil or parsley. Take leaves off stalks. Mix into stir-fry.
8. Serve with boiled new potatoes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Twice the Spice Tomato Sauce

An excellent spicy sauce made with fresh or canned tomatoes that can be used with pasta or as an accompaniment to barbecued meats. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

2 pound (1 kg) fresh, juicy, peeled tomatoes, or 2 tins of whole tomatoes
2 large onions, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 or 2 small dry, chopped chilies (or a pinch of chili powder)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Chopped basil leaves
Black pepper

Method:

1. Cook sliced onion in olive oil over low heat until it becomes transparent. Stir in the chopped chilies (or the chili powder), crushed garlic, sugar, pepper, and chopped basil leaves.
2. Press peeled, fresh tomatoes, or tinned tomatoes through strainer. Add to onion mixture and simmer slowly without covering until a smooth, thick consistency is achieved.
3. Allow to cool before using or storing in glass jars.

Note: This sauce keeps well in the refrigerator.

Tricolor Pasta Salad with Cheese Dressing

You can make this easy and healthy salad a day ahead and refrigerate it to keep it cold. If the pasta absorbs too much of the dressing, stir in 1 or 2 tablespoons of water just before serving to restore the creamy texture. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

8 ounces (250 g) medium-sized tricolor pasta shells, or elbow macaroni
4 cups cauliflower florets
3 medium-sized carrots peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 medium-sized stalks celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 small yellow zucchini, halved and thinly sliced on the diagonal
For the Dressing:
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/4 teaspoons dried basil, chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
2 spring onions, including tops, sliced (optional garnish)

Method:

1. Bring a stock pot of water to the boil; add the pasta. When the water returns to the boil, add the cauliflower and carrots and cook for 4 minutes. Add the celery and cook for a further 3 minutes or until the pasta is firm-tender. Add the zucchini, remove from the heat and drain in a colander. Rinse thoroughly under cold water and transfer to a large bowl.
2. To make the dressing, blend the cottage cheese, Parmesan, apple juice, vinegar, mustard, garlic, basil and pepper in a food processor or blender until smooth. Pour the dressing over the pasta-vegetable mixture and toss to coat. Cover with plastic food wrap and chill for 4 hours. Garnish with spring onions if desired.

Dried Apricot Conserve

You can vary this easy yet delectable jam by using a dried fruit medley, dried peaches or dried pears. You can also replace the cloves with fresh or ground ginger. Recipe makes 1 cup.

Ingredients:

1 cup dried apricots
Juice of 1 orange
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
1/2 cup warm water

Method:

1. Chop apricots roughly.
2. Combine in mixing bowl with juice, spices, and water. Cover. Allow to stand for 1 hour.
3. Spoon into saucepan and cook gently for 10 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and starts to combine. Alternatively, spoon into a bowl and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Stir two to three times during cooking until mixture thickens and starts to combine.
4. Spoon into container, cover and cool.
5. Stir again, adding a little more water if necessary, then refrigerate until ready to use.

To store, cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Liquid Breakfast

For a quick, healthy breakfast when you simply don't have a moment to spare in the mornings, try this fresh fruit smoothie, which is low in both calories and fat. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

2 cups skim or low-fat milk
1 cup low-fat natural yogurt
3 ripe bananas or 1 cup fresh strawberries or unsweetened canned peaches or apricots
2 eggs (optional)
Equal or other artificial sweetener, to taste
Garnish: ground allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg


Method:

1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend well.
2. Serve at once, topped with a sprinkling of spice.

Candied Orange Tea Bread


For this simple afternoon tea loaf made with mixed fruit peel, just beat all the ingredients together and bake. Recipe makes 10-12 slices.

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
2/3 cup all-purpose (plain) wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup plain wheat meal cookies, crushed
1/2 cup mixed peel, finely chopped
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 ounces (60 g) butter or polyunsaturated margarine spread, melted
7 fl oz (200 ml) milk
1 large egg

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 340-350 degrees F (170 degrees C). Grease a 1 pound (500 g) loaf tin with melted butter and base-line with greaseproof paper.
2. Sift the flours, coriander and baking powder into a mixing bowl; add any wheat husks in the sieve to the bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and beat well with a wooden spoon for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture is evenly combined.
3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin. Level the surface. Bake for 1 hour 5 minutes, or until well risen and firm to the touch.
4. Leave in the tin, on a wire rack, until cool enough to handle. Turn out onto the rack, remove lining paper and cool completely.
5. Serve tea bread sliced and spread with butter.

Tip: Any easy way to crush the wheatmeal cookies is to put them in a food processor and mix for about 30 seconds. Alternatively, put the cookies in a clean plastic food storage bag, seal it and crush the cookies with a rolling pin. Store the loaf in an airtight container for up to a week; freeze for up to 3 months.

Garlic and Herb Sandwich Spread


Serve with herb pita bread and a variety of fresh vegetables, such as radish, snow peas, zucchini and carrots for dipping. Recipe makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Ingredients:

1 cup Creamy Yogurt Spread or thick Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil, dill, mint, parsley or a combination
Black pepper, to taste

Method:

1. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt spread, garlic, herbs and pepper until well blended. Cover with plastic food wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lamb with Peppers and Beans


This easy, classic stir-fry combination of boneless lamb fillet, fresh red and green peppers and green beans is well-laced with soy sauce and sherry. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) green beans
Boiling water
Salt to taste
2 medium red peppers (capsicums)
2 medium green peppers (capsicums)
2 medium onions
1 pound (500 g) boneless fillet or lamb
1 ounce (30 g) fresh parsley
3 tablespoons sunflower or corn oil
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon medium sherry
1/3 cup chicken stock

Method:

1. Top and tail beans and remove side strings if necessary. Cut into 1/2 inch (1 cm) pieces. Cook beans in boiling salted water for 5 minutes, keeping saucepan two-thirds covered. Drain in a colander. Refresh by rinsing under cold, running water.
2. Halve peppers. Remove inner white membranes and seeds. Cut flesh into 1/2 inch (1 cm) diamond shapes.
3. Peel and quarter onions. Cut into thin strips.
4. Using a sharp knife, cut lamb into same-sized strips as onions.
5. Wash parsley and shake dry. Coarsely chop.
6. Heat oil in wok until very hot, but not smoking. Add lamb. Stir-fry briskly for 2 minutes. Remove from wok with ladle. Drain on rack or on absorbent kitchen paper.
7. Crush garlic directly into remaining oil in wok. Add beans, peppers and onions. Stir-fry for 3 minutes.
8. Sprinkle soy sauce, sherry and stock over stir-fried ingredients. Return lamb to wok. Reheat until piping hot, stirring. Mix in parsley. Adjust seasoning to taste.
9. Serve with rice, small new potatoes or pasta.

Ham Salad Sandwich with Tangy Mustard Dressing

This highly flavored combination of ham and mustard can also be made with any leftover cooked meat or poultry. Leave out the gherkins if you are trying to keep your salt intake to a minimum. Recipe makes 2 sandwiches.

Ingredients:

1 cup diced cooked ham
1 small carrot, peeled and grated
3 tablespoons low-calorie (kilojoule) mayonnaise
2 sweet gherkins, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon bottled horseradish (optional)
4 slices pumpernickel or wholemeal bread

Method:

1. In a small bowl, combine the ham, carrot, mayonnaise, gherkins, mustard and horseradish, if desired. Spread 2 slices of the bread with half of the mixture. Top with the remaining bread and cut the sandwiches in half.

Cheese Variation: Omit the meat from the spread mixture. Place a 1 ounce (30 g) slice of tasty, low-fat cheese on 2 slices of bread and spread with half the mixture. Top with remaining bread and cut in half.

Sweet Apple Variation: Omit the mustard and the horseradish. Add half a Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced, and 1/2 tablespoon sultanas or raisins.

Vegetable and Okra Soup

This easy African soup is quite spicy. Adjust the amount of chili to suit yourself. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

1 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground chili
2 cups diced potato
1 cup cabbage cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) lengths
1 cup okra, sliced
3 tomatoes, diced
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lemon juice

Method:

1. Heat oil in a large pot and saute onion and garlic for 10 minutes. Add the thyme and chili and cook for 5 more minutes while stirring.
2. Add remaining ingredients except lemon juice. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
3. Add lemon juice. Stir and serve.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Apple and Cinnamon Muffins


Try making these spicy fruit muffins for a delicious weekend breakfast. Recipe makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients:

2 cups self-rising (raising) flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 ounces (50 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and grated
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring essence
1/3 cup seedless raisins
1/4 cup milk

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Thoroughly grease 12 muffin tins, or put 12 muffin paper cases on a baking tray.
2. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon and baking powder.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer or rotary beater. Stir in the melted butter, grated apple and vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the raisins and milk; stir until combined.
4. Using a large metal spoon, carefully fold in the flour mixture. Be careful not to over-mix. Spoon into the prepared tins or paper cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the muffins are well risen and golden brown.
5. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve while warm with orange marmalade or apricot jam.

Tip: For a more wholesome muffin, replace half the flour with wholemeal self-rising (raising) flour. These muffins will keep fresh for up to 3 days if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can freeze the muffins in sealed freezer bags for up to 3 months. To use, thaw at room temperature for 1-2 hours, or defrost in a microwave oven.

Microwave Coconut Ice

Fast, easy and full of mouth-watering flavor, coconut ice is an all-time favorite candy or sweet treat. Recipe makes about 18 squares.

Power: 100% (High)

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) icing sugar
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) butter
2 tablespoons condensed milk
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups dessicated coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
Red food coloring

Method:

1. Combine icing sugar and butter in a microwave safe bowl, cook for 1-2 minutes and then stir.
2. Add the remaining ingredients (except for the food coloring) and stir. Cook for 4 minutes then beat until the mixture thickens.
3. Line an 8 inch (20 cm) square cake tin or oblong container with foil and spoon in half the mixture.
4. Add 2-3 drops of coloring to the remaining mixture and stir to combine. Spoon over the first layer and chill to set. Cut into squares.

Tomato Flan


This savory flan made with fresh tomatoes has an authentic Italian flavor and is an impressive lunch dish or vegetarian meal. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

Pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme leave
1 teaspoon dried sweet basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) butter
2 tablespoons iced water
Filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 red peppers (capsicums), cut into thin strips
1 medium carrot, sliced
Ground black pepper
Topping:
5 ripe plum tomatoes
15 black olives, pitted and halved
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried sweet basil leaves

Method:

1. To make the pastry: Place flour, thyme, basil, salt and butter cut into cubes in a food processor. Process until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the motor running, add enough iced water for the pastry to form a ball. Cover with plastic food wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out pastry and line a 10 inch (25 cm) flan tin. Bake blind at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 15 minutes.
2. For the filling: Heat oil in a fry pan. Add the peppers, onion and black pepper. Cover and cook for 30 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool to room temperature.
3. With a slotted spoon, spoon the filling into the pie shell. Don't use any of the liquid.
4. For the topping: Halve the tomatoes, scoop out the center and slice in halves again. Arrange decoratively with the olives. Combine the garlic and oil and sprinkle over the top along with the pepper, thyme and basil.
5. Bake in a 375 degree F (190 degree C) oven for 35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Creamy Yogurt Spread

Draining natural low-fat yogurt of excess whey gives it a texture very similar to that of sour cream. Spoon it generously on baked potatoes or spicy dishes, or use it to make low-calorie (kilojoule) dips and sandwich fillings. Recipe makes 2-3 cups.

Ingredients:

2 pound (1 kg) natural low-fat yogurt

Method:

1. Line a large sieve with 4 layers of dampened cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl. Spoon the yogurt into the sieve, cover and chill for at least 3 hours or up to 12 hours. (The longer it drains, the thicker it becomes.) The yogurt will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.

Chive or Dill Variation: Add 1/4 cup chopped, fresh chives or dill, and 1 clove crushed garlic to the Creamy Yogurt Spread. Mix well.

Sweet Variation: Add 1 mango, peeled, stoned and pureed, 2 tablespoons honey and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon to the Creamy Yogurt Spread. Mix well. Serve with a platter of freshly cut fruit.

Spicy Spaghetti Squash


Simply boiled or steamed squash tends to be rather bland. However, the addition of spices to this easy dish make it a very flavorsome vegetable side. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 pound (500 g) spaghetti squash
2 medium carrots
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 teaspoons (prepared) freshly crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons finely chopped chili
Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Cook squash in boiling water until tender. Drain and when cool scoop flesh out with a fork. It should be like spaghetti stands. Slice carrots in fine strips.
2. Heat the oil in a fry pan. Add garlic and chilies and cook for 30 seconds. Add onion, coriander and cumin. Cook until onion is tender, stirring frequently.
3. Add carrot and reduce heat and cook until tender. Add spaghetti squash, mixing well until warmed through. Serve hot with rice.

Fennel and Tomato Soup


For something different to standard tomato soup try this easy, tasty soup for an appetizer or light vegetarian meal. If you make more than required, leftovers can be frozen. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

2 pound (1 kg) fennel bulbs
1 large onion, chopped roughly
2 teaspoons freshly crushed garlic
2 cans peeled tomatoes (approximately 13 1/2 ounces/400 g each)
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
2 ounces (60 g) butter
1/4 cup Pernod (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cut base and tops from the fennel, and chop. Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the fennel, onions and garlic and cook for 15 minutes or until soft. Season with salt, pepper and oregano.
2. Add tomatoes, including the liquid, and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.
3. Puree in food processor and return to pot. Add chicken stock and Pernod.
4. Serve hot with a sprinkling of grated cheese and crusty bread.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pork with Mushrooms


Look for dried cloud ear mushrooms in Asian or Oriental food shops for this simple stir-fry. Or if preferred, use other dried mushrooms instead. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 ounce (30 g) dried cloud ear mushrooms or other dried mushrooms
Boiling water
1 pound (500 g) pork fillet
Salt to taste
Freshly milled black pepper to taste
4 teaspoons cornflour
5 ounces (155 g) fresh spinach leaves
5 ounces (155 g) fresh bean sprouts
1 medium onion
1/2 ounce (15 g) fresh chives
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup sunflower or corn oil
1 tablespoon blanched almonds, cut into slivers

Method:

1. Rinse mushrooms. Put into bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for 30 minutes to soak. Tip into sieve. Rinse under cold, running water. Drain thoroughly and cut into small pieces.
2. Cut pork into 1/2 inch (1 cm) strips across the grain. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons cornflour and rub well into flesh with fingers.
3. Wash spinach leaves thoroughly to remove grit. Drain well and tear leaves into strips.
4. Rinse bean sprouts under cold, running water. Drain.
5. Peel and finely chop onion. Snip chives into small pieces with kitchen scissors.
6. Mix remaining cornflour with soy sauce, vinegar and stock in small bowl until smooth.
7. Heat oil in wok until very hot, but not smoking. Add pork. Stir-fry briskly for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Add almonds. Stir-fry with pork for further 1 minute. Remove pork and almonds from wok with ladle and drain on absorbent kitchen paper.
8. Add onion, spinach, bean sprouts and mushrooms to remaining oil in wok. Stir-fry over moderate heat for 4 minutes. Return pork and almonds to wok. Add cornflour mixture and bring to boil, stir-frying continuously. Simmer for 2 minutes over low heat. Mix in chives. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with rice or pasta.

Light Lemon Muffins


A light touch in mixing these easy citrus fruit-flavored muffins helps give a delicious result. Recipe makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients:

2 cups self-rising (raising) flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 ounces (60 g) unsalted butter
200 g natural yogurt or lemon-flavored yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup honey
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
8 teaspoons demerara sugar, to sprinkle

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin tray with melted butter.
2. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl. Stir in the brown sugar.
3. Put the butter in a saucepan and melt over a low heat. Remove from the heat and beat in the yogurt, milk, egg, honey, lemon rind and juice.
4. Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture. Stir together quickly with a fork - about 16 stirs - until just combined. Do not over mix or the muffins will be heavy.
5. Spoon the mixture evenly into the prepared muffin cups, filling each almost to the top. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until well risen and firm to the touch. Allow the muffins to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning them out onto a wire cooling rack. Serve warm or cold.

Tip: To make turning out the muffins easier, line the muffin tins with large paper muffin cases.

Sauteed Radishes

The red and white coloring of the vegetables make this a spectacular side dish. Try to select fresh, evenly sized radishes. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
24 radishes
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
Ground black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Melt butter in a fry pan. Add radishes and mix to coat in butter. Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add sugar and vinegar and stir. Cook 5-10 minutes depending on size.
3. Season with pepper, add basil and dill. Mix and serve.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fast Microwave Fish

If you are cooking for one, using the microwave oven is an easy and superior way to prepare fish. It also has the advantage of not creating any food odors in your kitchen. Recipe serves 1.

Ingredients:

1 fish fillet (approximately 4 ounces/125 g)
1 tablespoon natural low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon dill, chopped
1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

1. Spread the fillet with yogurt, and sprinkle with dill and Parmesan cheese.
2. Place the prepared fish fillet in a small microwave-safe container.
3. Cover, and cook on High (100%) for 1 1/4 minutes.
4. Allow to stand for half a minute before serving.

Tip: To trap the moisture and baste the fish, wrap a fish fillet in a lettuce leaf before cooking.

Salmon and Cucumber Sandwich


Low in calories (kilojoules) and fat, high in the gourmet stakes, salmon and cucumber are feted by the weight-conscious. Recipe makes 4 sandwiches.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup low-fat cream cheese
3 tablespoons natural low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 can (14 ounce/440 g) salmon in water, drained
1/4 cup finely chopped red (Spanish) onion
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
2 small cucumbers (4 ounces/125 g each), peeled and thinly sliced
8 slices wholegrain bread

Method:

1. Using a food processor or an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the cheese, yogurt and lemon juice for about 1 minute or until smooth. In a medium-sized bowl, flake the salmon, then add the cheese mixture, onion and dried dill and mix well. Place half the cucumber slices on 4 bread slices and spread a generous 1/2 cup of the salmon mixture on each. Top with the remaining cucumber slices and bread.

Sardine Variation: Increase the low-fat cream cheese to 1/3 cup and the lemon juice to 2 tablespoons. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons each prepared mustard and vegetable or olive oil, then blend with the yogurt as directed. For the salmon, substitute 4 cans sardines in water (3 1/2 ounces/105 g each), mashing them well. Increase the dried dill to 3 teaspoons, then proceed as for the salmon sandwich.

Chicken with Wild Rice


Wild rice adds a delicious nutty flavor to this easy chicken stir-fry. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups wild rice
4 cups boiling water
Salt to taste
1 pound (500 g) boneless chicken breasts, skinned
1 small onion
3/4 inch (2 cm) fresh root (green) ginger
3 tablespoons snipped fresh chives
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 small cucumber
5 ounces (155 g) fresh or frozen peas
1 medium red pepper (capsicum)
2 eggs
1/4 cup sunflower or corn oil

Method:

1. Wash rice. Tip into saucepan with boiling water and salt to taste, cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes until grains split open and are tender. Drain if necessary.
2. Cut chicken breasts into thin strips. Transfer to bowl.
3. Peel and finely chop onion. Peel ginger and finely chop. Mix onion and ginger together and combine with chicken. Sprinkle mixture with chives, soy sauce and sherry. Cover and leave to marinate for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Peel cucumber, halve length-wise and remove seeds. Cut flesh into small cubes. Shell peas or thaw frozen ones. Halve pepper. Remove inner white membranes and seeds. Cut into small cubes. Beat eggs until frothy.
5. Lift chicken out of marinade with draining spoon. Heat oil in wok until hot, but not smoking. Add chicken and stir-fry briskly for 1 minute. Add prepared vegetables. Stir-fry with chicken for 2 minutes. Take all ingredients out of wok and put on to plate lined with absorbent kitchen paper. Keep warm.
6. Pour eggs into wok. Scramble lightly, stirring continuously, with chop sticks or wooden spoon. Add chicken and vegetables. Reheat for 1 minute. Moisten with soy mixture. Add rice. Continue to stir-fry for about 3 minutes until piping hot. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve straight away.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sweet White Sauce

This basic Sweet White Sauce is inexpensive to make and can be easily adapted to complement your favorite dessert. Why not try these quick and easy Orange and Lemon variations? Recipes make 1/2 pint (300 ml).

Basic Sweet White Sauce

Ingredients:

3/4 ounce (20 g) butter
3/4 ounce (20 g) flour
1/2 pint (300 ml) milk
1 tablespoon sugar
4 drops vanilla essence

Method:

1. Melt the butter, add the flour, and cook for 30 seconds to make a roux. Off the heat, stir in the milk until smooth, then return to the heat. Add sugar and vanilla. Bring to the boil and stir until thickened.

Tip: You can use cornflour instead of a roux. In a pan, mix 2 teaspoons cornflour with a little milk taken from 1/2 pint (300 ml). Stir in the remaining milk, add the sugar and vanilla, and stir until boiling and thickened.

Variations:

Orange Sauce

Infuse the milk by gently heating with the thinly pared rind of 2 oranges before straining into the roux. Just before serving add 3 tablespoons cream and 1 tablespoon Orange Flower water, available from Chemists.

Lemon Sauce

Add up to half a jar of lemon curd to the Basic Sweet White Sauce once it has thickened.

Spicy Ginger Loaf


The warming flavors of ginger and mixed spices enhance this family tea bread. Recipe serves 10-12.

Ingredients:

5 ounces (155 g) unsalted butter
1/2 cup golden syrup
1/3 cup treacle
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
5 fl oz (150 ml) milk
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup coarse oatmeal
1/4 cup stem ginger in syrup, drained and chopped

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease and line a 2 pound (1 kg) loaf tin.
2. Put the butter, golden syrup, treacle and sugar into a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until melted. Remove from the heat and add the milk. Stir in the eggs.
3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, mixed spice and cinnamon into a mixing bowl and stir in the oatmeal and chopped stem ginger.
4. Make a well/hollow in the middle of the flour mixture. Pour in the melted mixture. Beat well with the back of a wooden spoon to a smooth consistency. Pour into the tin.
5. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the loaf is risen and firm to the touch. Stand in the tin, on a wire rack, to cool for 20 minutes, then turn out onto the rack to cool completely.

Tip: The loaf may be baked in an 7 inch (18 cm) square cake tin. For a special treat, slice the loaf, spread with light cream cheese and drizzle a little honey over the surface.

Egg Salad Sandwich

Firm tofu works the magic here. Combined with egg whites and just one whole boiled egg, it makes a rich, creamy sandwich spread that is high in protein and lower in cholesterol than the usual egg salad sandwich. Recipe makes 4 sandwiches.

Ingredients:

5 ounces (155 g) firm tofu
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/4 cup water
1 large hard-boiled egg, roughly chopped
2 large hard-boiled egg whites, roughly chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup finely chopped red pepper (capsicum)
1/4 teaspoon each ground turmeric and paprika
Black pepper, to taste
8 slices wholegrain or rye bread

Method:

1. In a food processor or blender, blend the tofu, mustard and water for about 30 seconds or until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized bowl and add the egg, egg whites, onion, red capsicum, turmeric, paprika and black pepper. Toss to mix.
2. Spread each of 4 bread slices with 1/2 cup of the egg mixture. Top with the remaining slices of bread and cut in half.

Tip: For variety, you can add some finely chopped capers, finely chopped black or green olives or toasted sesame seeds, or season the spread with dried dill instead of paprika and turmeric.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Banana Chiffon Tart


The smooth light texture of this fruit tart is complemented by a lemon flavor. This dessert is best eaten on the day it is made as the bananas discolor a little on keeping. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Recipe serves 8.

Ingredients:

3 1/2 ounces (100 g) unsalted butter
8 ounce (250 g) packet ginger nut cookies (biscuits), crushed
Filling and Topping:
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons gelatin
3 bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)
1/2 pint (300 ml) fresh or thickened cream
1 egg white
1/4 cup caster sugar

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat. Remove from heat and stir in cookie crumbs. Mix until well combined.
2. Press the crumb mixture over the base and side of a round 9 inch (23 cm) pie dish. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
3. In a small saucepan, mix the lemon juice with 4 teaspoons cold water. Sprinkle the gelatin over and allow to absorb. Gently heat until the gelatin dissolves and the mixture turns clear. Remove from the heat and cool to body temperature.
4. Mix the bananas with the lemon rind in a bowl. Quickly whisk in the gelatin mixture.
5. Whip 7 fl oz (200 ml) cream until soft peaks form. Whisk the egg white in a clean polished bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Whisk in the sugar at top speed.
6. Gently fold the whipped cream and the egg white mixture into the banana mixture with a plastic spatula or balloon whisk. Pour into the cookie crumb crust and chill for 30 minutes, or until set.
7. To decorate, whip remaining cream until it forms soft peaks. Spoon over the tart.

Lentil and Coriander Soup

An easy Moroccan-style soup using coriander. This herb is used in practically all cooking in Morocco. I use Vietnamese mint when coriander is scarce. Recipe serves 6.

Ingredients:

14 ounce (450 g) shin of veal
3 1/2 ounces (100 g) lentils
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 Spanish (red) onions, peeled and coarsely grated
1/4 teaspoon each crushed black pepper and chili powder
Water
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 bunch fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
Lemon juice

Method:

1. Pour boiling water over lentils, let them soak for 15 minutes, then rinse and drain.
2. While they are soaking, put oil, veal, onion, black pepper and chili powder, in a large flameproof casserole, stirring all the time until the onion becomes transparent. Add 6 cups of water and bring to the boil.
3. Add lentils and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Top up water occasionally if necessary.
4. After an hour and 10 minutes, add potatoes and carrots. Simmer until the vegetables are tender. Stir in coriander and lemon juice and serve at once.

Tip: Never throw left-over fresh coriander away. Although a fragile herb, it can be kept in the refrigerator in a glass of water for at least a week.

Fried Fish with Rice and Mixed Vegetables


Use your favorite fresh or frozen white fish fillets for this unusual stir-fry dish. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups long-grain white rice
2 cups boiling water
Salt to taste
2 bulbs fennel
5 ounces (155 g) frozen peas
1 large onion
2 spring onions
1 1/2 pound (750 g) skinned white fish fillets, thawed if frozen
Fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons all-purpose (plain) flour
2 eggs
3 tablespoons sunflower or corn oil
2 tablespoons medium sherry
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Freshly ground pepper

Method:

1. Cook rice in boiling, salted water for 20 minutes. Keep pan tightly covered and heat moderate to prevent water boiling over.
2. While rice is cooking, cut fennel into thin strips. Tip peas on to plate. Peel and quarter onion and cut into thin slices. Trim spring onions and thinly slice.
3. Cut fish into 1 1/2 inch (3.5 cm) squares. Sprinkle with lemon juice and salt. Tip flour on to piece of non-stick baking paper. Add fish. Coat each piece thoroughly. Beat eggs in bowl until frothy. Add fish and stir until well-covered with egg. Drain on a plate.
4. Heat oil in wok until very hot, but not smoking. Add fish, piece by piece, and stir-fry until golden brown all over. Drain on rack or on absorbent kitchen paper.
5. Add onion slices to remaining oil in wok. Stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add fennel and peas and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add spring onions and stir-fry for 1 minute.
6. Sprinkle stir-fried ingredients with sherry, soy sauce and pepper. Add salt to taste. Mix in rice, drained if necessary. Top with fried fish cubes. Reheat until hot. Stir carefully, taking care not to break up fish.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Warm Tuna and Pasta Salad

Canned tuna is versatile, and adapts to many different styles of cooking. Serve this easy tuna dish with a mixed green salad for an interesting contrast. Recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

8 ounces (250 g) pasta shells
2 teaspoons oil
6 ounce (180 g) can tuna chunks in brine, well drained
6 1/2 ounces (200 g) green beans, cooked
1/2 red pepper, cut into thin strips
8 black olives
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

Method:

1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add half the oil and the pasta shells. Cook until the pasta is al dente. Drain the cooked pasta. Place in a serving dish, and toss with the rest of the oil.
2. Mix in the tuna, beans, pepper and olives, and season with black pepper.
3. Arrange the eggs on top of the salad. Serve while the pasta is still warm.

Variation: Substitute well-drained salmon for the tuna.