Perhaps no one noticed, but it has been a little more than a month since I visited the bloggers world, let alone post a blog myself. There were several reasons. Firstly, I was having a little bit of a morning sickness that lasted the whole day. (Yay! I’m pregnant with my second one) 🙂 Nothing too bad of a morning sickness. Just wasn’t having great appetite or interest in cooking or watching cook shows and pictures of it. It made me feel like throwing up. But I didn’t (thank God!). And then towards mid June, I went off to Malaysia (Yayy!!) but it was slightly of a bad time to go as we experienced one of the worst haze conditions in many many years. Oh well, we did have the last 3 days of our stay haze free. Either way, it was a good holiday where I got to visit family and friends and eat at my favourite places. Maybe I didn’t get to them all but I covered the important ones.
Now I am back to the land down under and it’s winter. Brrrr… Although the winter here isn’t as bad as it could be in other parts of the globe (and I should be grateful that I am lucky to get some sunshine during the winter days) but I’m just not used to the cold. You can’t blame me. I come from a tropical country. Sigh..but I suppose I’ll manage.
Food has become more fun now as I found, cooking keeps me warm. I could be imagining this or it’s just the feeling of keeping busy, I dunno. The heat from the wok or the warmth of the meal grilling in the oven is quite comforting really. This post is less of a food post. But I feel bad leaving it without one small recipe. Here is my quick and easy pizza dough recipe.
2 cups of plain flour
3/4 ~1 cup warm to hot water (but not boiling)
2~3 tablespoon olive oil
1 sachet of dry yeast (7g)
pinch of salt
Mix all dry ingredients together and finally adding the water to make a dough. I find some days I need more water than others but never needing more than 1 cup. I recommend kneading the dough with 3/4 cup of water first and add more if required.
Once you have your dough in a ball, put in a big enough bowl and cling wrap the bowl and leave the bowl at warm spot. Not necessary under the sun or in the oven. Leave it for at 30~45mins.
The dough will almost double in size. Punch the dough a few times to release the air pockets. And then roll it out onto a pizza tray. This recipe can get a you a large pizza. As for the toppings, just get creative and you can put extra cheese, extra ham, extra olives or extra everything and create a bomb of a pizza.Yum!!
It only took me 5 months before I tried churros since coming to Australia! And boy have I missed out terribly… But I’m glad I saved my first experience at this small little cafe at Subiaco called Chocolateria San Churro. The churros comes in two type of sugar dusting. The plain ol’ white sugar or cinnamon sugar. Which the latter is a super thumbs up. To compliment the churros, they had many different dips. To play it safe, I took the recommended milk chocolate and caramel. The chocolate was light and delicious but I really liked the flavours in the caramel.
All in all, I enjoyed churros. Yummm…. Now, I’ll have to learn how to make it and post it here 😉
Once in a while, I get inspired to do something creative. And when I say creative, it could just mean a good presentation and the cooking part could be the easiest task. This was one of those days. I visualized this meal before I started making it and glad that the outcome was exactly how I imagined it to be. The plus is that, it tastes just as divine. Though I’m hardly the pork chops person, I’m glad my husband enjoyed this thoroughly.
The pork chops for this dish is crumbed like they do it in Chinese restaurants in Malaysia. I was reminded of it when I watched Nigella making pork chops like this. I twisted her recipe a little by using cajun bread crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs. The cajun style bread crumbs is filled with herbs and spices that works so well.
2 pork tenderloin cutlets
cajun bread crumbs
2 cauliflower steaks (you can only get 2 steaks max from 1 whole cauliflower)
1/2 cup cream
2 cloves garlic chopped fine
Caramelize the cauliflower with olive oil and salt till both sides are cooked.
Beat an egg with salt and pepper, dunk your pork cutlets into the egg batter before rolling it on the bread crumbs. Fry the pork chops till both sides are pretty and bronze
Boil the peas in a pot till its cooked.
For the gravy; using the same pan that you cooked the pork chops, add more olive oil and saute the garlic before adding in the cream. Turn off the flame before the cream starts boiling. You can add some butter if you like.
Since I am always on a diet, It’s only natural that I venture into cooking some diet food without sacrificing too much on the flavour. And this one is my husband’s favourite. Well, I know what you are thinking, how in the world is sheperd’s pie a diet meal? Well, if you substitute the lamb for a more leaner minced meat like turkey perhaps? And substitute the potatoes for mashed cauliflower instead. Now, isn’t that guilt free? Trust me, it tastes pretty darn good too. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself!
You can make this vegetarian by replacing the meat with mushrooms and kidney beans. I’ve tried that and it works just as well.
500 g of minced turkey (if you’re not on a diet, hey! you can use lamb you know. Chicken tastes pretty good too)
5~6 cloves of garlic chopped fine
1 onion chopped
2 cups of mushrooms chopped fine
1 red bell pepper chopped fine
1 red chili chopped fine (optional)
1 can of pasta sauce (my personal fav is the Woolworth’s Arrabiatta sauce)
Ground Cayenne pepper for heat
1 whole cauliflower (you can use most of the stalk too) chopped
Grated cheddar cheese for topping
Italian herbs and parsley
Boil your cauliflower in a pot with as little water as possible. Once cauliflower is super soft and easy to mash, drain out the water completely before mashing the cauliflower with a masher and add a little salt to taste. Do not use food processor as it will make the cauliflower too mush and soggy. If you feel the cauliflower is has too much water, use a cheese cloth to squeeze out the excess water
In a separate pan, saute the garlic and onions before adding in the minced meat, peppers and mushrooms. Once the meat is cooked, add the pasta sauce, cayenne pepper and italian herbs and parsley. You can turn of the heat now.
On a casserole dish (or if you like, in ramekins) spoon in your filling to 3/4 of the dish’s height.
Top the pie with the mashed cauliflower and then top it with a good layer of grated cheddar cheese.
Now bake your shepherd’s pie in the oven at 180 deg C for 20~25 mins till the cheese is nice and brown. Serve while it’s still hot. Yum!
Tips: If your filling is watery, you will get a soggy pie. So always make sure the filling is not runny. And the cauliflower should be drained really well. It’s hard though since baking releases more moisture from the sauce and cauliflower. But do try your best.
Don’t hate me for this but once a week, I pamper myself with some delicious pancakes topped with maple syrup and fruits…you know, the works. And if the mood calls for it, I sometimes enjoy eating the pancakes with peanut butter and butter like how you would eat waffles. Aaahhh…soft and hot pancakes on a cold morning is something quite poetic.
In case you are waiting for me to share the recipe for this one, sorry to disappoint you. This is made straight out of a bottle called Green’s pancake shake. Very seldom things out of a can and packets impresses me. But this bottle of ready made pancake mix is simply yummylicious. So, why go through all the trouble of beating an egg and sifting flour to get the similar results? Haha…
Trust me, this is easy peasy. I do cheat a little. Because I use ready made puff pastry sheets. But really, it does save me a LOT of time. And in the end of the day, it’s how it tastes that really counts, doesn’t it?
You’re welcome to substitute the bacon with minced chicken or even make it without meat if you’d like that. It really is a matter of personal preference. Feel free to tweak the recipe as you like. Before you get started make sure you have a non stick muffin pan. I used a 7 x 2.5cm cup size to make this. Personally I feel if the tart is any smaller, you will not be able to savour the filling just as much. And if it’s any bigger than this, it’s no longer a “mini”. Having said that, I’m not going to judge if you make it any bigger or smaller. Maybe, bigger is better? You tell me, ok?
2~3 puff pastry sheets (1 sheet typically can make 9 tarts for a 2.5cm cup size)
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 whole garlic, chopped fine
2 cups of diced mushrooms
1~2 cups of diced bacon (or any meat of your choice)
1/2 cup of cream (if you want to skim on the cream, you can also use evaporated milk – I did!)
2 tsp of italian mixed herbs (dried)
Salt to taste
Grated cheddar cheese (as topping)
Cut your pastry sheets into 9 squares (it’s ok if your squares are not perfect. I doubt anyone would notice)
Grease your muffin pan before carefully placing your squared sheets into it and lightly molding it into a cup. The corners of the squares will be slightly out of the pan. If the corners are touching the adjacent tart, it means your squares are too big for the pan -resize!
Heat oil in the pan and start by adding garlic and fry till it’s a light golden shade. Add the mushrooms and bacon till they’re almost cooked. Add the cream, salt, mixed herbs and pepper (optional). Turn off the flame as soon as your cream starts to simmer and set your pan aside
In a separate bowl, beat your eggs with salt. The amount of salt you add should be slightly lesser than how much you would normally season it. Once it’s beaten, add in your creamy mushrooms and bacon into this bowl and mix it well
Probably a good time to turn on the oven now and preheat it at 200 degC
Scoop your creamy eggy mixture into each cup, filling it only almost full this is because filling does rise when you bake. Lastly, top the filling with grated cheddar cheese.
Once you’re done, bake your tarts at 180 degC for 25~30mins till your tarts turn golden brown (or when your kitchen is filled with the baked cheese scent). You can serve the tarts for tea as it is, or with a side of salad as an entree for dinner.