Friday, 12 December 2014

Boiled Fruit Cake

I make this Fruit cake every Christmas and today it was time to make it again. 

It's easy and delicious. 

Ingredients:

1kg mixed dried fruit
250g butter, chopped coarsely
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup sherry or 50ml bottle of Queen Brandy Essence combined with 200ml water
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind
4 eggs, beaten lightly
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup self-raising flour
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1/2 cup pecans
3/4 cup macadamias


Method:

1. Line deep 22cm- round cake pan with 3 thicknesses of baking paper, extending paper 5cm above side.



2. Combine fruit, butter, sugar, 3/4 sherry or brandy essence mixture and water in a large saucepan; stir over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar dissolved. Bring to the boil.


 3. Remove from heat; transfer to a large bowl; cool


4. Preheat oven to 150 C (130 C fan-forced)

5. Stir in orange rind.


6. Stir in beaten eggs
7. Then add sifted dry ingredients.







8.  Spread the mixture into the pan.
9.  Decorate the top with nuts.

10.  Bake for 3 hours. Brush hot cake with remaining sherry; cover with foil; cool in pan overnight.

Cheers,

Toni

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Fresh Pasta


You may remember my post on making homemade gnocchi? Well this weekend Livvy and I tried our hand at making fresh spaghetti.



I had actually bought the pasta machine from Aldi three years ago for only $10.00 but its remained in its box, until now, mostly because I did not have the bench space in my old kitchen to tackle such a messy task.




It was a fun way to spend a Saturday night with the family and we all pitched in!




There's always a taste tester in the family!

and someone who likes to stir.


You can find my recipe for an authentic tomato sauce here.


  

Of course washing down an Italian feast with a good red is always imperative!

   
And if I do say so myself, we did a damn good job!


We simply followed a recipe from Taste.com and it was delicious and not too difficult! Below is the one we followed.


       Ingredients
  • 2 2/3 cups (400g) Italian '00' flour or high-grade flour, plus extra, for dusting4 (59g each) eggs, at room temperature.
    Method.

    Place flour in a mound on a work surface. Make a large well in the centre, then break eggs into it. Using a fork, gently beat eggs, while, with your other hand, secure the walls of the well. Continue stirring with the fork, drawing in flour until mixture is very thick, then, using your hands, work in remaining flour.
    Once flour is incorporated, knead the dough (it should be firm and not sticky) for 5 minutes or until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.
    Divide dough into 6 pieces. Flatten 1 piece with your hand until 3mm thick. Dust lightly with flour. For machine-rolled pasta, set your pasta machine to its widest setting, then feed the dough through 4-5 times, folding it in half each time and turning it 90 degrees until it is smooth and the width of the machine. Repeat feeding the dough through, without folding, narrowing the settings on your machine, 1 notch at a time (the highest number being the thinnest setting), until you reach the second last setting, then place pasta sheet on a flour dusted work surface. Repeat with remaining dough. 
    For machine-cut pasta, drape pasta lengths for 10 minutes or until slightly dry. Feed dough lengths, 1 at a time, through cutting attachment on your pasta machine, then scatter lightly with flour and place on a tray.
    Bring a large (5-6 litres) saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add pasta, stir once and cook until al dente*, then drain. Serve immediately with favourite sauce.

    Cheers!G.x

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Slow Roast Tomatoes

Yesterday I went to Newcastle's Farmers Markets and bought these beautiful tomatoes.
I also bought some sour dough bread and plenty of pumpkin to make soup.


I decided to Slow Roast the Tomatoes for dinner.
Firstly I halved the tomatoes horizontally and placed them skin down on a baking tray. I added a few slices of garlic to each tomato and sprinkled with brown sugar. Next I drizzled the tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and put into a slow oven.

After about an hour in the oven the tomatoes are soft and lightly charred. Set aside to cool.

The next thing to do would be to sprinkle with basil, but I didn't have any, so I grated Parmesan cheese over the top.

Toast some sour dough and place tomato on top.

 Smash the tomato onto the toast.

It is a perfect accompaniment for the soup. I promise there won't be any leftovers!

Enjoy,

xToni

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Homemade Gnocchi

I love teaching my daughter how to cook. Especially the recipes I was brought up on as a child growing up in an Italian family. Homemade Gnocchi was one of my favourites. Last weekend,  Livvy had one of her friends stay over and with the cold weather upon us, the scene was set for a cook off!

Ingredients
3/4 cup of good quality plain flour.
1 kg of Desiree potatoes
I teaspoon salt
2 egg yokes

Method
Boil potatoes with their skin on until soft. Use a skewer to pierce the potatoes to check if they are ready.
Allow them to cool. Peel the skins off and then press the potatoes through a sieve.

In a bowl add the flour, salt and yokes and turn the potatoes through the mixture.
Onto a floured bench fold and gently knead the mixture. If the mixture feels sticky add sprinkles of flour while kneading until it feels smooth.

Cut the dough into quarters and roll the dough into long sausages about 2 cm in diameter. Cut the sausage into approximately 1-2 cm in length and place onto a floured tray. Use a fork to press lightly onto each gnocchi leaving shallow lines or alternatively lightly press small indents into each one with your finger. This allows the sauce to stick to the gnocchi. 


Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and in about 3 batches gently place the gnocchi into the water to cook. As soon as the gnocchi floats to the surface it is ready. Remove the gnocchi and spoon on your favourite Italian sauce and sprinkle generous amounts of Parmesan cheese on the top.
                                        
This recipe feeds about 6.

Giulia x

Monday, 28 July 2014

Baked Rice Pudding

Last weekend I made this delicious Baked Rice Pudding, based on Donna Hay's Recipe.


I'll share her recipe with you, then give you the changes I made.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup arborio rice
1 Litre milk
1 vanilla bean, spilt and seeds scraped
2 tablespoons caster sugar
4 pieces lemon peel
20g butter, chopped
1 tablespoon caster sugar (extra)
double thick cream, to serve

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees
2. Place the rice in the base of a 7 cup- capacity shallow overproof dish.
3. Combine the milk, vanilla bean and seeds, sugar and lemon peel, pour over rice and stir to combine.
4. Cover with Aluminium foil and place on a baking try.
5. Bake for 1 hour, remove the foil and stir.
6. Bake, uncovered, for a further 30 minutes.
7. Top with the butter, sprinkle with extra sugar and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top is golden.
8. Serve with cream


I do a couple of things differently.
Firstly, I don't include the lemon peel, just a personal thing because we like ours sweet. At the end of the cooking process, I stir in cream through the pudding and then serve with  extra cream. 
I think that stirring the cream through the pudding before serving makes the recipe even more decadent. 
Finally, I always double the recipe because I have some big eaters in my family!

xToni

*Recipe from Here

Friday, 25 July 2014

Shepherd's Pie

Over the last few days I've had a couple of extra mouths to feed, so I decided to make an old favourite of mine, Shepherd's Pie.
source
There are quite a few versions of Shepherd's Pie, but I like the traditional recipe the best. The recipe I use is fromTaste.com.au

 Because I like to have leftovers, I always double the quantities and 
I like to garnish the pie with grated cheese.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 brown onion, halved, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, trimmed, finely chopped
500g lamb mince
2 tablespoons plain flour
500ml (2 cups) beef stock
1 dried bay leaf
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
salt & freshly ground black pepper 
4 (about 200g each) Desiree potatoes, peeled, chopped
40g butter
125ml (1/2 cup) milk
Melted butter

Method:

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring for 5 minutes until soft.

2. Add lamb mince and cook, stirring to break up lumps for 5 minutes or until lamb browns.

3. Add the flour and cook stirring for 2 minutes or until combined.

4. Add stock, bay leaf, worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or until sauce thickens. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

5. Meanwhile: Cook potatoes in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 15 minutes or until tender (I steamed mine). Drain well. Mash with butter and milk until smooth. Taste and season.

6. Preheat oven to 200oC. Spoon lamb mixture into a 2L capacity ovenproof dish (obviously because I doubled the recipe I used a larger dish). Top with mashed potato and use a fork to spread over lamb mixture, Brush with butter (this is where I sprinkled the top with grated cheese).

7. Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until mashed potato is golden brown. Serve immediately.


I serve mine with corn and peas, but you could steam any vegetables to accompany this dish.

This is such a delicious recipe to have during the cold weather and the best thing is that any leftovers taste even better the next day!

xToni

* Recipe adapted from here

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Creamy Cheesecake


This recipe, given to me from a good friend, is by far the most delicious cheesecake I have ever tasted. Its light, creamy and the lemon zest in the mixture gives the cheesecake a gorgeous citrus taste sensation that is to die for!

Ingredients
250g scotch finger biscuits crushed
126g butter melted
500g cream cheese
1 cup condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon rind
1 cup of cream whipped
Extra cream 
Nutmeg

Method
1. Lightly grease springform tin. 
2. Blend biscuit crumbs and melted butter.
3. Press mixture firmly with the back of a spoon into the base and sides of the tin. 
4. Chill shell.
5. Allow cream cheese to soften to room temperature. 
6.Beat the cream cheese until smooth. 
7.Add condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon rind to the cream cheese and beat until smooth. 
8.Carefully fold in the whipped cream. 
9.Pour into the prepared crumb crust and chill overnight. 
10.Serve with whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg and your choice of fruit. 

I love passionfruit on the top of the cheesecake, but any fruit compliments this delicious recipe.

That's it! Yummy yummy!
Giulia.x

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Affogato

A really easy dessert for any dinner party is Affogato. Its deconstructed assembly on a plate, requires no cooking which is a bonus if you have other courses that are complicated or time consuming.

Ingredients
Short black espresso coffee.(good quality)
A good quality vanilla bean ice-cream
A shot of Frangelico liqueur
A small slice of Italian cake or biscuit.

My version of affogato

Arrange each of the components on a plate in individual glasses. You can be creative in your presentation. The idea is that your guests mix each of the elements in a combination of their choosing. It's a light, interesting and fun dessert thats a taste sensation.

            
 Other examples of arrangements from google images.
Giulia.x

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Pure Corn Shot Canapé

Now that the weather is cooling down, you may be interested in serving this delicious soup as a canapé for guests. It can be made the day before and is served in a shot glass or even in a short black coffee cup served with a crouton balanced across the top of the cup. It looks and tastes divine!

Serves 6 portions
Ingredients

  • 6 large very fresh cobs of corn. The better quality the corn, the better the soup!
  • 1 peeled eschallot, halved.
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Sea salt to taste
Equipment

  • Large stockpot
  • Large pot
  • Bar blender
  • Sieve
Method
1. Strip the kernels from corn cob and set aside in the fridge covered.
2. Put stripped cobs in a stockpot with 3 litres of cold water with one half of the eschallot (whole) and half the clove of garlic (whole).
3. Bring corn stock to the boil and skim any bubbles from the top, then reduce the heat to a simmer for 2 hours. Strain out cobs and allow to rest at room temperature.
4. Dice the remaining half of the eschallot and garlic and gently sauté in a new pot on low- medium heat, do not let it go brown. Add the corn kernels and sauté for a further 2 minutes stirring continuously. Add in strained corn stock, bring back to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
5. Ladle the corn soup into a bar blender, you may not need all the stock to get the right consistency in the soup. The ratio will be about 70% corn and the rest stock. Blend until extremely smooth and then pass the soup through a sieve.

It looks lovely served with a crouton, bread or cracker balanced across the cup.
Giulia.x

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Prawns Wrapped in Prosciutto



A great way to serve prawns as finger food at any gathering is to wrap each peeled prawn with a strip of prosciutto and then skewer each prawn through the centre. (Leave the tails on). 


Place them on a hot barbecue plate for 2-3 minutes on each side. Once both sides have been seared and cooked through, squeeze generously with lemon and serve. 




They taste delicious and look great too! 
Bon appetite!
Giulia. X

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