Monday, 25 May 2015

I'm still here...

This is just a short post to let you know I am still here. I have been a little naughty over the past week or two and I've been spoilt and had other people cooking me dinner :)

Last Monday we went out for dinner at the local Thai restaurant and had some amazing food. Coconut duck curry, soft shell crab salad, steamed dumplings, street food pork belly and of course pad see ew.

Tuesday we had 'Pete's Pasta' which I did make but I can't claim the recipe. It's a combination of bacon, chilli, crushed tomatoes, olives, cream, feta, parmesan and a healthy serving of pasta. It's so freakin' good!! (I might have to ask him for the proper recipe and put it in this space...)

Wednesday was dinner at my mums and we got roast lamb, potato bake and CAKE. Yes we got cake on a Wednesday... I told you we got spoilt this week.

Thursday we went to a friends place and we were meant to have 'Jools favourite Beef Stew' from Jamie Oliver for dinner but there was a pressure cooker issue so we ended up ordering pizza. Just as the boys went to pick the pizza up the cooker started to pressurise!! Which meant we got lunch for the next day... did I mention we got spoilt this week? (the stew was delicious! Thanks Kate and Pete x)

Friday I went to the movies to see Pitch Perfect 2 with my sister and got sushi train and a cheeky glass of bubbles as we always do.

Saturday I had a 'Bake Day' date with my girls Patty and Aleisha from TAFE. I love these bake days... we try and get together every month or two and all we do all day is potter around the kitchen, making sweet things we would never normally make by our selves and chat. We do a lot of chatting and laughing. This date we made 'Homemade Snickers Bars' from the blog Notwithoutsalt, Crack pie, Apple rose tarts, milk powder cake :) ... don't ask and about 5 different butter creams to test for wedding cakes. Aleisha makes beautiful cakes... you should check out her website and facebook page. She really is amazing!

I finished Saturday night with a naughty home delivery of pizza and Sunday consisted of selfies...

This week I will try and be better and actually cook and write :) but in the mean time here are a few links from my week and some photo's of the amazing Homemade Snickers we made.

Jool's favourite Beef Stew from Jamie

Pitch Perfect 2 Trailer - Very funny but think I still like the first one better.

Homemade Snickers from Notwithoutsalt blog - A-FREAKIN-MAZING!

Apple Rose Tarts - These look beautiful and will impress.

Put a Cake In It! - Aleisha's stunning cakes!

Sunday Selfies...

Homemade Snickers by Salt Sugar and I

Homemade Snickers by Salt Sugar and I

Homemade Snickers by Salt Sugar and I

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

My take on a Mexican Layered Dip.

Over the weekend it was Mothers day here, and what better way to spend the day than all together as a family, eating all afternoon until you feel like you can't fit anything else in and you have to be rolled out the door? Sounds like a perfect Sunday to me.

Mexican Layered Dip by Salt Sugar and i
Lunch was at my sister's place and I was in charge of bringing nibbles and dessert. For nibbles I made my take on a layered Mexican dip with refried beans, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheddar cheese, served with lots of salty corn chips. There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING trendy about this dip... no kale, no quinoa, no actual cooking really... and to be honest its very 90's daggy but I can't help it, I enjoy it every time. It probably isn't even Mexican at all but it's quick to make and someone always ends up wiping there finger around the dish after so I must be on to something.

I like the dip spicy so the sour cream has a contrast but you can make it mild if you don't like spice and also if you have a great guacamole recipe, use that in the guacamole layer instead!

Mexican Layered Dip by Salt Sugar and i

The only probably with this dip is finding perfectly ripe avocado's. You almost have to plan and buy commitment avocados so you know they will be buttery and mash-able in a few days time. I really really really want to buy an avocado tree but I don't think having it in a pot on the balcony would work well, plus it doesn't help that I have a black thumb not a green one.

For dessert I made a New York Cheesecake from Nigella Lawson's book 'How to be a Domestic Goddess' which I topped with strawberries and pomegranate. I also made some vanilla cupcakes for my nephews knowing they wouldn't be so crash hot on cheesecake. But I wont give too much away except ummm YUM!... post to follow shortly.

I hope every Mother felt as loved and got as spoilt just as mine did on the weekend!

Mexican Layered Dip by Salt Sugar and i

Mexican Layered Dip

Serves 4 - 10 people (depending on how much they want to share)

1 x 435g can refried beans - I use Old el Paso
1 x 200g jar hot taco sauce (you can use mild or medium if you like) - I use Old el Paso again
2 x ripe avocados
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1/2 lime, juiced (use a whole one if not very juicy)
1/2 bunch coriander leaves, roughly chopped (plus a sprinkle for the end)
pinch salt
180g sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

- In a bowl mix together the refried beans and 3 tablespoons of taco sauce until well combined, spread into the bottom of your serving dish.

- Place the avocados, finely diced red onion, lime juice, chopped coriander leaves and salt in a clean bowl and mash everything together using a fork. Spread on top of the bean layer in your serving dish. Careful you don't mix the two layers.

- Next spread the sour cream over the top of the avocado layer, then about 1/2 a cup of the taco sauce on top of that. Again being very careful not to mix the layers and make brown mucky (it'll still taste good mind you).

- Finally top it with the grated cheese and a sprinkle of coriander leaves.

- Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready then serve it alongside a large bowl of salty corn chips.

Note: this dip normally requires a spoon, or several to get all the layers on a chip.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Chicken Noodle Soup - adapted from Martha Stewart.

So my attitude towards not wanting wintery foods did a 180 pretty quickly over the rainy weekend... all I felt like was chicken noodle soup. chicken noodle soup. chicken noodle soup. chicken noodle soup... I could not get it off my mind.

I've never made chicken noodle soup before but have always thought that it was something that had to sit on the stove simmering away for hours, used a whole chicken and then be able to feed an army with the amount you made. It sounded a bit daunting to me to be honest and not a midweek dinner.

But my cravings for comfort food over came any doubt I might of had and I sought out this recipe from Martha Stewart for Chicken Noodle Soup that didn't require hours of cooking, a whole chook or feed an army AND you can have this soup on the table within the hour. I was sold.

Oh my goodness! how oh how have I never made chicken noodle soup before?? Seriously!? It is everything I ever dreamed the soup to be and better. Perfect for a cold night or if someone in your home has come down with 'man flu' or passed the 'man flu' onto you (cough cough).

I adapted the recipe slightly because I couldn't help myself and added parsley stalks, a knob of butter, a bay leaf and used parsley instead of dill because that is what I had in our herb garden and of course I added a few extra noodles.

This is a great midweek soup that doesn't take long to prepare or cook and definitely feels like you have put a whole lot of effort in. I want to try and make chicken soup using a whole chicken and home made stock this winter but will save that for a weekend of pottering about when it's too rainy to leave the house. Until then... I have found my winter saviour!

Chicken Noodle Soup

Recipe adapted - original recipe by Martha Stewart.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 knob of butter
2 sticks celery, diced small
2 medium carrots, roughly chopped into 1cm rings (or creative as you like)
1 brown onion, diced small
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
4 cups chicken stock
450g (approx.) skinless chicken breasts
220g think spaghetti (or angel-hair spaghetti or vermicelli)
small bunch parsley, chopped, stalks reserved

- Heat oil and butter in a large pot until butter is melted then add your celery, carrots and onions. Fry them on a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent and vegetables start to soften. Season with salt and pepper.

- Tie your reserved parsley stalks into a neat little parcel with some kitchen string (or you can let them wonder around but it's easier to take them out at the end it you tie them up - just don't do a Bridget Jones blue soup - google it!) and add them along with the bay leaf, stock and 4 cups of water into the pot and bring to a boil.

- Add your chicken breasts into the pot, clunk on a lid and simmer until cooked, about 10-15 minutes but it does depend on how large your chicken breasts are.

- Using tongs, remove the chicken from the pot and shred using two forks or chop it into small soup spoon sized pieces. Return it into the pan and bring everything back up to the boil.

- Add your spaghetti (or vermicelli) and cook until tender according to the packet instructions. I used thin spaghetti and it took about 10 minutes but I know other noodles don't take as long.

- Give it a taste, season with more salt and pepper (if needed) and stir in the parsley. Serve and enjoy... mmmm

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Arroz Con Pollo with Chanterelles from NotWithoutSalt.

Still on my Mexican craze and not quite ready to admit it's soup weather this week in Sydney.... I made Arroz Con Pollo with Chanterelles from NotWithoutSalt Blog. Translated to 'Rice with Chicken and fancy mushrooms'. The 'fancy mushrooms' bit I translated... I'm a little bitter at the price and lack there of in my local supermarket so button mushrooms had to do.

The first time I made (a different recipe) Arroz con Pollo about 6 years ago I burnt my mum's pan till there was a thick layer of charchol-ed blackened rice stuck to the bottom of it. When we served up we couldn't let the spoon anywhere near the base of the pan in fear of having a spoonful of bitter burnt rice for dinner. Needless to say I've never been in a rush to make this again until I saw the recipe on Ashley Rodriguez's blog with all the lovely fresh trimmings on top.

This recipe warms you up from the inside out and fills your belly just like you want on a cold night but has a freshness to it from the feta/parmesan (I'll explain further on) and coriander so it's great for people in denial that winter is coming. I mean how can you go wrong with chicken and rice right?!

It's a good midweek meal if you're having people over or have more than two mouths to feed. There is quite a bit of chopping, frying and stirring in the recipe but then all you do it wait until the rice and chicken are cooked... it's a good pottering recipe.

However the Mexican cheese stumped me. Cotija. Never heard of it. I did some googling and it came up with a Mexican cheese, crumbly like feta but also like parmesan. I had feta and I had parmesan in the fridge so I guess I had my substitute, right? Anyway... I've never tasted Cotija so I couldn't tell you if it's right or wrong. I mixed the two cheeses together and used that instead and it tasted pretty great to me and I would do it all over again. Plus it's pretty impressive bringing it to the table so it's a good one to keep up your sleeve when friends come round for dinner.

If anyone has actually tried this Mexican cheese please leave a comment below and let me know if I was on the right track by combining both those cheeses or if I have done this dish a terrible travesty?

Arrozo Con Pollo with Chanterelles

by Ashley Rodriguez from NotWithoutSalt (find original recipe here).
Serves 4

(recipe adapted slightly to incorporate what I had and could find.)

3 tomatoes, halved lengthways
6 skinless chicken thighs, boneless (if you can find them with skin on use skin on - much tastier!)
Salt and Pepper
1 medium red onion, finely diced
225g chanterelle mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used button mushrooms)
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons of dry sherry (I used white wine)
1 medium red capsicum
1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme (if you have fresh use 4 sprigs instead)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sweet pimenton de la Vera (smoked Spanish paprika - I used regular smoked paprika)
a good pinch of chilli flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup arborio rice
pinch of saffron threads
1/2 bunch coriander, roughly chopped (stalks reserved), to serve
4 spring onions, finely sliced
3/4 cup cotija (or a combination of grated parmesan and crumbled feta), to serve

- Grate the cut side of all the tomato halves using a box grater and the large holes over a bowl, discard the skins.

- Place a large pan or deep skillet over high heat until it almost starts to smoke (if you are using skinless chicken thighs add a little vegetable oil to the pan to help it along). Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium and add the chicken pieces to the pan/skillet, skin side down and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken onto a plate.

- Using the leftover fat in the pan, add the onions, mushrooms and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes until caramelised. Add the garlic and coriander stalks and cook for a further 1 minute then deglaze the pan by adding your sherry (or wine).

- Next add the capsicum and cook until they start to soften. Then add the thyme, bay leaf, paprika and chilli flakes stirring everything together well. After about 2 minuets it will start to smell fragrant, add your tomato mush and simmer until the liquid is almost all gone.

- Add the stock to the pan and bring it to a boil then add your rice and saffron. Give everything a good stir then nestle the chicken pieces into the rice.

- Turn the heat down to low, place a lid ajar and try not to stir anymore (I say try because I can never help myself). Cook for about 30-35 minutes until the chicken and rice are cooked through. Once cooked remove the bay leaf and any sprigs from the thyme if you used fresh and season with salt and pepper.

- To serve, top with spring onions, coriander leaves and cotija (or the combination of cheeses) and don't forget the hot sauce on the table for anyone who likes a bit of spice.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Chocolate Cream Pie

Lately I've had a sweet tooth. If you're a regular reader you'll probably realise that there are more savoury recipes than sweet but recently I have found my love for everything sweet again. Chocolate cream pie for two? yes please.

I first realised chocolate cream pie was actually a thing was while watching one of my all time favourite movies 'Julie and Julia'. Instantly I felt a connection with Julie Powell but to be honest had no clue who she was until I saw the movie. Once seeing the movie I went out and bought Julia Child's 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' and read Julie Powell's blog starting from the very beginning when she first started her project of cooking through the famous cookbook.

If you haven't seen this movie... shame on you. Go out and hire a copy now but make sure you watch it while eating food. Now not popcorn or ice cream food. Make yourself a feast and sit down and watch it because this movie will make you HUNGRY! I am not kidding. I always watch it with food and then have to pause it to go and find more food to eat.

The scene that really got me was when was when Julie (played by Amy Adams) makes Chocolate Cream Pie. She comes home after a horrible day at work and says...

"After a day when nothing is sure, and when I say nothing I mean, nothing, you can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. It's such a comfort."

Ever since then Chocolate Cream Pie has been on my mind. Yes I realise that this was about 5 (maybe 6) years ago and I am only making it now. But to be honest I have never found a recipe that I truly wanted to make. Yeh yeh there are probably hundreds out there and if you are from America you have probably stopped reading but Chocolate Cream Pie is not common here in Australia.  I googled recipe after recipe for one that tickled my fancy and I even downloaded a virus on my work computer by clicking on a not so trust worthy link (a story too inappropriate for this blog) and eventually gave up. Until I saw this on Bon Appetempt's youtube channel.

I was hooked again on the idea of this pie. That it can fix anything. If it can fix Julie's terrible day and also look this fun and easy to make... then why am I still only dreaming about this and haven't made it yet?

A couple of weekends ago this all changed. My world changed. I made Chocolate Cream Pie.


It was a shame that only Tristan and I were there to eat it... haha not.

Give it a go seriously. Your world will be changed as well. I don't think there are words to describe how amazing this pie is. I can't do it justice so just go out and buy the ingredients and make it. Make it after a terrible day at work, or for friends coming over for dinner or just for the one you love on a rainy night because really you don't need an excuse to make this.

Chocolate Cream Pie

Serves 10 
(or 2 incredibly greedy people for a couple of days)

Recipe found here on Amelia Morris's blog Bon Appetempt adapted from Jeanna Kelly's cookbook 'Salad for Dinner' (the only dessert recipe in the book).
(Recipe adapted into metric measurements)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole raw almonds, toasted and finely chopped
6 tablespoons raw caster sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 teaspoon table salt
85g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly


2/3 cup raw caster sugar
1/4 cup cornflour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
a pinch of table salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups milk
225g dark chocolate, chopped (I used cadbury old gold)
1 tablespoon dark rum (I didn't have any so I used 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract instead)

1 cup chilled pure cream
2 tablespoons raw caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make:

The Crust
- Preheat the oven your to 375F or 190C and butter a 9-inch pie dish. 

- Combine the flour, chopped almonds, sugar, sifted cocoa powder and salt in a medium bowl. Using a fork, stir in the melted butter until the mixture resembles moist sand. 
- Press the dough firmly and evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pie dish. 
- Bake the crust until just browned at the edges, about 11 minutes or until it starts to smell like rich chocolate. 
- Let the crust cool completely before filling it.

The Filling
- In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornflour, sifted cocoa powder and salt and whisk to combine. 

- Beat in the egg yolks then gradually whisk in the milk. 
- Whisk the filling over medium-high heat until the mixture thickens and continue to whisk and let it bubble for about 1 minute to make sure you cook the cornflour out. 
- Remove the filling from the heat and immediately stir in the chopped chocolate, whisking until the chocolate melts and the filling is smooth. Stir in the rum (or vanilla). 
- Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth the top. Place a layer of clingfilm over the top (touching the filling) to stop getting a skin. 
- Let the pie cool to room temperature and then chill the pie until cold, at least 2 hours or overnight.

The topping
- Whisk the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until firm peaks form. 

- Spread the topping over the pie, sprinkle with some extra grated dark chocolate (optional) and serve.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Plum crumble for two.

Happy Easter everyone!

This long weekend has been 4 days of being a hermit inside and lots and lots of eating. Even though the shops were closed most of the weekend it hasn't stopped me cooking and eating... as I write this there is a chocolate pie chilling in the fridge, waiting to be dressed in vanilla whipped cream (blog post to come soon). It's been a rainy weekend and all I felt like was comfort food.

Plum crumble adapted from Nigella Lawson.

At about 7 o'clock last night, I decided I wanted dessert. But on Thursday night after work when everyone was raiding the local supermarket before the long weekend like they were stocking up for a zombie apocalypse I avoided the shops. This meant I was stuck with what was in my cupboard until they reopened which was the basics of basics. 

So what do you do with fruit that is over ripe, the scrapings of the butter, some sugar, flour and oats? Make a crumble of course!!!

Plum crumble adapted from Nigella Lawson.

So rich and decadent for such simple ingredients and I got to use my new little pots.

I adapted Nigella Lawson's recipe 'Jumble-berry crumble' from Nigella Express but used plums instead of berries. There was probably an excessive amount of crumble on top for two and could have been split over 3 ramekins but it was still the long weekend so why not indulge and over eat?! (I am sure next week I will crave salad, salad and more salad).

Plum crumble adapted from Nigella Lawson.

This dessert is also great to prepare in advance for dinner guests. Just bung it in the oven about 40 minutes before you want to eat dessert. It's super simple too, all I did was cut the plums into wedges and divide them between the ramekins, mix them with 1 teaspoon of raw sugar then top with the crumble mix. You can also freeze the crumble mix in zip-lock bags (if you make too much or want to double the recipe) so you have crumble in seconds next time. You can also substitute the plums for different fruit or a combination of fruits. Apple and plum is a delicious combo!

Plum crumble adapted from Nigella Lawson.

I hope this simple but indulgent recipe satisfies your craving for comfort desserts on a rainy night in or impresses some dinner guests. Serve with some good quality vanilla ice cream and you can't go wrong!

ps. I'm pretty sure I could have bribed the zombies with this crumble and would have definitely survived the apocalypse. 

pps. Can you see it? Can you see it??? new name :)

Plum crumble adapted from Nigella Lawson.

Plum Crumble for two.

Serves 2 greedy people
(Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Express cookbook. Find original recipe here)

For the crumble:
80g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
50g unsalted butter, cold and diced
20g rolled oats
3 tablespoons of raw sugar

For the fruit:
5 small plums, cut into wedges
2 teaspoons of raw sugar

- Place the fruit into two ramekins then mix one teaspoon of sugar into each. Set aside.

- For the crumble mixture; place the flour and baking powder in a bowl and rub in the diced butter using you're finger tips until you have a lumpy sand texture. Stir in the oats and sugar until combined then divide the mixture on top of the two ramekins.

- Bake in a 180C or 350F pre-heated oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the fruit starts to bubble at the edges and golden on top.

- Serve with some good quality vanilla ice-cream. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

New York Cult Recipes - Brownies.




It's all I see.

Brownies from New York Cult Recipes

For the past few weeks every-time I came across a post about brownies I went green with envy. It wasn't fair that their little squares of chocolatey goodness aka brownies were at arms length while my brownies were still in the form of chocolate, sugar and eggs.

I had to fix this.

Brownies from New York Cult Recipes

So I made brownies and they were delicious! I had thought about using one of the many recipes online that I kept coming across but thought why not add another one to the mix? I got this recipe from the cookbook 'New York Cult recipes' by Marc Grossman. I love this book and want to make nearly everything in it although I will admit this is the only recipe I have made from it yet.

This book takes me back to my snowy 2 weeks in New York with a couple of friends. I want to go back so bad. It wasn't long enough. I get the same longing feeling when I read books set in NY, about bloggers living and cooking in NY, watch movies that are set in NY (probably just a fake background but still) and photos of food that remind me of NY. Maybe I have hyped it all up for myself and a New Yorker would look at this book and snob it off as nothing like New York but it still brings back memories and makes me wish I was back there now. Oh New York... why are you so far away?...

Back to the brownies... these are a gooden. Not overly sweet, but deliciously rich & fudge-like, easy to make (melt + mix = winner!), go great with a cup of hot coffee, are incredible warmed up with vanilla ice cream and best of all... I got to actually eat them and not just drool all over my keyboard.

Brownies from New York Cult Recipes

Here are some of what I have drooled over... Click at your own risk.

Gerhard Jenne's Bittersweet Brownies with Cranberries posted by Luisa from The Wednesday Chef, Ashley Rodriguez's Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting  also posted by Luisa from The Wednesday Chef, Dark, fudgy, muscovado brownies posted by Amelia on Bon Appetempt, Brownie Cookies with peanut butter frosting by Donna Hay and The 'I want chocolate cake' cake by Smitten Kitchen.

Brownies from New York Cult Recipes

Or there are these ones you can make... they are well worth the 35 minutes wait for them to cook in the oven.

Brownies from New York Cult Recipes

Brownies from New York Cult recipes.

Recipe by Marc Grossman.

125g unsalted butter
325g dark chocolate
25g cocoa powder
60ml sunflower oil
260g light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
150g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
100g dark chocolate, chopped

- Preheat the oven 180C (350F).

- Melt the butter, chocolate and cocoa powder in a saucepan over low heat.

- In a large bowl whisk together the oil, vanilla, eggs and yolks vigorously for a few minutes. Trust me - It's well worth this little bit of arm muscle work out.

- Combine the dry ingredients and add them to the egg mixture, then stir in the melted chocolate mixture.

- Line a square cake tin with silicon/grease proof paper.

- Pour the batter into the lined tin.

- Bake for about 35 minutes. The top should look shiny and a little cracked but fairly solid in the centre to the touch.

- Try not to burn your mouth as you dive into hot decadent brownie. Best eaten warm so leave it for a about 1 hour then dig in.