31 Jan 2012

Pumpkin and Sweet Corn Frittata for a days sailing (in the rain)

In the dying days of the long summer holidays we were invited to join some friends on their yachting holiday for a day! We were to bring lunch (for 10), they took care of dinner.

We had eggs overflowing almost falling out of our refrigerator (from our reliable flock of 4 gorgeous chickens) so I decided to make a frittata.

I baked pumpkin, cooked sweet corn and chopped shallots and arranged them around my favourite frittata pan. (These were the vegies I had on hand - but many would work - we commonly use sweet potato or semi-dried tomato, sometimes caramelised onion, fried mushrooms, char-grilled zuchini or eggplant, basil. Meat eaters could add ham also.)

I topped it with some of my homemade ricotta (but you could use any almost any cheese here)

I cracked 12 eggs and whisked them with a little milk, salt and pepper and poured if over the vegetables. (I sometimes use cream but I didn't have any on hand)

I baked it for about 45 minutes on 180C. (I would have preferred on hour at 160C but was sharing the oven with Ian's sourdoughs.)

We served it with a green salad and a grainy sourdough Ian had baked. It was all eaten and enjoyed.
Ian's batch of sourdoughs - we took the large one on the left.

The day, sadly, rained heavily from beginning to end!! What happened to Sydney's summer!!! But it didn't stop lots of swimming, dam building, sailing, rides on the doughnut of the back of the boat, much fun and of course much eating!


27 Jan 2012

Around the world in 18 Fridays- Week 3- China

Since it was Chinese new year this week, I thought that China would be a perfect stop for this week.

Plus, I really love dumplings!

I made shiitake mushroom dumplings with dry fried green beans.

Yum! Plus I also made 2 dipping sauces. (Hoisin Dipping sauce andRice Wine + Brown Sugar dipping sauce)

Not that soy sauce and sweet chilli wouldn't be delicious...

The sauces are also amazing on rice the next day (and they make enough for this).

If you don't want like 3 cups of sauce though, half would be enough for the dumplings.

Shiitake Mushroom Dumplings
Makes approx. 45 dumplings

  • 4 large dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted and liquid reserved, stemmed, and chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves Garlic – crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 2/3 cup  firm tofu, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup chopped Chinese chives or scallions (white and green parts)
  • 1 pack of gow gee skins (fine pastry squares) from a chinese super-market


  1. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid, salt, and hoisin sauce. Stir .Set  aside.
  2. In a wok heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, until aromatic. Add the carrot, mushrooms, and tofu. Stir to combine and then pour in the flavouring sauce. At first all the liquid will seem to have been absorbed, but after 2 minutes, there will be a little bubbling liquid in the skillet. At that point, give the corn starch mixture a final stir and stir it into the filling. When the mixture thickens, turn off the heat and add the Chinese chives. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool completely before assembling the dumplings.
  3. Before assembling the dumplings, line steamer trays or a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. To assemble the dumplings place about  1 teaspoon of filling in the centre of a wrapper, Use a finger dipped in water to wet the edges , then fold into desired shape pressing edges firmly. This is a perfect job for little hands!
  5. To cook, steam the dumplings in a bamboo steamer over boiling water in the base of a wok  for about 8 minutes, or until slightly puffed and somewhat translucent.
  6. Serve immediately with dipping sauces



The Little Blue Bicycle

After a few weeks of more intensive blogging and blog reading Mia has decided she is ready to start a blog of her own.

The Little Blue Bicycle

You can find her here.  

She will continue to write here for the "Around the World in 18 Fridays" series and the occasional guest spot - and I will continue to write of her food in my posts. 

Happy Blogging Mia!


24 Jan 2012

Sweet pizza - a new addition to pizza night

This Week we had our usual pizza night with a new addition. The girls had both been inspired by sweet pizza recipes that they had come across lately and so they made one each.
Eva's was a grape pizza from "Poh's Kitchen" by Poh Ling Yeow. This is her new book she chose with the book voucher she was awarded at Speech Day.
I have found a copy of the recipe on Poh's website -  Poh's Grape Pizza Recipe.

 Mia's was a sweet Ricotta and Sultana Pizza based on one in "Veg In" by Flip Sheldon - a favourite book that is still getting a lot of use though, sadly,  it will soon need to go back to the library.

Cinnamon Ricotta Dessert Pizza
150g Ricotta
2 tspn Brown Sugar
1 tspn Cinnamon
50g Sultanas (or other dried fruits "Veg in" suggested dried apricots) 

Combine ingredients in a small bowl

Spread on a pre-cooked pizza base
Warm in pre-heated 200C oven for about 5 minutes.

I made the ricotta for Mia to use in her pizza, (and topped the savoury Pizzas). 

Ian rolled out all the bases to everyones requirements. 

A true family effort!


NB - This weeks film was "the Spiderwick Chronicles" -Eva's Choice

22 Jan 2012

Coconut cupcakes with a passionfruit filling and coconut-passionfruit buttercream

You know those days when you’re just in the mood for cupcakes?

Baking them, decorating them, eating them? Just as long as cupcakes are involved?

Well over the weekend I had one of those days. I had intended to make cakes later in the week, but I just COULDN’T wait!

So I baked these adorable little coconut cupcakes, filled them with passionfruit curd, and topped them with coconut buttercream. Yum!

They were really scrumptious- the filling made them really moist, and the coconut and passionfruit were perfect together!

The cake itself is based on a combination of two Martha Stewart recipes, the passionfruit curd is a Stephanie Alexander recipe and the icing is just a variation of my standard buttercream.

The icing makes enough for a fairly flat covering of all the cakes, but if you want to do piped swirls, you’d need to double it.

And let’s face it, the more icing, the better!

I’ve got some leftover passionfruit curd and cake crumbs from the centre, too. I’m thinking passionfruit cake pops!

Coconut cupcakes with a passionfruit filling and coconut-passionfruit buttercream

Based on: http://www.marthastewart.com/336105/basic-cupcake-how-to, http://www.marthastewart.com/316189/coconut-cupcakes-with-seven-minute-frost and Stephanie Alexander’s passionfruit curd from ‘The cook’s companion’ pg. 681

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup packed desiccated coconut
150g unsalted butter, softened
1 & a 1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 & a 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

½ cup sugar
60g butter
2 eggs, well beaten
Pulp of 6 passionfruit

150g unsalted butter
250g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup dessicated coconut
Pulp of 3 passionfruit

To prepare the passionfruit curd, combine the sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce heat, add the remaining ingredients and stir until the mixture thickens (this will take quite a while, but you’ll know when it happens!) Set aside and allow to cool.
For the cakes, preheat the oven to 180˚ c (350˚ f) and line a small cupcake tin with patty-pans. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and desiccated coconut. Using an electric mixer in a separate bowl (or a food processor with a whisk attachment), cream butter and sugar light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
Reduce speed to low. Mix coconut milk and vanilla extract in another bowl. Gradually add both the wet and dry ingredients and combine. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.

Bake cupcakes until testers inserted into centers come out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins on wire racks.

Meanwhile, prepare the icing by draining the passionfruit pulp in a medium sized sieve, reserving the liquid. Beat together the butter and icing sugar until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla extract, coconut and the drained passionfruit liquid, and combine.

When the cakes have cooled, use a knife and a teaspoon to dig a small well in the centre of each cake. Fill with the passionfruit curd, and top each cake with the icing and remaining, drained passionfruit seeds.



20 Jan 2012

Around the World in 18 Fridays- Week 2- Mexico


This week we're visiting Mexico, with a delicious vegetarian chili con carne!

It's the perfect vegetarian dish- lentils and kidney beans make it high protein, but most importantly, it's really delicious and tasty!

The sauce isn't comprised of particularly unusual ingredients, but it's a great combination!

I'm not sure where it came from- it's just a family tradition now.

I served it with brown rice, tomato, guacamole, cheese, shredded lettuce, grated carrot, crushed corn chips and greek yogurt.

But thats not to say it wouldn't be nice say...... in nachos (or tacos or burritos)!

Vegetarian Chili Con Carne


• 1 tbs of olive oil
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 large red pepper, chopped
• 1 chilli, deseeded and chopped
• 2 tsp of paprika
• 2 tsp of ground coriander
• 1 tsp of ground cumin
• 1 tsp of ground chilli
• 1 400 gram tin of diced tomatoes
• 1 400 gram tin of red kidney beans, drained
• 1/2 cup of dried green lentils
• 1 vegetable stock cube/ 1 tsp vegetable stock powder
• 2 tbs of tomato paste

To prepare the lentils, gently boil them in 2-3 cups of water for about
20 minutes, until they are soft to bite. Set aside and drain. 

Sauté the onion in a large pan for approximately 5 minutes, untilsoft. Add the capsicum and garlic. Fry for an additional 5 minutes. Add in all your spices and stir through vigorously for about a minute. 
Stir through the tomatoes, tomatopaste, red kidney beans, stock and 
green lentils. Simmer for approximately half an hour and serve
with brown rice and condiments:tomato, guacamole, cheese, shredded lettuce, grated carrot, crushed corn chips and greek yogurt

Other ways to serve: on toast, over a jacket potato, in nachos, in tacos or in burritos.


18 Jan 2012

Salmon & Prawn Laksa

Last Night we had a rainy night in (without Eva). This means comfort food and the possibility of eggplant, zuchinni, coconut or more chilli - the things Eva is not so keen on! We settled on a laksa I have done a couple of times - the first time being on a girls weekend away with my friends. It was delicious and fit the bill, the three of us happily slurping big bowls on our laps!

The recipe originally came from Valli Little in delicious magazine. - February 2008, Page 65 but we modified it quite a bit to make it more like a laksa. Below is our version of the recipe. It serves 4 with generous sized serves


  • 2 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • 1 jar Valcon Laksa Paste
  • 2 * 400ml can light coconut milk
  • 1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves (see note)
  • 4 x 125g salmon fillets
  • 400g green prawns, peeled 
  • 4 tbs lime juice
  • 4 tbs fish sauce
  • 100g snow peas
  • 200g bean vermicelli noodles
  • 16 tofu puffs (optional)
  • big handful of beansprouts
  • Coriander leaves, to garnish

  1. Heat 1 Tbs oil in a wok or large, deep frypan over medium-high heat. Add paste and stir for 30 seconds. Add coconut milk, stock, sugar and lime leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a non-stick frypan over medium-high heat. Season fish. Fry for 1-2 minutes each side until cooked but still pink in the centre. Set aside. Add prawns to pan and cook for about 3 minutes.
  3. Put Vermicelli and snow peas into a large bowl, cover with boiling water, cover and let sit for about 3 minutes, then drain.
  4. Add lime juice and fish sauce to broth, then remove from heat. 
  5. Divide noodles, tofu puffs (if using) and snow peas between large bowls
  6. Place prawns on top, then pour over broth 
  7.  Top with bean shoots, salmon fillets and coriander.


17 Jan 2012

Sweet Potato and Feta Filo parcels

The other day I was cooking these Sweet potato and feta filo parcels for dinner.

I was little bit lost for whatever reason though, and so I kept forgetting things or putting in the wrong amounts etc.

I don't think I've ever managed to err this far  from a recipe by accident before.

Never mind!

They say you should learn from your mistakes, so I've rewritten the recipe to include (most) of the things that changed.

Some of the changes:

- because I forgot to halve everything but the sweet potato, I added a cob of corn
- I used a tablespoon not a teaspoon of fennel seeds
- I left out the chilli (this one was on purpose, my younger sister isn't so big on chilli)
- I didn't oil and poppyseed the triangles prior to baking (I might  do this next time….)
- I completely forgot the garlic (really wish I'd remembered!!!)

Please don't completely write of any competency in cooking you thought I had. I don't know what it was but I wasn't functioning at full that night :)

Anyway… they were still yummy and a big hit! 

I'll certainly be making them again!

Though perhaps when I'm slightly more alert!

Sweet Potato and Feta Filo parcels

Ingredients (served 4, with leftovers)

  • 500g evenly-sized orange sweet potatoes, unpeeled, washed, dried
  • 1 cob of corn, kernels removed (or 1/2 a cup of thawed, frozen corn)
  • 200g cow's milk feta, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 birdseye chilli, seeded, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 10 sheets filo pastry
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
  • 1 tbs poppy seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Place sweet potato in a roasting pan. Roast for 50 minutes or until just tender. Allow to cool, then peel and place in a bowl. Using a potato masher, mash coarsely. Add corn, feta, fennel seeds, chilli, garlic and chives. Season to taste with salt and pepper then mix gently to combine.
  2. Lay pastry on a work surface and cover with a clean, damp tea towel. Working with 1 sheet at a time, cut pastry in half horizontally. Brush half 1 piece lengthways with oil. Place a heaped tablespoonful of sweet potato filling on right-hand bottom corner of pastry strip. Flatten slightly to form a triangular shape then fold diagonally across filling to other edge, to form a triangle. Continue folding to end of strip, retaining a neat triangle shape. Brush finished triangle with oil and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Repeat with remaining pastry, oil, filling and poppy seeds (note that each piece of filo makes two pastries). Pastries can be made up to 4 hours in advance up to this stage then covered and refrigerated in a single layer until ready to bake. 
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Perfect served with salad, all on their own or as a delicious appetiser!
*Sorry for the lack of photography. I completely forgot, so these are just a couple of photos Mum took on her phone!


16 Jan 2012

Pizza and movie night

For years now we have had a pizza and movie night every Friday night (unless we are out). When it started we made them from scratch, then as we got busier we often bought them but we have returned to the healthier home made ones in the last year or so.

The Base

We try to make the base from scratch, using the bread machine dough setting, but if we don't get time we keep a ready supply of greek pitta breads frozen which makes great instant bases.

Bread machine pizza Dough recipe for 4 (with some leftovers)
300ml water
1.5 Tb extra virgin olive oil
1.5 tspn salt
550g bakers flour
2.5 tspn dried yeast

We put this in the bread machine on dough setting for 1.5 hours.

The First Layer

We usually spread all pizzas with tomato paste (a cheaper one that is not triple concentrated)
The aldi organic one in small tins is good - and we use exactly a tin each week)
Sometimes we will do one of the pizzas with basil pesto or olive tapanade for a change.
Recently eva has convinced us to put a little bbq sauce in with the tomato paste on her hawaiian!

The Toppings
Almost every week we make:
Potato, rosemary and spanish onion
Hawaiian made with "fakin" our name for vegetarian bacon and fresh pineapple -Eva's staple pizza

Other weeks we commonly make:
Tomato and boconcinci
Eggplant and onion,
Zucchini and red capsicum
Sweet potato
Goats cheese, caramelised onion and sage (based on a suggestion in "Veg In" by Flip Shelton - one of our favourite books at the moment)
We add olives (kalamata or parmesan stuffed green ones), sliced red onion or semidried tomatoes to any of the vegetable ones that look like they need more.

The Cheese

Most of the time we use cherry bocconcini for our cheese. A tub will spread across our four pizzas.
We also grate whatever is on hand - cheddar, mozarella or parmesan or any combination. We try not to use too much chees cheese - but it varies according to which family member does it!

The Finishing Touches
I love basil or rocket tossed in balsamic vinegar and sometimes a little olive oil tossed over the pizzas (not the hawaiian - but any other. The rest of the family are less enthusiastic about this so sometimes i put this in a bowl on the side to scatter on pieces as i eat them.

This weeks pizzas on homemade bases were:
1. Thin sliced nicola potato, snipped homegrown rosemary, sliced spanish onion on tomato paste with mixed grated cheeses.

2. Sliced tomato, semi-dried tomaotes, the last few kalamata olives on tomato paste with mixed grated cheese and some snipped homegrown basil on after cooking.
3. Caramelised onions, goats cheese crumbled, thin slices of homegrown sage leaves on a tomato paste base.
 4. Fresh pineapple, "fakin" vegetarian bacon, tomato paste mixed with a little BBQ sauce and grated mixed cheeses.

Then we lie back on the couches in the lounge and chill-out after a busy week! Left-overs make a great meal on the run somewhere on the weekend. 
BTW This Weeks Movie was "Star Wars" - Ian's Choice.