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Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Sometimes, the best recipes come about purely by chance.

Last week, I put some sweet potatoes into the oven to roast. Rummaging through the fridge to find something to top them with, I combined the dregs of a jar of sundried tomatoes with the leftovers from a tin of chipotle chillis in adobo, then spread the resulting paste over the soft, roasted kumera. It was delicious…

Inspired, I tried again the following day.

We buy our sundried tomatoes from Costco – they’re julienne cut and come in a one kilo jar. The chipotle chillis are widely available (I source mine from Fireworks Foods online). Both items are pantry staples at our house…

This easiest of recipes is made by simply blitzing together:

  • 1 cup  (200g) sundried tomatoes (drained, but it’s ok to leave a little of the residual oil)
  • ¼ cup (60g) of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

Pulse together in the small bowl of a food processor, scraping down the sides as needed. If your tomatoes are very dry, you might need to add a little oil, but I didn’t. Process until the paste is as coarse or fine as you prefer…

This was the perfect addition to a vegetarian plate for our garden elves, Emma and Millie, accompanied by Sawsan’s hummus, sourdough bread and dark chocolate rocky road…

That night, I spread a little of the paste under the tomato base of a focaccia pizza, then topped it with the leftover roasted sweet potatoes, cheese, onion and anchovies…

This very simple but highly versatile paste now has its own permanent tub in our fridge. The sweetness of the tomatoes enhances the smoky heat of the chipotles, and we’ve already stirred it into pasta soups, spread it on crackers and mixed it into dips. Definitely a keeper!

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I had a grand plan.

I was going to use a kilo of my recent bargain buy to create a salt dough, which I would then wrap and roast a chicken in.

Only…when it came time to make dinner, it just seemed like too much work.

So instead, I dragged out my trusty Römertopf baker and sat it in a sink of water to soak.

Then I blitzed up half a loaf of stale sourdough in the food processor and squished it together with two pork sausages (squeezed out of their casings), a handful of frozen cranberries, garlic, salt, pepper, a chopped onion, an egg and shredded sage leaves from the garden. I threw the fat from the chicken in as well, for good measure…

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The stuffing mixture was laid into the base of the wet Romy and topped with a free range chicken, which had been rubbed with olive oil, salt and a little pimenton (smoked paprika)…

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Lid on, then into a cold oven. The temperature was turned up to 200C with fan and the timer set for an hour. And I went out for a late afternoon walk by the water…

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When I came home, Pete had taken the lid off the pot and put the chook back into the oven for a further 45 minutes until the juices ran clear…

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. . . . .

The Römertopf makes creating midweek dinners like these a doddle – yes, I know, I bang on about this all the time. But it took me less than 30 minutes in total to prep, and then I had an hour to stroll along the bay while it cooked by itself. Every morsel of chicken and stuffing was eaten – the addition of extra sausage resulted in just the right amount of food for the hungry wolves.

So…I’m sorry this isn’t a post about salt-crusted chicken. If you’d like to try that, here’s the recipe I’d originally planned to make (it even specifies flossy salt).

But as I plonked the dirty clay baker into the dishwasher and rinsed the breadcrumbs out of the food processor, I wasn’t at all sorry that I didn’t have to scrape up shattered salt dough or mop up leaking juices.

Some recipes require more chi.

For all the other times, there’s the Römertopf!

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Small Man’s Berry Crumble

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Mixed berry crumble is Small Man’s new favourite dessert.

If he finds out that I’ve made it, he’ll actually stop eating his dinner to leave room for it. He can eat an entire dish on his own, but out of politeness, will usually limit himself to just two-thirds. I’ve blogged an earlier version of this recipe before, but we’ve now refined it to (our) perfection.

It’s incredibly simple, and uses just a few fridge and freezer ingredients…

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Welch’s frozen fruits are a Costco find and we’ve been delighted with them. They’re reasonably priced, packed in Canada, and the berries and cherries are delicious without being overly sweet. We always keep a couple of packets in the freezer.

The fruit is sweetened with a little of our neighbour June’s apricot jam, and the topping is made from a quarter portion of our tea cake recipe (made without the added fruit, then carefully wrapped in clingfilm and frozen). Any plain pound style cake should work equally well, and it’s worth freezing end bits of stale cake for this.

Yesterday afternoon, I taught Small Man to make his favourite dessert. Here are the basic ingredients…

  • 3 cups of frozen mixed berries (don’t bother defrosting them)
  • ¼ cup of good jam
  • 250g (or whatever you have) of plain butter, pound or tea cake (defrosted, if frozen)
  • 30g unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

It’s completely fine to just eyeball these quantities, as it’s hard to go too far wrong.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 160C with fan. In a pretty baking dish, mix the berries with the jam (I usually do this with my hands). We added a little peeled and diced apple as well this time.

Step 2: In a mixing bowl, crumble up the defrosted cake and mix in the melted butter and brown sugar. Try not to squish it together too much – the aim is to make a fine crumb…

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Step 3: Evenly scatter the crumb topping over the fruit, then bake for 30-40 minutes (start checking after 20 minutes to make sure it’s not browning too much)

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Step 4: Voila! The crumble is ready when the top is a golden brown and you can see the berry juices starting to bubble up at the sides…

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. . . . .

Now seriously, isn’t this the easiest dessert ever? We like to use homemade cake and jam, but I can’t see any reason why this wouldn’t work with bought ingredients – a good supermarket jam (try to pick one that isn’t too sweet) and a plain madeira or pound cake should be fine. I hope you enjoy this as much as Small Man does – it’s a sure-fire way to brighten up a mid-week dinner!

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Focaccia Pocket Breads

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At the recent Peters of Kensington stocktake sale (shh..we don’t mention it too loudly in front of Pete), I bought two Tala muffin pans to replace some of my rusty old ones.

When they arrived, I was delighted to find them sturdy and heavyweight, with what appears to be an excellent non-stick coating. They’re a bit smaller than my Chicago Metallic pan and were an absolute steal at just $5 each.

I had planned to make filled focaccias that day (my default when I need a quick lunch – our easy tutorial is here) and decided instead to turn the dough into little pocket breads. Each batch of dough was sufficient to fill 12 muffin holes.

. . . . .

Start by making the dough as shown here and allowing it to rise. Grease the muffin pan with melted butter.

Once the dough is fully proofed, preheat the oven to 240C with fan. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently shape it into a flat rectangle. Roll the dough up to form a long skinny sausage, then cut it into 12 roughly equal slices.

Nestle each slice into a greased cavity (photo below shows a double batch). Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise for a further 15 minutes of so (longer if your kitchen is a bit cold)…

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Once the rolls have puffed up a bit, brush the tops with any remaining melted butter…

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Pop the muffin pan(s) into the oven, reducing the temperature to 220C with fan. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the tray(s) and bake for a further 10 minutes or until well browned. Allow to cool on a wire rack before scoffing.

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. . . . .

Despite the semi-dried tomatoes burning a bit on the top, these were delicious and great fun to make and eat. They’re also very easy to share – we handed out half to friends and neighbours and the boys made short work of the rest!

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Upcycling Leftovers

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What do you do with leftover fresh ricotta? Turn it into ricotta cake, of course!

I spent ages trying to perfect this recipe – here’s the original post from 2009 and our gluten free version, plus a ricotta slice I messed about with. I’m not sure why I found it all so hard – these days I just wing it and it seems to work every time.

Here’s a brief rundown on my most recent bake (quantities are loose)…

Mix one large well-drained 500ml tub of fresh ricotta with a big spoonful of Greek yoghurt (we used homemade) or sour cream, 150g sifted icing sugar and the grated rind of a small lemon.

Stir in two egg yolks. Beat two whites until firm, then fold into the batter.

Pour into a tin or pie dish lined with sweet shortcrust pastry (our recipe is here, but it’s quite sticky and fiddly – you have been warned!). Bake in a preheated 150C fan oven for about 50 minutes, rotating once (carefully). Leave to cool in the oven with the door ajar. Chill, then serve…

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With the little piece of excess pastry, I made a baby berry pie for Small Man. He loved it…

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. . . . .

And remember our roast lamb shoulders?

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The following day, I turned the leftovers into that Aussie staple, shepherd’s pie…

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I blitzed the meat in the food processor, then mixed it with cooked onion (chopped and fried until translucent), grated carrot, a splash of Worcestershire sauce, half a cup of tomato passata, salt, pepper and a couple of tablespoons of water. This was then spooned into a greased pie dish.

Three large potatoes were peeled and mashed with butter, salt and pepper (no liquid), then spread out over the meat and roughed with a fork. A little melted butter was brushed on top and the pie was baked for about 50 mins in a preheated 175C fan oven. From memory, I turned the heat up a bit at the end to brown the topping.

It was delicious with chipotle barbeque sauce!

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