Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Limoncello - bottled and ready to drink

It's all done and looks fabulous

And yes, it tastes pretty good too

Line a funnel with some gauze and place it in the bottle...then  pour the lemony liquid in...

That's all there is to it really.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Limoncello - the wait continues....

Here's the rest of the Limoncello process...

After making the sugar syrup and allowing it to cool the vodka/lemon zest mix and sugar syrup into a large container.

Mix around a bit, seal ...

...and place in a dark cupboard for the next 30 days

Now all you have to do is wait...

So far though, it's looking good!

The final process:  Now I know I said you only let this stand for another day before straining and putting the mix into bottles...but I'm changing it a bit. Let the entire mix stay in the container in the back of the cupboard for a month to let the flavour intensify.

Time now to drain the Limoncello into sterilised bottles. Use a funnel lined with cheesecloth to make sure you remove all the zest

Seal the bottles, put them in a dark place or fridge and let sit for a few days until ready to drink....on Christmas Day!! The night before Christmas, put the bottle in the fridge so it's nice and chilled for the big day

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Limoncello - pure sunshine

Making Limoncello is easy just need lemons and alcohol...oh and patience

The process is long but oh so worth it.

Here's the recipe for 2 litres.

I'm making just the one at the moment

Ingredients for 2 litres of Limoncello

- 10 lemons
- 1 kg of sugar
- 1 litre vodka
- 1 litre of water

Grate the lemons with a fine grater and put the zest in a couple of jars with lids. Pour in the vodka and close the containers tightly, letting the mix rest for 15 days in the dark. Make sure you shake it every two days to help distribute the flavour

At this stage, the alcohol will remove all the colour and scent from the lemon zest.

Not a difficult recipe at all huh?

I haven't made the syrup as yet...but here's the rest of the recipe if you'd like to get started

To prepare the syrup... juice the zested lemons, add 1 litre of water and sugar and mix together in a pot. Bring it to the boil then let simmer for a few minutes till it thickens a little and resembles a syrup. Let it cool and refrigerate

After 15 days, it’s time to mix the lemony alcohol with the syrup. Put all the liquid in a large container or bottles and let stand for another day

Time to drain the Limoncello into sterilised bottles. Use a funnel lined with cheesecloth to make sure you remove all the zest

Seal the bottles, put them in a dark place or fridge and let sit for another month...then drink...on Christmas Day!!

Happy Happy everyone

Saturday, September 22, 2012


I seem to have been making soup a lot over winter....and I haven't eased off even though it's Spring

Saffron - purchased in Morocco 

This is a lovely, easy recipe that I first saw on French Food safari on SBS. It's Guillaume Brahimi's Bouillabaisse recipe, which is basically a rich fish soup. He originally didn't mention quantities so I just played around until I thought it looked right, but I've since seen it in recipe form on the SBS website

To make the Bouillabaisse you'll need.....

Whole fish- red mullet, rock cod, leather jackets, flathead whatever is cheap and you can source.

For this recipe I used leather jackets and flathead. I also bought 2 kilograms of mussels and all up it cost me $17.00

So, chop the fish into large pieces and fry it in a little olive oil then add a strip of orange peel, a chopped fresh fennel, 4 chopped tomatoes, 2 crushed garlic cloves, sprigs of thyme, 2 chopped celery stalks 2 large spoons of tomato paste, fennel seeds, a pinch of saffron and a good splash of pernot.

It's looking very colourful at this point.

Add some hot fish stock (I used a litre of vegetable stock and some water that I simmered the fish heads in) to cover it all and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Let it cool for a few minutes then put it all in a blender (bones and all) and whizz it till it's smooth. Strain it through a sieve into another pot and heat through. Now I have to say, at this stage I was tasting it and it was amazing! ... in fact I really liked it as a broth and will be making another version of it in future to see how it goes.

Add some mussels and let them cook then place in bowls and eat with some gutsy bread.

Guillame's recipe called for a Rouille and some scallops and crab meat placed in the bottom of the bowls that you spoon the soup over. I didn't have them so we just made some garlic bread and devoured it all.

MONT loved it so much he's taken all the left overs out with him to work today to share with friends.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Spicy Soup

I know it's been ages since I've posted any recipes...but you know how it sometimes gets in the way

Anyway I hope this nice spicy soup will make up for my absence..

The thing with this is you can make it as spicy or mild as you like, it all depends on your taste

I got the idea one afternoon while watching Everyday Gourmet with Justine Schofield and (as usual) tweaked it to suit what I had in the pantry and fridge...

It's a Sweet Potato soup with a Thai influence...and there's a nice little twist at the end...

You'll need
3 or 4 large sweet potatoes
2 large dollops of Thai red curry paste
1 can coconut cream
1 litre vegetable stock
1 cup of water
salt or fish sauce to taste

1 bunch coriander
a good handful unsalted cashew nuts (or you can use blanched almonds)
1 red shallot
peanut or rice bran oil
lemon or lime juice

In a large pot, fry off the curry paste in a little oil, then add a large spoonful of the creamy, globby bit at the top of the coconut cream and heat it through with the paste.

Add the chopped and peeled sweet potatoes, then the veggie stock and water and bring to the boil...then let it simmer for about 20 minutes.

Once the potatoes are soft, add the rest of the can of coconut cream, stir it around and then take to it with your stick mixer to blend it so it's smooth and thick.

I put mine in my new blender and it was fabulous

To make the special pesto additive for this soup...

Blend together the nuts, shallot, coriander, oil and lemon juice...spoon it into the bowls of hot soup and voila!!!

That's all there is to it.

I made a huge pot of it and it was all gone in two days so I hope you like it as much as we did!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Meatballs with mozarella

I love meatballs...or rissoles or whatever you call them in your part of the world.

They don't look too good starting out, but the end result is pretty delish

Everyone has their own way of making them I guess...meat, veggies...some even put a pack of chicken noodle soup in their mix...and yes I have been known to do that too.

Whatever you include in the meatball mix, it's going to turn out really well, as long as there's an egg in there to help bind it all together.

I saw a recipe by Justine  of Masterchef fame a little while ago and thought I'd try her be honest, they tasted almost the same as the ones I normally do, but hers were baked...and they had cheese in the middle!

The recipe calls for little balls of boconcini to be hidden in the middle of the balls...

They are delicious...really delish

You can have them as-is...

or you can add them to some pasta sauce, as suggested by Justine...

I also added some pasta spirals to the sauce...

Preheat oven to 180deg.
Get you mince mix together...whatever you usually use is OK...then flatten a tennis ball size in the palm of your hand, place a delectable ball of cheese in the middle then mold the meat mix around it.

Continue until all the meat's been used up, place in a baking tray in the oven. 

You can make a tomato sauce with pasta to go with them, which is really yummy...and don't forget the crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

Monday, April 16, 2012

More work needed

Not every recipe turns out the way you hope...but I always think it's an opportunity to work on it, and eventually get it right. I mean life's a learning experience. Right?

The other day a neighbour brought in a container of ricotta cheese fresh from the manufacturer. It was still warm and it was DELICIOUS and much better than anything I'd bought or tasted before. I thought why not give it a I did.

This was my first attempt so I thought I'd try it with just a litre of milk (full cream please), because MONT had brought some home from Bonnie Doon and it didn't have long to run on it's use-by-time

I checked out a few recipes for ricotta...some used citric acid, others vinegar. The one I chose used lemon juice as the curdling agent.

You'll need

1 litre of full cream milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Bring the first 3 ingredients to a slow boil in a pot, stirring so the milk doesn't scald. Add the lemon juice and reduce the heat and give it a gentle stir. Note: don't stir it too much.
You'll see the curds forming almost immediately. Turn off the heat and let it sit for a minute, then strain the liquid through muslin or cheesecloth into a sieve and let drain for about an hour

As you see in the photos I used a cotton tea towel because I couldn't find the muslin...but it also did the trick.

This is what you're left with...warm ricotta cheese

Mine tasted OK, but nowhere near as good as the one I was given. Mine was a little grainy and dry. I think I tried to accelerate the drainage process instead of being patient.
I won't be impatient next time

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Taste of the sea

There is nothing better than something freshly caught, especially if someone very close to you is the "catcher".

I was reading Kitchen Hand's blog What I Cooked Last Night and he was speaking about some beautiful, plump mussels from Portarlington  that he bought over Easter

Well, we often get a couple of kilos of mussels each year when we holiday not far from Port'.

MONT also catches his own fare...whiting, flathead, the occasional snapper and squid.

We had some squid left over in the freezer, so had it as a snack the other night...

This isn't a recipe as such. It's much simpler than that.....

Put the calamari into a very hot pan with a little oil and chopped garlic, cook for a minute then eat.

Job done.

There is nothing as simple or as tasty

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Super Slice - River Cottage

I've become a big fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his River Cottage Everyday program, which is being shown on the ABC here in Australia at the moment

This week he featured bread....but while looking at his site to check out some other recipes, I found this delicious slice, which he calls a booster bar that's great for an energy hit at breakfast.

I have to agree with him... it really is better than anything you'll find in the health food aisle at the supermarket

I usually make MONT a cake or something to take to Bonnie Doon so thought this would be nice as a bit of a change. It doesn't look particularly attractive while making it, but it's the end result that's important.

Grease and line a baking tin about 20cm square and preheat the oven to about 160c

In a pot on low heat, gently melt together: 125g unsalted butter, 150g soft brown sugar, 125g crunchy peanut butter (the one with no added sugar)  75g honey and the finely grated zest of a lemon and an orange. I also added the juice of the lemon, just to give it a bit of a zing

Stir in 200g porridge oats and 150g dried fruit. I used some currants, sultanas, a couple of chopped dried figs and a few dried cranberries that I had left over. I also added a handful of pistachio nuts and a few pecans

Hugh suggests adding seeds as well, like pumpkin, sunflower, poppy, linseed and sesame seeds

Spread the mixture out evenly into the baking tin and, if you like,  scatter a few seeds on the top. Then bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until it's started to brown at the edges and is golden in the centre

You have to let this cool completely in the tin before you take it out and cut it, otherwise it'll break apart.

Hugh has this as a breakfast energy bar...I also like it with a cuppa.

If you're not a fan of peanut butter you can replace it with a mashed up banana. Just stir it in after all the other ingredients have been mixed together.

As I mentioned, I added the juice of a lemon. Next time I'll also add the juice of the orange, just to help lighten it a bit. I'll also get some pumpkin and sunflower seeds to mix in.

Use your imagination. That's the best thing about cooking. There's always something you can substitute if you don't have the original ingredient

I'm a River Cottage convert.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mini fry pans

Have you seen the itsy bitsy fry pans that are in the shops at the moment?

They are extremely small and can fit maybe one egg in them at a time

You can get cast iron ones...

High end designer styles that cost a bomb...

...and the multi coloured non stick variety.

I've seen them priced from a couple of dollars to well over $30 and when I first saw them I couldn't work out what they were for, then today saw one labelled "Blinis Pan"

Blinis or Blini is a small Russian pancake that you top with caviar, or so the recipe I saw said.

I have another theory as well....and it's just a theory.

I think manufacturers are trying to cash in on the growing number of people who live alone and don't want large pots and pans to clean up.

I guess it may also be due to the tiny sinks, no bigger than a salad bowl, that are being installed in some flats/apartments now. I mean, how can you possibly fit a large pot or roasting pan in those sinks and wash them successfully? In fact a little while back we heard of some apartments being built with virtually no kitchens at all. It seems the developers and architects thought people who were "cool" enough to live in these places were too cool to cook and would eat out or have food delivered...sort of like the Singapore model where the evening meal for many people, is delivered to their apartment door in returnable metal containers that help keep the food hot.

I guess the cooking show craze hadn't caught on there yet

What I've also seen them used for though is to make individual potato rosti....

I came across a cooking show a week or so ago and had a light bulb moment when I saw the guest chef use one of these tiny pans to make a potato rosti...then he plonked some lovely steak medallions on top and it looked fabulous!

The rosti was crisp and brown and caramelised on the outside...and rich and creamy on the inside.

I'm going to buy one of these tiny pans (the discounted $2 variety) and see how I go with it...I'll post the recipe when I make it later in the week.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What's for dinner?

This week I made Pasta with tuna and peas and slow roasted tomatoes and it was very quick and very nice.

I slow roasted the tomatoes through the afternoon...I used the Roma's, slice them in half, sprinkle with a little raw sugar and freshly ground pepper and salt, then a drizzle of olive oil and roast in a 120 degree C oven for about 2 hours.

Boil the pasta of your choice. Throw some frozen peas into the boiling water about a minute before it's ready, then a can of tuna, (I used one in oil) throw it in the pot of hot, drained pasta and stir it around.

Bowl it up, place some tomatoes on top, grate or slice some good cheese of your choice over the top, (I used Parmesan) and eat.

The quantities are really up to you...that's what's good about this. You make it to suit yourself.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Baking Panettone

This is very easy...a little time consuming but so worth the effort....

You'll need

1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
5 tablespoons caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
500 gr plain flour
1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup sultanas
1/4 cup candied orange peel
1 tablespoon icing sugar

Preheat oven to 170c

In a medium bowl, combine yeast, water and caster sugar, then stir and cover and let stand for 10 minutes until it starts to foam. In another bowl, combine yoghurt, eggs, vanilla, zest and salt and mix together, then add to the yeast mixture. Let it sit for about 10 minutes until it foams and bubbles

Stir in the flour, a little at a time until a dough starts to form into a manageable ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary, until dough is soft and pliable, but not sticky

Place the ball of dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with a tea towel.

It'll take about an hour for the dough to double it's size

Lightly grease a round 20cm cake tin and place two layers of baking paper in the bottom, then in a small bowl, mix the dried fruit with the icing sugar. Punch down the dough, transfer to a floured surface again and knead in the fruit

Put the dough into the cake tin and let is rise again...for about half an hour

Then bake for about 35-40 minutes,

Delicious with a good coffee for breakfast or afternoon tea.

The original recipe had the oven at 180 deg and a baking time of 45 minutes. I tried it a little lower as my oven is fan forced. I also tested the Panettone after 35 minutes and it was fine, although some of the fruit on the top was a little crispy, as you can see.