Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ack dack's first cake

today is acka dack's birthday, and it's hard to believe time has flown so quickly.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

cheese and bacon pinwheels

i've always loved baking and have never discriminated between sweet and savoury. so when i discovered a french bakery in chatswood some 30 years ago (a pioneer of its time) which had these savoury ham and cheese pastries, i thought i would replicate them; not only did i replicate them, i came up with different variations. this was the simplest.

1 sheet of puff pastry
1 cup grated cheese
1 rasher bacon, diced

line a baking tray with baking paper.
place the puff pastry on your workbench and sprinkle with the cheese and bacon. roll up the puff pastry as if you were making a swiss roll, removing the plastic from the puff pastry as you go, but not all the way - leave the last bit of pastry stuck to the plastic and use the plastic to enclose the roll. place the roll in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up; the plastic will protect the pastry from drying out too much.
preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius.
remove the roll from the fridge when firm, discard plastic and cut into slices about 1 centimetre thick and place on the baking tray. ensure the oven has come to the right temperature, and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

very often i like using low fat extra tasty cheese to make these as regular cheese can be greasy and messy. i do emphasise the extra tasty intentionally as low fat cheese is sometimes lacking in flavour. if you should choose the low fat way to go, try to serve the pinwheels warm as low fat cheese cooled/cold isn't too palatable, either. choose your trade off.

Friday, May 8, 2009

pasta cooked in one pot

sometimes when i go shopping and i see semi preprepared meals like dinner winner and wonder what they're like, but never have the guts to try them. instead, i use the same concept they use and sometimes cook my pasta like this. i'm sure it wouldn't win any brownie points with italians, but it ain't half bad.

375 grams lean mince
2 tablespoons olive oil
200 grams sliced mushrooms
1 capsicum, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
a few sprigs parsley, basil, oregano, chopped roughly
750 mL tomato basil pasta sauce
salt and pepper
500 grams pasta
parmesan cheese to serve

heat the olive oil in a large deep saucepan and add the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until the onions have softened. add the beef, breaking it up with a spoon, and cook until no longer pink. add the mushrooms, capsicum, herbs and salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
add pasta sauce, 3 cups water (this depends on the pasta you're using - use good judgement and adjust accordingly; also, i like to replace some of the water with wine) and bring to the boil. add pasta; reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender but firm, about 12 minutes. check for seasoning and adjust, if necessary.
serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

poulet au moutarde

this is a well flavoured casserole which was originally a rabbit recipe. it was the first, and dare i say, last rabbit dish i ever made, not because i'm squirmish or anything, but i like chicken, beef, pork and lamb better than rabbit. if i have to eat rabbit, i will, but i like this dish made with chicken - i loved the flavour of this sauce so much i decided to translate it.
if you do choose to make this dish with rabbit, joint and soak the rabbit overnight in salted water to which some vinegar has been added.
i like serving this dish with rice or mashed potatoes so there's something to absorb the delicious sauce; bread isn't a bad addition either, never mind how uncouth it may be.

2 kilos chicken pieces
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
30 grams butter
4 onions, quartered
2 rashers bacon, cut into strips
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons french mustard
salt and pepper
a bouquet garni consisting of thyme, a bayleaf, celery, parsley and tarragon
1/2 cup cream
parsley to garnish

rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry with paper towels. dust lightly with the flour seasoned with salt and pepper. set aside.
heat the oil and butter in a heavy based casserole and and the onions. colour the onions briefly, remove and set aside.
add the bacon and also allow to colour briefly, remove and set aside.
add the chicken pieces in batches and sear until each piece is golden.
pour in the stock, and add the bouquet garni and mustard.
return the bacon and onions to the casserole.
bring to the boil and lower the heat to a bare simmer for 40 minutes or until tender.
remove the chicken to a warm serving dish and boil the sauce rapidly to reduce and slightly thickened.
skim off the fat.
add the cream and taste for seasoning and correct, if necessary.
pour some of the sauce over the chicken and pour any remainder into a gravy boat for those who like things saucey.
garnish with parsley.