Thursday, March 29, 2007

Penne pasta with roast pumpkin, red onion, sage and nutmeg

This recipe featured as a recipe of the day by Sophie Zalokar in The West Australian Newspaper.

This was very simple to prepare and the flavours were delicious. My husband described the pasta dish as "posh pasta"

1/2 large Jarrahdale or Kent pumpkin peeled and cut into large chunks
olive oil
400 gm penne pasta
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion sliced
1/4 cup sage leaves
4 spring onions roughly chopped
1/2 - 1 whole nutmeg, grated ( I used a total of 3/4 teaspoon for my family's taste)
1 cup fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
grated Parmesan cheese

- preheat oven 240C
- place pumpkin in large baking tray and drizzle with enough olive oil to coat and roast in the oven until caramelised approximately 20-30 minutes
- meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook pasta until al dente
- drain pasta and leave in the colander covered with lid.
- heat the 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in the pasta pot and fry the red onion and sage on high until golden brown.
- add spring onions and continue to cook until wilted
- now toss the pasta through the onion/herb mix together with the roasted pumpkin, half the grated nutmeg and Italian parsley
serve with the remaining grated nutmeg sprinkled over the top and the grated Parmesan on the side

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Almost 'No Stir' Pea and Lemon Risotto

My daughter has an immense dislike of peas and when I mentioned what I was cooking for dinner this evening, the look on her face said it all. We have a deal that she eats the number of peas equal to the number of years old she is and at the moment we are up to 14. This evening she did not count the peas and loved the risotto. The risotto was served with rack of lamb cutlets and cubed roasted butternut pumpkin (a favourite of my daughter)

Recipe from The Weekend Australian Magazine March 3-4 2007 Taste Perfect Home Cooking with David Herbert

1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock- simmering
45 gm butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
grated rind of 1 lemon
1/3 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

- heat 30gm butter in large saucepan
- add onion and cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes stirring occasionally until soft but not changed colour
- add rice and lemon rind and cook for 1 minute stirring to coat rice with butter
- add wine, stir and allow almost to evaporate
- add about 1/2 of the stock to the rice mixture
- stir well and adjust temperature so that the mixture is bubbly away slowly
- check after 5 minutes and add remaining stock and peas, giving it a good stir
- keep an eye on the pan, stir occasionally
- it will take 18 - 25 minutes to cook
- to test if cooked the rice should be soft but retain a little bite.
- remove from heat and add remaining 15 gm butter and Parmesan
- cover and allow to sit in a warm place for 5 minutes before serving
- serves 4

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Walnut Crescents, ANZAC Biscuits-Harmony Day Lunch

Walnut Crescents (Vanilla Kipferl, Kourabiedes, Walnut Shortbreads)

Recipe from Maureen Simpson published in The Women's Weekly magazine

250 gm softened butter
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200gm walnuts - finely chopped (can use food processor)
2 1/2 cup plain flour

- oven 180C (160C fan force)
- cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
- add walnuts to butter mixture
- add flour to butter mixture and mix to form a dough
- place a dessertspoon of mizture inbetween your palms and roll into a tapered roll and shape into a crescent
- bake for about 15 - 20 minutes or until they start to clour. Keep eye on them as they can easily burn
- transfer to a wire rack and while still warm, dust with icing sugar(not icing sugar mixture) then leave to cool
- sprinkle with icing sugar again prior to serving

ANZAC Biscuits

Recipe from Better Homes April 1998. The texture of these biscuits is chewy rather than hard.

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 shredded coconut
125 gm unsalted butter (cannot substitute with margarine)
2 tablespoon golden syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon bi-carbonate soda
2 tablespoon boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

- slow oven 150C
- mix together oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a large bowl
- melt butter and golden syrup together
- dissolve bi-carbonate soda in the boiling water and then mix into the butter mixture
- add butter mixture to the dry ingredients and the vanilla extract
- place tablespoon of mixture on a paper lined tray leaving 6-7cm to allow for spreading
- cook 13 - 16 minutes

The Good German - A Movie Review


(George Clooney, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire)

Set in Berlin shortly after the end of the war, with the 1945 Potsdam conference as a backdrop, this is a fairly standard thriller, with the Americans and Russians scrambling to get their hands on the Germans behind the V2 rocket program.

But what earns this movie four stars is the look and feel of the movie. The director, Steven Soderberg, has filmed it as if it was actually filmed in 1945. I have read that he only used film techniques that were available to the filmmaker of 1945 to give the film an authentic look. And he succeeds brilliantly. Think of watching 'Casablanca' and you'll get the idea.

Cate Blanchett is, as usual, very good as the downtrodden Berliner ; she really is a chameleon as an actor. Tobey Maguire is very creepy, and Clooney doesn't have to work too hard in his role. Jack Thompson also stars and is great, but boy has he stacked the weight on!

I love movies that try something different - 'A Scanner Darkly', 'Sin City' - and The Good German, whilst not pushing cinema to new heights, stands out from the current crop of movies on offer.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bread Salad with Mozzarella -Coffee at Tarts Cafe, Northbridge

Saturday morning at Tarts Cafe was crazy. Everyone appeared to be out this morning before the hot weather set in for the day. Going to cafes in the neighbourhood are always full of unexpected surprises of catching up with friends and neighbours. And this morning was no exception.

Aaron the barista is leaving which is disappointing as he makes an excellent soy latte. He is moving to the Lincoln's Cafe still within the neighbourhood. It will be opening within a few weeks. Definitely we give it a go.

Couldn't resist copying out a salad recipe from a magazine. I didn't have any mozzarella but it was still delicious and filling. I try and have a few vegetarian meals a week.

Bread Salad with Mozzarella

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
pinch of salt
1/3 cup EV olive oil
1 loaf ciabatta (or similar) cut in 2-3cm cubes ( I used Turkish bread still warm from the
500gm stringless beans Istanbul Kitchen)
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoon tiny capers
400gm can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 punnets cherry tomatoes
500gm mozzarella, torn
1/2 bunch basil leaves

preheat oven 190C
combine garlic with pinch of salt to make a paste
add oil and whisk to make garlic oil
place cubed bead in bowl and toss 2 tablespoons of garlic oil
place on lined baking tray lined and bake 10minutes until crisp and golden
cook beans until they loose their "squeak" then drain and refresh under cold water
combine vinegar with pinch of salt and whisk until salt has dissolved
whisk in remaining garlic oil and capers
combine bread, beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil in a serving bowl
drizzle dressing over
stand 10 minutes
serves 6 ( serves 4 as a lunch)

Scoop - A Movie Review


(Woody Allen, Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman)

First up, I am a Woody Allen fan, so this colour my judgement to an extent on this film. I am predisposed to like any Woody Allen film, especially the ones he also appears in.

Scoop is a lighthearted murder mystery set in London. Scarlett Johansson is Sondra Pransky, a wannabe journalist, on holiday in London. Allen is 'Splendini', an American magician performing in small halls in London. They are both visited by a recently departed famous journalist who tells them of a journalistic scoop - Lord Lyman (Hugh Jackman) is the serial killer known as the Taro Card killer. He pleads with them to follow up the story and bring Lyman to justice.

What follows is an enjoyable comic romp as the intrepid Pransky and the bumbling Splendini set about solving the mystery of who is the Taro Card killer. Is the highly respected Lord Lyman really the killer? And complications arise as Pransky and Lyman fall in love.

Woody Allen is as funny as ever with, as you'd expect some great one liners (in response to Pransky's taunt that he only ever sees the glass half empty, he replies ' no I see the glass half full, but full of poison'). Scarlett Johansson is great as the slightly nerdy Pransky, but Hugh Jackman is rather wooden ( as one reviewer put it and I agree) as Lord Lyman. Why they could not get a British actor to play the suave British aristocrat I'll never know.

All my family (two of whom are not great Allen fans) enjoyed this movie. One and a half hours of fun. Go see it!.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Hollywoodland - A Movie Review

Rating ****

(Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Bob Hoskins)

Maybe I was just in the mood for some film noir, maybe it was the atmosphere of watching the movie in Luna's tiny cinema four, maybe it was getting in to see the sneak preview, whatever it was I loved this movie.

Adrien Brody stars as the private eye investigating the suicide of George Reeves (played by Ben Affleck), the man who was the TV series Superman (unfortunately I'm old enough to say I enjoyed that show). Set in late 1950's the movie tells the rather sad story of what happens when an actor becomes typecast. The movie perfectly portrays a seedy underbelly that lays under the glossy surface of LA, similar to the way James Ellroy's books do.

OK so Adrien Brody is the typical PI; a broken marrigae, battle with the bottle etc etc, but he plays the role to perfection. And what a hairstyle! Ben Affleck is great, and Diane Lane fits pefectly into the role of his older lover. Perhaps Bob Hoskins as the studio boss is slightly miscast.

Shades of Chinatown about this movie. Go see it if you like your film noir!

Pizza Night, Friday Night

Finally I have victory. My dough is rising beautifully before my very eyes.
Why the excitement you may ask. The decision to eat out is a difficult decision in our family as no-one can agree. One wants Thai, someone else wants Indian another wants mum to cook. The solution is individual pizzas with your own choice of topping.

Pizza Dough
This recipe is from Margaret Johnson who writes for The West Australian newspaper with a little tweeking from me.

1/2 cup (125 mls) warm water
1 sachet dried yeast
2 tablespoon "00" flour

- combine the above ingredients in a large bowl to make a runny smooth paste
- cover and allow mixture to bubble which can take up to 10 minutes
- add the following ingredients

375 mls warm water
760gm "00" flour
2 tsp salt

- you can use the dough hook attachment of your mixer (or by hand). The consistency should be soft adjust a little sticky.
- turn onto floured surface and knead for approx 5 minutes
- place dough in an clean oiled large bowl and cover with plastic wrap
- leave in a warm place to double in size takes about 1-2 hours
- turn dough out and knead lightly
- cut into 8 portions (this will make 25cm pizza bases)
- knead each portion into a smooth ball and cover and rest for 20 minutes
- roll out the dough into a thin circle


Pizza Bianca - scatter with sea salt and finely chopped fresh rosemary then drizzle generously with EV olive oil. Cook in a preheated oven 230C 7-8 minutes

Spinach and Pine Nuts -300gm baby spinach leaves washed, 2 cloves garlic crushed, 2 tablespoon pine nuts, 1/2 cup pitted black olives, 2 cups grated mozzarella. Place spinach in large frying pan over med-high heat until wilted. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. season with salt and pepper. spread spinach over base followed by pine nuts and olives. Top with mozzarella and bake in 230C oven approx 12 mins. This quantity will make 2 x 30cm pizzas. (recipe from delicious magazine)

Tomato Sauce - 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 clove garlic sliced, 1 pinch chilli flakes, 1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano, 800gm whole tinned tomatoes. Heat oil and add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add all remaining ingredients and cook for at least 20 minutes. If there is too much liquid take saucepan lid off. Mash tomatoes and allow to cool. Spread the some sauce on a base and top with grated mozzarella cheese and cook in oven.
This is a family favourite. Simple but delicious. It reminds me of the pizzas the family and I ate in Italy at Forno di Campo de' Fiori. Here you can buy the piece by the metre.

Walnut, Apricot and Fig Torte - morning tea with the sewing mums

Sewing/ beading / knitting was what we used to do when the group met in the begining. That was some 11 years ago when the children were starting school.
We continue to met throughout the year, perhaps not as frequently as we would like due to other committments like part time work.
What hasn't changed amongst the group is the friendship, support , a good chat and endless cups of tea and coffee. There is always room for a slice of cake.
This week's morning tea was special in that many of the daughters attended their graduation ball in the previous week. Some were partnered by our sons. Stories and photographs aplenty.

Walnut, Apricot and Fig Torte (Gluten-free)

Spoted the recipe in a newspaper. The article says it is a famous torte from Sweethearts Cafe in Melbourne. I am told the cafe serves fantastic breakfasts. A question was posed to me Was this cafe an inspiration for Cold Chiesel's song Breakfast At Sweethearts?

9 egg whites
2 1/2 cups castor sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup chopped dried figs
1 1/2 tabspns cornflour
1 teaspn vanilla extract

- grease and line 24 or 25 cm springform tin
- beat egg whites until stiff
- while beating gradually add sugar. Continue to beat 'til it is smooth and sugar has dissolved
- combine walnuts, apricots, and cornflour in a bowl
- fold nut mixture through meringue mixture
-fold through vanilla
- pour into tin and bake 90 minutes at 150C til golden brown and firm to touch then reduce temperature to 120C and bake for a futher 1 hour
- turn off oven and allow cake to cool in the oven
- serve with lots of fresh cream

Sunday, March 11, 2007

About this blog

My birthday was celebrated with friends old and new at Leeuwin, Margaret River. Long lunch was at the Watershed and then onto Leeuwin Winery for the evening concert. My birthday gift to myself was to set up a blog to share my passion for food and the enjoyment of cooking food for others.

To make the site appealing to a wider audience my husband time permitting will add his book and movie reviews. My husband sees a movie a week on a Tuesday night ususally at a Independent cinema in the inner city . You may have seen him. He generally goes with a couple of mates otherwise alone while I do homework supervision with the children. He is also one of those fortunate people who has several novels on the go. Generally the novels are non-fiction. He has submitted book reviews to Good Reading Magazine. There was no financial gain so instead they will now appear on my blog

My philosophy in cooking is anything that can give pleasure to others must be shared and not guarded in secrecy.

One hears too often when asking if you can have the recipe, it is a family secret and cannot be disclosed. If the recipe is given, an ingredient maybe missing or a quantity is incorrect. We must remember that the family secret will die with the keeper of that recipe. Further generations within the family and friends will not have the pleasure of enjoying that recipe.

My children do say the recipe for brussel sprouts can be lost. I don't mind the odd brussel sprout or two with a roast dinner. Brussel sprouts were an affordable vegetable when living in Notting Hill, London in the early eighties. I would happily never to eat tripe again. My childhood memories are having tripe stew/casserole every Saturday night for dinner after having played netball in the rain. One of my sisters cherished every mouthful of tripe with delight.