Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Back to normal

Hello my beautiful people!  I have finally finished writing out my cookbook!  It really doesn't take that long considering they are my own recipes that I already had :) though, some are new ones I wrote especially for the book.  Now I just have to finish making everything so that we can get photos.  Big job!  Ahhh well, it's gotta be done.  What a shame that I have to have so much good food in my cupboards ... :)

Anywho, now that I'm not so focused on finishing that, I can concentrate on writing for you!  Amongst all of the preparations for the book, I have still managed to come up with some recipes to share on here with you lot.

Let's see, I made Apricot Jam/Sauce (I'll explain that one shortly), chicken spring rolls and a chicken salad.

In true Calamity Jayne styles, I have been having some nightmares in the kitchen!  For my book I am including my tan square - you know, the one that others struggle to make - and guess what?  Yup, the caramel decided not to play the game.  I knew while I was mixing it that it wasn't going to set.  So I think another thing that needs to be emphasised for that recipe is that when you are heating the caramel, DO NOT rush and have heat up too high.  It needs to be on a really low heat (how I normally do it, but was trying to get it done faster) for the caramel to stay nice and thick.
Also my Rocky Road decided to not go nice and smooth like it normally does, and was more like a fudge, but I persevered and got it all mixed in anyways.  Fingers crossed it tastes the same!

The other Calamity Jayne mishap, that actually turned out pretty good, is my Apricot Jam.  We have an apricot tree here at home, so of course, we have heaps of apricots.  I decided that I wanted to make some jam with them, and I was going to be different and make it an Apricot and Cinnamon Jam.  I thought I'd attempt my own recipe.  I know the Edmonds used Apricot kernels in it, but I couldn't get them to open up, so I flagged that idea.  Not sure if that is the root of my problem or if perhaps I needed more sugar, but as you can probably guess, my jam didn't set.  However, my "jam" tastes amazing!  It's great as a sauce on yoghurt or with crumble, we even used it as a dipping sauce for the spring rolls I made, and it still tastes great on toast - just a little runnier than normal.  But hey!  Honey can be runny so why can't my jam?? :)

For those of you who would still like to attempt it, here is my recipe :)

Apricot and Cinnamon Jam

12 Apricots, halved and stoned
1C sugar
1 stick cinnamon
1/2C water

Chop apricot halves into half again and put in saucepan with cinnamon stick and water.  Heat until pulpy.
Add sugar and heat until dissolved.  Bring to the boil.
Strain (this is possibly my other problem but I like it smooth!). 
Put back in saucepan and boil 15 minutes. 
Remove cinnamon.
Pour into sterilized jars.

Chicken Spring Rolls

Not as hard as you'd think, honestly.  A little time consuming, but simple.

Chicken tenderloins - about 8 or so
spring roll papers
2Tbsp Mirin
2Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 clove garlic crushed
1tsp ginger grated/crushed
Splash of fish sauce
Extra soy sauce
carrots, bok choy, bean sprouts, onion
Vermicelli (rice noodles)

Cut chicken into small chunks, 1cm (ish).
In a bowl combine mirin, soy sauce, garlic and ginger.  Put chicken in here and toss to coat.
Heat oil in pan and cook chicken, until cooked through.  Set aside.
Finely slice veges - carrots into matchsticks etc, fry off the veges (except bean sprouts).  Drain any excess liquid.
Put vermicelli in boiling water in a bowl for a few minutes.  Drain and then add to veges to toss. 
Add chicken back to the pan.  Pour in another few tablespoons of soy sauce and a splash of fish sauce.
Lay out on a tray to cool down - if you try to make them when the ingredients is too hot then you will get soggy spring rolls.
Once ready to go, open spring roll papers and put under a slightly dampened tea towel so they don't dry out.
Lay one on board in diamond shape, place three or four bean sprouts on corner edge closest to you then top with 1-2 Tablespoons of other filling ingredients.  Fold corner over the filling, roll once and then fold in the two sides careful to not leave air bubbles.  Continue rolling.  Seal edge with a little water.
When you have made them, heat oil in pan - doesn't need to be deep, but the bottom covered.  Carefully add rolls to the pan a few at a time.  Let them brown on each side.
Remove and sit on paper towels to absorb some of the oil. 
Serve with sweet chilli sauce, or apricot sauce :)

Chicken Salad

Two chicken breasts
4 rashers of streaky bacon
garam marsala
salt and pepper
olive oil
citrus vinaigrette

Lay chicken on large sheet of baking paper.  Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with garam marsala.  Fold baking paper over and bash with rolling pin.
Heat pan and add chicken.  Add bacon to pan, draped over top of chicken or just in the bottom of the pan.
Let the meat brown and crisp.
Prepare salad.  Wash and spin lettuce, chop tomatoes and capsicum.  Grate some cheese and carrot.  Season and drizzle with olive oil and vinaigrette.  Toss to combine.
When chicken is cooked and browned, remove from pan and slice. 
Serve salad into bowls and top with chicken and bacon.

So there you go, some tasty recipes with stories included :) you're welcome!
Have a great rest of the week and Happy cooking!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Exciting times!

I have an announcement to make!  I have decided, after some prompting, to have a go at writing my own cookbook.  It really does make sense.  I love to cook and share my recipes with others, so why not?!  I will be putting some of my recipes I've shared on here in it, as well as some new ones that I have been working on.  So you will have to bear with me not posting quite as often for the next month or so.

That aside, I do have some yummy recipes for you today. First up, something I just made - and silly old me didn't take a photo, but it was honestly so good, I had to jump straight on here to share with you!  I saw Jamie do this the other night, so thought I'd give it a go with what I had here.
Now, it does use one of the dearer cheeses, but believe me, it is Oh So Worth It!!!

Strawberry and Haloumi Salad

1 punnet of strawberries
fresh basil leaves
haloumi cheese
balsamic vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Lemon Juice

Slice haloumi reasonably thick - about 5mm
Put into a preheated frying pan and cook until golden on each side
Meanwhile, slice strawberries into bite size chunks and put in a bowl.  Break the lettuce up - I used one of those frilly lettuces and some iceberg lettuce too.  Add this to the bowl, along with basil leaves.
Season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Toss gently.
To dish up, layer some lettuce and strawberries on the plate, place a couple of haloumi slices on top then add more lettuce and strawberries.
Drizzle with a touch more balsamic, Olive oil, and lemon juice.

*The haloumi has enough flavour that you only need a few slices per person.

Absolutely stunning flavours - I highly recommend this one.

After Christmas, we had lots of leftover turkey, so I used that to make a turkey pie (and some yummy stock too).  This recipe can also be used for leftover chicken.

Turkey Pie

Flaky Puff Pastry
turkey, shredded
leftover roast veges (if any)
leftover gravy (if any)
onion or if in season, leek
chicken stock
cranberry sauce

Heat a pan with a knob of butter and a splash of olive oil.  Add bacon and thyme, let it cook until it has a nice colour.
Add onions with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook until softened.
Add turkey and any leftover stuffing and veges you have.
Pour in about 1-2C chicken stock depending on how much meat you have.  Bring to the boil.
Turn the heat down and add a splash of cream (optional, though it does add a lovely silkiness to the dish)
Taste, and season if needed.
Strain and keep the liquid for later.
Lay one sheet of pastry on your baking tray and put the filling in the centre.  Lay the other sheet over top. Fold the edges up over itself and crimp with a fork to help keep it sealed.  Poke some holes in it.

Brush a little cream or egg wash over.
Put in oven at 180C for around 30-40 minutes, or until golden and puffy.
Reheat the liquid and use as gravy to serve with the dish.

We are lucky to have bought a house with fruit trees already established.  One of those trees is an apricot tree.  Something I absolutely love is apricot pie.  Here is how you make it.

Apricot pie

Sweet short pastry

Firstly, cut apricots and remove seeds.  Cut into small chunks and place in a saucepan.  Add a splash of water with about 1Tbsp sugar.  Bring to the boil, and stew until softened.
Add about 1/2 tsp cinnamon and heat through.
Roll out pastry and line your baking dish with it, leaving some for the lid.
Place a few blobs of butter around the dish. 
Sprinkle 1Tbsp of flour into fruit and mix.  Add to the dish.
For the lid, I like to make stripes or shapes.  This time I did stripes.  Roll pastry into a rectangle and cut into strips.  Place them in a criss cross across the top.
Sprinkle with a bit of demerera sugar.
Bake at 180C until pastry is golden and crisp.  Leave to cool a few minutes before slicing.  Serve with some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

So there you go, a bit of a mixed bag this time, but that's how I roll.  I may try to have a theme next time!  It's my daughters birthday on Thursday so I have birthday food to make!  If you're lucky I'll share the cake with you :)

Have a great week!  Happy cooking!