This (sort of) Mediterranean Salad came together thanks to a colleague who put me on to the wonderful combination of roasted peppers, grilled eggplant and feta. She was putting together a sandwich for lunch using these lovelies and I thought to myself, I could make this into a salad and see how it works out. So on my way home, I stopped by my local Coles and went straight to their deli section and picked up some Danish feta and grilled eggplant. I have yet to work out how to make this eggplant at home. While I strongly believe that made from scratch is way better than store bought, sometimes you need to be open to using a store bought shortcut, especially when you haven’t made anything for lunch and need something real quick. Enter, store bought fire roasted peppers; another thing I want to make at home. I have made this at home in the past (you can see the post here) and need to whip up another batch.
Back to the salad. It essentially is made up of veggies, the condiments mentioned above and feta – that’s it! No dressing or anything. The best part is you wont even miss the dressing. The feta is soft, creamy, sharp and salty, so it takes the salad to a whole new level. Feel free to add or take away from this salad and make it your own. I have made this salad a few times and both, my husband and I love it. I made it with and without olives, so feel free to use them, or not. Also, toasted pine nuts on the salad would be divine. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that sooner, but I fully intend adding them to the salad when I make it next. This salad would make a wonderful addition to any barbecue as well.
A couple of handfuls of Salad leaves (I use the 4 leaf mix from Cole’s)
1 fresh tomato, cut into chunks
Sliced cucumber (about 1/2 cups worth)
A few slivers of thinly sliced red onion
2-3 slices grilled eggplant, roughly chopped
A few slices roasted peppers, roughly chopped
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Danish feta, to taste
Place all the ingredients except the feta in a bowl and toss together.
Crumble the feta over the salad and lightly toss.
** This salad also makes a lovely veg. sandwich.
Disclaimer: I haven’t been compensated for this post either monetarily or in kind. I just happen to shop at Coles and that’s why the mention.
For this month’s SRC reveal, I was assigned Andrea’s lovely blog Adventures In All Things Food. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it. Andrea and her family have moved from the city to her husband’s family farm and blogs not just about recipes and the food she cooks, but about life on the farm as well. I loved reading about it. I don’t think I ever mentioned this before, but my husband has always dreamt of working the land. So these posts felt really special. I was spoiled for choice this month. She has so many delicious recipes, both sweet and savory. I had a hard time narrowing it down. I can’t wait to try out her Gyoza, Tiramisu Cheesecake, Roasted Vegetable Tart, Pea and Leek Risotto and her Cherry Pie Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies, to name a few 🙂
For the reveal I decided to try out her Thai Inspired Chicken Patties. There is so much to love in this recipe. For starters you use ground meat. You sneak some veggies into the patties and you could tell the kids that these are Christmas confetti patties, with the green from the zucchini and reddish orange of the carrots speckling the patties. They are full of flavour and yes, please remember to serve it up with some sweet chilli sauce. That is a combination you will love. These patties will be a part of my weeknight dinner rotation. I stuck to the recipe but used just 1lb ground chicken instead of 1 1/2lb. since thats all I had. And used lemon juice instead of lime zest.
Thanks Andrea, for a lovely recipe.
Thai Inspired Chicken Patties
1lb. Ground chicken meat
1/2 large white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup zucchini, grated
1 carrot, grated
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 red/green chilli (I used birdseye because we like our food hot)
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Sweet Chilli sauce, for dipping
Salt, to taste
Sprinkle some salt on the grated zucchini and keep aside for about 5 minutes. Drain all the liquid and place in a large bowl.
Mix with all the other ingredients except the sweet chilli sauce.
Heat a griddle pan or the grill.
Lightly spray with some oil.
Form the mix into patties about 1/2 inch thick and sear both sides about a couple of minutes.
Place on a baking sheet and finish off in a 350º oven for about 5 minutes or till they cook through.
Serve with the sweet chilli sauce and a large salad.
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I decided to try out her Cayenne Truffles for this weeks reveal. It is a simple recipe to make with some stunning results. But if you live in Australia, be warned, do not make it on the hottest day of the season, like I did. I had a little trouble forming them because of the weather, so they may not look as good as her’s did, but they were so tasty. The cayenne is not overpowering, but subtle and best of all, I was really pleased that I can now say I’ve made truffles at home. Thanks Camilla for a lovely recipe.
Yields: Approx 2.5-3 dozen truffles
8oz good quality bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 pinches of cayenne powder
Unsweetened cocoa powder, to roll the truffles in
Chop the chocolate into small pieces.
In a small heavy bottomed saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer.
Take off the heat, add the chocolate and the cayenne pepper to the pan and let it sit for about a minute or so and then stir together till everything has melted and mixed well.
Pour into a shallow bowl and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Scoop out small truffle sized balls and place them on a plate and refrigerate till they firm up, about 15 minutes.
Take about 2-3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder in a little plate.
Roll the truffle mix into balls and toss them in the cocoa powder and ensure they cover the truffles well.
Refrigerate and enjoy!!!
Here in Sydney, I was thrilled to find I could buy frozen puff pastry. That meant it was now possible to enjoy these little puffs with a fraction of the effort and time involved. Now don’t get me wrong. I am all about cooking and baking from scratch, but everyone needs to be open to a few shortcuts every now and then, especially when life gets hectic. So today, we are going to use the store bought frozen version. That covers the pastry. For a tasty filling I use my Beef mince recipe, but leave out the potatoes. Also you need to make sure that the liquid has cooked out so that you don’t have a runny filling. A runny filling will only result in a soggy pastry.
Now it’s just a matter of assembling the puffs. I cut up each thawed sheet of pastry into 6 portions and place the filling on one side keeping away from the edge. Run a finger dipped in water along the edges and fold over to seal. Apply an egg wash and bake. You can make these in a larger batch and refrigerate them. Just bring them to room temperature and heat them up on a pan or in the oven and you can sit down to a nice little snack. Very often, I have these with some tomato ketchup and I can safely say, nothing beats it.
Beef mince (each puff requires a spoon of filling)
Frozen puff pastry sheets, as many as you need (Each sheet yields 6 pieces)
1 egg, for the egg wash
Preheat the oven to 220ºC (follow the package instructions if you’re using puff pastry).
Place the thawed puff pastry sheet on a flat work surface and cut into 6 potions. Place a spoon of the filling on one side of each puff staying away from the edges like so –
Keep a little bowl of water near your work surface. Dip a finger in the water and run on the edges of each puff.
Flip the empty half over onto the side with the filling and seal the edges. Place it on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Crack an egg in another bowl and beat lightly. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash over the puffs. This gives it a lovely golden brown glaze.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or till golden brown.
Enjoy them warm.
While looking for a recipe to make for this month’s reveal, I narrowed it down to her Buttermilk Cheddar Chive Bread, a very interesting Fruit Pizza, these droolworthy Garlicky Bacon & Cheddar stuffed Burgers and this refreshing Greek Pasta Salad. However, when I saw this Brownie Pudding post, my mind was made up. I love pudding and I love Brownies, so I new I had to try this Brownie Pudding.
It was easy to put together and requires just a few pantry staples. My favourite part of this recipe was not having to wait for it to cool down. You can enjoy it warm with some Vanilla ice-cream, which is exactly what we did. These puddings have the most delicious crusty top that is beautifully chewy and a warm, gooey centre, perfection. I was thrilled, because until today I’d only seen gooey centres on the television and here I was sitting with an individual pudding with the perfect gooey centre. Thanks Anna for a lovely recipe.
I stuck to the original recipe, only I made them in individual ramekins and I agree with her on the portions. I made 3 individual portions, but 4 would have been much better. That’s just something I’ll have to make note of for when I make this again.
115g butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder + 1 tbsp
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream, to serve with (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Grease 3 individual ramekin bowls and set aside.
Beat the eggs and sugar, till thick and creamy, light yellow.
Sift the cocoa powder and flour together.
Add this to the eggs and sugar mix and mix together until combined.
Add the melted, cooled butter and again mix until just combined.
Pour the batter into prepared ramekin bowls or a larger bowl that has been greased.
Place these bowls in a water bath (A water bath is a larger baking dish filled with hot water that reaches about halfway the height of the bowls.)
Carefully place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes if you are making one large bowl. If you are making individual portions, like I did, bake for about 30-35 minutes.
Test by inserting a toothpick near the edge of the bowl. When it comes out mostly clean it is done. Don’t overbake as you want to have the middle a little gooey.
Let it cool for about 15-20 minutes and serve with vanilla ice-cream, if desired.
Here’s the pudding bowls, just out of the oven –
Just so you know, you too can get the perfect gooey centre 🙂
Don’t forget to check what the other members of Group A posted –
It was the perfect choice for me. I got to use the pumpkin in a sweet bake. And it made for the perfect breakfast on the go option, since I start work at 7 am now. (Gasp!) It keeps really well in the fridge too. This batch actually kept for a little over a week. All I did was take out the one or two we needed at the time and popped in the microwave for a few seconds to get the chill off and I ended up with a nice, warm, moist, flavourful muffin. I was more than pleased with this recipe and I can safely say I’ll be trying my hand at some more sweet recipes with pumpkin in the future. This recipe makes quite a few muffins. I made some in the muffin moulds and the rest I poured into a bundt pan and got a little cake out of it.
You will notice that the muffins look a little different. Well, I forgot to add stir in the fruit and nuts before pouring the batter in the pan so I just added a few to each muffic. The ones on top with the raisins and nuts visible clearly are those ones. That was the time I added the fruit and nuts to the batter and the muffins on the lowest row are made from that batter. I think I like the ones where I can see the raisins clearly better visually. So I’ve decided the next time I make these, I will stir in most of the fruit and nuts but reserve a few to place over each unbaked muffin so the look like they’re studded with little jewels. 🙂
The original recipe calls for canned pumpkin. I can’t find canned pumpkin at the local supermarket, so I used a whole Kent pumpkin and made my own puree.
Country Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from: Taste of Home
Makes about 26-28 muffins
(I got one dozen muffins and a little bundt cake)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 raisins (the original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cup)
1 cup chopped pecans (the original recipe uses walnuts but I didn’t have any)
To make the pumpkin puree –
Cut the pumkin in quarters / wedges.
Don’t worry about the skin. Leave it on for now. Its easier to take it off after baking.
Take out the seeds and membrane. You can roast the seeds to snack on. Discard the membrane.
Place the pumpkin skin side down on a lined baking tray and baked it in the oven at 180ºC for about 30-40 minutes or till the flesh of the pumpkin is tender. Test with a fork or a knife.
Let it cool. The skin just peels off. You may need to peel the skin off gently with a knife, but it comes off pretty easily.
Mash the flesh using a potato masher or you could puree it in a food processor, if you like. I just used the potato masher.
I used a smallish pumpkin and ended up using all the puree for this recipe, but any excess you may have can be frozen to use later.
To make the muffins –
Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
In a large bowl, mix the sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin puree and water till combined.
In another bowl combine the dry ingredients, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spice powders and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin puree mix and blend well. Don’t overmix.
Fold in the raisins and chopped nuts.
Spoon batter into a lined muffin pan.
|Without the raisins & nuts —- with them added on top — a combination of both|
Bake for about 15 minutes or till done.
If you are baking the batter as a larger cake, it will take longer. My bundt cake baked for about 50 minutes.
This month for the SRC reveal, I was assigned Nicole’s blog, Daily Dish Recipes. I’ve admired Nicole’s blog for years and then somehow in the recent past I lost touch with it. I was so excited to learn that I was assigned her blog this month. Choosing a recipe to make for the reveal was not easy. After shortlisting a few, I was left with 23 recipes and after tossing to and fro between them for a few days I was no closer to picking one. The only thing that helped me decide this month was the weather Gods. We’re smack bang in the middle of our first heat wave of the season, and we still have 2 months of Spring to go, Yikes!!! I needed to pick a recipe the would cool us down and would involve little or no cooking. I quickly looked through my shortlist and I was down to 2 recipes – Homemade Fruit Irish Cream Sodas and Gingerbread Milkshakes. I had pinned the Irish Cream Sodas to try a couple of years ago and I fully intend trying it out. But in the end, my love for Christmas won and I went with the Gingerbread Milkshakes. I wanted to have a nice cool drink to serve up around the holiday season. This milkshake was really delicious, I can see myself serving this at other times of the year too. There are just two components to this recipe, making the gingerbread syrup and then blending everything together. Making the syrup was really easy and my whole house smelled like Christmas. The flavours were beautiful, but I will make the syrup stronger the next time, that way I wont need to add too much and will be able to control the sweetness. But its an absolute winner of a recipe. Thank you Nicole 🙂 I halved the recipe and those are the quantities mentioned below. I made absolutely no changes (except leave out the whipped cream for the topping) and was very happy with the result.
For the syrup:
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
For the milkshake:
30 ml milk
210 ml French Vanilla ice cream
Ground cinnamon, to sprinkle over
In a large saucepan, mix the water, sugar, ground ginger, vanilla and ground cinnamon and bring the mixture to a boil.
Once it has started boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and let the syrup simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Store in syrup in a jar as you will have syrup left over.
In a blender, mix 1-2 tbsp gingerbread syrup, the milk and the ice cream and blend well. Taste and add more syrup if needed and blend well.
Pour into glasses and spinkle ground cinnamon on top to pretty it up.
Don’t forget to check out what the other Group A members have posted this month.
I usually make my favourite pork curry and we enjoy it. Apart from that, I’ve only ever made these pan-fried pork chops and thats how long my pork recipe repertoire is. Now that’s just wrong and needed to be fixed. You will see a few more pork recipes coming up. When I was on the lookout for some interesting ways to cook pork, I came across this recipe. I have heard so much about how good pork belly is and also how good a sticky Asian glaze can be, so obviously the two together had to be even better, right? I was so right. The original recipe calls for the pork to be cooked for 2 whole hours. While I’ve done this before when I didn’t have access to my pressure cooker, I knew I wasn’t going to slow cook it this time. I used my pressure cooker and in about 15-20 minutes achieved the same lovely tenderness. If you haven’t tried using a pressure cooker before, you should. Maybe borrow it from a friend and see if it works for you. I use mine all the time. I use it to cook meat, boil dry beans (instead of buying canned ones), boiling potato and beetroot and so much more. I cannot imagine life without my pressure cooker. Oh wait, I did have to wait for a whole year before I got mine from back home and it wasn’t fun. It just cuts down cooking time drastically and you save on gas/energy by cutting down on cooking time. That’s a win-win in my book. I hope to share more pressure cooker recipes with you in future.
Back to the pork belly. There’s beautiful flavour in the meat and the glaze is just a wonderful bonus. One thing I should mention is be very careful when the meat is in the pan, there is a lot of serious popping that goes on and you don’t want to burn yourself. Frying the pork adds some lovely crunchy bits to the pork. So you end up with tender, succulent meat, crunchy bits and a sticky glaze. Yum!!! I served this pork up with a bowl of warm noodles and some stir fried Asian greens.
Chinese Sticky Pork Belly
Adapted from: Kitchen Sanctuary