Rice Pudding (Kheer) with a hint of Saffron – #MyWarOnWaste

Hello! It’s me. I’m so glad you are still here. I’ve been missing on the blog recently as we’ve just moved house. But I’m happy to report that after a couple of insane weeks of packing, cleaning and unpacking, we are mostly settled in and I’m back to my regular routine. While this was happening, winter seems to have well and truly set it. You won’t find me complaining, because I LOVE winter. Its the season for soups, stews, warm puddings and lots of baking – all my favorite kind of things.

Speaking of warm puddings, I have a list of them I want to make this winter and hope the next few weeks will give me an opportunity to share them with you here. I have always wanted to try making some rice pudding (known as kheer in India) at home. Each time I walk by the frozen dessert section at Coles, I’m tempted to pick up a pot of rice pudding. But I don’t, because surely it couldn’t be too hard to make some at home. The problem is, I just never got around to doing it. Until now.

Usually rice pudding is made using uncooked rice. I recently found myself with some leftover plain Basmati rice from lunch and I didn’t want it to go to waste. Waste not, want not, right? So I decided that I was going to try and use it to make some rice pudding instead. After a little searching, I found just the recipe I was looking for. A no-nonsense approach to a rice pudding that used leftover rice. You’ve probably ended up with some extra rice from an Indian takeout lunch / dinner on occasion. Don’t throw that stuff out. Transform it into this glorious, rich and creamy rice pudding in no time with a few pantry staples.

 BTW has anyone seen the latest mini series on ABC called War on Waste. Such an eye opener. It is shocking how much food is wasted regularly in households, among other wastage. This is a great way of reducing household food wastage. I love finding ways to reduce wastage. Do you have any recipes that use leftovers and cut down on food wastage? Tag them on Instagram using #MyWarOnWaste and lets help inspire people to reduce waste.

So go ahead and try it out. You can serve it as a beautiful tea time treat or as dessert. Any leftovers can be refrigerated. You can enjoy your rice pudding both warm or cold. Personally, I prefer mine warm, which works really well on colder days. I’m really glad I tried making this pudding at home. Who knew that something this tasty and satisfying could be this simple to make.

My rice pudding has a yellowish tint because I added a few strands of saffron to the pot while cooking it. You can leave it out and it will look like regular rice pudding.

Rice Pudding
Adapted from: Fatima Cooks


1 cup cooked rice (I used leftover Basmati rice)
2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
A few strands (4-6) saffron (optional)
A few raisins
A few almonds, roughly sliced / chopped

Place the rice, milk, sugar, cardamom powder and saffron strands in a pot.

Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously but gently. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the pan regularly. Cook till the milk has reduced and has become a thick, cream like consistency. It is okay if some of the rice grains break down. It helps thickening the pudding. But don’t mash the rice completely. You want a little texture in there.

How thick you want the pudding to be, is upto you. Just before it is done, add the raisins. Turn it off the heat when it has thickened to your liking. I find that heating the raisins through the pudding plumps them up a bit and makes them extra yummy, rather than just placing the raisins on top.

Serve in bowls and top with some sliced / chopped almonds.

Enjoy!!!

If you want more ideas like this to help reduce food wastage and save money, follow me on Pinterest here.

SRC: Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Hello everyone and welcome to our August installment of the Secret Recipe Club.  This month I was assigned Traci’s blog, Burnt Apple. What a fun adventure looking through her blog was. She has so many recipes I want to try; and so many ingredients I’ve never worked with before. A lot of her recipes are healthier versions because Traci strongly believes in using whole foods and natural sweeteners, from what I’ve seen. That being said, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t have some fun recipes in there – check out these Bacon Cheddar Fries, Baked Churros, Crispy Cinnamon Raisin French Toast and this Baked Blueberry French Toast. I’m hoping to try these out sometime soon. But after a month of packing, moving, unpacking and settling in, while working full time. I needed something comforting and super simple. Something warm would be a bonus, because we are smack bang in the middle of winter. So, I decided to try out her Healthy Hot Cocoa Mix for reveal day. But that’s not all. I have a bonus recipe, yup I made a second treat from Traci’s blog that I will share later in the week.

So back to this mix. You wouldn’t believe how easy this was. 3 ingredients in a bowl, mix everything together and store. Then you simply store as needed. Traci used a healthier sweetener for her mix, but I used her basic version, using what I had on hand, which is why I’m calling it simply a Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix. I’m thinking this would make a fantastic present for Christmas, all dressed up – atleast for those of you who have a wintery Christmas. As for me and my husband, we are going to enjoy this right now. **slurrp**

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix


3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar (I will cut this down to 3/4 cup next time) (Adjust to your liking)
1 tbsp cornstarch

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl thoroughly.

Store in an airtight container.

To use, simply place 2 tbsp of the mix in a mug and top off with milk.

Either heat in the microwave for 60 seconds and then in 30 second increments till it is hot enough for you. Or simply heat in a saucepan on the stovetop on a low heat, till it is hot enough for you.

… and ofcourse, every hot chocolate is better with some marshmallows 🙂

Don’t forget to check out what other bloggers in Group A have whipped up for this reveal!

SRC: Carrot, Cumin & Tomato Soup

Okay, so it’s time for the July edition of SRC. The last month has just whizzed by. Its been a huge whirlwind of activity. We’ve had to hunt and finalize another place to move into as our current lease is almost done. That, along with a full time job that sometimes feels more than a full time job has taken over the last month. I haven’t had time to do much else. But I did do this assignment for today’s reveal. And it was so very good.

For this month’s SRC assignment I had Karen’s blog, Lavender and Lovage. If you haven’t visited Karen’s blog yet, you should, you really should. Karen is a freelance writer and recipe developer who toggles between Yorkshire and France. These influences on her food is evident. Her blog is gorgeous and she has one of the most delicious recipe lists I’ve come across. I literally wanted to make every second recipe I saw, if not every single one. I was torn between these perfect Scotch Eggs, these super comforting Beer Battered Fish and Chips and this gorgeous Dark Sticky Double Gingerbread. I still intend trying all of these but I needed something that was not too fussy, but was still delicious and comforting. So when I saw Karen’s recipe for the Carrot, Cumin and Tomato Soup, I knew I had found a winner. I had the carrots and tomatoes on hand. All I had to do was pick up a little cream and croutons of some sort. I got some bagel crisps and they were beyond perfect. This soup is so easy to make and with just a few basic ingredients, its hard to believe how delicious and hearty it turned out. Thanks Karen, this is a soup I know I will make often.

I stuck with the original recipe, except I halved it, since I was cooking for just the two of us .The only tiny change I made was I used fresh coriander leaves as a garnish instead of the parsley used in the original recipe.

 


Carrot, Cumin & Tomato Soup
Serves 3-4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 carrots, diced
4 tomatoes, sliced
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 litre of vegetable / chicken stock
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
A couple of tbsps. cream, to top of the soup bowl (optional)
Fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
Bagel crisps, or any other croutons of your choice

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and onion and stir fry till the onions have softened and slightly browned.

Add the cumin powder, tomatoes and carrot and saute for a minute.

Cover the pot and let it all cook for about 5 minutes till the tomatoes get a little mushy and the cumin is nice and fragrant.

Add the hot stock and stir well.

Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 30 minutes or till the carrots are cooked through and are nice and tender.

Let it cool a little and then carefully blitz the soup using an immersion blender or a regular blender.

Serve up with some croutons and garnish with a drizzle of about a tablespoon of cream and fresh coriander leaves.

Enjoy!!!

Don’t forget to check out what the other blogger’s in Group A whipped up for today’s reveal.

SRC:Zucchini Spinach Soup

The last couple of months have somehow seemed to sneak past. It is hard to believe that it is May 2016 already. The good part about coming into a new month is the SRC reveal day. This month, I was assigned Sally’s blog, Bewitching Kitchen. I was so excited when I got this assignment. I’ve always been a huge fan of Sally’s blog. Sally is a fascinating person. By day, she is a Biochemist. She also is an exercise fanatic. Originally born in Brazil, she has spent time living in Paris and now is in the USA. You can see delicious influences from all these places in her cooking and on her blog. If you love bread like I do, you are in for a treat. Go and have a look at Sally’s blog. She has a plethora of bread recipes. While you are there, don’t forget to check out the antics of 3 of the most adorable little doggies you have ever seen. I had an amazing time getting to know Sally a little better. And there are so many recipes I can’t wait to try, like this Baked Coconut, these Coconut Brigadeiros, a delicious Cappuccino Panna Cotta and a savoury Brazilian delicacy called Coxinha De Galinha, just to name a few. The Bewitching Kitchen is one blog where you want to try out pretty much every recipe you see. I finally settled on a savoury one this month.

The weather has started cooling down here and when that happens, I find myself longing for soup. In the past, I have to admit, I’ve almost always ripped open a packet of instant soup and made do with that. In the last couple of years though, I have tried out a couple of homemade soups and I’ve enjoyed them so much, I have decided to make a few more this year and to get that started I picked Sally’s Zucchini Spinach Soup for this month’s reveal. Oh what a recipe this is – delicious, warm and hearty. It is hard to believe that a recipe this simple can be so comforting. I’m enjoying the discovery that making soups at home, from scratch is not as complicated as I thought it would be. Thanks Sally, for a beautiful soup, which will make an appearance on our dinner table on many more occasions.

Zucchini Spinach Soup


1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek (white part finely sliced)
3 medium sized zucchini, slice thickly
1 can butter beans
4 cups water
2 cups baby spinach
Salt, to taste
Black pepper powder to taste
A dollop of yogurt
A squeeze of lemon juice

In a pot, heat the olive oil and add the sliced leek. ‘

Saute till the leek turns golden.

Add the zucchini slices.

Season with salt and pepper and saute till the slices get some colour on them, stirring every now and then.


Add the beans and let it cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the water (you could also use vegetable stock if you like).

Cover the pot and let it come to a boil over high heat.

Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes or till the zucchini slices are tender.

Add the baby spinach leaves and stir. When the leaves wilt, you can take the soup off the stovetop.

I used an immersion blender to blitz this into a nice luscious soup. You could also use a blender if you don’t have an immersion blender. Irrespective of what gadget you use, please, please, please be cautious while blending the soup, because it is scalding hot.

Serve up hot with a squirt of lemon juice and a little dollop of yogurt.

Enjoy!!!

Gulab Jamun … the easy way!

Have I told you how much I love Indian sweets? Probably not. Well, here goes – I love, love, LOVE Indian sweets. I love Indian sweets even more than I love chocolate some days. I know, shocking!!! Isn’t it?

When I lived in Mumbai, I was fortunate enough to have 3 really good Indian sweet shops or Mithaiwalas in the vicinity. Thankfully they weren’t too close. I’d literally go nuts whenever I went there. There were so many options to choose from. And I don’t to well with too many options. I just cannot pick in those situations. Anyway, my indecisiveness aside, one of my favourite Indian sweets has to be Gulab Jamuns. Gulab Jamuns are beautiful little deep fried dumplings soaked in cardamom infused sugar syrup.

I have made Gulab Jamun at home a few times now. Traditionally, the dumplings are made with milk that is reduced to an almost solid state. This process takes atleast an hour. If you live in India, you should be able to go to the store and buy mava / khoya (the reduced milk solids). If you don’t want to spend as much time or money (mava / khoya can be pricey), but still want to sit back and enjoy some home made Gulab Jamun, you have come to the right place. I have found a recipe that will probably take you about half an hour (or thereabouts) to make from start to finish.

If you are someone who has just about started dabbling in Indian food and want to impress your family and friends with some home made Indian dessert, try your hand at this recipe. You will love it and you can count on being hailed a superstar if you bring these to a potluck or any party.

Now, on to the recipe. I cannot take credit for this genious idea. I was watching Better Homes and Gardens one Friday night and I saw Fast Ed make these and I knew then and there that I had to try them out myself. It was too good to be true and the skeptic in me, knew there’d be something different about these. Either the flavour or the texture wouldn’t be right. But I was wrong, so very wrong. These Gulab Jamun turned out just like I remember them. Beautiful luscious dumplings, soft and drenched in the infused sugar syrup. These are best enjoyed a little warm but they are pretty darn good served cold as well. Even in the traditional sweet shops in India the sizes of the dumpling vary. I make them a little smaller because they will expand after frying and soaking in the sugar syrup. I prefer them smaller because that way they cook through quickly and they look so dainty served in a little bowl. I have also seen them made oblong in shape. Either way they are like little bites of heaven.

You could dress them up by sprinkling some pistachio dust (grated/ finely chopped pistachio) over them. They don’t need it, but it looks prettier. I didn’t have any pistachio with me, so I skipped that step.

If you love Gulab Jamun as much as I do, and you’ve been known to pick up some of the tinned stuff you get in the Indian stores or probably even the ready mixes (like Gits etc.), ditch them. You don’t need any of that stuff. Try this recipe out and you’ll never go back to those tins and mixes again.

Gulab Jamun

For the sugar syrup – 
500g sugar
700ml water
4 pods of cardamom

Open the cardamom pods and separate the seeds and the shells.

Place all the ingredients, including the cardamom seeds and shells in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Lower the temperature after it comes to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

Take off the heat and set it aside.

** We usually crush the cardamom seeds to a powder and add that to the syrup. This results in a stronger infusion of flavour. If you haven’t tried cardamom before or aren’t sure how strong the flavour would be, start off by keeping the seeds whole. The favour infused will be subtle. When serving, make sure you discard the seeds and shells first.

** Start off by making the syrup first because it needs to cool a little before you can add the dumplings. The syrup needs to be warm, not scalding hot when the dumplings are put in.

** Do NOT stir the syrup once the sugar has dissolved. Stirring will crystallise the sugar.

For the dumplings – 

220g milk powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ghee / clarified butter
A little milk (approximately less than half a cup)
Oil, for deep frying

Heat the oil for deep frying.

Place the milk powder, all purpose flour, baking powder and ghee in a mixing bowl.

Gradually add the milk a little at a time and bind the ingredients to a dough. It is important to not add too much milk while making the dough. Use just enough to bind everything together.

Shape them into little balls. You want the balls to be smaller than what size you want the finished product because they will expand.

This recipe yield 20-22 massive dumplings or if you’re after little ones, you can get about 45. I got 47 in all. Make sure the dumplings are evenly sized so that they cook evenly.

Test if the oil is hot by placing a tiny pea sized ball in the oil. If it sizzles and rises to the top you’r oil is hot enough and you can proceed. If it just sits in the oil, you need to heat the oil a little more. If the ball just chars, you’re oil is too hot. Take it off the heat for a couple of minutes and then place it back on slightly lower heat and continue.

Have the oil on medium heat.

Carefully, drop the dumplings in the hot oil and fry till golden brown.

Your sugar syrup should have cooled down a little by now, but should still be fairly warm.

Using a slotted spoon, take the dumplings out of the oil and tap off any excess oil and put the dumplings in the sugar syrup straight away. Watch them expand as they soak in the syrup. Gently turn them around in the syrup after about a minute so that is soaks in the syrup on all sides.

Repeat with the rest of the batter. Once the dumpling have soaked in the sugar syrup and expanded a bit, you can carefully take them out into a shallow serving bowl or a baking dish like this one. Pour all the sugar syrup over.

At this stage, you can add the chopped pistachio over.

Sneak a peek at what it looks like on the inside. Soft, melt in your mouth goodness!

Serve warm or cold.

As the person who put made these lovely dumplings, even if you’re making this ahead of time, I urge you to sample some of these warm and you’ll know what I’m talking about. 🙂

Spiced Butternut Pumpkin Soup

You’re probably wondering why I’m posting a soup recipe in the middle of summer. Well, it’s like this – we’ve had about two and a half days of rains now. So everything around is grey, wet and bleak. Don’t get me wrong. I love this kind of weather. All you have to do is snuggle up with a nice hot cuppa and a good read or watch the rain – perfect. Also, it means we get to have soup. I love soup but have not made it from scratch often enough. All I can say is, I am done with the instant and frozen, store-bought varieties. I have had very good results the couple of times I’ve made soup from scratch and come this winter, I hope to make plenty more.

So back to the butternut pumpkin. This is the second time I’m making a butternut pumpkin soup. The last time it turned out really bland and I wasn’t overly impressed, which is why it hasn’t made an appearance on the blog. This time around, I decided I wanted some bold, punchy flavours so I looked around and took a few ideas from around the web. It turned out this recipe was easy, simple to make and has big, bold flavours. I remember thinking the last time, that a little ginger would make this soup so much better and I was right. This soup just warms the cockles of your heart.

I took the idea of topping it up with blue cheese from a recipe I found online. Please do yourself a favour and add the blue cheese. The blue cheese elevates this soup from being a nice soup to being a fantastic one.

Spiced Butternut Pumpkin Soup


700g butternut pumpkin, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp grated ginger
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 – 1 tsp red chilly flakes, or to taste (optional)
1/2 tsp chives
2 tbsp olive oil
1 litre boiling water
1/3 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Blue cheese, to crumble over

In a large pot, over medium heat, pour the olive oil.

Add the garlic and when it is fragrant, add the onion and and saute over medium heat, till softened and translucent. Add the ginger and continue sauteing.

Once the ginger has released its aromas, add the celery, carrot and pumpkin.

Sprinkle the salt, pepper and red chilly flakes and stir well.

Let the veggies, saute for about five minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Add one litre of recently boiled water. (You could add cold water too, but that will increase cooking time. Using hot water results in the soup simmering almost immediately.)

Cover and simmer till the veggies are cooked and tender.

When the vegetables are fork tender, take off the heat.

Using an immersion blender, blitz till you are left with a smooth puree. Add the cream cheese and blitz again.

Add the parmesan cheese and chives and stir through.

Serve hot with a little blue cheese crumbled over.

Enjoy!

Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup

Let me start by saying this has got to be “the best way to eat cauliflower” and this is my favourite soup recipe so far, ever. That is high praise for a recipe that’s as humble as this Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup.

I’d been seeing a lot of cauliflower puree’s popping up all over the place and I was quite eager to try making some myself. That’s what originally prompted me to buy a head of cauliflower. We happened to be at the Flemington markets that weekend and I came across the most gorgeous heads of cauliflower being sold by the the grower himself, a lovely gentleman. I got a pretty great deal on a beautiful head and I was extremely pleased. I was pleased because cauliflower happens to be on the slightly pricey side in Sydney. I paid a fraction of what the prices usually are.

Now let’s talk about the soup. Surprisingly easy to make, I was a little apprehensive about how it would turn out. But I shouldn’t have been. Once this soup was blitzed and finished off, we sat down to a nice bowl of it. Both, my husband and I were amazed at the flavour of this soup. The mustard does wonders for the flavour and you can’t go wrong with a little cheese thrown in. I’m pretty sure that this will be one of our absolute favourite ways to enjoy cauliflower apart from these baked cauliflower poppers. I am so happy to have found another spectacular recipe and can’t wait to share it with you. So if you aren’t too crazy about cauliflower, or have a picky eater at home, try this recipe out and I’m pretty sure they will be converted.

Wisconsin Cauliflower Soup
Recipe from: Butter with a Side of Bread

2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups water
400 ml chicken stock
1 head cauliflower, cut into chunks / florets (2 1/2 pounds)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Red Leicester cheese (original recipe uses sharp cheddar and Pepper Jack), grated

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the onion and cook till golden. This should take around ten minutes.

Whisk in the flour and salt. Cook this off for a couple of minutes, making sure that the flour does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

Gradually stir in the milk, water and the chicken stock.

Add the cauliflower pieces and bring to a boil over high heat.

Cover and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes or till the cauliflower is tender.

Now, if you have an immersion blender, consider yourself lucky and use it to blend the soup. If you’re like me and don’t own one, don’t worry. Use your regular blender and blitz the soup in batches, while keeping the middle portion of the cover open to let the steam escape. I use a tea towel to cover this opening to prevent splatter.

Blitz the soup till smooth and return the soup back to a saucepan.

Return to medium heat till it has heated through, stirring occasionally.

Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the mustard and the cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup of the red Leicester cheese, till smooth.

Serve the soup topped with some of the remaining Red Leicester cheese.

** A little freshly cracked black pepper on the top is also really nice.
**For a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock.

Homemade Split Pea and Ham Soup

So unlike most of you reading this post now, we’re right in the middle of winter, here in Australia. Not just that, we’re in the middle of a polar vortex at the moment. They say this is the coldest its been in the last 20-30 years … brrr!!! A nice warm, hearty bowl of soup hits the spot at a time like this. I’ve always wanted to try some split pea and ham soup. This recent weather seemed like the perfect opportunity.

After looking around the internet for a recipe, I found one I was happy with. I picked up all the ingredients I needed and got to work. I was happy with the fact that I found a pressure cooker recipe, which meant that I could sit down to a nice bowl of soup in a fraction of the time. Since its the middle of the year, I didn’t have any leftover ham. But for those of you that bake a leg of ham around the holidays, using your leftovers would be perfect for this recipe. I bought some smoked ham meat from the supermarket and used it. When I think back, I think I’d be happy even without the ham in the soup. The split pea soup is so flavourful, a vegetarian version would be really delicious as well. All this without the fuss of having to spend hours developing flavour.

I looked at this recipe and this one to get an idea and then from there on I mostly winged it. So here’s my homemade almost homemade split pea and ham soup. If you baked your own ham and made your own stock, you’ve got yourself a made from scratch Split Pea & Ham Soup.  🙂

 Homemade Split Pea & Ham Soup


1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
3 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb dry split peas
1 stock cube (chicken, beef, veg – its upto you)
6 cups water
200-250g ham, diced

Rinse the peas under cold water.

Heat oil in a pressure cooker under medium heat.

Add the bay leaf and onion and saute till onions soften up.

Add the garlic, carrots and celery.

Saute for 4-5 minutes.

Add the peas, crumbled cube and water.

Cover and bring to a boil. After it reaches pressure / till the first whistle, simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes.

Take off the heat and let the cooker release pressure on its own.

When it is safe to open, adjust liquid by adding water if needed.

Adjust salt and freshly cracked pepper if need.

Add the ham, remove the bay leaf and let the meat heat through.

If the soup feels like it needs more cooking, cook till it reaches the desired thickness.

Serve hot.

I crack some black pepper over it after serving it up and

Notes:
** You could use stock instead of the cube and water if you have any at hand.

** This soup keeps well in the fridge. My pot lasted us about 10 days. I just took out small portions and heated it up as I needed it.

** I found that the soup thickened after refrigeration. So each time I need to heat up a portion, I added some hot water to the portion I was heating up, to reach the consistency I like and then heated it through.

SRC Orphan Rescue – Beef N Bean Minestrone

Today, I have an opportunity to put up a second recipe from a different blog for SRC, though I wish it was under better circumstances. I’m picking a recipe from Wendy’s blog – The Weekend Gourmet. Sadly she was left out of this months reveal, since the person who was assigned her blog, didn’t get a post up. That is “So not cool!” I know how disappointing it is to be left out of the fun, since this has happened to me twice in the past. So when I heard that Group A had an orphan this month, I was more than happy to jump in and help out. It would be really great if you could stop over at Wendy’s and say Hi, I know it would make her feel a lot better.

Wendy is a girl after my own heart. She enjoys a lot of the things that I do like travelling, listening to music, watching movies, reading and of course, good food. And get this – she’s actually a celebrity, she’s been on TV and cooked in front of a live studio audience! Wendy, I admire you, I would’ve been a bunch of nerves. One look at her Recipe Index, and you know why she’s had such success in the food world. She has an impressive repertoire and picking just one recipe for today’s post proved to be quite a task. There’s so much that I wanted to try. 
Nevertheless, I chose to make her Sausage-White Bean Minestrone. The temperature in Sydney has been steadily dropping and we are well into autumn. Just yesterday, I told my husband that I wanted to add a few made from scratch soups to my regular rotation. I’ve had quite a few packet soups in the past and I don’t think I can take anymore of those. I figured, I try so hard to make most of my food and condiments from scratch, so why not soups? When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it out. I just made a couple of changes to the recipe based on what I had on hand. Also I halved the recipe. You can visit Wendy’s site for the original recipe. The one below, includes a few changes I made. This soup was fantastic. The flavors were beautiful and even my non-soup-loving husband enjoyed this. Thanks for the inspiration Wendy. I know I’ll be making this soup again.
Beef N Bean Minestrone

1/2 lb Ground Beef
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, grated or finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried Italian herb mix
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 can white beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 can diced tomatoes
4 oz spiral pasta or macaroni (the original called for rigatoni, but you could use whatever you have) {Adjust quantity of pasta to your liking}
Heat the olive oil in a large pot.
Add the ground beef to the pot and over high heat left it brown.
Turn the heat to medium and add the chopped onion, carrot and garlic to the pot and mix well. Let this cook off for 5 minutes till the veggies have softened a bit.
Add the herb mix and stir to distribute well.
Add the diced tomato and stir. Give it a minute to mix with the other ingredients in the pot. Add the stock. Let the soup come to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the pasta / macaroni and beans and cover and let it cook for a further 10-15 minutes based on the cooking time of the pasta.
Serve it hot!
Note: 
1) The original recipe used celery and fresh Italian parsley, which I left out since I didn’t have any.
2) Wendy also used 1/2 cup of red wine, which I left out.

Nana Braganza’s Beef Stew

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Today I am going to share with you a wonderful recipe for which I can take absolutely no credit at all. Yup, you heard that right. This is a recipe that my husband remembers and has committed to memory from watching his mother and Nan cook. Can you believe that!!! I love him to pieces and its things like this that earn him extra brownie points. 🙂 I remember the first time he whipped up this beauty was a few years ago. I was out of town for a couple of weeks on work. I had a few things cooked up and kept in the fridge for him to just heat up and eat while I was away. I knew he was good with puddings, breakfast and the like, but wasn’t too sure if he’d manage mains for lunch and dinner. To my delight, when I got back from my trip, waiting for me was a pot of this beautiful fragrant stew. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. Long story short, we both loved it and from then on, each time we have this stew, my husband actually makes it himself.

This is such a simple recipe and it requires just a handful of ingredients. If you use a pressure cooker to cook your meat, its comes together faster, which is what I did. Unlike typical Indian food, this stew is not spicy but is beautifully flavored. You can serve this up with a couple of slices of hearty bread or croutons or even over steamed rice. I personally think it tastes better on the next day, so we always make a little extra to enjoy for even 2 to 3 meals.

Nana Braganza’s Beef Stew

1lb. beef, boneless (I use what we call undercut, very flavorful n tender, cooks up really fast, but you can use what you have on hand)
4-6 cloves
2″ cinnamon
8 pepper corns
Salt, to taste
Juice of half a lime
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 onions, finely chopped
2 potatoes, cut into small cubes
1-2 fresh green chillies, finely sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
3/4″ ginger, finely chopped or minced
1/2 cup of red wine
2-3 rashers of bacon, skin taken off and chopped into small pieces (optional, but yum)
1/4 tsp crushed black pepper powder
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Cut the beef into 2-3 large pieces.

Sprinkle salt, lime juice and Worcestershire sauce over the meat. Add the cloves, cinnamon and pepper corns and toss well making sure the meat is marinated in this for about 10-15 minutes.

Pressure cook with a couple of cups of water till tender. I cooked it on low for 30 minutes after the first whistle. Let the pressure ease of on its own. Cut the beef into cubes. Reserve the stock.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the bacon. Let the bacon fry a little and release its fats. If you’re using bacon you may want to reduce the amount of oil a little. If your not using bacon, simply move on to the next step.

Add the chopped onions and chillies and saute them.

When the onions have softened a little, add the chopped ginger and garlic and continue sauteing.

After a minute or two add the potatoes and continue sauteing.

Add some pepper powder and stir.

When the onions have slightly started to brown, add the wine to deglaze and add the stock that the beef was cooked in with the whole spices.

Let it come to a boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Add the meat and let it all heat through.

Check for seasoning and adjust if needed. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Once the flavors have fully developed, take it off the fire.

Serve hot.

This recipe has been linked to –
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