Friday, July 23, 2010

Curried Prawns

Dad (Poppa) loved Mum's Curried Prawns, he would rub his hands together with glee and joyfully peel the prawns in anticipation of dinner.  I think of this dish as comfort food.  It is safe, easy to make, reliable and nourishing. Often people are scared of cooking with seafood so I hope you give this a go, because the prawns are already cooked it is hard to mess it up, just make sure you don't cook the prawns again, they will warm through in the sauce! You can vary the curry heat by the quantity of powder or paste you use.  Mum always used Bolts Curry powder, but any paste can be used as well.  This recipe wasn't in Mum's book but a really important dish from her repertoire as we children we will all remember it very well.  I guess she never felt the need to write it down.  I haven't made it for a while so I checked in with Lucy who cooks it for her Peter! It is one of his favourites, and now Alistair has put it on his top ten list for our kitchen.  Let me know how you enjoy it!

½ kg cooked prawns, shelled and cleaned
2 tabs butter or oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tabs plain flour (Gluten Free GF flour is ok)
1 – 2 heaped tsp curry powder or 1 - 2 heaped tabs curry paste
1” fresh ginger grated
1½ cups milk or coconut milk
Squeeze of lemon juice
Chopped coriander or parsley

1. Fry some onions and garlic in oil/butter until soft and golden
2. Mix in curry powder/paste and plain flour
3. Cook for a few minutes, add ginger
4. Add milk/coconut milk and stir until thickens slightly
5. Just before serving, reheat sauce and stir in prawns and lemon juice
6. Serve with steamed rice and chopped coriander/parsley

Steak Temoana

This is an old recipe of Mum's that I haven't seen her cook for years. It is delicious and dead easy to make, also very low fat if you trim the meat well. In Nonna's day many recipes had their flavour boosted with tinned or packet soups and you will see them used a lot in this blog. These soups are little sachets of salt, stock powder, dried veges, and inexplicable additives so I usually prefer to replace them with alternate ingredients as described below. This way I can control how much salt I'm using and avoid all the additives, fresh is best!

1- 1.5 kg Blade Steak
½ tsp Curry Powder
1 pkt dried Mushroom Soup (**use replacement for GF)
2 tsp Mixed Spice
1 cup Dry Sherry
1 tabs Tomato Sauce
¼ cup Vinegar
1 tabs Worcestershire Sauce
2 chopped Onions
12 stoned Prunes
12 Pineapple chunks (tinned)

1. Measure Curry, Mushroom Soup and Spices into a plastic bag
2. Cut meat into 3-4cm squares
3. Toss meat into plastic bag and shake until meat evenly coated
4. Place into casserole dish with other ingredients placing Prunes and Pineapple on top
5. Cook 2 hours in moderate oven 165ºC

** Instead of using the dried Mushroom Soup you can replace it with 2 tsp beef stock powder, 3 tsp GF flour, ½ tsp black pepper, ½ tsp salt. Place in plastic bag with other ingredients as above.  Add a handful of fresh mushrooms sliced or 50g dried porcini mushrooms that have been soaked in hot water for 5 mins and then sliced, add soaking liquid as well.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vegetable Soup

Childhood memories are filled with an amazing vege soup that Mum made and I had forgotten the recipe. We would sit by the open fire and sip soup that was incredibly smooth and the flavours melded in a way that was hard to know what was in it. A sprinkle of chopped parsley, or a sprig as pictured. Thank you Lucy, it is great that you remember it so well. Here is Nonna's vegetable soup as remembered Lucy:

"I have just cooked up a big pot of vegetable soup that Mum taught me about 35 years ago to cook when I first got married!
The soup starts with a big pot of homemade chicken stock. I pulled one out of the freezer made a few weeks ago. I boiled a whole chicken with onion, carrot and herbs. Into the soup pot I just love putting in whatever needs to be used up in the fridge, as Mum did.  Tonight's soup was almost identical to Mum's except I add ginger and often a few Asian ingredients like lemon grass and some chilli or whatever!

Finely chopped Onions, Garlic, Celery, Broccoli, Capsicum
Grated Pumpkin, White Potato, Carrot
Brown Rice and Quinoa grains (GF)
Barley or "Soup Mix" = Mum's favourite
I also added whole Sweet Corn, microwaved and then sliced off the cob
Chopped Parsley, dried herbs or fresh dried herbs
Sea Salt and Ground Pepper

Place all ingredients on the stove simmering for a few hours so it all congeals together and the vegetables soften. Mum's little trick at the end was to add a tin of tomato soup to sweeten it up a bit and add a little more flavour.  I just added a small tin of tomato paste tonight and a spoon of brown sugar instead to do the trick.

Lemon Delicious Pudding

Golden sponge topping and creamy lemon sauce, this pudding is easy to make and always a winner. Ok, I'll admit that I cooked this a little too long... and the boys told me it was burnt! As you can see by the colour of the crust, the oven was a bit hot for too long and the "sponge" came in 2 parts, soft and fluffy, plus a crisp crust.   If you don't overcook it the sponge will stay attached to the crust. This is a pudding that Nonna made over and over but I am sad to say that her version has gone as it was written on one of the 4 pages fallen from her book.  Jill requested this recipe so for her I post this one up. You can see from mine that it is Ok to overcook a little!! Still Yum!! This recipe is adapted from Stephanie Alexander's "Cook's Companion" p394.

2 Lemons
60g Butter
1½ cups castor sugar
3 eggs, separated
3 tabs Self Raising Flour
or use GF flour + ½tsp BP
1½ cups Milk

1. Preheat Oven to 180ºC and butter a 1 litre ovenproof basin or serving dish.
2. Grate the Lemon rind (zest) of 1 Lemon and juice of 2 Lemons
3. Cream Butter and Sugar with zest, add Yolks one at a time
4. Mix in Flour and Milk to make a smooth batter
5. Whisk Egg Whites in a clean bowl until creamy and firm
6. Fold Whites into batter gently and pour batter into prepared basin
7. Stand basin in a baking dish and pour in hot water to come half way up the sides of the basin.
8. Bake for 1 hour.  Allow to cool a little before serving with cream

If you like using a food processer this recipe adapts well, after step 4 put the batter into a mixing bowl and then add the whisked Egg Whites.
I have added a new tab for Gluten Free (GF) as I realise so many of us are catering for Gluten Free diets.  I'll got back over all the previous posts and add the Gluten Free method where possible :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Herb Crusted Baked Chicken

This is Chicken Schnitzel to die for. Not fried, baked, with an incredible flavour and texture that is a sensation every time I eat this! The first time I had this was last summer at beach house holiday, a group of 20 year olds stayed overnight and the girls set out in the morning to make lunch for everyone, which was a real treat.  The recipe is designed for fish, but every time I've had it with chicken fillet, but use fish is you prefer.  So I owe a big thank you to Erica R for introducing this dish to me;  I've made some slight adjustments, let me know what you think.

4 Chicken Fillets
1 bunch flat leaf Parsley
3 cloves Garlic
1 - 3 fresh Chillies
2 -3 slices Bread, crumbed
100g grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Lemon grated rind
2 tabs Almonds finely chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Black Pepper

1. Finely chop Parsley, Chilli, Garlic
2. Combine with Bread crumbs, cheese, almonds and enough olive oil to bind the mixture
3. Slice each Chicken fillet into 3 pieces of equal thickness and lay in a single layer in lightly oiled baking dish
4. Spread the topping over the chicken or fish fillets if preferred
5. Sprinkle with Sea Salt and cracked Black Pepper
6. Bake in hot oven 190ºC for 15 minutes

If you like to use a food processer then just throw in all the ingredients except the chicken!! and the olive oil.  Master Chef has caused a revival of this kitchen toy at my place... so chop everything, mix in some olive oil and the spread over the meat, easy and YUM!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Christmas Pudding (Gran's)

I love a good pudding.
This one is old fashioned, a very small amount of flour and lots of bread crumbs.  It reminds me of a bread and butter pudding, with loads of eggs and fruit and cooked in a water bath or a steamer.  As I was putting the mix together it didn't feel quite right so I booted off an email to Lucy, who has been making the family Christmas puddings for some years now.  She said had always cooked the recipe from Aunt Happy. Lu felt I had the wrong recipe... I scouted through the book and realised that Nonna has 2 recipes , this one is Gran's, her mothers.  I will do Happy's later.

It was a cold winters night, a perfectly lovely time to eat Christmas Pudding. We stirred brandy into the warm custard, just before serving.  Gran served a Clear Brandy Sauce, the recipe is in Nonna's book, but I'm not a fan, it is just brandy, water and sugar thickened with arrowroot.  I prefer Brandy Custard, or Brandy Butter or just Brandy flambe' - pour some brandy onto the pud and light carefully!

225g Currants
225g Raisins
120g Sultanas
½ Glass Rum/Brandy (⅓ cup?)
225g Butter
¾ cup Sugar
½ cup Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tabs Mixed Spice
½ Loaf Stale Breadcrumbs (2 cups?)
5 Eggs

1. Mix fruit with Brandy
2. Cream Butter and Sugar, I used brown sugar, but the recipe didn't specify so white would be ok too.
3. Add eggs one at a time
4. Sift Flour, Baking Powder and Mixed Spice
5. Fold Flour, Bread Crumbs, and Fruits and Brandy into Butter mixture
6. Spoon into well greased and paper lined pudding tin.  Secure the tin so that there is no chance of water leaking inside. I used strings to secure and the paper from a block of butter to line the tin. Make sure that you keep an eye on the process so that there is always plenty of water in the saucepan and boil 4 - 5 hours.
7. Store in the fridge until Christmas and then boil a further 2 hours before serving with brandy Custard.

Recipe for Boiled Custard in another post soon!

N.B. How much is half a loaf of bread in Gran's language? And I'm sure it wasn't fluffy white sliced, so I actually used Gluten Free Potato Bread and decided to measure it out to 2 cups, perhaps you could use a little less, certainly no more. And any bread really would be fine.
How much is half a glass of brandy in Gran's language, a brandy balloon? a sherry glass? I decided it doesn't really matter and settled for a measured 1/3 cup, again you could easily put in more.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mustard Sauce

Nonna's Recipe Book page 3

Mustard Sauce on Corned Silverside/Beef

Mustard Sauce
Served with Corned Silverside

1 tabs dry english mustard powder
1 tabs plain flour
1 tabs sugar
2 tabs white vinegar
1 egg
1 cup or more of cooking liquid from the corned silverside

1. Mix mustard,  flour, and sugar with vinegar and a little extra water if necessary
2. Add the beaten egg and whisk into the cooking liquid in a small saucepan
3. Stir well and let simmer for one minute
4. Serve with hot corned beef
(Source: Nonna's Cookbook)

Corned Beef simmering
Corned Beef (Silverside)
1piece corned beef, it is usually silverside
1 tsp vinegar
6 cloves
12 peppercorns
1 bay leaf

1. Wash the meat to remove some of the salt
2. Allow 40 mins cooking time for each 500g
3. Place meat into a pot of warm water and bring to simmering point
4. Skim froth off and discard, as it comes to the boil
5. Add other ingredients and cook gently for prescribed time
6. Serve hot with Mustard sauce or if serving cold, cool in the liquid
(Source: p27 The Commonsense Cookery Book)

The sauce asks for english mustard powder (Keens),  I never use it so I  added a good tablespoon of grainy mustard instead and reduced the vinegar to 1 tabs, it is a lovely sauce.  So often in this book I am surprised that the good old fashioned recipes are just so good. Am I getting old?
The whole family really enjoyed this meal, I haven't had corned beef for many years, a delicious meal for a change. Pretty simple to prepare, my mother-in-law just cooks the meat "very slowly, with nothing added to the water," but I enjoyed the aromas of clove and bay in the kitchen, the point is don't stress if you don't have everything available.