Welcome to My Kitchen

My personal blog and an account of my adventures in the kitchen. I am a stay at home mum of my two youngest kids, both teenagers. I have four adult children and four grandchildren with one on the way. We live in country NSW, Australia and we love our country life.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Peppered Steak

4 x 125g fillet steaks
2 tbs canned green peppercorns, crushed
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup buttermilk

Combine the steaks, peppercorns and brandy in a small bowl.  Marinate overnight.  (I put mine in in the morning and they were ready for dinner).
Drain, and reserve marinade.
Coat a non stick pan with cooking spray and heat, cook steaks until cooked to desired tenderness.
Remove from the pan and keep warm.
Combine the reserved marinade and buttermilk.  Add to the pan and bring to the boil.  Pour over steaks just before serving.

Serves 4 @ 7 ProPoints per serve.

My sauce split for some reason, I don't remember that happening before.  Next time I might add the marinade to the pan and heat before stirring in the buttermilk.  It still tasted great though.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pumpkin and Tomato Soup

1 cup onions, chopped (about one and a half onions)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 cups water
2 chicken stock cubes, crumbled (or two tsp chicken stock powder)
480g pumpkin, diced
2 cups ripe tomatoes, chopped
chopped parsley or coriander, to serve.
Coat a saucepan with cooking spray, saute the onion until transparent. Add cumin, coriander and nutmeg and heat until aromatic, stirring constantly.
Add water, pumpkin and stock cubes and simmer for ten minutes.
Add tomatoes and simmer a further ten minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Cool a little and process in a blender or processor until smooth.

Serve with a swirl of yoghurt or light sour cream and garnish with fresh coriander or parsley.

Serves 4 @ 0 ProPoints.

This is a recipe that can be tweaked according to your taste.  You could add some crushed or chopped fresh garlic, and cauliflower is great in soups it adds a creaminess that belies its zero points value, just add a bit more water.  This soup freezes and reheats well.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chilli Lime Chicken with Rosti and Salsa

This is an old bbq recipe that we've been using for years, but it's a great Weight Watchers dish because all you count is the chicken, the rest of the marinade is point free.
4 x 125 chicken breasts, pounded to even size if necessary
1/3 cup lime juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbs grated ginger, fresh or bottled
1 small red chilli, seeded and chopped
1 tbs soy sauce
2 spring onions, chopped

Mix all marinade ingredients in a shallow dish and add chicken, turning to coat.  Marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Cook on a bbq or griddle pan until brown and tender. 
Serves 4 @ 5 ProPoints each. 

Avocado and Red Onion Salsa
1/2 avocado chopped
Red onion to taste, chopped (I used about a quarter)
Handful of fresh coriander roughly chopped
Juice of half a lime.
Freshly ground black pepper.
A little salt.
 Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Sit for a while as you cook the chicken.
Serves 4 @ 1 ProPoint each.

Potato Rosti
320g potato, peeled
1 spring onion chopped
1 clove garlic (or more to taste)
1 small egg white, beaten
salt and pepper
2 tsp olive oil

Par boil potatoes, whole or cut in half if large, until just starting to soften on the outside.
Leave to cool, then grate coarsely and mix with other ingredients.  Heat the oil in a medium pan to a fairly high heat, heap four equal spoons of mixture into pan then flatten with an oiled spatula.  Cook until brown, don't be tempted to turn them too soon or they might fall apart.  Turn and cook the other side until brown.
Serves 4@ 3 ProPoints each.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Crunchy Nut Chicken

4 125g chicken breasts, pounded to an even size
2 cups corn flakes
1/3 cup macadamia nuts
1 egg white
1/2 tsp chicken stock powder
1/4 cup skim milk
cooking oil spray

Preheat oven (fan forced) to 180C
Crush macadamia nuts, I do them in the small bowl of my stab blender, or you could use a small food processor.  Crush the cornflakes in the same way or even in a plastic bag with a rolling pin.
Add the chicken stock powder and mix well.
Beat the egg white with the milk.

Dip each breast into the milk mixture then the crumbs, pressing on to coat each side.
Line a baking sheet with baking paper and spray with cooking oil spray.
Place the crumbed chicken onto the tray and spray liberally with the cooking spray.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
Serves 4.
9 ProPoints per serve.
You wouldn't believe how something cooked in the oven with so little oil could be so crunchy outside and succulent and juicy inside, this is a real treasure of a recipe.
I made a healthy salad dressing with some organic apple cider vinegar, honey (I used health giving Manuka) crushed garlic, tahini and a little freshly cracked black pepper.  Everyone loved it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chicken Caesar Salad

Or my version of it. 
I baguette (French bread stick) I used about two thirds of a day old loaf, sliced thinly
2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves of garlic or to taste

Mix the oil with the garlic, let it stand for a bit if time permits so the garlic infuses the oil, then lay the bread on a baking tray and pour over the garlic oil and mix them about, turning them to coat.  Bake in a 150C oven for about 30 minutes or until golden and crisp.

4 anchovies, patted dry with paper towel
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Coddle the egg by placing it into fast boiling water for a minute, then remove immediately and leave to cool.
Put all the ingredients, except the oil, cracking the coddled egg and scraping out the contents,  into a small food processor and process until smooth.  Gradually add the oil in a slow stream and blend until it thickens and emulsifies.

1 baby Cos (Romaine) lettuce
4 rashers of bacon, or more!
2 eggs, just hard boiled
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Shaved parmesan

Cook bacon until crisp.  Drain and break into pieces.  Hard boil two eggs, cool and quarter.

2 chicken breasts, or more if you're hungry
garlic powder
mustard powder
white pepper

Rub chicken breasts with a little garlic powder and mustard powder and sprinkle with white pepper.  Spray a griddle pan with cooking oil spray and char grill, then lower heat and cook through.
When cooked, rest for a few minutes before slicing .  Mine were thick and I didn't pound them so I finished them off in the oven.

Tear lettuce into pieces and put in a serving bowl, top with chicken, grated parmigiano, then add the dressing and toss.  Top with bacon, croutons, eggs and toss again, then top with some shaved parmesan and serve.
I was so nervous about this recipe because I never make up my own, but the family polished it off and said it was great (and I didn't have to pay them this time).  There was none left.  You could use less chicken, or more, no eggs, and no shaved parmesan.  The dressing is the key here.  You could also put the grated parmigiano into the dressing, I sprinkled it onto the salad. 
It really is worth buying the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, it's expensive, but I wrap mine in foil and put it in the freezer and when grated like that, a little really goes a long way.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Little Beef Wellingtons

These tasty little parcels are an easy alternative to the classic recipe. 

4 fillet steaks
8 button mushrooms
1 tbs butter
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 sheets frozen puff pastry (we use the reduced fat ones)
1 1/2 tbs Gravox (gravy powder)
4 fresh sage leaves
freshly ground black pepper

Slice the mushrooms and cook them in the butter till browned, add the garlic right at the end and turn off the heat, stirring them around before leaving to cool a bit.

Mulch them up with a stab blender or a food processor.  I am in love with my Breville Platinum stick blender set.
Blend till it's a coarse paste type texture.  Then add the gravy powder and mix it in.
Thaw the pastry sheets then cut them into four.  Spread a heaped teaspoon of the mushroom mixture over each side of the steak and place on the pastry square, then cover with another square and press down all around the steak to make a parcel, crimp with a fork to seal, cut off the excess pastry to make a neat parcel and brush with melted butter.  Put a sage leaf on each parcel, pressing down to make them stick.
Bake in a preheated 220C (200 fan forced) for fifteen minutes or until the pastry is puffed up, then reduce the heat to 180C (160C fan forced).
Cook a bit longer if you like your steak well done, the above temps give a medium steak, just the way we like it.

Little Prawn Cocktails

Cocktail Sauce
1/4 cup tomato sauce (ketchup)
1/4 cup cream ( I use light thickened cream)
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco sauce to taste (we like a lot to give it a kick)
freshly ground black pepper
Mix all together in a jug, taste to adjust seasonings to personal preference.
Put some shredded iceberg lettuce into tall shot glasses, or cocktail glasses, add four fresh, cooked prawns, we used tiger prawns.  Carefully pour the dressing over the prawns and garnish with an unshelled prawn.  Serve with buttered light rye or wholemeal bread triangle and a lemon wedge.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Salmon Quiche

This is a very old Weight Watchers recipe (sue me!)  It was in the very first recipe book I bought when I joined (the first time) and has been made many, many times over the past 12 years or so.  It is now one of Joshua's favourite meals and tonight he actually helped me make it for his dinner.  The recipe states pink salmon but we use red when we can get it cheaply, and this time we tried a Woolies brand "wild caught Alaskan red salmon" that was on special.  It turned out better than ever and we're sure it was the salmon although Josh says it was the bones. ?? 

1 x 425g tin salmon
2 eggs
4 sheets filo pastry
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tbs lemon juice
60g grated low fat tasty cheese
1 tbs snipped chives

Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced)
Spray a quiche dish with cooking oil spray.
Lay filo in a criss cross, then diagonal pattern in the dish then fold the overhanging bits in.

Remove bones from salmon, flake then arrange on top of the pastry.  Sprinkle over the onion, lemon juice, chives, and a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Mix the milk with the eggs and pour over the salmon mixture, then top with the cheese.
Bake for about 45 minutes or  until brown on top and the tip of a sharp knife comes out clean.
Serves 4.
8 ProPoints if red salmon is used
7 if pink salmon is used.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Slow Cooked Beef with Red Wine and Peppercorns

I love to buy meat when it's marked down and then figure out what to do with it. I once overheard a woman say she would never buy marked down meat. More for us sensible people I say!
This was a smaller piece of blade, probably only about 950g. I found this recipe for the slow cooker.
1 tbs olive oil
1.2kg-piece beef bolar blade
2 large brown onions, halved, cut into thin wedges
375ml (1 cup) red wine
250ml (1/2 cup) beef stock
1 x 30g can green peppercorns, drained
4 large fresh thyme sprigs
3 fresh or dried bay leaves
2 whole peeled garlic cloves

Heat half the oil a pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook,
turning occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until browned.
Transfer to a plate.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and
cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Put
the beef, red wine, stock, peppercorns, thyme and bay leaves and garlic into the slow cooker with the garlic and onion. Cook on low for eight hours.

Transfer beef to a plate. Cover to keep warm. Simmer the sauce on the stove until it reduces, or as I did, add some cornflour to thicken it.
Cut the beef thickly across the grain. I served it with garlic mashed potato and beans and carrots with an almondine type sauce, flaked almonds sauteed in butter then with a dash of lemon juice. Not everyday fare due to the high fat but delicious and matched the beef perfectly.
I did a single serve of couscous for Em but there was so much we had a bit too. I will definitely make this again, the flavours were wonderful. I used a young Merlot, but I think an older, softer red wine would work better.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Curry Night!

Last night we had an Indian style feast. I make a very easy and simple lamb curry which can be tweaked according to time and ingredient constraints. In fact if you always have beef or lamb in the freezer, tins of tomatoes and either coconut milk or evaporated milk, bottled garlic, chilli and ginger and basic spices this is something you can throw together easily.

Easy Lamb Curry

1 tbs ghee or oil (cooking oil spray can be used to cut down on fat)
750g beef or lamb, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped (can be substituted for 2 tsp bottled minced garlic)
2 chillies, chopped (or 2 tsp bottled minced chilli) or to taste
1 tbs grated fresh ginger (1 tbs bottled minced ginger)
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs ground coriander
1/2 - 1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
400g (13oz) tin crushed tomatoes
1 cup coconut milk or evaporated milk flavoured with coconut

Heat the ghee or oil in a large pan and brown the meat in small batches. Remove from the pan. Cook the onion, stirring until it is just soft. Add the garlic, chilli, ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Cook off the spices until fragrant, cooking the spices is the secret to a good curry.
Stir in the salt and tomatoes. Simmer, covered, for 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender.
Stir in the coconut milk and simmer uncovered, for another 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.

I do this is the slow cooker now, yesterday I was late putting it on so I cooked it for about 4 1/2 hours on high (I usually cook it for 8 on low) and it was great. I don't reduce the liquid as it's only a tin of tomatoes. A garnish of fresh coriander is nice. Yesterday I used fresh garlic, chilli and ginger and I have to say the flavour was better than when I've used bottled stuff.
We had it with

Channa Dhal

1 tin chickpeas, rinsed
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
400g can tomatoes
2 tbs coconut cream
2 tsp salt

Heat oil in large pan, cook onion, stirring until onion is browned lightly. Add ginger, garlic, spices and seeds, cook, stirring, until fragrant.

Add undrained crushed tomatoes, coconut cream, salt and chickpeas, cook, stirring, about 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened.

Serves 4 - 6.
This is a really quick easy and tasty dish, it can be an accompaniment or eaten with naan or roti. My fussy son loves it.

I also made

Lemon and Saffron Rice

1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
1/4 tsp saffron threads
2 tbs ghee
2 small onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
6 curry leaves
2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 cups basmati rice, washed, drained
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

Bring stock to boil in medium pan, remove from heat, stir in saffron, cover, stand 15 minutes.
Heat ghee in medium pan, cook onions, garlic, ginger and curry leaves, stirring, until onions are browned lightly. Stir in rind and rice. Add stock to rice mixture, simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid absorbed. Stir in juice and coriander leaves and stand covered for 5 minutes.
Serves 4 - 6.


I medium Lebanese cucumber
1 tsp ghee
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 cup yoghurt
2 tbs chopped fresh mint
1 tbs lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Peel cucumber, halve lengthways, discard seeds. Chop cucumber coarsely. Heat ghee in small pan, cook seeds and cumin, stirring, until seeds pop, cool.
Combine spice mixture with cucumber and remaining ingredients in small bowl.
Cover refrigerate at least 2 hours.

We had shop bought naan bread and broccoli, cauliflower and carrot in fresh ginger and sesame oil.
I also made an easy Indian style dessert.

Shahi Turka

6 slices stale white bread
2 tbs ghee
375ml evaporated milk
1/2 cup milk
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods, bruised (just press down lightly with the side of a knife till they crack a bit)
pinch saffron threads
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tbs flaked almonds
1 tbs chopped shelled pistachios

Using a cookie or scone cutter cut bread slices into rounds.
Heat half the ghee in a large pan, cook half the bread rounds until browned both sides. Repeat with remaining ghee and rounds.
Arrange rounds, overlapping slightly, in shallow 1 litre (4 cup) ovenproof dish.
Combine evaporated milk, milk, spices and sugar in large pan, stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved then simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain into small bowl.
Pour mixture over bread rounds, sprinkle with nuts, stand for about 30 minutes. Bake uncovered in moderate oven for about 15 minutes or until browned lightly.

Tip - Living in a country town we can't always get the ingredients we need. I buy curry leaves (and kaffir lime leaves for Thai cooking) when I am in the city and keep them in the freezer, just taking out what I need for a recipe. I also keep my saffron in the freezer.