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Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Texan style feast

I have a friend who lived in Texas when she was little.  I mentioned to her once before that I have recently discovered the cut of meat known as brisket which is NOT well known or popular in Australia.  She said her Father used to cook brisket, so I decided to cook this for her and her family.  I served the brisket cut up and coated in a serving sauce, cornbread, baked beans, slaw and for dessert we had a peanut butter pie with whipped cream (yummmeeeeee).  She said it was very similar to what she remembered when she was in Texas (but her Father enjoyed chilli so they had a lot more spice in their food that what I had).

Oven Roasted Brisket:
Trim all the fat from the brisket, then massage the dry rub mixture into both sides of the meat making sure it is well coated.  Place the meat on a wire rack over a baking tray in a slow oven and cook for first 30 minutes uncovered to allow the rub to crust a little, then cover with foil and continue cooking.  Every 30 minutes ensure that you baste with the basting sauce.  Cooking times are 30 - 45 minutes per 500 grams.  Don't even think about increasing the heat or reducing the cooking time, rumour has it that brisket is like shoe leather if it isn't slow cooked at a low temperature.  When you are ready to serve finely slice and place in serving dish and spoon over the hot serving sauce making sure all the meat is thoroughly coated.

Dry Rub:
Mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup paprika, 1 tablespoon each of black pepper, salt, chilli powder and onion powder and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Basting Sauce:
Combine 1/4 cup red wine, 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon each of ground coriander and mustard powder and a few drops of tabasco sauce.

Serving Sauce:
Combine 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 can tinned tomatoes, 1 chopped green capsicum, 1 chopped onion, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons spicy sauce (I used a plum and shiraz sauce that I had in the pantry), 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, a sprinkle each of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and black pepper.  Simmer until capsicum is tender.

Sift 1 cup of polenta, 1 cup SR flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt into a bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups milk, 60 grams melted butter, 1 egg and 2 tablespoons maple syrup.  Mix into flour and stir until well combined.  Spread into a greased and lined 20x20cm baking pan, sprinkle with extra polenta.  Bake for approx 25 minutes in a moderate oven until cooked when tested.  I put fresh rosemary leaves and dried chilli flakes in mine but I was advised that this was not necessary.

Baked Beans:
Chop 1 onion and cook in 1/2 cup butter in a medium saucepan.  Add 3/4 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon mustard powder and 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.  When well combined, pour into an oven proof dish and add 1.2 kg canned beans (I use 2 cans of cannellini and 1 can of red kidney beans but you can vary this according to what you have in the cupboard or your own personal taste).  Bake for 1 hour in a hot oven.  Optional - when ready to serve, top with chopped fresh coriander leaves.

Shred 2 cups cabbage and  finely chop 1/2 an onion.  Mix 2 tablespoons white vinegar and 2 tablespoons mayonaise with 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.  Add dressing to cabbage mix and mix well.

Peanut Butter Pie:
This is a recipe that I have been wanting to try from a fellow blogger.  For this recipe you will need to go to Pastry Hall Bakery http://pastryhallbakery.blogspot.com/2011/07/peanut-butter-pie.html
(it was fantabulous - yes it was so good that I am making words up.  My daughter had two pieces for breakfast this morning).  I had to "Australianize" a few of the terms before I made this - a graham cracker crust is made with wheatmeal biscuits, butter, cinnamon and sugar (similar to a cheesecake crust), powdered sugar is icing sugar mix and cool whip is canned whipped cream.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What to do with Fruit Pulp

Well I got the fruit juicer and have been making fresh orange juice and apple juice.  There is quite a bit of fruit pulp left over from this.  As I don't like wasting food I set myself the task of making sure that I use this in cooking.  I have frozen some of the orange pulp to use in summer when I don't have any fresh local oranges (and because I am making so much pulp and can only cook and eat so many goodies).

Fruit pulp is a good source of fibre that you are missing out on if you just drink the juice instead of eating the whole fruit and because it is the fruit fibre with the liquid removed it is quite dense and filling.

The Apple and Spice bread does not contain preservatives and needs to be eaten within a few days of making.  We ate it fresh, then made French toast with it for breakfast the next morning.  That evening I made the leftovers into a Bread and Butter Pudding.  It was all very good.

Orange Cookies:
Mix 1 egg with 1 cup of orange pulp (you could alter this recipe and use any kind of fruit pulp), 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon bicarb soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 cups plain flour, 1/2  teaspoon each of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon and 1 cup sultanas.  You could also add nuts but I didn't as the kids go to a "nut free" school.

Drop by the spoonful onto a prepared baking tray. Bake in a moderate oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 30.

Apple and Spice Bread:
I used my breadmaker for this so you might have to adapt this recipe to suit your breadmaker or to make in oven if you don't have a breadmaker.  Place 250ml water, 125 ml apple juice, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 4 cups plain flour, 2 tablespoons milk powder, 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg and 2 teaspoons of yeast into bread pan.  Select "sweet" setting (lower temperature and longer baking time) and add 1 cup apple pulp and 1/2 cup sultanas at the beep.  This takes about 3 1/2 hours to cook.

Apple and Spice French Toast:
Mix 1 egg, 1 cup cream and 1 dessert spoon of castor sugar in a large bowl.  Dunk bread in and coat well.  Fry in butter until golden brown on both sides then top with cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately.

Apple and Spice Bread and Butter Pudding:
Butter 6 slices of bread and lay in a lightly greased pudding dish.  Heat 1 cup cream, 1 cup milk and vanilla pod (or essence if you don't have a vanilla pod) in a saucepan until boiling, then remove vanilla pod if using.  Mix eggs and sugar in a bowl, then whisk in the hot milk mixture.  Pour over the bread and allow to stand for 20 minutes to soak in.  Cook in a slow - moderate oven for approximately 40 minutes or until custard is just set.  Let stand for 10 minutes, then brush with apricot jam.  Delicious hot or cold.

Apple Cupcakes:
Beat 110 g butter with 110g castor sugar until light and fluffy.  Add two eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence and mix well.  I had half a jar of brandy butter in the fridge that I wanted to get rid of so I threw that in as well.  Add the fruit pulp (I used about 6 apples worth of pulp - sorry didn't actually measure it but was probably about 1-2 cups) and 110 g SR flour.  Mix and spoon into patty pans and cook in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes or until cooked when tested.  I was going to ice these with either a caramel or custard flavoured icing which I thought would be interesting with apple cake, but most of them got eaten as soon as they came out of the oven.  They would probably be good eaten cold as well.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Parsley, Onions, Rosemary and Thyme

Not much happening in the garden at the moment as all the fruit has ripened and we don't have anything except the herbs and spinach to harvest at the moment.

We were digging around in the garden of the new house and found some onions and a potato plant.  We suspect that the previous owner composted all of her kitchen scraps by throwing them randomly in the garden and the onions and potatoes simply grew where they landed.  In amongst this was a huge amount of  flat leaf parsley and thyme.  We pulled up and replanted the onions in a more suitable position.  The parsley and thyme were washed, chopped and dried in the dehydrator for use later on.  While I was at it I trimmed back the rosemary and dried some of that as well.

Himself has finally got on to putting a dividing fence up so we can use the back part of the garden as a vegetable patch.  Last weekend, the upright posts went into the muddy ground and today the rails and sheets went on.  The plan is then to put in some raised garden beds and grow ourselves some vegetables that the rabbits won't be able to help themselves to.   Hopefully I will also be able to finally convince him to get a couple of chickens to run about in that part of the garden and provide us with some fresh eggs.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cleaning out the Freezer

I tend to both buy and cook too much food and the leftovers find their way into our freezer.  It is so full that I am having trouble finding things in there at the moment so I decided that I would try to take out and use what is already in the freezer instead of putting more back in there this weekend.

Last night we had an Asian inspired Seafood dinner.  We had Thai fish cakes (made from the mullet that Himself caught on Kangaroo Island), Marron in Garlic Butter (again caught by Himself on Kangaroo Island) and Nasi Goreng made from some leftover cooked rice that was in the fridge from Thursday night and a few frozen prawns and peas. To go with this we had some Ginger noodles with Zucchini and Carrot Ribbons, an Indonesian inspired Green Bean and Egg salad and my favourite Chinese Cabbage Salad.  For dessert I made a dish that I haven't made in years - Coconut Pie.  If you would like any of these recipes, please let me know via the comments and I will post them for you.

Today I am making "Surprise Pies".  I have leftover Beef Stroganoff, Beef & Vegetable Casserole, Turkey & Thyme Casserole, Hungarian Goulash, Osso Bucco and Chicken Curry.  I have pulled a few of these out of the freezer to defrost.  Using frozen ready made pastry sheets and my piemaker I am going to make a whole lot of little individual pies for a quick and easy dinner tonight.   They will also be good for Himself to take to work for lunch on Monday (if there are any left).

Have a great week!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Chicken soup for sick chicks

I haven't done a lot of cooking this week as I have been laid low with a nasty virus.  So I thought I would post a blog about what is important when you are feeling unwell:

(1)  Have at least one good friend with an excellent chicken soup recipe and a heart of gold that will bring it around to your doorstep within a couple of hours of finding out you are unwell (tick - thanks Nicole xx)

(2)  Have a good supply of oranges and lemons for fresh orange juice and lemon and honey drinks (I can tick that box as well)

(3)  Have two small children who have been unintentionally trained to spend hours at a time mindlessly staring at the television or playing computer games so that you can sleep all weekend (tick - thank you my two beautiful children)

(3) Have a husband who is willing to go out and play cards all day and night on Saturday, leaving you at home alone with children mentioned above and feeling close to death (hmmmmmmmm - tick)

Now, getting back to the soup.  It has often been mentioned that chicken soup is an old wifes remedy, but I found that it was really quite therapeutic.  Not only was it "made with love" (I hear chuckles from some of my gal pals who often quote me saying this), but it is nourishing and helps to keep your fluid levels up.  So don't be so quick to knock the old wifes tales.

To feed those of us who stayed at home over the weekend, I got a cooked chicken, salad ingredients, some hot dog rolls and frankfurts on my way home from the Doctor on Friday afternoon.  I also picked up a lemon curd and passionfruit tart as a treat. The kids had hotdogs for lunch while I enjoyed my chicken soup, then they had some chicken and salad on Saturday night while I had yet another bowl of chicken soup.  I squeezed fresh orange juice and made "jelly oranges" for the kids - make up a jelly and use the orange halves as "bowls" to set the jelly in.  The kids love it and it is so easy.  They also told me that they preferred the freshly squeezed "one with bits in it" orange juice better than the one that we buy from the shops so we got into a discussion about preservatives and I made a note to myself to buy a juicer as I don't think I can juice too many more oranges or lemons with my little non powered juicer.

So the chicken soup has been eaten and the carcass of the cooked chicken is now in my slow cooker making stock so I can make chicken soup for someone I care about when they are sick.

Take care!