Monday, June 29, 2009

Cheese-topped Vegetables.

As promised, I surprisingly found the time to make a non-dessert recipe to share this week. After a few days on the beach freezing my buttocks off (more on that in a post I'll do at some point during the week) and eating far too much cake, brownies and chips (crisps), I was really craving vegetables by the time we arrived home.

So, last night I threw together some vegetables and made what turned out to be a cross between a vegetable casserole and vegetable bake. Anyhow, the recipe is to follow. Enjoy.

1/2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
2 cups small cauliflower florets
2 cups small broccoli florets
1 cup thinly sliced carrot
1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted

4 tspns butter
6 tspns plain flour
1 + 1/4 cup skim milk
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 + 1/2 cups grated vegetarian cheddar/tasty/edam/colby cheese (whichever you prefer)
1/8 tspn freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, melt butter on medium heat and add flour, stirring constantly. Then add milk and vegetable stock and bring to boil. Then reduce to simmer for 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup of grated cheese and pepper.

Steam vegetables until they are 3/4 cooked. Place in oven-proof dish and pour sauce over vegetables. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese on top, and place in oven at 180*C and let cook until cheese golden brown.

Makes a great side-dish.
Serves 4.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chocolate Pudding Cake + the Last Dessert

Next week I promise to make a concerted effort to post a recipe that isnt a dessert! I've been making a lot of favourite recipes lately, most of which I have already shared here, and I do tend to make and consume a lot of dessert during the winter months!

We are also going away later this week for a few days, so I spent a lot of the weekend doing laundry, packing, and preparing the garden for our absence, so there wasnt a lot of time for cooking.

However, I did make Chocolate Cake Pudding at the request of SJ and the in-laws. In fact, it was the third time I'd made it in just over a week, so I think they might like it! This is a recipe that I got from my mum, and remains one of my personal favourites. It is also incredibly easy to make.

For the batter you will need the following:
1 Cup SR Flour
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Dessertspoon Cocoa powder
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
1/2 Cup milk

In an oven-proof dish, mix the flour, sugar and cocoa. Add melted butter, milk and beaten egg and mix until you have an even batter.

To make the sauce you will need:
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 dessertspoon Cocoa powder
1 + 2/4 Cup hot water

In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and cocoa together, then sprinkle evenly over the top of your batter. Then gently pour on the hot water (dont do this too quickly or you will break up the batter and the sauce wont work).

Place in an oven and bake at 180*C for 30 - 40 minutes.

Serve with fresh cream and/or a scoop of icecream.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Banana Cake.

4oz (1/2 Cup) Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 eggs
3 mashed medium bananas
1 1/2 Cups Self-Raising Flour
1 tspn bi-carb soda mixed in 2 tblspn water
Walnuts (optional)

1. Cream butter and sugar well.
2. Add beaten eggs and bananas and mix through.
4. Stir in flour, before adding bi-carb soda & water. Mix well.
5. Add walnuts (optional) and fold through.
6. Place batter in 8" square or round tin and bake for 1/2 hour at 180 - 190*C.
7. When ready, allow to cool before topping with chocolate icing (sprinkle with coconut if desired).


Note: Next weekend I may have to make something to share that isnt a dessert, otherwise some people might think that it is all I eat (which is probably semi-true since it's Winter, but ssh! No one else needs to know!).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cleopatra VII ATCs.

"The Last Queen"
Cleopatra ATC via Swap-Bot

"Cleopatra VII Philopator"
Cleopatra ATC via Swap-Bot
In Brief:
Cleopatra VII was a Hellenistic (Macedonian) ruler of Egypt.
She came to power first as co-ruler with her father Ptolemy XII, and then later with her brother-husbands Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV.
Following their deaths she ruled in her own right, forging an alliance with the Roman Empire by bearing a son (Ptolemy Caeser) to the Roman Emporer Gaius Julius Caeser.
After Caeser's assassination, she aligned with Mark Antony, with whom she had three children (twin daughters and a son).
Cleopatra and Antony were defeated by Caeser's legal heir Octavian at Actium. Following the defeat, Antony took his own life, shortly followed by Cleopatra, who in legend used the bite of an asp, on 12 August 30 B.C.

"For she was a woman of surpassing beauty, and at that time, when she was in the prime of her youth, she was most striking; she also possessed a most charming voice and a knowledge of how to make herself agreeable to every one. Being brilliant to look upon and to listen to, with the power to subjugate every one, even a love-sated man already past his prime, she thought that it would be in keeping with her rĂ´le to meet Caesar, and she reposed in her beauty all her claims to the throne".
- Cassius Dio (Roman Historian)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Baked Rice Pudding.

Growing up it was my Aunty Lorraine who made the best rice pudding.

She would bake it completely in the oven, and I remember that it would take ages before it was ready. In a time before I understood the importance of ingredients, I knew it contained rice and milk. There was no added sultanas or fruit. It wasnt even served with cream. This was a no-frills dessert made by a no-frills lady, but when served it would be devoured in seconds.

Whenever I think about Aunty Lorraine I think of her rice pudding, bubbling away in the oven.

Even today I would go so far as to say that she makes the greatest rice pudding known to mankind.

I wish I could say that I was sharing her recipe today, but alas! I dont have it. Instead, I have done my very, very best to do it justice and guessed.

Here's how you make my version of my Aunty Lorraine's baked rice pudding:

In a large oven-proof dish pour 1 Cup alborio (risotto) rice, spread evenly over base.

Pour 1L milk into a jug, and add 1/4 Cup sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla essence. Mix well.

Pour over rice in dish, and place in oven.

Cook at 160*C for 1 hour, or until rice is tender and about 90% of the liquid has been absorbed (you may need to gently stir every 15 to 20 minutes if top starts to brown). Add extra milk when and if required.

Remove from oven and stir in 1 tablespoon butter (not margarine), and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes, or until top golden.

Best served with freshly cut bananas and a dollop of cream.

You can add sultanas and other dried fruit to this recipe, or even preserved fruit or berries. For an extra sweet treat, gently spread the top with your favourite jam whilst still hot.

[Aunty Lorraine & cousin Michael, 1976]

Sunday, June 7, 2009

In Pictures: 06.06.09

Avoiding rain clouds and admiring a tinge of Winter-green at Willow Glen, Flinders Ranges
6 June 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pride & Prejudice (& favourite reads).

Last night I finished reading Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen for, oh, the fifth or sixth time (to be perfectly honest I have lost track of how many times I have picked it up off the bookshelf and read it simply because I had nothing else worth reading or because the mood took me).

It is easily my favourite novel of all time. From the opening line to the final chapter it is pure brilliance. So much wit! So much drama! So much romance! So much irony and sarcasm! I would consider it impossible for anyone not to enjoy this book.

My favourite part of the story is when our heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, meets Mr Darcy completely by accident at his home, Pemberley, whilst there with her aunt and uncle, perusing the house and grounds (and thinking Mr Darcy was away at the time). It's there that she realises her opinion of him is not what it should be, and it is this moment that she falls in love with the mis-understood Mr Darcy.

Oh, Mr Darcy! The fictional character upon which every woman moulds her perfect man!

Do you have a favourite part of this story too? If so, I'd love to hear of it.

Or perhaps you'd just like to share your favourite story or novel, Austen or otherwise?

I'd be most interested to know.
After all, books are a most favoured topic of mine.

Winter Reading List (May - August) Progression:

Persuasion by Jane Austen
Tales of Mystery & Imagination by Edgar Allen Poe
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bread & Butter.

I'm sorry that I didnt do a recipe post last week. It was a very hectic week for me: On the Monday I attended my aunt's funeral, which meant I didnt do any cooking worth sharing that weekend as I had to leave for the city on Sunday afternoon. Then work was flat-out the rest of the week, as it always is the last week of the month when you're managing a trust account.

But this weekend I did do some baking, even though SJ went to visit his brother and I was home alone (with the dog) most of the time. I made Bread & Butter Pudding - so easy and so very, very yummy. I made it with dried mixed fruit, as I didnt have any fresh fruit around and hadnt defrosted any stewed fruit in time. But the recipe I use is fantastic, because it can so easily be modified - it is extra yummy with fresh sliced bananas, or stewed figs.

Here is the basics you will need:
10 Slices of bread, buttered on one side, crusts removed & cut in half diagonally
2 eggs
1 tspn vanilla essence
600ml (1 Pint) milk
1/2 Cup sugar
Sprinkle of Cinnamon
Either dried mixed fruit, sultanas, fresh sliced bananas or stewed fruit

And what you do with it:
Lay half the sliced and buttered bread on the bottom of a greased, oven-proof dish.
Sprinkle with half the sugar & some cinnamon.
Add half your fruit.
Top with remaining slices of bread, sugar, cinnamon and fruit.

In a jug pour 600ml (1 Pint) milk, add beaten eggs and vanilla essence.
Pour mixture over bread.
Let sit for 10 minutes whilst liquid soaks through.

Place in fan-forced oven at 180*C and cook for 20 - 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serves 6.