Tag Archives: recipes

October …. Ireland and Australia swap weather, I cycle and a fab curry recipe!

31 Oct

Being back in the working world is really impeding my blogging but fear not .. I am alive and well!
After what seemed like an impossibly long cold rainy winter, made longer and worser in no small way by the excellent weather Ireland was experiencing and the neverending tweets/emails/texts/fb chats I was getting about it,  Perth is finally starting to heat up. It was 37.2 degrees yesterday which was LOVELY! I was delighted for Ireland getting such lovely weather as I know from living here that nothing lifts the spirits as much as a warm breeze, summer clothes and the abilty to plan outdoor events and we all know Ireland needs a lift  …so I trust you will all be equally delighted for me when I start tweeting photos of my bronzed feet in the white sand to a blue ocean background. No?!

In other news …..
I cycle to and from work now its not very far approximately 3.5 kilometres, but in the morning its mostly uphill. My bike is, much like myself, built for comfort and not for speed! So the hills are a struggle but I’m seeing it as an extra bit of exercise and am fully convinced that any day now I will wake up with Heidi Klum legs. Going home in the evening I revert to being a child and free wheel most of the way, sometimes I even stick my legs out and yell WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! The more serious cyclists in their matching lycra on skinny little bikes don’t seem to enjoy this as much as I do. They don’t know what they’re missing.

My job is going well, I am still enjoying having a purpose and a fortnightly payday! But I have noticed that having a job has brought a whole new set of worries … am I being challenged enough? what will my next move be? should I do a course? what course??? Yes, my never ending pursuit of education is back on the table, I do love a bit of study and would really like to do some here, to experience a different country’s education for one thing but I’m sure some homegrown qualifications wouldn’t do my CV any harm either.  I still have a longing to do a butchering class, it was an idea that I formed before coming to Australia but had to be shelved when I didn’t have an income, so I am going to make moves on that in 2014. Looks like I have one new years resolution already …..

Oh and some big news, although if you follow me on twitter you will have heard all about it a couple of weeks ago …  After 18 months of stress and strain we got our Permanent Residency! This means we can stay and work in Australia as residents for at least 5 years, at which time we can apply to renew/extend it but in reality once we have lived here 4 years we can apply to be citizens and get Australian passports which is more likely what we will do.  We’ve been here almost 2 years now … time flies!

As for what I’ve been eating and cooking? Well lots of Indian food lately as I have had the good fortune to make a great new friend who writes this blog: and spent an afternoon recently teaching myself and the lovely Mel from LipstickHoney how to cook some beautiful Indian dishes.  One recipe in particular from her blog we make at least once a week, Kheema or Mince Curry. Its so simple that its hard to believe its so tasty! Try it! And don’t be scared of the chillies … you’ll see that they cook for a while so there’s no scary heat left in them. This is not a hot spicy dish at all.  Last night we had this served with cubes of fried turmeric potatoes (parboil, cut in cubes, sprinkle with turmeric and fry), greek yoghurt and grated cheese … it was a like a fancy Indian version of Taco Fries! It was as delicious as it was bold. I’m not sure its exactly how purist Indian cooks would serve it but believe it me it was fab.

Here is the link to the original recipe which has some useful photos for making it the first time. I’ve added a few little comments below because that’s how I roll … x

Kheema or Mince Curry

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 bay leaves (fresh or dried work fine)

2 cloves

2 peppercorns

1 large onion finely chopped

3 green chillies

1 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste (You can buy this paste in Asian shops/supermarket but I just crush 2 garlic cloves and grate a teaspoon of fresh ginger, mash together)

2 medium tomatoes finely chopped

3 tsp tomato paste/puree

500g  mince (I’ve made with both beef and chicken, the dishes are different but both great. Any meat minced will work!)

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp red chilli powder (if you are very worried about the spiciness cut back on this not the fresh chillies)

1 tsp garam masala (this adds sweetness, if you’re not familiar with this spice mix its really fragrant)

Salt to taste

Handful of green peas

3 tblsp of oil

2 cups of water/stock

Heat oil in a pan add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns and cloves.

Once the seeds start to splutter add the chopped onions and green chillies and sauté till the onions turn a light brown in color.

Add the Ginger garlic paste, tomatoes, tomato paste and sauté. This sauce is now known as a MASALA. You need to make sure that the masala is cooked well until the oil starts to separate.

It is very important to sauté the masala well or else the dish will not taste good.

Once the oil in the masala has separated add the mince, coriander powder, chilli powder, garam masasla, salt and sauté again for 5 minutes.

Be careful that it doesn’t burn.

Add the Peas

It is very important at this stage you lower the heat and cook the mince for almost 10 minutes in the masala (chicken will cook faster than beef so use your own judgement as to when the meat is cooked)

The gravy is meant to be dry so be careful not to flood the dish with too much water. It has to be just enough for the meat to cook.  Give it around 10 – 15  minutes to cook properly and then sprinkle some fresh coriander while serving.

You can serve this dish with potatoes, rice, naan bread or other veggies if you are attempting to cut back on carbs. Cauliflower goes very well with curries, I’m still promoting cauli at every opportunity.

Let me know if you try this,

Enjoy

SJ x

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Its February .. the month of love and no sugar!

8 Feb

Hello,

Dry January got off to a spectacular start and continued as such for exactly 14 days and 16 hours … then a rat strolled across our yard as nonchalant as you like, I could be mistaken but I think he was smoking a cigarette – YES he  was THAT CALM!

What followed was the freak out of all freak outs on my part and after a brief draining of blood from his face a very calm taking control of the situation by Dave! Rats are one of my biggest fears in life, second only to death and in joint place with falling and breaking all my teeth, so as you can imagine I wasn’t too happy seeing one in the middle of what had been a lovely afternoon. Mr Rat, as the neighbours have taken to calling it (they had been watching him for a while it seems .. no, I don’t understand this either) had eaten all our chillies and was probably heading for the capsicums which were starting to rot in the sun. Dave disposed of all our veggie plants in one swift movement, laid poison, set traps and poured me a glass of wine. There really was nothing else for it, the only way to stop me crying was to have me drinking!

The rest of January although not strictly dry was very restrained until Australia Day which became a 4 day weekend of immeasurable fun lubricated with various alcoholic beverages … Oh the fireworks! The laughing! The fun!

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And shur then it was February ….

I started reading about going sugar free in earnest after Christmas, my main source was Sarah Wilson’s blog and e-books. Any fans of Masterchef Australia may remember Sarah presented the first series, she has an autoimmune disease as do I so this really interested me as she claims to have healed herself and lost weight by cutting fructose and wheat from her diet. It was something I had been thinking about for years so I decided it was finally time to give it a shot. So from Feb 1st I have not eaten any fructose including that in fruit and avoided wheat as much as possible, I am doing really well! My tastebuds have recovered to such an extent that a glass of full fat milk now tastes deliciously sweet!

This week I joined the local library, it was such a shock to see how high tech libraries have become its a long way from the stuffy little place we used frequent in Arklow in search of Roald Dahl & Enid Blyton books! For one thing the books check themselves out these days, you can keep them for 21 days, there’s dvds too and its not quiet AT ALL! My main reason for joining was that I wanted to read another book on giving up sugar called Sweet Poison by David Gillespie, Sarah Wilson refers to him as an inspiration. The book is incredible, I read it in 24 hours (it would have been less but I had to keep stopping to get into the pool and sleep) and would recommend it to anyone interested in health, the food industry, why we are getting fatter, heart disease, cancer, diabetes or just looking to expand their knowledge base (in other words info-hungry like myself!).

I’m not going to try and convert everyone but if you have ever wondered why humans are doing more exercise than ever but getting fatter, eating more low-fat/light products than ever but getting fatter and why this has all come about in our lifetimes this subject is worth looking into!  Oh and don’t worry I will be eating fruit again in a few weeks, I am detoxing totally first then I’ll start eating it again.

Are you wondering what I am eating? If so let me know and I’ll do a post on a few meals ….

Today I made these rice paper rolls, very simple and filled with all sorts from the fridge such as peanut butter, courgette/zucchini, cucumber, carrot, capsicum/pepper, fresh coriander, last night’s roast chicken, avocado (of course!) …I’ve munched on 3 as I’ve been writing this! Other filling ideas are cold rice, noodles, meats, prawns really anything works as long as its not liquidy.  Great with a simple little dipping sauce of lime juice, tamari (soya sauce) and chilli …

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Of course February is the month of love with Valentine’s Day falling slap bang in the middle of month! I just love love and not just the romantic hallmark flowers and chocolates sort but the real life best friends, sisters, parents, family, being there for each other, knowing you are not alone in this big bad world sort of love! In the past few weeks I have come across some really beautiful stories that I want to share … if you’re a Hurley get the Kleenex out ..

Bill and Shelley: Their love story 

The Race Grows Sweeter Near its Final Lap 

Ada Bryant and Robert Haire 

And lest we forget those that were not so lucky to know love in life …. Margaret Magdelene No. 322 

And as for me well I am super lucky and know first hand all sorts of real love but none so greater than what I feel for my early Valentines gift …. isn’t she a beauty????

20130208-131155.jpgYip, I’m as shallow as they come ,

Be good,

SJ xx

A moving feast ….

25 Sep

In the spring of 1987 as I was eating my breakfast before school,  my mother said to my 2 younger sisters and I “There’s a surprise coming in September, guess what it is?”

“A dishwasher!” I guessed

“Well, actually yes but that will be here before September there is something better coming too …” she said.

“Better than a dishwasher” I thought to myself. Unlikely, very unlikely!

I was delighted about the dishwasher because I had recently come to the conclusion that we desperately needed one ..  you see every time I wanted to go somewhere my Mam would say “after I have done the dishes” .. dishes were ruining my little life!

As for the other great surprise? That was a third sister, followed a couple of years later by a fourth. Although I am fond of them now I was fairly annoyed that my mother couldn’t have gotten us some brothers at the time. I remember that morning so well, it was a very cute attempt to get us excited about a new baby wasn’t it? Backfired with me though!

The dishwasher in 1987 didn’t change my life in fact it probably ruined it a bit more as small children are a good height for stacking .. especially when you have a very busy mother and a “work ethic” family .. However this week I felt the excitement all over again as we have moved house and there is a beautiful new fitted kitchen and (joy of joys) a dishwasher!!

There is also a lovely little yard where we will be attempting to grow some veggies, I may need some advice on this as the seasons, climate, varieties are all completely different to Ireland.

The past week has been spent moving, cleaning, sorting, unpacking, cleaning, losing everything, slowing finding things again, buying more furniture and even more flippin cleaning … I am exhausted!

When I read this recipe yesterday I knew it was just what I needed – I didn’t have all the exact ingredients but as my national school teacher used to tell us “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” and it was delish!

Ingredients

 

Rye bread instead of wraps, fresh coriander instead of dried, cherry tomatoes instead of “cooking” tomatoes (whatever they are?), button mushrooms instead of large, lettuce instead of spinach .. and a chilli for good measure!

tomatoes cooking

add paste and herbs

 

sweating mush and onions Sweating the onions, low heat & patience – usually I try to rush them resulting in burnt onions! But I’m wising up … a pinch of salt helps too!

coriander and chilli I added chopped coriander and chilli to the tomato sauce just before serving …

mushrooms and balsamic Added in mushrooms then balsamic … which btw adds an amazing flavour to the mushrooms, I’ll be doing this again!

mushies ready to go

toast

avo and toast This avo was very ripe so I just spread it on the toast but sliced would be nice too … a sprinkle of salt at this stage to bring out the flavour!


Ready for assembly ..

finished The finished dish .. it was really tasty and healthy .. if I was doing it in this form again I would poach the eggs, scrambled are perfect for a wrap!

 

Later on I had this … yes it is Nutella. A girl has to get her fruit you know!

SJ x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cottage Pie with leftover Roast Beef

23 Apr

There has been a really noticeable drop in temperature here in Perth this week, its bbrrrrrrrrrr at night and not so warm during the day either. As much as I adore the heat the cold does have its advantages .. food advantages like hot brothy noodle soups, steaming hot dinners, drinking chocolate, hot ports .. non food advantages like snuggling up in hoodies on the couch watching movies and not feeling guilty about spending a whole day inside!

Yesterday we had a lovely Sunday Roast beef with roast potatoes and gravy, not a patch on an Irish Mammy dinner but good enough to warm us up!
I was at a loss for what to do with the leftover roast beef as during my childhood there might be enough left over to have toasted roast beef sambos on Sunday evening with tomato,mayo and a steaming cup of tea or in fact, as was usual, there might only be a bone that even the dog would reject for lack of meat. We are a big family and although 6/7ths  female we can eat!!

As my primary school teacher taught me “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” so I decided to try one of my favourite comfort foods using the beef instead of the usual mince .. Cottage Pie .. it turned out really well and actually I think the texture is nicer than making it with mince.  I still have some more left so I might try my hand at a curry with the rest tomorrow … any other suggestions?

Cottage Pie

Ingredients
1 large onion finely chopped
2 carrotts finely chopped
2 stalks of celery finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
Handful of frozen peas (its not Irish comfort food without frozen peas)
500g left over roast beef in small cubes
stock/leftover gravy/meat juices + water = 350 ml
splash of red wine (make sure to thoroughly taste test the wine!!!)
grated parmesan 
4 large potatoes cooked, mashed with butter
OR
as in my case I only had 2 spuds left so I added in some pumpkin to the required amount. Butternut squash or sweet potato would also suffice and cauliflower can make a great topping for pies if you’re watching your carb intake.

Method
Preheat oven to 180
Splash of oil + knob of butter in a saucepan on a low/med heat .. fry the onion, carrotts, celery and garlic until soft and transparent, not brown
Add in the meat and half the stock, turning up heat to a simmer
To thicken the sauce either add a tablespoon of cornflour to the remaining stock and stir in
OR
I used Bisto as I came across it in a shop here last week and got very excited!
The sauce needs to be quick viscous so add more if needed
Add in the red wine, don’t be tempted to add too much as it can overpower so if unsure of amounts measure 3 tablespoons
Throw in the peas
Leave meaty sauce to simmer for about 10 minutes before assembling in an oven proof dish
I like to add the topping in a rather haphazard manner of lumps and peaks as then all the pointy sticky uppy bits get lovely and crispy and browned.

In the oven for 35 min or until its all browned ..

Sprinkle generously with grated parmesan, back in the over for 5 min or until all melted (if you prefer you can add parmesan to the mash along with the butter but I like melty cheese)

Eat with steamed veggies, baked beans or tomato ketchup for a childish treat

Enjoy

SJ x

Thai Beef and Cucumber Salad

14 Apr
It’s Autumn here in Perth and the weather is warm and sunny (no complaints from this camp!) so here’s a summery recipe to get all of you at home in the mood for what’s ahead and help us here in the Southern Hemisphere hang on to the last of the lovely days. 
 
Cucumbers are a fruit (yip!) that I never had alot of time for, seeing them more as a filler in salad or a sandwich  for cricket players although I was quite happy to add it to jugs of Pimms!  My Mam makes a lovely cucumber pickle so when I came across this recipe and remembered having absolutely adored the salads while in Thailand I decided to give it a shot …. its been a staple ever since. Really delish as a salad to accompany cold meats or BBQ and even better with some yummy rare steak! 
Thai Beef and Cucumber Salad 
 
Ingredients (not strict quantities, all can be tailored to your taste) 
60ml fish sauce
60ml lime juice
2 x sirloin steaks (220g each)
2 cucumbers thinly sliced (with a mandolin type thingy or indeed peeled into strips with a veg peeler) 
4 spring onions sliced (very thinly sliced red onion is also good)
250g cherry tomatoes halved
1 tablespoon mint leaves
2 tablespoon coriander leaves
2 tablespoons basil leaves
1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic
1 chilli thinly sliced
 
Method:
1. combine 2 tablespoons fish sauce and 1 tablesp lime juice in a medium bowl, add beef and marinate for at least 3 hours or overnights.
2. Drain beef and throw out marinade. Cook beef in a griddle pan, grill or BBQ. Cook as desired (personally I am all about the RARE). Allow beef to rest for 5 min and then slice thinly.
3. In a large bowl combine cucumber, chilli, onion, tomatoes and herbs
4. In a screw top jar place the sugar, soy, garlic and remaining fish sauce and lime juice. Shake well to combine.
5. Add beef and dressing to salad. Toss salad gently to combine.
 
Lovely served with some steamed rice, baked potato or fresh crusty bread 
 
Enjoy 
 
SJ x 

Baking: A disaster and a triumph!

13 Apr

Baking was never something I considered a skill, it was just baking.

Both my Grandmothers were superb bakers and my Mam made the best brown bread daily while simultaneously dressing 5 children, preparing breakfast, packing lunches, taping the farming program from radio 1, writing cheques, feeding hens, answering the ever ringing phone, calling the vet and not losing her mind!
Coffee cakes, fruit cakes, buns, caramel squares, almond slices just seemed to appear in huge tuberware containers in the corner press, in fact they still do!  Baking was an effortless endeavor in our house, I was making coffee cakes and madeira mixtures to top pastry cased lemon curd buns from an early age, as were my sisters and cousins. We are a family of food obsessives, feeding people is our way of showing love, compassion, sympathy, friendship, regard or that you need a good dinner 😉

So last week it was time for me to stock my kitchen and get back to normal service. Kmart kitted me out with all the essential utensils and I picked up lots of ingredients between the supermarkets and a fantastic foodstore in Northbridge called Kakulas Brothers.

My first project was a Devils Food Cake reccommended by @eatmeetswest .
It was simple, I made it, cooked it, covered it in ganache and chocolate discs. Off with me and my cake to an Easter picnic with some prospective friends. Cut the cake. IT WAS DRY.
It was dry. How? Whaaaaat?
So I sat there on my lovely picnic blanket in Kings Park and concluded that it was obviously my new oven, the tempreature guage must be off. MUST BE.

Not to worry.

Yesterday I set about making cupcakes, I had chocolate and some over ripe bananas so I settled on this recipe for muffins from Nigella herself. They rose, looked fabulous, popped easily out of the my new silicone cupcake cases. Perfecto.


I test tasted one (as you do) THEY WERE DRY and frankly, AWFUL.
Himself came home from work and taste tested them, even he was shocked by the awfulness so he heated one in the microwave. WORSER.

I tried smothering them in chocolate sauce and ice cream. Nope. Still. Awful.

Was it the oven? Was I converting the recipes incorrectly from weight to cups? HAD I LOST IT??????

I had officially lost the family ability to bake. It must have left me somewhere over South East Asia. I was upset (read: there was much stamping of feet, watery eyes and possibly some sulking).

But I hate waste and how could I throw these cupcakes out knowing the best quality ingredients had gone into them? Hatred of waste is also in my blood! I was going to give it one last go.
Try something I had never tried before.
Bread and Butter Pudding.

I hit up twitter for some answers and with the help of this recipe from WholesomeIreland and plenty of encouragement from the Irish Foodie contingent the following dessert was created.

Chocolate B&B Pudding
5 Chocolate muffins (dry & awful but regualar ones would also be good, stale is better) Sliced
Strawberry jam
– Spread jam on the cupcake slices and arrange in an oven dish
– I poured over the chocolate sauce I had left over for extra lusciousness, and less waste!
Beat an egg in a mug then add in milk to fill mug (I used semi skimmed but full fat is good too, even a bitta cream!)
Add a touch of cinnamon, maybe a 1/4 teaspoon
– Pour this custardy mixture over the cake
– Sprinkle with some regular sugar
– Pop into oven @ 180 degrees for 20 min
Eat with ice cream and no conscience 🙂

It worked. It was delicious! The day was saved. I haven’t lost it. Peace is restored.

*my camera died but trust me they were dark chocolatey in colour mmmm mmmmmm ….

I am going to try WholesomeIreland’s peanut butter version soon and experiment with different types of bread and cakes. Great way to use up leftovers without feeling you are eating leftover. WIN!

SJ x