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Category Archives: Fire Up the Rayburn

The modern woman loves to cook. But sometimes she loves to burn as well.

Its Crunch Time!

So here’s the dealio…my once all-consuming sweet tooth has gone on a vacation. Its been replaced by a savoury doppelgänger! That is to say…I’m craving salty, crunchy things. This addiction has gotten so bad I recently caught myself in the pantry shoving honey ham chips into my face until my lips got little cuts on them from the sharp chip edges. Oh don’t act like you’ve never done it. I know you have.

My shame comes from my repeated declarations that I’m going to turn my diet around and eat more healthy, fresh and non-packaged foods. But that salty, savoury monster just won’t quit. What is a girl to do?

Tonight the monster was at his worst…caressing me with his evil tongue. ‘Eat fried chicken’ it cooed. I briefly considered doing the drive thru option but sense prevailed. I’d make my own crispy, crunchy chicken but…I’d do it the healthy way.

Cue…the Homestyle KFC Extravaganza!

Ingredients

  • 500g chicken breasts
  • Box of cornflake crumbs
  • Tub natural yogurt
  • Spices of your choice

Pre-heat your oven to 200c (fan forced). Roll up your sleeves.

Put about half of your crumbs into a ziplock bag with the spice of your choice. I have no idea what the 11 herbs and spices are so I just put a bit of this and that. I quite like Moroccan spices.

Next cut the chicken into strips, coat them in yoghurt and then shake them in the crumbs. The yoghurt both helps to lock in the moisture and creates crunchy little balls of coating.

Place on a baking tray and spray with oil. Bake for about 15 mins and then check to make sure they’re cooked. And voila! Instant fried (ok baked) chicken!

You can serve it with whatever you like. A salad, some oven chips, mashed potato. But tonight I put it in a tortilla wrap with salad and my ‘special’ sauce. In case you didn’t know, ‘special’ sauce is code for ‘we didn’t have any store-bought sauce, I’ll make it up with whatever I have’. Tonight’s special sauce was a mixture of natural yoghurt, cream and sweet chilli sauce.

This dinner really appeased my salty, crunchy monster. But if you have any other healthy recipes for such things, my monster would get down on his knees and kiss your salty little feet for the favour.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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Now, what have we learned from this young lady?

I’m not too proud to admit that for every glorious success I have in the kitchen, I have as many disastrous failures. Once trying desperately to impress my husband’s family with my cooking skills, I tried making profiteroles three times and each time they failed miserably. Almost in tears and definitely out of eggs, I gave up. It just wasn’t my day to make choux pastry.

So today I awoke with bright-eyed enthusiasm at the thought of cooking…macaroons! Let me just preface this whole story by saying I’d already tried making these babies a few times…once with success…twice with failure.  But today I was determined to make these work. I did everything the little pink book told me to and worked that kitchen like a boss. By the time I got to letting them set, I was feeling good. They looked just right.

Waiting patiently for my ‘macs’ to get a nice crust.

Then into the oven with them. I was being overly cocky and yelled out to my husband “They look perfect! They’re going to work!” But then everything started to go horribly wrong. They were cooking too quickly and colouring up more than they should. I escalated this situation to code red and pulled those soldiers from the hot zone. Sustaining one heck of a burnt hand injury in the process. So…they didn’t cook and deflated more quickly than my spirit.

Who are you trying to kid?? Those are just failure cookies with chocolate on top.

I still made the chocolate ganache which is supposed to sandwich each half together but most of them were not coming off the paper. So I just dumped the chocolate on top with a ‘whatever’ shrug of my shoulders. I sat there despondent, with a distant stare and ate about five broken cookies. They still tasted ok. But I was making them as a gift for a friend and there was no way these passed quality control. So they got dumped into a container to make a ‘macaroon mess’. A few berries and ice-cream…and voila!

So, what have I learned from this experience?

  • That macaroons are more fickle than a five-year old;
  • Leftover chocolate ganache is easily turned into a lunchtime snack of chocolate milk by your husband;
  • Don’t choose difficult baking items as a gift for friends;
  • Even the most unappealing things can still taste delicious; and
  • Never count your macaroons before they hatch!

And to show you what they should look in all their perfection…here is a picture of the one and only time they worked for me. If you have a macaroon secret….I would love to know it. I will not let these little almond delights beat me!

Tower of perfection.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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A weekend of family and food = 152,698 calories.

It’s true…a thoroughly modern woman can do anything. Which I think is evident from the crazy weekend I just had. Let me fill you in.

It all started last Thursday (imagine wavy lines appearing to give you the impression we’re travelling back through time). My brother was in town and was staying at my house. As we don’t see each other that often, its always a grand affair. He also shares my passion for food so I had to turn up the heat and provide a mid-week masterpiece. Because a modern woman can work full time and produce gourmet meals…right? Hmmm. 

I served up a delicious tray of baked salmon fillets, king prawns, asparagus and procuitto. Accompanied by a pear, parmesan and rocket salad and steamed baby potatoes. All finished with a banoffee pie and ice-cream. Now, the only reason I made this feast after I had worked all day, run a thousand errands on my lunch break, then driven the 40 minutes home to stop at the supermarket a second time for a few last minute items, was because it was all supposed to be all made in 30 minutes. Or so the recipe alluded. The tray of seafood was easy and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. But the rest was just a little too much for this weary woman.

My little bro…eagily awaiting my (more than) 30 minute meal.

Friday was another early start with a day of woodchopping in store. And what does any good team of lumberjacks need for such an occasion? A lumberjacks breakfast of course. I made buttermilk pancakes with raspberries, bacon and maple syrup. I know you’re thinking…woah lady…high carbs, high sugar, high fat. Yeah…true, true, true. But as I ate these at 8am and didn’t eat anything else until 6pm, and helped chop two tonnes of wood, I say “meh?”

Looking like a pro wood chopper after my breakfast. Technically I didn’t ‘chop’ any wood…but I stacked a heck of a lot.

Saturday! A day of rest? Bah! Another early start with an appearance at a little girls 2nd birthday party. I was happy to eat a piece of her Elmo birthday cake at 11am simply because I didn’t make it. Then we were off again with a family trip to the beautiful Botanic Gardens for a stroll through leaves and trees and crisp autumn air. We did stop at the coffee shop but I was terribly disappointed, so that’s all I’ll say on that.

When I ordered a Snickers slice…I expected a little more than a hard, un-inspired block of sugar. Poor form coffee shop…poor form.

Saturday night – Indian takeaway and beers! Besides having a rather close encounter with a hot vindaloo, it was a wonderful meal shared with precious people.

So we’ve finally arrived at the pièce de résistance! Sunday – Mothers Day. My husband, my brother and his girlfriend (who arrived the day before) were on hand to create a mouthwatering mothers day spectacular for our mother. I was up early to make the dough for my much loved cinnamon rolls. See here for recipe. We then prepared, in a flurry of knives and bowls and hot pans the following:

  • Steamed and fried wantons with a spicy chicken filling
  • Thai fish cakes served with cucumber dressing
  • Thai chicken curry made with homemade paste (a first for me, and making your own paste really does make a kick ass curry)
  • Cinnamon Rolls served with chocolate and caramel ice-cream

    The ‘kids’ made mother cry from happiness with this Asian inspired lunch.

Needless to say I was rather exhausted by the end of it all and probably a few kilograms heavier. With all the marathon cooking happening, I did have a very vivid dream that I was a contestant on the reality TV cooking show – Masterchef. In the dream I made sausage rolls of which George Calombaris refused to try because he said the meat looked too dense. I happily argued the point with George but he still didn’t try my sausage rolls. Why George? Why?

And that concludes my amazing weekend with my amazing family. I hope you spoilt your mum rotten this Mothers Day!

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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Banana-Rama

Here are the hard-hitting facts:

In March 2006, the average price for a kilogram of bananas was $2-3. In June 2006, the price had skyrocketed to an outrageous $15 a kilo. Why? A little crazy cyclone called Larry, that’s why. Since then the price for a banana in Australia has been up and down. Following another cyclone in 2011, some bananas were selling for up to $3 each. Now that’s bananas! At the height of the crazy banana scarcity, I was relying on my frozen banana stash under the cloak of darkness. Even the smell of a banana would send the natives into a frenzy.

Today, the price for bananas is around $5-$6 a kg. Quite modest really. I still fight the urge to stock up big in case the bottom falls out of the market again. Which sometimes leaves me with a rather large stockpile of spotty, blackened overripe fruit, sitting lifelessly in the fruit bowl. Where is all this going you ask? Well….only to most delicious, quick and easy Caramel Banana Cake you’ve ever eaten, that’s where!!!!

Caramel Banana Cake

  • 125g butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 overripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup milk

Pre-heat oven to 170c degrees. In a small saucepan, melt your butter, sugar and vanilla. Take off the heat. In a large bowl, mash your bananas. I used a fork from go to woah in this recipe. Minimise the washing up I say.

Mix in your butter and sugar with the bananas. Add your egg and mix. Add your sifted flour and mix. Add your milk and mix.

Pour into a greased cake pan. I’ve used both round and bar for this recipe. Bake in the oven for 30-40 mins. Just keep an eye on it. Test with a skewer and when it comes out clean, cool on a baking rack. It will be a fairly moist cake.

Caramel Icing

(I’m sorry to say this is largely a guessing game for me but I’ll try my best with measurements).

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 cup icing sugar mixture

Heat the sugar, cream and butter in a small saucepan until all melted. Sift (very important) in the icing sugar mixture until it becomes a spreadable icing consistency. Spread over cake.

You can serve it warm with vanilla ice-cream for a dessert or with just a plain old cup of tea.

WARNING!!! Side effects may occur. If you find yourself sitting on floor in a quiet corner of the kitchen, licking the bowl with wide frantic eyes, hoping your husband doesn’t catch you, then you have caught….the most delicious case of uncontrollable cake batter eating disease. It happens with all the good cake batters. Don’t fight it.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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Cookie Mania!

Shazam!!! This is a super quick post today because I have 37 minutes before I’m leaving the house for a photo shoot and I still haven’t packed my gear. BUT…there is always time for cookies….and posting about cookies!

Here is my never fail, super quick chocolate chip cookie recipe. Seriously, it’s so quick, its quicker than getting in the car to drive to the shops to buy cookies. So, let’s go! (I only have 35 minutes left).

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 125g softened butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 3/4 chocolate chips (or more if you’re greedy like me)

Pre-heat your oven to 160C degrees. Cream your butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add your egg and vanilla. Stir in your flour until combined and then add your choc chips. I actually let my mixer do both the flour and choc chip part too…I mean, that’s its job right?

Roll out teaspoon size balls onto a greased or lined tray. Bake for 10 mins for softies or 15 mins for hardies. Remember, there is only like 1-2 minutes between the perfect golden cookie and a blackened, cremated cookie. So please, keep an eye on them ok?

Cool on the tray until they can be moved to a wire rack. Make yourself a cup of tea and say “Gee, thanks Jen, these really are awesome cookies!”. You’re welcome kids.

White Choc Chip mouthfuls of heaven. Mmmm.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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Fo’ Shizzle My Pickle!

I was recently given a beautiful gift of green tomatoes from my precious mother-in-law. Her tomatoes have

The beautiful green tomato.

gone nuts this year and she generously let me have a few kg’s. I knew all along I was going to make green tomato pickles with them. But I also wanted to try fried green tomatoes. I did. And they were yum.

So just to mix things up a little…I’m going to interview myself about the process.

Me: Ok Jen, tell us why you wanted to make green tomato pickles?

Also Me: So glad you asked Jen. Well ever since I can remember my mother has made her own green tomato pickles and they were the bomb. Nothing is sweeter than a corned beef sandwich with fresh bread and pickles.

Me: Sounds delicious. Have you ever made them before?

Also Me: Nope. I’ve always just been lucky enough to been given them from my mum. But…she’s been a little busy lately so I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands.

Me: Does she have a secret family recipe?

Also Me: She sure does Jen and it comes in a bottle called Wild’s Ezy Sauce. I don’t know where it originated but I’m pretty sure it’s as old as the hills. You can make all sorts of pickles, chutney’s and sauces from that one little bottle.

Me: Fascinating. Really. Well then…are you going to tell us how to do it or what?

Also Me: Cool your heels little lady…I was just getting to that. Please find below, the always easy, never disappointing recipe. Enjoy pickle fans.

My secret weapon....mwahahhaaaa!

Green Tomato Pickles

  • 5.5kg green tomatoes (up to half can be substituted with cauliflower if you wish. I didn’t)
  • 2kg white onions
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1.5kg sugar
  • 1 370ml bottle Wilds Ezy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric

The day before you want to get into some pickle action you will need to slice your tomatoes and onions and mix with the salt. I used the slicer thing on my food processor. It was super easy. Make sure you have a very large bowl or two bowls to put it in. Mix the onions and tomatoes and sprinkle over the salt and combine. Cover well and leave overnight.

The next day get a big pot and put your mixture in there. Bring to the boil and add the sugar and the Ezy Sauce. Reduce to a simmer and leave for 2.5hrs stirring occasionally to avoid it sticking to the bottom.

Combine the spices and cornflour with enough water to make a paste. Slowly add this to the tomato mixture and combine until it thickens. Spoon into sterilised jars and leave to cool.

Try to hold on to as many bottles of this as you can because you’re going to eat it like crazy. Another favourite of mine is to have it on toast topped with cheese.

So there you go. Oh, just one last thing. When you are cooking this bad boy, your whole house is going to smell like vinegar and onions. Be prepared. That is all….enjoy!

 
18 Comments

Posted by on April 22, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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It’s time for limes!

It’s lime season!!!

I always think its time for lime but right now, limes are particularly spectacular. Big, fat and juicy. And I’ve been buying up big on them because you don’t have to re-mortgage your house to get a few. So what does one do with a mountain of limes? Make a Key Lime Pie of course.

I’ve always wanted to try making a Key Lime Pie, just the sound of it makes me feel all “sitting in a cabana on the beach” like. Little did I know that the original recipe called for key limes…hence the name. But I guess they are native to Florida so the recipe has been adapted for regular garden variety limes…or persian limes.

What I didn’t figure upon trying this recipe is how easy it is. The story goes…that a reaction occurs between the lime juice and the condensed milk which actually cooks the filling or makes it thicken substantially. Although, you’re still required to cook it for a short time. I used 4 limes for this recipe but think that you could use more. It’s very sweet and I think it needs a bit more acidity from the lime juice. Although if you have a super sweet tooth, 4 limes might suit you. Here we go!

Key Lime Pie

Crust

  • 16 biscuits (I used Anzac biscuits because it’s nearly Anzac day…but any plain biscuit will do)
  • 125g melted butter
  • 45g caster sugar (I used this but I don’t think you really need to)

Filling

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 x 395g tin condensed milk
  • Juice of 4-5 limes
  • 200ml cream

Pre-heat your oven to 175c. Blitz up your biscuits and slowly add melted butter until it comes together.  Press into a 22cm (across the top) greased glass or ceramic pie dish and push up the sides. Bake in the oven for about 10 mins or until lightly brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

In a bowl add egg yolks and whisk a little. Then add condensed milk, cream and lime juice. Grate some lime zest in there too if you like. Whisk lightly until it all comes together. Pour into your pie crust and return to the oven for 15 mins.

Remove from oven, cool and then pop it into the fridge for a while. We had ours with cream but I didn’t think it needed it. If anything, I’d have mine with a big scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

I can tell when my guy likes something…he takes a bite and his eyes go big and round like saucers. This pie…got saucer eyes.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2012 in Fire Up the Rayburn

 

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