Monthly Archives: May 2012

Lasagna

Now that I am actually aware that several of my family members do read my blog, (thanks guys!), I feel like maybe I should make things a little more PG rated. Not that I’m censoring of course, my life is very PG and there isn’t a single drunk photo of my anywhere.

Except maybe Facebook.

But anyways, on to the story of this lasagna.

The first time I ate this lasagna, I had had a lot of….apple juice.

And that apple juice was making me very happy…and chatty…and giggly…and dance-y.

It was just magical apple juice all around.

And so, when I first ate this lasagna I thought it was the golden god of lasagnas. Seriously, it was a legit party in my mouth.

So, when I decided to make it again, I was a little wary. I didn’t have quite as much apple juice on hand and I thought the lasagna might taste a bit, well, different.

But gloriously, it did not.

Apple juice or no apple juice, this lasagna is the bomb.

So I suggest you make it.

Now.

This recipe comes from my dear friend Mariann Foll. All the way from Norway, thanks love.

Lasagna
Serves 4

Ingredients:
500 g minced beef
1 can chopped tomatoes
1-2 onions, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup water or milk
Salt, pepper, basil (fresh / dried)
Lasagna Sheets (about one 250g box of instant lasagna sheets will do)
250g cheddar cheese

For the White sauce:
2 tbsp butter / oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
4-5 tablespoons cheese
A little salt, pepper and dash of nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.

Saute the onions until soft and then add the meat. Continue to cook until the meat has mostly browned. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and water / milk. Simmer for 10 minutes, and season to taste.

Melt butter / heat oil, stir in the flour and dilute with milk while stirring rapidly. Cook on low heat while stirring. Let simmer for 5 minutes, add the cheese and season to taste.

In a casserole dish, add a layer of meat sauce, then the lasagne sheets and white sauce. Add one more layer of lasagna sheets, another layer of meat sauce and cover with cheese.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes – until the sheets are soft. Leave the lasagna for 10 minutes after baking, so it will “set up” a bit.

Served usually with a salad and garlic bread.

 

Enjoy,

A

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Chicken Schnitzel with Jaeger Sauce

For those cold wintery nights when you’re curled up with a glass of red wine and the latest Game of Thrones episode, you need a good hearty meal.

This Sunday, it happened to be chicken schnitzel.

All the gore and sex and general drama of Game of Thrones can get pretty intense, so this is honestly a perfect meal for the occasion. You can get out your meat-pounder device, or really anything you can hold in one hand and hit a chicken breast with, and channel your inner ‘Kingslayer’ while constructing a very nice and flavourful meal.

Chicken Schnitzel

Serves 4
Chicken schnitzel recipe from my boyfriend, Ciaran, who learned the skills while living in Austria
Recipe for the sauce from http://germanfood.about.com/od/meatbasedrecipesandmenu/r/jaegerschnitzel.htm

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

Sauce:
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream, divided
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 tablespoons salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

For the chicken:
400 grams chicken breast
1 cup flour, for covering the chicken
3-4 eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
Oil, for frying

Preparation:

For the sauce:

Sauté onion until translucent, add sliced mushrooms, brown for 5 minutes. Add broth and wine, cook 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of half and half or cream, bring to a boil and simmer for several minutes. Mix remaining 2 tablespoons of cream with 2 tablespoons of flour. Add flour slurry to mushroom mixture and bring to a boil, stirring to avoid clumps. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm while cutlets are cooked.

For the schnitzel:

Heat oil in a deep skillet, it should be enough to completely cover the schnitzel. Lay out cutlets on a cutting board and pound until thin (1/4 inch thick or less). Line up three bowls next to the cutlets. In the first, place the lightly whisked eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper. In the second, place the flour, and in the third, place the breadcrumbs. Cover one chicken breast in flour and then dip in the eggs, let the excess drip off, and then in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with each chicken breast. Once the oil is hot, you can test by dropping a piece of bread or a small piece of schnitzel in and seeing if it begins to fry, then add the schnitzels in and fry for about 3 minutes on each side. Fry only 1 or 2 at a time so they have enough space.

Serve with sauce and mashed potatoes. And lots of beer. Or wine. Feel free to embrace your inner Lannister and down a bucket of wine or prost to your German side with a refreshing wheat bier.

 

Enjoy,

A

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The Fish Shop

Being an East Coast girl, when I heard Potts Point had a new restaurant that was claiming to be a Cape Cod/Hamptons style fish shop, I had to go check it out.

I’ve never had better fish and chips than the ones I’ve had in Australia, so a restaurant that was trying to create American fish and chips sounded a little fishy.

But it turned out to be pretty good.

I’d read a review in the SMH saying the decor and theme had gone a little too far and was even entering the land of tacky.

And not just because there were too many tackle boxes.

Couldn’t help myself.

But when I ventured over to Potts Point to check out the quaint little fish shack, I was pleasantly surprised. The place was packed but very inviting and very friendly. The hostess was honestly one of the nicest I have come across and continually checked up on us while we were waiting in the bar for a table. The place is incredibly decked out with fish and fishing gear and oceany puns galore. Even the bathrooms are labelled “Buoys” and “Gulls.” Ingenious.

It was very lively inside, the waiters are dressed in pirate-esque striped shirts and the food was delicious.

They’ve got a rotating list of specials each night and from my own experience and everything that I’ve heard, you should usually try at least one of them out.

We opted for the mussels, which were bathed in a delicious white wine sauce with roasted tomatoes, a bit of chilli and topped with a few slices of crusty bread.

For our main we split the Fisherman’s Basket which was very good. Honestly, it doesn’t quite compare to some of the fish and chips I’ve had here, one of my favourite places is a little shack in Perth where it’s wrapped up in the day’s newspaper and you can sit right by the water enjoying the fresh, amazing taste as the oil seeps through the paper and you make a mess of yourself trying to finish every last crumb.

But it was still very good. The basket came with pieces of blue eyed cod, cuttlefish, oysters and crispy chips. We were full after the two courses but the meals at The Fish Shop aren’t as big as your local chicken shop. The prices are cheap but the portions are small.

The cocktails looked like they were on the tiny side as well so we stayed away from those and had our meal with some crisp sauvignon blanc. Maybe they’re incredibly tasty, but I couldn’t justify the price for the size.

All in all, I was very satisfied with this little slice of the American East Coast nestled in Potts Point, they do their fish well and they show you a good time. Highly recommended.

-A

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Pecan Pie

Short crust pastry and puff pastry are not the same thing. Though they do look awfully similar when they’re frozen.

People who have grown up down under probably know that. I should probably know that too, but that doesn’t mean I do.

They should have easy Americanized definitions on the label, like short-crust = sweet, puff = savoury. I suppose the picture of sausage rolls on the front should have been a clue, but my brain was in a different place.

Despite pastry problems in the kitchen the pie turned out to be pretty tasty. Pecan pie isn’t seen that often in Australia, but it’s not too difficult to make and it’s super sweet and delicious.

As a side note, the egg in this recipe will cause the pie to rise pretty high while cooking, don’t worry, it won’t explode. We already did enough panicking for you.

Giant, almost-exploding pie.

Ingredients:

Frozen SHORT-CRUST PASTRY (caps make everything seem more important.)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups chopped toasted pecans
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons pure vanillaextract
3 eggs, lightly beaten

Once the dough has defrosted a bit, lay it into a 9-inch pie pan and trim the edges, leaving about an extra inch hanging over the edge. Tuck the overhanging dough underneath itself to form a thick edge that is even with the rim. Flute the edge as desired.

Set separate racks in the center and lower third of oven and preheat to 200 degrees C. Put a piece of parchment paper or foil over the pie shell and fill with dried beans or pie weights. We didn’t have either so we used old uncooked ramen, it works as well. Bake on a baking sheet on the center rack until the dough is set, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and lift sides of the parchment paper to remove the beans.

While the crust is baking make the filling: In medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts, bourbon, and the vanilla. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes. (If the crust has cooled, return it to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through.) Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth. Put the pie shell on a baking pan and pour the filling into the hot crust.

Bake on the lower oven rack until the edges are set but the center is still slightly loose, about 35 to 40 minutes. (If the edges get very dark, cover them with aluminum foil half way during baking.) Cool on a rack. Serve slightly warm or room temperature with a dollop of cream on top.

Enjoy,

A

 

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Brown Bag Lunches

I learned a few things this week.

1. I can’t go a whole week without drinking. Though, to be fair, the only time I did drink was when it was offered, you know like as a gift, and you can never refuse a gift. That’s just bad manners.

2. I can’t eat quinoa for four days in a row.

The first was an unsurprising lesson, I blame uni, Sydney’s amazing bars, friendly customers who order too many tequila shots and the ridiculous amount of free alcohol at Fashion Week…I can keep on blaming other things despite knowing it’s my own doing, but shh, I’m just going to continue with the list. Also, it turns out Kahina can do a full week. So props to her.

The second lesson was not so pleasant.

As I have started interning three days a week I want to try and bring my lunch to save a few dollars. I’ve been testing out different recipes that I can make in bulk and then have ready to go for the rest of the week. Week 1 was far more successful than Week 2.

Week 1 I made a pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, feta, and artichoke hearts and got three good servings out if it. I also didn’t get sick of it. Major plus.

Week 2 I made quinoa with roasted tomatoes, avocado and pesto. It sounded yum and quinoa is healthy so I decided to give it a go. Due to laziness mostly I didn’t alter the serving size and simply followed the recipe and ended up with 5 servings. Mistake. Big mistake.

Quinoa, despite all its good quality’s and healthy glory, is not ideal for lunch more than two days in a row. After a few days I could barely even look at the dish and getting a whiff of it turned my face as green as the pesto. On day 4 I chucked the whole thing, including my tupperware container and the fork that had touched it slightly. I think I get a gold star for ridiculous waste-age.

Not to discourage you from making this dish, because it is very tasty, just don’t make my mistake and try to eat it for four or five days in a row. Unless you’re a quinoa fanatic, but even then you would have to be pretty dedicated, like “I heart Quinoa” t-shirt-wearing kind of fanatic to eat it this much. Let’s hope Week 3 is a little more promising, though there is canned chicken involved. This could get interesting.

Pasta Salad:
Makes 3 servings

2 1/4 cups of cooked vegetable pasta
Pitted Kalamatta olives
Sun-dried tomatoes
Feta cheese
Artichoke hearts

Cook the pasta according to the directions and run it under cold water until it has cooled. Toss it with a bit of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. Slice the olives, sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts into smaller pieces. Add these to the pasta and toss to mix. Crumble the feta cheese, sprinkle in and toss to combine. The amounts of each are up to you and how much you like each ingredient.


Quinoa with Roasted Tomatoes, Avocado, and Pesto
Adapted from Big Girls Small Kitchen

2 cups cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt
2 cups dry quinoa
1 avocado, cut into chunks
300g of bocconcini
400g can of chickpeas
Small jar of pesto
1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
A pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 175C. Line a baking sheet with foil. Make sure the tomatoes are completely dry then drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat them all. Bake the tomatoes for about 35 minutes, flipping once, until they are brown and poufy. They will deflate when you take them out of the oven. Sprinkle with salt.

For the quinoa: combine the quinoa with 4 cups of water in a small, lidded saucepan and bring to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, give it a stir, put on the lid, and turn the heat down as low as possible. Cook for 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat but leave the lid on for 5 more minutes. Then, spread the quinoa out onto a baking sheet to let it come to room temperature and dry out a bit so it doesn’t stick together when you make the salad.

Mix the pesto with the mustard, rice wine vinegar and olive oil. If you visit the original recipe they have a full recipe for a pesto vinaigrette, but I don’t have a food processor so I improvised.

In a large mixing bowl, gently mix the quinoa with the tomatoes, avocado, bocconcini, and chickpeas. Spoon in the dressing and toss to distribute it evenly. Eat at room temperature or cold.

Enjoy,

A

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