Wondering what to do this weekend? How about making a delicious dessert? What about planning a lovely three course meal for the family … entree, main and a dessert … They will love you for it.
Wondering what to do this weekend? How about making a delicious dessert? What about planning a lovely three course meal for the family … entree, main and a dessert … They will love you for it.
Zucchini, Spinach & Dill Fritters are a delicious pancake style dish that perfectly compliments a light salad or as a side dish to a curry buffet.
My family is still on our alternative day meat free lifestyle, which is going really well. Maybe more so for me as it now gives me a guideline to work with. There really is something to be said about having restrictions to help motivate and encourage new ideas and strategies; whether it be needing to include an ingredient for your diet or remove an ingredient due to allergies, or perhaps it’s even a budget necessity but each one means putting more thought into what you actually eat and stock your fridge and cupboards with.
I was thinking about this recently, as I was going through my ever growing cookbook library, about how, in our mother’s time they would have had two maybe three cookbooks. Cookbooks that would have been worked through thoroughly, family discussions about what was liked and what didn’t really work. Favourite family meals would have be discovered and made often – Sausage Casserole Tuesdays for instance. If you wanted to change it up you would open one of your favourite cookbooks (out of the three) and pick a recipe to make, it was certainly an easier time.
Now, everyone has so many books, so many recipes in printed form, most books of which would be lucky to get one recipe made from it … Perhaps I’m feeling the loss of the simplicity and romance of times gone by… perhaps I need to do a cookbook cull?
This recipe has probably been around in some form or another for many decades. It is full of flavour, especially with one of my most favourite herbs, dill, and can easily accommodate more herbs and spices depending on the style of meal you are serving.
PS: I would never/ could never get rid of my cookbook babies… I think I just need a coffee!
I was given a set of the these beautiful Williams Sonoma Harvest Botanical dinner bowls by Carolyn, my Managing Directors wife for Christmas. Each bowl is carefully decorated in earthy autumn colours with forest fungi, ready for the picking. Portuguese Artisans then finish off each bowl by painting its underside a royal purple. Simply gorgeous.
Naturally, these beautiful fungi bowls had to be filled with a dish that complemented their beautiful craftsmanship, so mushroom risotto it was!
I love risotto. Sure I have had my fair share of disastrous results but how else are you supposed to learn from your mistakes? I love the labour intensive process that is required to produce the end result, watching each rice grain meld with butter and stock to produce a rich, hearty and warming goodness.
If like me you are a fan of this laborious cooking process, then you will absolutely enjoy this hilarious Thermomix risotto review. The Katering Show‘s Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney are fantastic!
Back to the matter at hand! My risotto and beautiful bowls. I am quietly pleased at the risotto results and I think the bowls are amazing.
Love risotto? What’s your favourite?
Nothing’s better on a cold, wet and windy weekend than getting into your kitchen. Attentively and keenly preparing your fresh vegetables and meat around the warmth of the oven. The embracing aromas that waft through the house throughout the day are just a tease to the delicious feasts you will have with your family and friends.
Wild Mushroom Mini Arancini or mini deep fried mushroom rice balls for the uninitiated are such a great food to have on hand in the freezer.
Not only are they a great ‘fast food’ to pad out a salad but they are also fantastic to have for emergency nibbles when friends or family pop around.
This volume makes about 60 arancini but this will depend on how big or small you make each ball. To freeze the remaining arancini you simply take the recipe up to the breadcrumb coating stage and then place them on a lined baking tray so they aren’t touching each other and freeze overnight. You then place them into a ziplock bag till required. Cook them from frozen, do not defrost.
Serve them with a garlic aioli and a harissa paste or similar spicy, hot sauce.
… would love to be serving these out of a food truck. You know what they say, put the wish out there, the dream may come true – Blondie
Roast Vegetable Salad w/ Black Sesame Gomasio is a scrumptious salad that is on high rotation at our house. This salad is chock full of flavours and textures that will appeal to everyone… there’s the creaminess of the avocado, the zing and bite from the pickled beetroot, sweetness and softness the from the roasted vegetables, a mild earthy bite from the brussel sprouts, then dressed with a salty sesame seed sprinkle.
As a family we are currently into week 3 of our new lifestyle of going meat free every second day; one day on, one day off. I enjoy the challenge of coming up with delicious meals that will appeal to an almost 10 year old son, a hubby and myself. I’m very fortunate though that hubby regards salads as a dinner, I can happily serve a big plate of leaves and colourful additions knowing that it will sate his evening appetite … but man cannot live on salads alone, and most certainly not a 10 year old boy!
One trick that serves us all well at dinner time – especially since it’s now winter is to make a couple of dishes to go with it, such as a Potato Dauphinoise – this adds a real comfort food element to this salad (or any salad for that matter) with it’s warm, soft, creamy and cheesy potato layers, or a Broccoli and Cauliflower Mac’n’Cheese.
Another trick is to have some emergency foods ready to use at a moments notice such as mini Wild Mushroom Aranchini Balls, meat free dumplings or potstickers. Make a big batch of them when you do actually make them, then freeze. This way you can pull out what you need when you need them. Have them reheating while you make up the salad.
This ain’t no rabbit food, enjoy! Blondie
Ask my father and he will tell you that growing up I hated anything to do with gardening. I hated our garden with a passion. It probably didn’t help that mum and dad forced my brother and I to weed the backyard lawn with hand weed pickers! A very mundane and long task! It was a weekend chore that was the cause of many tears and arguments, mainly over me trying to get out of the weeding. The lawn had to be spotless and weed killer free!
Back then I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about with growing your own vegetables, fruits and herbs. To me it was so much easier to just get it from the shop.
Fast forward 25+ years and the tide has changed. I dream of one day owning a little plot of land out in the country. One that boasts a lush vegetable and herb patch. For now though I have to settle for a house with a small courtyard.
Living 10 minutes away from the city has its positives and negatives. Great restaurants are within walking distance. Parking is a bitch, every day! Living in a townhouse means that my ability to have a garden is very limited. What small outdoor area we do have contains a BBQ, outdoor setting and our fire pit (a must in autumn and winter!) The remaining floor space is occupied by Ti our cat and Spot the bunny rabbit. Both furry four legged animals have taken it upon themselves to claim what available land we have left and use it for their toilet needs. Not the compost I had in mind!
The idea of having a vertical garden came to me some months ago when Spot demolished some wild strawberries we had growing in the garden. I started to research balcony gardens and came across vertical gardens designed from wooden pallets. Yipee! With plenty of free pallets around in Sydney my vertical garden came alive last weekend.
It took 6 hours in total. Hubby built the leg support stand but was retired from service when he tried to staple with first weed protector sheet to the pallet, not up to the standard.
I am proud as punch of my achievement. My legs and arms were a little worse for wear a few days after but I now have a little small thriving garden. It will be interesting to see what vegetables and herbs grow best over the coming months and can’t wait till my first harvest.
Ps…If you are short on space in your yard Milkwood have written a lovely story about Best Edible Plants for your vertical garden. Lots of useful information and handy tips on setting up your own garden.
If you have a vertical garden I’d love to hear from you.
Carrot & Ginger Cake w/ Pineapple Flowers is a cake I designed for Mother’s Day. Yes, this post is a little late for this years Mother’s Day but lets think of it as getting in early for next year and it doesn’t even need to be just for Mother’s Day, this cake can fit all types of celebratory occasions. What could be more occasional than edible flowers strewn across the top of a delicious carrot cake? It looks impressive and tastes divine.
Designated with doing a dessert I knew instantly what I was going to do. The cover of the April’15 Gourmet Traveller magazine had a picture of what I originally had thought was a hummingbird cake, but on closer inspection realised it was in fact a carrot cake, a deliciously moist looking layered cake that I knew would be the perfect platform for some edible flowers and crunchy nuts, which I had been eager to do for quite some time – not unlike a hummingbird cake.
I’m not a cake construction type person so if I can pull it off, anyone can (and I was so impressed with myself, which is why the following paragraph is all about how fabulous a job I did)
Once completed and placed on a rightfully deserved pedestal it was a breathtaking piece of sweet art. I had achieved what I had planned to do and that was to deliver a beautiful looking centrepiece for mum and nana for Mother’s Day. Now I fear I may have set a benchmark to what could be years of trying to one-up myself.
There are alot of steps in the preparation of the cake but you start doing elements of it in the days prior so you aren’t rushed off your feet; the candied nuts and flowers can be done before hand.
Happy whichever day it is you are celebrating… Blondie
Wow, what a busy time it has been for Bella and I. We’ve been so busy getting other projects for FinSki’s off the ground (more information on these later) that we almost lost track of time and let Autumn fly by without a tour!
We’ve been out several times this year to both the Southern Highlands and Oberon areas, enjoying the serenity that being in the forest brings – well, as serene as it can be with a dog that just loves to roll in wombat poo and having the kids trying to get him to jump in muddy puddles so he can get clean (eau de wombat pour chien)… anyway, the serenity between those moments is magical.
We decided to host a tour on the 17th of May and not surprisingly it booked out in a heartbeat. Friend and amazing photographer Sie Kitts, joined us and beautifully documented the day for our photo journal…
Mushroom tour May 2015
On a brisk and sunny morning the group all met up at Pheasants Nest at 8:00am. Once we had all arrived and introductions were made, we headed off to the forest. An eerie, ghostly fog lay close to the ground as we headed in.
On arrival at our first stop, there’s a brief rundown on the mushrooms we will be foraging for and then it’s on, everyone heads into the forest for their own unique experience of foraging. Continue Reading →
Preserved Lemon, Fennel & Cumin Marinade, is one of those workhorse recipes that can be used with anything from red meats to chicken, even brushed over vegetables for an extra flavour boost when grilling. But for me, it is when it’s partnered with pork that it really shines.
There really is nothing more to say as it really does stand on it’s own and will most definitely be one that you will return to over again.
Pine Mushroom & Pork Pot Stickers… Dumplings have always held a soft food spot to my stomach, and luckily for me, they are found in most countries around the word in some form or another – ravioli, ebelskiver, pierogi, gyoza or samosa just to name a few.
These pot stickers are one of my favourite dumplings with the crusty, browned base and the soft, velvety top. What happens inside almost takes second place to the perfectly cooked skin.
These pot stickers can be eaten straight up, but I choose not to flavour the filling too strongly with seasonings so as to keep the flavour of the mushrooms. The flavour boost comes in the form of the dipping sauce. This is where you can go wild with flavour, maybe having several different sauces to dip into. Happy dipping! Blondie
Pine mushroom Okonomiyaki came about after a lovely forage with our first tour for the year. It’s always fun coming up with new recipes to use these glorious mushrooms in.
This is a Japanese pancake and can have any ingredients you want… this is up there with some of the best ever fridge clearer meals you will make.
The best way to serve Saffron Milk Cap Mushrooms is by keeping the flavours simple and clean. A quick sautee to get some caramelisation on them bumps the flavour up enormously.
Happy foraging! Blondie
Wild Mushroom Ketchup…You’re probably as surprised as we were when we first came across Mushroom Ketchup. Mushrooms as ketchup? Not possible!
Well, during our mushroom trip to Oberon, Bella stumbled upon such a condiment. With intrigue she purchased it and with intrigue I made it.
After looking into the history of ketchup I discovered that the tomato version originated about 100 years after the original version, prior to that it was made from any number of foods, for example nuts, fruit, or mushrooms… It originally began it’s life being made from fish and was called ke-tsiap.
In this recipe I have used the saffron milk caps and slippery jacks that I picked at Oberon but you could use any mushroom or combination of mushrooms with equally fabulous results. Also, the fresh mushrooms will need to be left to sit in salt for 24 hours, so this isn’t a spontaneous recipe. It’s also a recipe that gets better with age, so be sure to have some sterilised jars ready.
This photo of my lunch is of my Four’n Twenty pie and I have to say that I will now, and forever be having my pies with Mushroom Ketchup, truly outstanding!!
Tippaleipä – Finnish Funnel Cakes… Every year I have been meaning to get these up on the website and every year I miss the 1st of May by a day. But not this year! Here it is, finally.
The 1st of May is a huge event in Finland; it marks the beginning of spring (amongst other things) with large festivities in the towns and cities. Lots of drinking and lots of food is consumed from May Day Eve (it’s as big as Christmas for the Finns). It’s a time for friends, family, students, workmates to get together and party.
These deep fried fritters are consumed by the truckload and are perfect street food. One hand holds a fritter, the other hand holds a glass of Sima – a Finnish fermented lemon drink. With their slightly crispy outside, they are soft and warm inside with a dusting of icing that looks like snow sitting on an odd shaped snowflake.
But who needs a party?… These take but moments to whip up and only moments to devour.
Happy Vappu! Blondie
You’ll find our beautiful Mushroom and Walnut Pillows with Saffron Milk Cap sauce recipe in Lyndey Milan’s, Taste of Australia Book. Page 184 to be exact, and yes, Blondie and I take full credit for the recipe! However if you don’t have the book then click here!
Easter Forage Review
Awesome fish for Good Friday fish bbq, packed! Mushroom picking kits, check! Enough food to feed a small army, yep! Wine, bubbles and beer for the boys, tick!
Blondie and I were off for what was going to be yet another amazing Easter at Yarrawonga South with our respective families. Good food, chilled wine, company of long time friends and of course wild mushroom picking! Bliss!
With both cars packed to the top, kids in the back, dog in the front Blondie and I took the long way round. We headed south, stopped off at the Southern Highlands pine forest to pick some mushrooms. Whilst there was nothing to be found (zip, zero!) at our usual spot our spirits could not be dampened! We had the most amazing drive ahead of us. Oberon via Taralga is such a beautiful drive. Winding country roads, sheep and cattle grazing and cool tunes pumping out.
Having arrived at our destination in the cold and wet rain we delayed our foraging adventure to Easter Sunday, after all there was yummy food to be cooked and wine to be drunk!
We knew that Oberon had some rain, but we also heard that it was a very dry summer. Nevertheless with open minds and hope in our hearts we ventured out for our first real forage for 2015. The pressure was on, we had two new picking recruits, Bodie and Bailey, who were keen to see what all the fuss was about.
Foraging for these beauties can be a fickle thing. Too often there have been stories where people have gone to one section of the forest and found nothing, whilst their foraging counterpart managed to pick a large haul!
Driving into the forest for the first time each season can be a funny thing, the nerves, the excitement, the smell of the fresh pine air, the need to train your eyes to spot the difference between a saffron milk cap mushroom and a saffron coloured rock or leaf (yes, it does happen).
We made a bee line for our true, tried and tested spot but to our disappointment we ended up with a tiny basket of …. 8 mushrooms! Not each, not per day but for the whole trip.
When you do manage to get your hands on these flavorsome Saffron Milk Cap mushroom you can’t go past our Mushroom and Walnut Pillows with Saffron Milk Cap Sauce! Perfect for the autumn months and best enjoyed with a glass of chilled chardonnay.
Bella and Blondie
Leek & Potato Soup w/ Onion Puree and Caramelised Onion Oil is heaven sent when you’ve got a cold.
As my boy is home sick from school with a cold today, I did the motherly thing and made some soup. Nothing is better than a piping hot bowl of soup to make you feel all warm and toasty on the inside.
This is my basic recipe for one of the food world’s most enduring partnerships … leek and potatoes. It’s also a fantastic canvas for experimenting with added flavours, which is why the onion puree has been introduced, which in turn produced an amazing by-product of the Caramelised Onion Oil that just had to be included in it.
Having come across a puree recipe from Chef Steps a little while ago, I was eager to incorporate it into a dish, and this was perfect. The Onion Puree is super simple to make, just bung some onions into a hot oven with some oil and salt and roast for 2 hours. The end result is incredibly sweet onions melting inside their skins. This gets pureed and voila, a tasty element to add to soups, risottos, aioli etc. But, what go me so excited was the left over oily, caramelised, sweet and salty juices left in the baking dish – Oh my! You really have to make this for yourself.
Happy sopping – Blondie
Beef & Mushroom Meatloaf w/ Roasted Garlic is a super simple recipe that is just as delicious served piping hot, straight from the oven as it is eaten in the following days on your sandwiches with lashings of tomato chutney and mustard.
I’ve made this with a roasted garlic on the side, but please go ahead and make as much roasted garlic as you choose to as the soft, sweet, caramelised garlic lends it’s self to being used in so many different dishes. Just squeeze the cloves out of their paper casings and cover them with olive oil. This will store well in the fridge for about a week.
To use the roasted garlic for this recipe, simply squeeze out the soft flesh and spread over the meatloaf for added flavour. Even though the roasting of the garlic changes it’s chemical makeup to be more easily digested, you will still have garlic breath – I don’t care what anyone says, it is definitely there! So this is to benefit the people who would like to avoid leaching out garlic smell through out their places of work or school.
Old fashioned homeliness – Blondie
Half way through last year Blondie introduced me to Aussie Farmers Direct. A great initiative supporting local farmers via an independent online retail facility. Each Monday and Thursday they deliver to my door fresh fruit and veggies along with a selection of meats and dairy items.
At first I was very skeptical of using this service, having bad experiences with both, Coles on line and the Woollies delivery service, however I took the plunge and placed my first order and was very pleasantly surprised.
What appealed to me most about Aussie Farmers Direct was that in my own small way I was supporting Australian farmers, buying Australian made products and keeping the $ in Australia. I also love the fact that it comes to my door bright and early in the morning, 6 am!
What I dislike like is my own negligence that seems to have happened 3 times in a row – forgetting to take stock of what was in the fridge prior to my Thursday and Monday delivery to ensure that I don’t double or triple up in some cases on certain items.
Having another frantic week at work I forgot to revise my Thursday order, as a result I have ended up with three leeks, 3 bags of onions (I can see French onion soup being made!) several bags of mushrooms (ravioli here we come!) carrots (yep Spot the bunny will be happy!) enough garlic to ensure that Count Dracular never visits Team FinSki’s! Cauliflower that is clearly not very happy to be sharing the fridge real estate space with another younger sibling.
With the fridge bursting I had to come us with a recipe that would use as many of the over purchased veggies as I could.
Whilst it hasn’t exactly been pie weather in Sydney I jumped at the opportunity to make a good ol’ fashioned chicken pie with the lot!
I love pies, the home made ones, not the store bought ones with the wobbly bits in the filling. There is something simple, nourishing and very homely about a good ol’ fashioned pie with a perfect crust!
My chicken pie recipe is really a no brainer, you can pack it with any left over veggies you like! The secret is in using good quality stock, I make my own and adding a little wholegrain mustard for extra taste.
I normally make a big pie to feed us for at least 2 maybe 3 nights and then freeze the rest in small batches to make more pie, or mini pies.
What’s your favourite pie?
Taco and Fajita Seasoning – Big Batch is a one for all recipe, perfect for someone who can’t decide between taco’s or fajita’s for dinner.
If you are whipping up a batch of taco’s you really don’t need to alter this recipe at all, but if you want to make fajita’s with grilled meat you can then add a big squeeze of lime juice at the end.
Although there is a difference in the two recipes, when you are at home and just really want to have the punch of flavour of Mexican food this is a must to have on hand.
Happy Mexican feasting – Blondie