Ridiculously Rich Dark Chocolate Sorbet

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Click image for recipe

Ridiculously Rich Dark Chocolate Sorbet, the title is no joke, It truly is ridiculously rich!

I’m not a sweet tooth but if I were to choose my favourite flavour combination it would have to be strawberries and chocolate… strawberries dipped in chocolate, strawberry filled chocolates etc. Actually, no, Chocolate and mint would be my favourite, wait, no… coffee and lemon. Damn! I’ve got alot of sorbets to make :)

Anyway, this is a great start to my sorbet odyssey as they are very simple to prepare and great to have on hand. You could make this a little more adult by adding your favourite liquor – there is already vodka in it to stop it from setting rock hard but also add cointreau for a choc orange flavoured sorbet or add a hazelnut liquor.

Divide the pre frozen sorbet into small batches and you could make an endless flavour combinations to tease your friends with… the flavour combinations are truly endless.

Bowl licking good!   Blondie

Ridiculously Rich Dark Chocolate Sorbet

Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad w/ Seared Salmon and Wild Mushrooms

Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad w Seared Salmon and Wild Mushrooms

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Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad w/ Seared Salmon and Wild Mushrooms is the very first dish I made with this years first haul from the forest… although not really a haul as I came out with only 13 prized funghi specimens but pair them with a stunning salmon fillet and it’s a feast of a dinner.

FinSkis Mushroom foraging NSW

It’s still a little too warm for the mushrooms at this point but the rains we have been having in NSW makes for a very promising season. There were lots of very little baby mushrooms poking their heads out, they will be just ripe for picking the following week.

As you can see from my basket there wasn’t too much around, a very small haul indeed but still a feast worthy of a delicious dinner.

FinSkis 2014 mushrooming trip

A small haul but still worthy of a dinner

This is a high nutrient rich meal with just a little indulgent use of butter and a sweet hit from the vino cotto.

Enjoy the forage and savour the feast – Blondie  :)

Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad w Seared Salmon and Wild Mushrooms

Zucchini Koftas in Creamy Tomato Sauce

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Click image for recipe

Zucchini Koftas in Creamy Tomato Sauce is an insanely moresih kofta recipe – it really is hard to stop eating these deep fried zucchini balls. The recipe does call for the zucchini koftas to warm in the sauce but when I do it again I will serve the sauce on the side (or underneath) the kofta balls so I keep the texture of the balls, which soften when sitting in the sauce.

This meal is also kid friendly – there is chilli in it so just remove or reduce it if they aren’t a fan of heat, but they will most certainly love the zucchini balls.

TIP: since the koftas really need to be eaten immediately (they go a little soggy otherwise, but still tasty) turn the leftovers into sausage rolls – these are absolutely stunning! Mix the balls and remaining sauce together with some paneer or ricotta and roll up in puff pastry. This way you get the texture and the flavour just in a different form.

My household is still going strong with our 3-4 days worth of vegetarian days a week and it’s been really exciting coming up with recipes to excite and engage… this one is no exception as it has the naughtiness of deep fried food and the lushness of the creamy tomato curry sauce. I have also included a recipe for Paneer Parathas, which are an Indian stuffed bread, just perfect for dunking into the sauce.

Happy dunking!

Blondie  :)

Paneer Parathas

Paneer Parathas

The Easiest Banana Bread Ever w/ Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting

The Easiest Banana Bread Ever w/ Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting

So the question of what to do with old bananas would pop into most peoples minds at some point while they look at their decaying fruit. A bright spark of an idea will envelope them as they remember that they love banana bread and surely it can’t be too difficult to make…

Bella and I are both guilty of leaving bananas too long on the bench and having them eventually end up in the garbage, but no longer! I will forever now be making banana bread because this recipe is so, so simple. You just bung all the ingredients into the food processor and blitz, spray your bread tin and throw it into the oven for one hour – and what an hour it is. The house fills with the aroma of freshly baked banana bread, scented with vanilla and cinnamon that lingers hours after the baking has finished.

The Easiest Banana Bread Ever w/ Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting is a moist, dense cake that has a fine crumb and holds it’s self well to toasting or eating fresh. It will keep in your fridge for ages, just lightly cover it and if you want the feeling of freshly baked banana bread then pop a thick slice into the microwave for 5-7 seconds and it bounces back to it’s old self – moist and slightly warm, yum!

Forever a classic – Blondie  :)

Kale and 3 Cheese Lasagna w/ Rich Tomato and Mushroom Sauce

Kale and 3 Cheese Lasagna w/ Rich Tomato and Mushroom Sauce

Please excuse the morsel of leftover lasagne photographed, it’s all that was left –                           Click image for recipe.

My mum makes the best lasagna, it’s seriously good, and as with any great recipe that is made by all mum’s the world over, you can never make it as good as theirs. That’s why going back home is always so good.

This Kale and 3 Cheese Lasagna w/ Rich Tomato and Mushroom Sauce is based on mum’s design and her cheese mixture, this is just the vegetarian version. It’s super delicious and soul warming.

I know, the words Blondie and vegetarianism are never seen together, but that was prior to doing Meat Free Week a couple of weeks ago. It was hubby’s decision to do it and as a family we embraced the idea. We had been talking about meat alot of late, not only about reducing our intake but being more conscious of where it was coming from. I had wanted to make meat the ‘special occasion’ meal, the dinner you saved up for and cooked with purpose and love, knowing the animal or fish had lived a good, rich and healthy life.

What surprised me most about that week was it actually took alot more effort and conscious thought to design meals for 7 full days of meat free living than it does to construct and meal with meat. The days were used to think of dinners and lunches that were full of flavour and filled the space left by meat. Sure, I could have done a week of salads and roasted veggies, but I really wanted to try try some other recipes. I don’t want to rely on rice and potatoes to fill the void.

What also surprised me or surprised us all was the fact we had planned to ‘celebrate’ day eight – the start of meat eating again – with my son’s favourite meal of burgers and chips from Grill’d. It was a very enjoyable dinner and a delicious way of re-starting our meat loving ways, but it wasn’t till the next Friday that meat was requested again… funny.

With several new recipes under my belt and with the need to buy quality, local meat our new life of conscious meat eating has begun – 3 to 4 days meat free and enjoying amazing places like Feather and Bone Providore here in Sydney to buy our meat from.

Happy eating, however you choose to do it – Blondie  :)

Roasted pumpkin, ricotta, parmesan and spinach rolls

FinSki's Roasted Pumpkin Ricotta Parmesan & Spinach Rolls

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So if I could sum up the last week of March in one photo it would be this…a classic scene out of Bridget Jones’s Diary, her sitting on the couch, drinking wine and belting out Celine Dion’s All By Myself. Yup, that was me and roasted pumpkin, ricotta, parmesan and spinach rolls is what saved me and well maybe a few LARGE glasses of wine!

bridget-1No I hubby didn’t dump me and whilst I won’t go into the dirty details I will leave it to you the reader to scheme up stories Tongue Outbut let’s just say that it was a crappy week all round at every corner and there was definitely plenty of wine consumed with these yummy savoury rolls.

I was hungry, deflated and had limited ingredients so I did what I knew best, raided the pantry and fridge, made a complete mess of the kitchen and baked! Approximately an hour and a half later I had savoury goodness popping out of my oven.

I love these rolls and try to have them in the freezer on standby. I buy my ricotta in bulk. (Blondie taught me this). It comes in this fantastic 1 kg bowl from Harris Farm Markets and made by Paesanella. If you don’t use it straight away you will generally get a life shell of about 2 weeks prior to opening it. Blondie and I will sometimes share it between the two of us too. Roasting the pumpkin gives the rolls depth of flavour and a certain kind of sweetness. Yum!

Great with a fresh green salad and perfect for that meat free night! Also guaranteed to assist where crappy weeks come to bother you as well!

Bella Smile

Wild Mushroom Tarte Tatin with Taleggio and Vino Cotto Drizzle

FinSkis Wild Mushroom Tarte Tatin

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With Mother’s Day only a month away, I thought I would put up a recipe that would surely bowl her over, especially if you turn up with a bottle of bubbly to go along with it – it would certainly put a smile on my face!

I have used Saffron Milk Caps because the colour is so vibrant and they still retain a firm texture (and I have a ton from our last mushrooming venture!) but if you are having trouble getting a hold of them you could use a Swiss brown and button mushroom mix.

The Vino Cotto adds a gorgeous sweetness to the earthy mushrooms and the melted Taleggio is to die for. Each crispy bite is heaven!

This is such an adaptable dish for whatever the occasion is as you can make a large version to share around a table, or individual tarts that can be served with a little salad on the side as an entree or even as finger food, made in little muffin tins to pass around at parties – and everyone is going to love them!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Enjoy,

Blondie

Wild Mushroom Tarte Tatin with Taleggio and Vino Cotto Drizzle

Wild Mushroom Tarte Tatin with Taleggio and Vino Cotto Drizzle

Tomato Salsa

FinSki's_Salsa 1

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I don’t have an fantastic story behind this tomato salsa recipe. I made tacos the other night for dinner (chicken and beef) and I wanted to make my own salsa. I’ve made fresh salsa before from ripe tomatoes but I couldn’t find any in the supermarket so making it from canned organic tomatoes was  the next best option.

Like majority of recipes there are plenty of variations of this on other cooking sites and blogs so chances are you will have come across something very similar. Best of all it takes about 15 minutes to prepare and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist either to guess the basic ingredients that will go in, you’ll most likely have these sitting in the pantry.

This basic recipe asks for canned tomatoes, coriander, salt, pepper, sweet paprika, chilli, cumin and lime juice. I love my limes and I love my tomato salsa to pack a ‘zinggy’ punch so I used the juice of one full lime. This makes the tomato salsa come out a little runny but  it worked a treat on my soft tacos with gooey cheese.

One of two things happened when I made this…either I was very,very hungry or it was extremely delicious, because it’s almost gone!

How do you make your tomato salsa?

Gołąbki – Polish cabbage rolls

Gołąbki Polish cabbage rolls

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Gołąbki or Polish cabbage rolls is definitely an autumn comfort food dish and although autumn has just started here in Australia and it is still relatively warm I do crave a good hearty dish every few nights.

Mum mostly made gołąbki on a Sunday for obiad (lunch). I still remember how beautiful the kitchen would smell with the rich tomato sauce bubbling away slowly and warming up the whole house. My favourite bit would be soaking up the tomato sauce at the bottom of the bowl with a piece of rye bread, ensuring that I scraped every last bit!

Gołąbki, pronounced ‘go-wump-kie’ translates to little pigeons. I’ve absolutely no idea why this dish is called that. I have heard stories that back in the day the Poles would actually make the dish from real pigeons so maybe it’s because the rolled cabbage leaf resembles a pigeons body? Regardless of the story behind the name they are delicious and very versatile.

There are plenty of other Eastern European nations that have a variation of this dish and they all look equally yummy! The Finns for example call it kaalikääryleet, now try pronouncing that!

Gołąbki is a humble dish which is traditionally made from mince meat such as pork, beef or veal but you can alter the ingredients to suit your own taste. Last mother’s day I made two versions of this, one with meat and the other with rice, grains and mushrooms. I also made a miso stock to go with the veggie option! Both were equally good however nothing beats an original gołąbki recipe!

A scrumptious dish that will hit the spot on a cool autumn evening that is best enjoyed with a good Polish beer! Would love to know if you have ever tasted these?

Smacznego!

Warm Sticky Date Puddings w/ Butterscotch Sauce

Warm Sticky Date Pudding w/ Butterscotch sauce

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A lesson learned… Please don’t try this at home!

It’s amazing how things can change from normal to absolute dire panic in a split second. This is what happened to me two weeks ago… Happily preparing spaghetti at about 6:30pm on a Sunday evening, I dropped a pot of boiling water on the floor. I had a loose top on, the saucepan’s handle was sticking out and the pot must have been off balance on the stove top. I threw in some pasta, spun around to get some more and that was it… that was the moment, that was exactly when Sunday night took a turn for the worse.

Frantic calls to the hospital, to my sister (nurse) and to Bella (to take Seb who was in shock not quite knowing what was going on) and I was whisked away with feet and hands in a large bucket of water to the hospital, husband in tow. To say the pain was extraordinary is an understatement, it was just insane… lots of regular doses of morphine was needed that night!

Anyway, with mid to deep level burns (they no longer grade a burn in degrees) on my foot and burns to my knee and hand, I was told not to be on my feet for more than 15 minutes at a time. Cooking was left to hubby, which fortunately didn’t require much more than reheating as I had made 3 kg of spaghetti sauce and a big batch of Thai green curry paste the weekend prior. All sitting in the freezer, and unbeknownst to me at the time, ready for the two weeks off my feet… almost too funny how things work out.

So, now I’m getting back into the swing of things I wanted to cook something soul warming, something that will soothe and sate the cooking void I had just been in, and what’s better than a traditional Warm Stick Date Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce.

Please take care in the kitchen, an accident is only a micro second away.

Blondie :)

Sticky Date Pudding

Coq au Chardonnay

Coq au Chardonnay

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Autumn is officially here and with the change of season comes a change in cooking. Long, slow, labour intensive meals start rolling around in your mind. Maybe a moussaka with it’s silky bechamel sauce, seasoned lamb mince and salted and grilled eggplant slices or wild mushroom arancini with a well rounded risotto base using homemade stock, letting it cool and lovingly forming balls to fry up the next day… ahhh, the joy of cooking.

As opposed to the above paragraph this Coq au Chardonnay is a relatively quick dish because you are using chicken (you can’t let it cook too long or you loose all the texture of the meat) but enjoy the process of chopping your vegetables, browning the chicken pieces and letting all the flavours develop together.

Coq Au Chardonnay is not unlike the French coq au vin, which is traditionally done with a red wine, but this version is a little lighter, maybe a little more autumn than the heavier red wine dish that has it’s place on my winter table.

Enjoy the cook  :)

Blondie

Smoked onion jam

FinSki's Smoked Onion Jam Main 20140211

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This smoked onion jam is a gorgeous recipe which is simple to make and will have the crowds begging for more! There are no mystery steps in making this smoked onion jam and there are literally a thousand other similar recipes out there so don’t be afraid to give one a test drive! I guarantee you will be addicted!

Call me old fashioned but there is something very satisfying about making yourself a sandwich with crusty sourdough bread, some ham or turkey, cheese and slapping on a dollop of home made jam and this smoked onion jam goes with almost anything, burgers, hot dogs, cheese and crackers and the list goes on.

When I was growing up products like jam, chutney, relish and pickles conjured up images of little old ladies cooking up a storm in their kitchen for the weekend school fete. Purchasing these neither interested me nor did I have any desire to eat them! I actually ran a mile from such stalls. Fast forward a few years and Blondie will tell you how much I love to browse through market stalls, quirky country corner shops to see what I can come across!

Blondie and I have grand ambitions of having a stall at the local weekend markets this year and while we would love to just sell our wild picked mushrooms we think we need to diversify a little, plus up until the last few day the rain has been very sparse.

So why a smoked onion jam? Why not? I love onions, I love how they take on this amazing flavour when they are slow cooked and caramalised. As for adding a smoky falavour to them well that was a no-brainer! I think it is fair to say that if Blondie and I could come up with a smoked ice cream that tasted absolutely divine…we probably would!

Adding the smoked liquid gives this jam an earthy taste and when the onions melt in your mouth its like you are sitting on the side bench at a cold and miserable game of footy and someone hands you the most perfect tasting, mouth watering hot dog or burger.

I personally love the jam on crusty bread with some fresh ricotta. I dare you to try it!

The jam will keep in your fridge for about 3-4 weeks…if it lasts that long!

Bella

Homemade Hommus

Homemade Hommus

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Continuing on with my year long challenge, here is Homemade Hommus from Jan-Feb 2014′s Nourish magazine.

Although a basic recipe it really is one that everyone should have under their belts as it’s great as a snack with flat bread or vegetable batons or used in a meal – like the one I will be making from the new Feast magazine… Can’t wait for that one! Hummus B’lahmeh (Israeli hummus with spiced lamb)

Blondie  :)

How To Poach Eggs In Cling Film

One of my favourite ways to eat eggs is poached… How does that look?? Spicy chorizo, mushroom and feta with poached eggs

How To Poach Eggs In Cling Film

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The problem is a lot of people are afraid to try their hand at poaching thinking it’s too difficult a method. This is where the cling film method comes in, but before you say something about the rubbish left from such a cooking method, yes I agree but the benefit of poaching eggs using this method is you can use older eggs.

The traditional method of poaching requires you to have the freshest eggs so that the egg white is a firm ball surround the yolk. This is important because you need the white to hold form in the water. Using an older egg will mean the egg white is looser and you will just have egg white ‘ghosts’ floating around in your saucepan. Not very appealing at all!

Poaching in cling film means you can use older eggs – not everybody has chickens on hand and not every carton of eggs you buy are as fresh as you need them for traditional ‘free fall’ cooking, so having this method on hand is very helpful when the craving for poached eggs hits.

Click here for the Egg freshness test… great when you don’t want to crack the egg open to find out how old it is.

How To Poach Eggs In Cling Film instructional…

How To Poach Eggs In Cling Film

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Happy brunching!  Blondie  :)

Smoked Sweet Chilli Sauce

Smoked Sweet Chilli Sauce

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So what can you do to improve on the pantry staple, sweet chilli sauce? Smoke it of course!

Smoked Sweet Chilli Sauce is an amazing accompaniment to all the dishes you have your standard with but with a unique smokey flavour… and you know how much Bella and I love things smoked.

Serve it with seafood or baste chicken kebabs or pour it over a big dollop of sour cream.

Smoked Sweet Chilli Sauce

Hot and smokey… Blondie

Warm Thai Style Beef Noodle Salad w/ Poached Egg

Warm Thai Style Beef Noodle Salad w/ Poached Egg

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Warm Thai Style Beef Noodle Salad w/ Poached Egg came about with the influx of meat that hubby was winning at the Sunday meat raffle over the Christmas period.

So how do you make sure none of it goes to waste? Prep it first! I love preparing the meat in appropriate meal sizes and in different marinades and pastes prior to freezing, this way you can pull out a baggy in the morning and leave it to defrost while you are at work. It’s then ready to be cooked up at dinner time. Just keep some basics in your pantry like different types of noodles and some nice pre made dressings if need be, combine with fresh vegetables and leaves and you have a quick, healthy dinner.

Warm Thai Style Beef Noodle Salad w/ Poached Egg

Tip: Write the ingredients on the bag so you remember which marinade is which - I like to start with a base such as soy and honey for example and then divide that into 3, adding different ingredients to each batch.

Enjoy the ease!  Blondie  :)

Moroccan Fish – Chut b’chi zyu

Moroccan Fish - Chut b'chi zyu

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Moroccan Fish – Chut b’chi zyu

As with my below post – Teriyaki Mustard Chicken, this is the second dish, Moroccan Fish – Chut b’chi zyu I’ve made as part of my New Year’s resolution… that being, that any cookbook or magazine that enters my house during 2014 will have a recipe made from it.

This is from Feast magazine No.28 Moroccan Fish – Chut b’chi zyu

It’s a lightly spiced fish dish, which is gorgeous served over simple steamed rice…I did puree half of the ingredients and sliced the rest just to add a bit more oomph but it’s basically as written in the magazine. Oh and I added baby spinach, only because I like baby spinach – and I need to build up my iron stores so anything with vitamin c (carrots, capsicum) I add greenery.

Blondie :)

Teriyaki Mustard Chicken

Teriyaki Mustard Chicken

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My New Year’s resolution for 2014 is to make at least one recipe from each cookbook or magazine that enters my house. It is a simple enough resolution you would think but I seriously have so many come through that I think this will make me more productive with them. This includes books borrowed from family and loaned from the library… anything that enters through my door!

My first two recipes are from Feast magazine No.28 and Ross Dobson‘s book, Fired Up. First up is Ross Dobson’s chicken recipe of Teriyaki Mustard Chicken and I have to say that this will now be my go to recipe for preparing chicken, this marinade is truly heaven, no exaggeration! I will be now adding the rest of Ross Dobson’s books to my cookbook library.

Fired Up is a book on ‘no nonsense barbecuing’ but each recipe can certainly be used on either a stove top or in an oven easily enough (I know there are lots of people who don’t like straying from a recipe) Other changes were…

Chicken thighs – I used a whole chicken and butterflied it – It was all I had at the time and it was only butterflied because it was getting late.

Japanese soy sauce – I used half and half kecap manis and a light soy – again all I had at the time.

Ross has two restaurants in Penrith, Western Sydney… think I will need to get out there shortly.

Happy New Year!  Blondie

Mushroom Foraging in Oberon w/ Lyndey Milan

In March 2013, FinSki’s was asked to do a segment on Lyndey Milan’s new tv show, Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia… how amazing is that?? Needless to say, we dropped everything and took Lyndey to our favourite mushrooming spot in Oberon. Here is our behind the scenes…

Here we are with the lovely Lyndey MilanFinSki's with Lyndey Milan

Love the line up of cars in such a secluded location FinSkis with Lyndey Milan - Taste of Australia

Let shooting begin, Bella and Lyndey discussing mushrooms FinSkis with Taste of Australia

Imogen and Seb occupying time digging up crystals FinSkis with Lyndey Milan Continue Reading →

Best Ever Christmas Fruit Mince Pies – Egg Free

Best Ever Christmas Fruit Mince Pies – Egg Free

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My objective for this year is to make the perfect fruit mince pie.

For me, the most essential element to the perfect fruit mince pie is the pastry. It must have a buttery, fine crumb and be of the correct thickness (4mm) – this is very important as it needs to break apart in large enough chunks so as to get the perfect mouthful of fruit and pastry. It is vital that it maintains it’s structural integrity! There also needs to be a sweetness included in the pastry that sugar alone will not do… I thought I would be making at least three different recipes to come to the right one, but no, got it one! The fact that it’s egg free is just a bonus to those who have allergies but is in no way an intentional omission… just a happy coincidence.

Here is a small excerpt from Australian Gourmet Traveller about water and egg in shortcrust pastry… “Egg yolks and water also affect pastry. Egg yolks contain fat and act as an extra shortening agent but are used more to add colour and richness to the pastry. When you’re adding water to pastry, be careful to add only enough to bring the mixture from a crumbly dough to one that can be kneaded and rolled easily. Too much water in the mix means the pastry will steam as it cooks, making for a flimsy result, so add small amounts gradually until you have achieved the right texture.”

There is alot of butter in these pies so they need to be chilled; at room temperature the pastry becomes too fine a crumb, but with a slight chill the pastry holds firm and then each mouthful is a cacophony of cool and crumbly pastry, buttery, sweet and fruity flavours that marry and melt in the mouth…. too much? Nah, each bite is poetry!

Oh, I forgot to mention the hint of cardamon, this adds a mellow flavour that’s complimented by the fruit filling.

For the filling I used Robertson’s Traditional Fruit Mince, which is actually really good. It has the right texture and spice, but next year I will definitely work on my own filling – one step at a time!

Ho Ho Ho and a bottle of rum! (oh, is that Christmas?)  Blondie

Best Ever Christmas Fruit Mince Pies – Egg Free