Poppy Seed Pate Cake with Baked Ricotta

FinSki's Poppy Seed Pate Cake with Baked Ricotta1

Click on image for full recipe

This is a Polish marriage made in heaven! Poppy seed cheesecake or as I now call it, Poppy seed pate cake with Baked Ricotta!

You might remember that a while ago I came across this tub of poppy seed pate mixture at my local continental grocer.

FinSki's Poppy Seed Pate Cake with Baked Ricotta2

Happily handing over my cash to the register operator I ran home and ogled hundreds of recipes for poppy seed mixtures. Most of them called for ingredients that I didn’t have and being a Sunday I was determined to not have to venture out into the shops again.

My pantry had Anzac biscuits that had a week left prior to the use by date and sugar. In the fridge I had butter, a kilo of ricotta and eggs.

What on earth did you do with the Anzac biscuits I hear you ask?

Well, as crazy as it sounds they were the base for the cake, a baked base! At first when I put all the ingredients together I had a mini melt down, I remembered that when you typically make a cheesecake base with digestive biscuits, you don’t bake the base. You let it set with the cheese on top.

With my cheesecake about to go into the oven, I couldn’t give up now, no matter how large the error was!

When the cake was in the oven at 180º C the butter melted slightly and leaked onto the bottom of the oven tray, but once the cake cooled down my baked Anzac biscuit base was amazing. The hard set biscuit base complemented the softness of the baked ricotta and poppy seed pate.

FinSki's Poppy Seed Pate Cake with Baked Ricotta3 The rest of the cake was divine too!

Will I make this exactly the same again…hell yes!

What errors have you made in the kitchen that have ended up working out ok?

Bella

Mushroom foraging with Lyndey Milan

Australian Traveller magazine

Lyndey Milan puts FinSki’s mushroom foraging in her top 5 foodie experiences from her show, Taste of Australia.

Bella and I are over the moon to have ‘foraging for wild mushrooms’ selected in Lyndey Milan’s “Top 5 Foodie Experiences” for her article in Australian Traveller magazine.

With all the travels she did for her show, Taste of Australia; the multitude of experiences with the amount of people she met, mushroom foraging with FinSki’s ranked up there with the best!

Yay us!!

Pop over to our Mushrooming page for more fantastic stories on wild mushroom foraging in NSW.

Clarified Butter and Ghee

Clarified Butter and Ghee

Click here for recipe

Clarified butter and ghee are simple enough products to get at your local shop (well ghee is), so why go to the trouble of making them yourself? Aside from the flavour, it’s simply for the fact that you have control of where the butter will come from. Maybe you like a particular butter from a farm near you or a Danish butter brand or you only eat organic. If this is the case then you need to start making this for yourself.

The difference between clarified butter and ghee is purely the time the butter has been cooked for. Butter is clarified once the milk solids have separated – there will be two distinct layers. Ghee has just been cooked for a bit longer and will have a nuttier more golden hue. Both are far more outstanding products, both in taste and aroma when made yourself… I can absolutely promise you that you will never, ever buy ghee or clarified butter again after you have tasted your own.

This recipe is probably more a ghee than a clarified butter as I cooked it a few more minutes after the splattering stopped. It’s fast to make and it lasts for ages, up to 6 months in the fridge.

Use a butter that you love, (this is my favourite for making ghee). It needs to be unsalted and butter in it’s purest form, no additives at all.

Simple, easy and tasty – Blondie :)

Mum’s Divine Lamb Roast Marinade

Mum's Divine Lamb Roast Marinade

Click for recipe

I can’t believe I hadn’t put this recipe up yet, so here it is, short and sweet… This is my mum’s marinade for leg of lamb; it’s sweet with a slight hit of mustard heat and makes the most delicious gravy afterwards.

I was raised on this and whenever I make it myself I get a nostalgic whiff of childhood. The aroma that hits you when you walk in the door is divine, hence the title, Mum’s Divine Lamb Roast Marinade :)

Get yourself a large leg of lamb so you can enjoy several meals out of it with your family.

Food memories… Blondie

Simple Small Batch Aioli

Simple Small Batch Aioli

Click image for recipe – Small Batch Aioli

Simple Small Batch Aioli – Mayonnaise is one of those amazing condiments that is used in countries all around the world to add flavour or smoothness to their dishes. Aioli is basically garlic mayonnaise (although the true way of making this is to pound the oil and garlic in a mortar and pestle – no egg is added) but you can use any number of different ingredients to make your own flavoured mayonnaise.

The reason I like this small batch recipe is because I will never get through a cup or more of homemade aioli within a week. This is just the right amount to use on some sandwiches or on toast with poached eggs on the weekend.

If you are feeling adventurous you can add some fresh herbs or throw in some hot smoked paprika or any other spice to complement your meal, maybe add a mustard. Use lemon instead of vinegar, or use a different vinegar, maybe a fruit vinegar… the combinations are endless.

Let your creativity out! – Blondie  :)

Danish Sweet Cheese Pastries From Scratch

Click image for recipe - Danish Sweet Cheese Pastries

Click image for recipe – Danish Sweet Cheese Pastries

Danish Sweet Cheese Pastries From Scratch comes direct from Nigella Lawson’s, How To Be A Domestic Goddess cookbook. I chose this one for the mere fact that it’s a food processor made dough, which in my mind will make the dough making process easy and clean… hahaha!!

To start with and probably the one thing EVERYONE mentions about this dough is just how moist, messy and sticky it is… and they weren’t wrong. It’s like glue!

In the original recipe it asks to mix the dry ingredients then add the cold butter in the food processor then add this to the combined wet ingredients. That was far too messy for me, considering everyone’s comments on this particular pastry recipe, so I did it slightly different – I did it all in the food processor. The result was still a success, but you are still going to get dirty trying to remove the dough from the processor into a bowl for it to prove.

**Brainwave** Leave the dough to prove in the processor bowl! Will let you know how it goes the next time around.

Get your hands dirty and have fun!.. Blondie :)

Danish Sweet Cheese Pastries From Scratch

Asparagus and Chorizo Soup

Asparagus and Chorizo Soup

Click for recipe – Asparagus and Chorizo Soup

Asparagus and Chorizo Soup is a perfect Spring time soup with the fresh, sweet asparagus all over the veggie markets at the moment.

This asparagus soup would probably be my favourite, especially when teamed with a toasted ciabatta or turkish bread. The holes serve as lots of mini bowls that when dunked into the soup fill up and become the most perfect edible spoon. Just be sure to cut the bread length ways not into slices otherwise you will end up with most of it on the table!

This soup is a great canvas to show off a lovely chorizo sausage, with it’s distinctive smokey flavour and bright red colour contrasting with the mellow green of the soup.

Slurp it up wholeheartedly… Blondie  :)

Asparagus and Chorizo Soup

Homemade Sweetened Yoghurt & Bread

Homemade Sweetened Yoghurt - Small Batch

Click here for recipe – Small batch sweetened yoghurt

Yoghurt is a simple enough food to buy but it can get expensive. I particularly like the sweetened yoghurt freshly made at my local grocer; it’s lusciously thick and creamy and lightly sweetened but we do get through quite a bit of it so this is the focus for my homemade yoghurt.

After reading the final results of other people’s homemade yoghurts (the main complaint being that it wasn’t as thick as store bought varieties, alot even separated) I chose to add a thickener, pectin to be exact, just to be safe … I really wanted to replicate my favourite yoghurt and quickly. If you aren’t in a hurry then ideally leave it to strain in a muslin cloth over a bowl to catch the whey. This will produce a deliciously thick and creamy yoghurt -You won’t be able to strain it if you have added gelatin or pectin.

Yoghurt is basic enough to make, the challenge is having a source of heat to keep it warm for 10-12 hours (times do vary immensely though). I decided to do the esky method, but you can do any of the following methods:

  • put it in a non draughty area with a towel around it
  • place it in a thermos
  • remove the shelves from your dehydrator and leave it at 45°C / 113°F
  • place it on a brewer’s heat pad with a tea towel over it… they all do the same job.

Your yoghurt can set anytime from only a few hours, but you can leave it for as long as a day. The sour taste will get stronger the longer it’s left.

If you want a basic greek yoghurt then omit the sugar and vanilla and any thickeners. Just make as the method below and then pour into a strainer lined with muslin and leave to drain in the fridge till you have achieved your desired consistency.

It’s important to use freshly opened, ‘live’ yoghurt in your first batch to ensure the bacteria is at it’s freshest then, importantly, remember to make sure you to set aside a 1/4 cup of your yoghurt to use as a starter batch to get another lot of yoghurt going. You can generally get about 4 cycles from your homemade yoghurt before you will need to buy a fresh batch of live yoghurt to use as your starter.

Other variables you can use when making your yoghurt include using pure cream or half cream with half milk instead of straight milk.

After  you have tried your hand at yoghurt then get stuck into my Sweet Yoghurt Bread Rolls…

Sweet Yoghurt Bread Rolls

Click here for recipe – Sweet Yoghurt Bread Rolls

This recipe comes direct from a website I stumbled across, Pure Enjoyment. I didn’t alter anything in the ingredients, (I think that is only the second time I have ever done that!) It’s faultless! Thank you so much for sharing this with the world :)

The crumb is a lighter version of brioche but with a flavour that has a delicate tang due to the yoghurt. I used my homemade Sweetened Yoghurt for this recipe but you could certainly go out and buy a favourite yoghurt (at Pure Enjoyment she and quite a few of her followers used a chunky fruit yoghurt) The aroma is heavenly and it’s just so moreish.

Timeline if you were to make it on the weekend… take 10 minutes to make the dough after breakfast and then leave to prove till lunch time, spend another 10 minutes – if that – making the 10 balls and then leave to prove till 20 minutes before afternoon drinks. Cook and then you have amazing sweet bread rolls to have with a beer.

What’s your cup of tea?

FinSki's Tea1 My morning routine starts the night before. On a week day I get my clothes ready for the office, laid out neatly on the ironing board ready to be put on at a moments notice after I jump out of the shower. I have my hand bag packed with the next days necessities, waiting by the door. I have my daughters lunch box ready so that come morning time I just need to fill it with the days fuel (not that it gets eaten anyway!). But the most important aspect of my morning routine is to ensure that my kettle is filled to the top, that my mug is ready and positioned carefully next to the kettle with a tea spoon of sugar sitting in the bottom with my favourite tea waiting patiently next to the mug, waiting to be infused in hot water the minute I jump out of my shower. Without my morning infusion the rest of the day can literally fall apart.

The morning routine fell into a heap this week when I opened the pantry cupboard only to reveal no tea! It wasn’t just a matter of running to the shop and picking up the stock standard Earl Grey flavour. Tea for me is like buying coffee, I have my favourite select few brands and straying from those is not an option. Take the religious 8.30 am coffee at work, I refuse to get it from anywhere else even though I manage to pass 4 coffee shops!

Balance was restored again that evening when I purchased one of my favourite teas, a Henry Langdon, Earl Grey.

FinSki's Tea3 I was introduced to Henry Langdon tea about 4 years ago by a rather very strange colleague at work who thought that when we die we get collected in a space ship and are shipped off to a place in heaven, anyway that’s another story for another post! As strange as this lady was, she knew her tea! Thanks to her I keep a box of this delicious tea in my cupboard and very secretly only share it with myself! It’s my little indulgence.

FinSki's Tea4 Until this week I had absolutely no idea how popular tea consumption was! Next to water tea is the most widely consumed drink in the world! I also didn’t know that different teas should be brewed at different water temperature levels for best results. For example water temperature for a classic black tea should be at 99°C, white tea at 65-70°, yellow tea at 70-75°C, and green tea at 75-80°. Do you think that this really matters? If you are a bit of a tea expert I’d loved to know!

Growing up tea would be served during breakfast, lunch and dinner, depending on what was on the menu. We drank tea black, with the tea leaves still sitting at the bottom of the cup/mug. Mum would squeeze a small amount of lemon juice and it tasted fantastic. Tea, sourdough bread with some cold cuts!

How do you take your tea and what’s your favourite?

Bella :)

Pork Sticks w/ Spicy Cumin Salt aka Pork Scratchings

Pork Scratchings w Spicy Cumin Salt

Click image for recipe

Pork Sticks w/ Spicy Cumin Salt aka Pork Scratchings are an incredibly moreish drinking snack that will have everyone wanting more. It really is impossible to walk pass a bowl of these crunchy, crispy pork sticks, especially when lightly dusted with the Spicy Cumin Salt.

These are a great starter to have with drinks, even a great snack to make for the movies as it stores well in sealed containers. If you just can’t wait till christmas for a pork crackling hit then here is your salvation.

Just remember that the pork skin does shrink alot from it’s original size, so when you are buying it buy what you think will be enough, then double it; trust me.

Happy crunching!  Blondie

Pork Sticks w/ Spicy Cumin Salt aka Pork Scratchings

Napoleonki – the Polish version of Millue Feuille

FinSki's Napoleonki1

Click on image for recipe

Desserts are not my ‘thing’, I mean I am happy to eat them but my cooking skill lie with savory food. My hubby isn’t a huge dessert fan either so I don’t particularly go out of my way to make desserts each week. The extent of dessert in our household is ensuring that we have a constant (err never ending) supply of chocolate mini magnums in the fridge for Imogen, all hell can break loose otherwise! I’m also not very good at making desserts and have had many failed attempts. Give me a mystery box of savoury ingredients and I can guarantee you that I will be able to whip something up, without a recipe. Sweet dishes are my nemesis.

If there is one thing that I admire about my mum that’s the fact that she can can whip up a Polish dessert blind folded! When I visit my parents house there is always a cake, a tort, a slice or some other sweet hiding in the fridge. I always get excited about visiting them because I know I’ll be eating wholesome good home cooked food, but then I end up leaving very full, simply because I can’t resist the temptation of sampling everything else that she has in her fridge, including the sweet stuff which always takes be back to my childhood days of living at home.

Each May I host a Mother’s Day lunch at my place and this year mum made Napoleonki which are another one of Poland’s best known desserts and share a striking similarity to the French dessert Mille Feuille, a vanilla/custard type slice also known as Napoleon.

I haven’t eaten Napoleonki for probably about 10 years and for very good reasons, one because just looking at them makes me put on about 10 kilos! Two because once I have one, I want another.

With the family luncheon finished, dessert came out and I made a bee line for the Napoleonki slice and with just one bite I was transported to my childhood days of eating desserts a plenty without a worry in the world. Days of Polish family gatherings where the tables were filled with food as far as the eye could see and laughter, banter and eating went on forever!

One of the things I love about cooking and eating, is how it can make you feel, the memories that it can create and the memories that it can bring back.

Having finished my slice I knew what I had to do next and that was to make very first Napoleonki!

So my dear friends, what’s a dish that brings your childhood memories flooding back?

Bella

How To Make A Broth, Stock or Bone Broth

Broth, Stock or Bone Broth… What is the difference between the three? Is there a difference between the three?

There’s no mistaking what a stock is or a bone broth is but it can become a little unclear as to where a broth stands, here is my interpretation of the three…

How To Make A Broth, Stock or Bone Broth

Broth -Think of a broth as the finished product, a soup in a sense… Chicken Soup or Won Ton Noodle Soup all use a broth. It is a gently flavoured liquid that is made by flavouring water with meat, or very meaty bones, carrots, celery, light herbs, onion and most importantly seasoned with salt. It is lighter in flavour compared to the stock and bone broths and is always clear and thin, which is an absolute necessity in asian cuisine. 

The cooking time is much shorter compare with the other two methods, around 40 minutes (unless you are poaching a whole chicken).  There are no added health benefits to an extended cooking time for broths, and it will even negatively affect the flavour of your broth, especially if you are making a fish broth, which will turn bitter if cooked longer than 30-40 minutes. All the flavour and nutrients you want will be leached out into the liquid during this short cooking time.

My favourite broth is a chicken one. By poaching a whole chicken in water with the addition of carrots, onion, celery and seasoned well with peppercorns and salt, you end up with beautifully moist meat and a broth that is delicious and effortless – this method takes about 1 hour 20 minutes as it’s the whole chicken. The benefit of this method is you have a lot of meat leftover that can then be made into pies or a salad through the week along with plenty of chicken broth. As a bonus, the chicken carcass can be incorporated into a bone broth, just freeze till required.

Broths will remain quite fluid as opposed to the stocks and bone broth, which with their naturally high gelatin content, will turn to jelly once refrigerated. 

Vegetable and fish broths do not benefit from long cooks.

How To Make A Broth, Stock or Bone Broth

Stock – Is a component of cooking, it’s used to add body and flavour to a dish, generally not to have on it’s own, think of risotto, stews or gravy. It is made with well roasted bones –  ideally with quite a bit of meat still left on them for the extra flavour, and vegetables. Roasting the meaty bones is necessary to a good quality stock as you want rich, well developed flavours in a stock, which the roasting of the bones and vegetables will do. Un-roasted bones will leave a slightly odd, unpleasant flavour to the liquid.

Stocks are generally cooked for 6 -12 hours.

As I make quite big batches of stock at one time (10-12 cups worth) I personally choose to keep the added flavours of vegetables and herbs to a minimum, this way I can alter it to lean toward a particular cuisine when I want to. It’s still a very rich stock just not heavily loaded with flavours outside of the roasted meaty flavours.

Remember to keep all your bones from the roasts you make, in the freezer till you are ready to make your stock. My favourite stock combines the meaty bones of various beasts with the addition of a rabbit carcass  – the flavour is magical!

How To Make A Broth, Stock or Bone Broth

Bone broth – Think of bone broth as homemade medicine. Made to be drunk straight, especially the first ‘pressing’, it is the holy grail of the stewing liquids. Used for speeding the healing, repair and recuperation time from illness, reduce joint pain, reduce inflammation, prevent bone loss and build healthy skin, hair, and nails. Certain amino acids that come mostly from the bones can assist with a healthy gut and digestion, a balanced nervous system and strong immune system - just as chicken soup (using the whole chicken) has been proven to aide in healing, bone broth takes it that next step further. Made using mainly the bones – as that is where the amino acids and minerals will be coming from, it’s the very long stewing time, combined with a vinegar solution to draw out certain minerals, that makes the bone broth highly regarded for it’s health benefits. If you are making bone broth you are making it because of it’s centuries known health benefits, otherwise you would stick to stocks.

To get the most out of the bones do your best to source organic or biodynamic animals and birds,100% grass fed beef, pasture raised chickens… basically any animal or bird that has been raised well and healthily as you are making this bone broth for it’s health benefits so the bones need to be from the healthiest animals possible… and keep them all! As you come across them, bag and freeze them; accumulate them so you have a nice mound of bones, raw chicken carcasses etc to make your broth or stock. Continue Reading →

Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Belgium Waffles w/ Oats

Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Belgium Waffles w/ Quick Oats

Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Belgium Waffles w/ Oats, or more appropriately, The Best Darn Waffles You Are Ever Going To Eat!

After stumbling across a Nordic Ware Stovetop Waffle Maker at a charity store recently, I was on a mission to find the perfect recipe. Bella’s hubby has found his recipe and can make it in his sleep if need be; happily making them on the weekend for their daughter. BTW, if you are looking for a waffle maker, this one is fantastic, I cannot recommend this one enough; slim line means it slides in with your chopping boards – minimal loss of space plus makes the prefect belgium style waffle with the deep holes and perfect texture. Downside is you need to keep an eye on the time.

I didn’t want a fussy recipe, some asking to separate the eggs and whip the egg whites to stiff peaks before folding it in to the batter; one step too much for first thing in the morning for me. I wanted a quick, tasty recipe that produced a crispy outside and a soft fluffy inside… every time! …and here it is… Just two bowls are needed: Mix the dry ingredients together in one bowl, melt the butter in another then add the rest of the wet ingredients, combine the wet with the dry and you’re done, easy.

You could almost trick yourself into thinking that these were kind of healthy since there are oats in the mix – whatever you need to do to make it alright to eat waffles, do. Just make sure you give this recipe a go!

Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Belgium Waffles w/ Oats

Deliciously naughty breakfast -Blondie :)

Wild mushroom soup

FinSki's Wild Mushroom Soup1

Click on image for full recipe

Warm up this winter with a beautiful wild mushroom soup!

With winter finally arriving in Sydney (although obviously not today as it is going to be 25 degrees!) I decided to celebrate the cold July by throwing a Christmas in July dinner party. Menu planning had begun many weeks ago! Books were gone gone through, magazines pulled, lists made up, list torn up only to be made up again. This was no ordinary dinner, I wanted to show case skill, technique and obviously good hearty dishes. A three course feast was settled on, consisting of entree and main prepared by me and dessert by Blondie.

The menu consisted of…

Entree
Wild Mushroom Soup

Main
Sous vide Chicken, Wilted Greens, Verjuice Butter Sauce

Dessert
Yoghurt Panna Cotta, Poached Pear & Quince, Pecan Crumb & Frozen Chocolate Wind

Being Polish I’m no stranger to soups, they were and still are a daily staple and on the menu at mums place so when it came to the entree for our Christmas in July dinner, Wild mushroom soup was a no brainer decision.

Mum make what I would say one of the most amazing wild mushrooms soups from a recipe that was handed down to her my my fathers mother, my Babcia and whilst its pretty amazing for this dinner I wanted to try something a little more hearty, full of body.

Pen and paper in hand I jumped onto the trusty internet and the research had begun. I must have looked at hundreds of mushroom soup recipes and they all looked very similar to each other until I cam across Jamie Oliver’s The Real Mushroom Soup recipe. It looked earthy and full of flavour.

Decision made!

I of course didn’t follow the recipe too the tee, and used my private stash of FinSki’s Saffron Milk Cap and Slipper Jack mushrooms!

I had some tough critics to please that night…the husbands but the finger licked bowls spoke for themselves!

Will I be making this again…a definite YES!

Bella :)

Pumpkin & Cauliflower in Sweet Tamarind Masala

Pumpkin & Cauliflower in Sweet Tamarind Masala Pumpkin & Cauliflower in Sweet Tamarind Masala is a simple side dish that is full of flavour and tangy sweetness.

With both my mum and sister having ‘big’ birthday’s – 65 and 40 respectively, we all headed up to the family cabins on the Hawkesbury River for a weekend celebration. Six adults, four kids, two dogs and a cat. Pumpkin & Cauliflower in Sweet Tamarind Masala Friday was beautiful, and we only just made it in time for the sunset… always breathtaking as the colours cross the water, so a great start to the weekend. Dinner that night was mum’s special Moroccan styled Lamb and Pumpkin Soup with delicious sourdough breads and Pepe Saya Cultured Butter. Simple, clean, well developed flavours – you can never get her soup recipe though as she adds leftover ingredients to the soup through the week so it turns into something quite different from where it started, but always amazing. The Hawkesbury River Anyway, that was the last of the beautiful weather, well actually, Seb and hubby got up for some early morning fishing. The weather was peaceful, Seb caught the first fish – a bream – everything was lovely, and then it all changed. The sun came up and brought with it the massive winds. The temperature dropped the winds were blowing a gale, and the skies were grey. There were fleeting moments of blue sky and sun (still windy as all hell) and the cousins would go back on the wharf for some more fishing. Continue Reading →

Red Pepper (Capsicum) Sauce

Red Pepper (Capsicum) Sauce

Red Pepper (Capsicum) Sauce… Bella and I both love to head to the bargain corner of the grocers hoping to get a great big stash of vegetables or fruit to make into a sauce, jam or some other condiment that takes our fancy. They are generally still firm and beautiful but get relegated to the back of the store after a week or so and sold off cheaply. Tomatoes, capsicum, passion fruits, leeks, cauliflower etc, it’s the grocery shop forage – you don’t now what you will get, if anything, but it’s the thrill of the hunt in the city.

So after a successful gathering session I came home with 10 big capsicums. I knew that I wanted something zingy and spicy with a big hit of heat, so I started looking through recipes online for the one that was going to be the perfect fit. A Roasted Red Pepper Sauce popped up and I knew straight away that this was the one. It’s from Bobby Flay’s Mesa Cookbook (this one will most definitely be added to my collection) and it’s just a stunning sauce! Bobby Flay apparently describes this sauce the ‘work horse’ of his restaurants, and I can see why as I have now used it to marinade chicken, eaten it as a dip and have basted fish on the BBQ with it!

Tonight I’m making Chicken Quesadilla’s with it… or maybe Mexican pizza’s?

Enjoy

Blondie

Spinach & Bacon Tart

Click image for recipe

Click image for recipe

Spinach & Bacon Tart, is there anything more delicious than a savoury tart? They are effortless to make and yet look like time and thought have been put into it. Like framed pictures of edible art.

Any ingredients can go into your tart but this one I have left simple, just two tasty ingredients… bacon (since it’s bacon week here in Australia), and silverbeet (any greens will do – kale, spinach etc) but let your imagination rule, you really can’t go wrong.

Enjoy!  Blondie xx

 

Easy Prawn, Bug & Fish Pie

Click image for recipe

Click image for recipe

Easy Prawn, Bug & Fish Pie is exactly that. It’s a basic velouté sauce with seafood and herbs topped with a perfectly crispy lid.

On our annual Easter getaway with our families, the Easter Friday Fish BBQ is where our feast begins. Bella and I head to the Sydney Fish markets and get a wheelbarrow load of delicious seafood. With eyes bigger than our stomachs we, without doubt have a great amount of seafood to use and it’s always nice to change it up a bit so you aren’t eating the same dish for 2-3 days… plus we have the massive lamb roast to dinner to do during that week also!

This can really be made with any seafood, it’s especially great to have this recipe on hand to use with leftover seafood. If you feel there isn’t enough seafood to use you can pad it out with vegetables and then you will have a delicious Seafood and Vegetable Pie.

This is a rough guide recipe, so long as you have the velouté sauce you can use as little or as much seafood as your bowl can take.

You want a great fish stock so don’t throw anything in the bin till you have made the stock. You want lots of fish heads and carcasses. It’s important not to over cook a fish stock, which unlike a bone broth where your aim is to extract as much vitamins, mineral and antioxidants and more importantly the amino acids, proline and glycine over days of simmering, a fish stock will go bitter if left more than 40 mins or so. 40 minutes is all that is needed to extract the goodies without losing the flavour.

If you’ve read my other recipes using stocks/broths you will know that I don’t like to over flavour them with lots of herbs and vegetables. Keep this one clean so as to have the fish and the dill as the main flavours.

A stunningly crispy pie top with a delicious seafood medley filling… Blondie  :)

Easy Prawn, Bug and Fish Pie

Activated Nuts

FinSki's Activated Nuts 1

Click on image for recipe

I am the type of person that loves to snack during the day be it on cheese sticks, cucumber sticks, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, mums pickles and the list goes on so in my quest to find a new super snack food I came across activated nuts. Uber cool and healthy.

Activated what? Yep, that’s what my hubby said and the work colleagues cracked a few jokes as well.

So what are they and why?

Whilst raw nuts are full of antioxidants, loaded with protein, healthy fats, fiber and minerals, they also contain natural inhibitors that can interfere with the absorption of the good nutrients and put a massive strain on our digestive system if they are not properly prepared.

The nuts are soaked in some filtered and slightly salted water for a lengthy period of time and slowly dehydrated, by doing so you imitate the sprouting process and decrease the levels of anti-nutrients.

Why salted water? The salt helps to activate the enzymes that deactivate the natural inhibitors that will interfere with absorption of the yummy goodness. Only a small amount of salted water is needed,

The activation process is a small labour of love so I would highly recommend that you make these over the weekend. Preparation takes a few minutes but it is the soaking and dehydrating that takes time. If you will be making these on a regular basis I would also recommend investing in a small dehydrator. You can also dry them at very low heat, approx 50-60 °C, but go on, treat yourself and get a dehydrator! The possibilities are endless!

Once activated I had mine with my yoghurt for brekkie, and always kept a small tub of them in my handbag for work.

Go on…get your nuts activating!

Bella :)

Olive Oil and Zucchini Chocolate Mini Cakes

Click image for recipe

Click image for recipe

Olive Oil and Zucchini Chocolate Mini Cakes are a stunningly moist and slightly spiced chocolate cake that will certainly be enjoyed by all.

The original recipe is from Julie Le Clerc’s gorgeous cookbook, Little Café Cakes.

Needing a treat for the school lunch box lead me to this one but with what I had in the cupboard it turned out a little different. To start with I used Dutch processed cocoa powder, which you aren’t suppose to use with baking soda but since the recipe also asks for baking powder I took my chance. I used 2 large zucchini’s so there was A LOT of zucchini. I threw in dried cranberries and chocolate bits for extra sweetness as it wasn’t very sweet but the end result was surprisingly good. I have written the recipe to what Julie Le Clerc documented – adding the cranberries and chocolate bits… oh and using olive oil rather than canola, just to show you that you can mix up recipes a little and still end up with a great end result.

As I used so much zucchini I ended up with some extra mixture so poured it into a pie tin and made an extra large soft cookie that master M absolutely loved! More so than the actual cakes so I will remember to make more of the giant ‘cookie’ next time.

These are dark, moist and tasty – enjoy!  Blondie