Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wolfgang Puck's Oscar Menu

This is what Wolfgang Puck cooked for the Governors Ball after the Oscars on Sunday Night. Quite frankly it doesn't look that impressive to me. I've seen better looking stuff on the food blogs!! I know it's difficult to please everyone and make it for a huge crowd, but still, I expected more!!!

How Old Do I Feel????

Prince is getting a hip replacement. Sigh.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Vegetable Tian

This vegetable recipe is delicious and is from Ina Gartens "Barefoot in Paris". The vegetables sit on a bed of sauteed onions and garlic. It's a little bit fiddly to put it together and there is a lot of prep, but the taste is fantastic and it's totally worth the effort. It tastes even better the next day. The photos are obviously the uncooked version, and I'll update with a "cooked" photo after I've baked it.

Olive Oil
2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound medium round potatoes (yukon gold work really well in this dish)
2 large zucchini
About 5 large plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs
2 ounces Gruyere cheese grated.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Brush a 9 x 13 x 2 baking dish with olive oil. My dish is actually smaller than this, but you can make this with any sized dish. In a medium saute pan, heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil and cook the onions over medium - low heat for 8-10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.

Slice the potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes in 1/4 inch thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly, making only one layer. Sprinkle with slat, pepper, thyme leaves, and thyme sprigs, and drizzle with 1 more table spoon of olive oil. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Uncover the dish, remover the thyme sprigs, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for another 30 minutes, or until browned. Serve Warm.

When I made this dish the first time I also turned on the broiler for about 5 minutes at the end, just to brown it up nicely.


Totally yummy and makes the kitchen smell great!!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Meringue Piping Update.

It did not go well. I need some of these, some of these, one of these, and last but not least one of these to pipe it for me!!

I ended up just making circles of meringue with the back of a spoon, and they baked up just fine!!

Another "Snow Day"

I've been off the air all week, because there have been a few things going on around here and I haven't really cooked anything great or had time to update.

We are having ANOTHER ice/snow day off school for no apparent reason. It's a bit icy out there this morning, but the majority of the storm missed us entirely. We were supposed to have 2 inches of snow and then ice on top, and there is barely a dusting of snow. So the kids were off last Wednesday, Monday for Presidents Day and then today because of the faux ice situation.

You'll all be happy to know that we did get to use the grill and we had fillet mignon, and they were delicious.

I made the Curried Carrot Soup again on Sunday. It's so quick and easy and very yummy.

On Wednesday we had semi-homemade Indian. I used a Chicken Tika packet that I got from the Indian grocery story, and I also bought some roti, which we had to cook in the cast iron pan. Once we got the hang of it they puffed up really nicely, and they were fun to do.

I'm going to attempt the meringues again this weekend, and this time I'm going to use the piping bag. It should be interesting!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008


SweetRosie tagged me for a Meme a while ago, and I'm just getting around to responding now:

What Were You Cooking/Baking 10 Years Ago

I was baking nothing and cooking a variety of pasta with different toppings. Life was completely different then, with no kids and newly married, so we ate out more and sat in front of the TV to eat our dinner!!

What were you Cooking/Baking 1 year ago

Pretty much what I'm baking and cooking now. Cakes from scratch, making my own pizza dough and trying to cook a vegetable in a way that my kids will eat it.

Five Snacks You Enjoy

Peach Mango Salsa and Multigrain Corn Chips
Potato Chips

Five Recipes You Know By Heart

I only know two by heart - Ina's Chocolate Chip Cookies and my own Spaghetti Bolognaise recipe

Five Culinary Luxuries You Would Indulge In if You Were A Millionaire

Viking 6 burner range/double oven
French Door Refrigerator with ice maker and TV in the doors
Pump Espresso Machine plumbed to the house so you didn't have to fill it up with water
Personal Chef to come over on the nights I don't feel like cooking.
Maid to clean up!!

Five Foods You Love to Cook/Bake

All kinds of desserts
Any thing in Ina Gartens five cookbooks

Five Food You Cannot/Will Not Eat

Brussel Sprouts
Any kind of stinky of Blue Cheese
Anything pickled (except beets and gerkins)

Five Favourite Culinary Toys

I cannot live without my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.
Marble rolling pin

Five Dishes On Your "Last Meal" Menu

I'm still thinking about this one, but it would have to involve French Fries. I really like French Fries.

Mini Pavlovas!

I made these little plates of heaven this weekend. Individual pavlovas (one of Australia's national dishes) topped with whipped cream, srawberries and raspberries, sitting on some raspberry sauce. I really should have described it as "a raft of meringue, floating in a lagoon of raspberry sauce, topped with an umberella of whipped cream". Hahahah. Back in the day, I was at a restaurant that described one of their desserts that way, except their lagoon was made of chocolate.

It's all dead easy. The pavl0vas are great because you can make them a few days ahead, and you really should because they take 2 hours to bake and then sit in the oven for another four hours as the oven cools down, so it's a good idea to make them first thing in the morning. The pavlovas also keep really well for a few days in an airtight container.

The recipes for the pavlovas and the raspberry sauce are both from Ina Garten's Barefoot In Paris.

6 extra large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 pints assorted berries (I used raspberries and strawberries)

For the Whipped Cream, I just whip up 1 cup of whipping cream with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Preheat oven to 200 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchement paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachement, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a large pnch of salt on medium speed until frothy. Add 1 cup of the sugar and raise the speed to high unti the egg whites form very stiff peaks. (I always add the sugar slowly). Whisk in the vanilla. Add the remaining 1/2cup of sugar into the meringue.

Ina uses a pastry bag and pipes her meringue onto the parchment paper. If you don't want to do that or you are totally incapable of getting stuff into a pastry bag like I am, you can just spoon the meringe into as round a shape as you can get it, or put it in a ziploc bag and snip off one of the corners and use that as a makeshift pastry bag. I used that method and it worked pretty well for me. It is supposed to be like a shell, with a hole in the middle for the cream. I can't get mine like that, so I just pile it all on top, and it still looks and tastes fine. You should be able to get about 8 mini pavolovas from this mixture.

Bake for 2 hours, or until the meringes are dry and crisp but not browned. Turn off the heat and allow the meringes to sit in the oven for 4 hours or overnight.

To serve: fill the meringe, or pile on top! whipped cream, berries, and sit the pavlova in the raspberry sauce.

Raspberry Sauce:

1 half-pint fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 tablespoon framboise liqueur (I did not have this liqueur, and I didn't want to buy a whole bottle for this recipe, so I used vodka instead and it came out fine. You could probably not even use a liqueur, you'd never know the difference)

Place the raspberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam and the famboise into the bowl of a food procesor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ice Storm

We still haven't cooked a thing on the new grill as we couldn't get it lit properly on Monday night, and it was freezing cold to stand out there, so I had to make the burgers inside (so not the same). And last night I had chicken marinated and all ready to go but we had the beginings of an ice storm and it was too slippery to stand outside and grill, not to mention too cold,so I ended up making chicken ceaser salad.

Of course school is closed today because of the ice situation, even though the roads are clear. We are just hanging out at home and the kids are finishing their valentines to take to school tomorrow.

The ice is really inconvenient, but very, very pretty!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Brrrrrr.... Grilling....

What's the first thing you think of doing in bracing 29F weather? Why, grilling some burgers of course!! At least that's what my husband is going to be doing tonight on our new grill!! We bit the bullet yesterday and bought a new grill from Costco, because if you shop at Costco you know that if you see it and might even have a vague thought in the back of your head that you might want that thing, you have to buy it on the spot. You can always return it later.

Our old faithfull grill which we bough the day we moved into this house 10 years ago was on its very last legs, not helped by the fact that it had been spray painted brown instead of black, the brown making it look even sadder than it really was.

We bought the grill yesterday and my husband and his friend put it together outside with a 10F windchill. It took them forever, but it eventually got done and then we promptly ran out of gas, so we couldn't even test the grill.

Tonight is the night. We are testing it out no matter what the weather. Isn't it shiny and clean?

Brush with Fame... Sadly Not My Brush

Erika managed to get her photo on the front page, above the fold, of the Washington Post today. I nearly choked on my Special K with Strawberries when I flipped the paper open. Even though Erika is one of my blogging friends, we have actually met IRL, as we don't live that far away from each other, so it was even easier to recognise her. She has some great photos of the experience on her blog!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Butterfly Cupcakes

Today is my 5yr old's Daisy Girl Scout Valentines Party and I offered to bring the cupcakes. I made these with my Vanilla Fairy Cakes recipe and then cut the tops off flat and halved the tops and dusted with confectioners sugar. I iced the cupcake and then placed the halves on top like wings.

This is a very Australian way to do cupcakes. The more traditional method is to cut a bit from the top of the cup cake and fill it with strawberry jam and then top with some whipped cream and put the "wings" on top of the cream and dust the whole thing with confectioners sugar. I jused to love that when I was a kid, but I find lots of kids don't like the strawberry jam, so I did it the quicker way with regular icing (confectioners sugar, water, one drop of food colouring).

Don't they just look like litte butterflys from the top?

Addicted to Licorice

Last night my 7yr old had his first "away from home" sleepover. It all went very well, but in case I needed to drown my sorrows, my husband brought home from Costco a bag of Lucky Country Aussie Style Soft Black Licorice. I LOVE that stuff, and it's not very common here in America. And just so you know this is definitely not licorice, and these people don't serve food that is remotely Australian.

It's super fattening, so you can't sit down and scarf a whole bag at once (or you shouldn't), but it's a really nice treat for me and a taste of home. The only other place I've been able to get good black licorice is Trader Joe's, they sell the Panda brand.

If you've never eaten good soft black licorice before, you should give it a try!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Tet - Vietnamese New Year

My daughter was invited to her friends house to share their Vietnamese New Year's dinner on Thursday night. I was lucky enough to be able to take some photos of the food and talk to the family about the food and the preparation. It all looked so delicious, and I did get to have a nibble on a couple of things!! The Dad of the family was the chef for the evening, and he was very nice to explain all the food to me.

The top photo is Nuoc Cham or Fish Sauce, made of garlic, chili, sugar, fish sauce, water and vinegar and lime. It looks so pretty in the bowl!

He also made Pate Chaud, which is made from French Pastry and chicken. I had one of those - totally yummy! The Vietnamese have adopted lots of food from the French who colonized Vietnam for about 100 years. There was an amazing Vietnamese bakery where I lived in Sydney, and they made the most fantastic French Bread I've ever had!

There was plain rice and sticky rice, which my daughter loved, and grilled beef with lemon grass, which unfortunately I didn't get a photo of.

The most important dish of all which the cook told me was the main traditional dish and was served every New Year without fail was a caramelized pork dish. It's basically pork braised in a fish sauce, and he used a cut of pork from the top of the thigh. This is one recipe for it, but there are a lot of variations out there.

Uninspired, but still here

I just looked at my blog and realised that I haven't posted for over a week!! This is due to a general case of the blah's. I haven't cooked anything interesting, or eaten anything very intresting, and it's hard to get inspired about sandwiches, although I did make some nice pannini's on Thursday night with slow roasted plum tomatoes, mozzarella and chicken.

I also have another general blog, which I've decided to combine with this blog, although this will be mainly about food and cooking, I will be throwing a bit of my life in here as well, so hopefully I'll have something to say at least every second day from now on!!