Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Italian sausage meatball soup

Lately I have got in to big batch cooking on the weekend, usually soup, chili or a casserole of some kind, so that I lunches and or dinners prepared for the week.  This week my big batch was this sausage meatball soup.  I had some home made Italian sausage left over in the freezer that I had made over the holidays, that I wanted to use, before I totally forgot about it, so I decided to use it in sausage meatballs in this soup.

I made a very large batch and I had this for lunch a couple of days and dinner for 2 a couple of nights.  Luckily I do not have a problem with eating the same thing several times in a week. But I will give the ingredients for a more normal amount to feed 4.

2 cups of Italian sausage
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 leek sliced
2 carrots sliced
1 parsnip sliced (optional you could use potato instead)
4 cups of turkey or chicken stock
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and fresh rosemary.
1 bag of washed spinach

Roll the Italian sausage in to balls about the size of a walnut and place on parchment paper cookie sheet.

Roast in a 400 oven for around 15 to 20 minutes until they are cooked through and slightly browned.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Asian pulled pork

It is no secret that pulled pork is one of my all time favourite things to eat, and since it was my birthday too, along with 3 others this weekend, this was my vision. Not only is pulled pork delicious but a great choice for feeding a crowd, the cut of pork is cheap and really you can not overcook it so there are no timing issues. This weekend with 12 ladies for three days both these considerations were key.  Unfortunately I forgot my camera and I was relying on others to take pictures so I do not have a picture of the finished dish, but here is a picture of the view I was enjoying in the kitchen each day.

Nancy picked up a large pork butt roast at Hopcotts with the vision of pulled pork in mind. I decided to change the flavours up a bit. I have made it with Indian flavours and Southwest or Mexican flavours, but this time I decided to use Asian flavours.

Pork butt roast
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
Thumb size piece of ginger thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves thinly sliced.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chocolate molten centre cakes

Part of the joy of the annual girls weekend for me, is fulfilling my friends visions of food.  This year Hugette mentioned that she wanted chocolate molten centred cakes for her birthday dinner, so that is what I made.  I am afraid due to low light the pictures are not as good as they could be, but this was really easy and worth every minute.

The recipe I found was from Anna Olsen on the food network I liked the idea of placing a ball of ganache in the centre of each cake rather than timing to under cook it so the middle was still runny.  I have to say it worked like a charm. This recipe is for 4 cakes so I had to double it and then it made 12 the size of a large muffin tin.

1/4 cup whipping cream
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, chocolate chips

Molten Cakes
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips
2 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
icing sugar, for dusting (not done but it would have looked nice)

For the ganache, heat the cream until it just begins to simmer and then pour this over the chopped chocolate. Let this sit a minute, then gently stir until the chocolate has fully melted and the ganache is smooth.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sunshine Coast

Cooking up a storm on the Sunshine Coast. But unable to post pictures so stay tuned.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Salad to go with Hummus dressing

I am continuing taking lunch every day, when I want a change from the big batch of soup made on the weekend, I try to take left overs or salad.  I found this way of packing salad for lunch this means that I can make several salads and have them sitting in the fridge ready to pick up and take in the morning.

So that I do not have the same salad every day, I mix up the ingredients, based on what is in the fridge and also mix up the dressing.  I love hummus, and I nearly always have some in the fridge, either home made or bought, as it makes a healthy snack with carrot sticks. So I decided to make a dressing out of it.

Hummus Dressing

  • 1/4 cup of hummus 
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • 1 sprig of fresh mint chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh basil chopped.

Place the dressing in the bottom of a large plastic container

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Split pea soup

The beginning of January is the darkest time of the winter, Christmas is over and all the lights are coming down, the constant parties are over, it is time to snuggle down crank up the heat or light the fire and wallow in comfort food. One of my comfort foods is split pea soup.  If I am not feeling well, or just extremely lazy the only canned soup I will touch is Habitant pea soup.  This weekend I was not feeling ill or lazy, I just felt like pea soup, so I decided to make my own.

Makes about 6 servings

1 meaty ham hock (I picked up a beautiful ham hock from Hopcott's)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 leeks cleaned and chopped
4 carrots
1 bay leaf
450g package of split green peas

Cover the ham hock with water in a large pot

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Peppered braised steak

This weekend I bought a beef freezer pack from Hopcott's which included ground beef, pot roasts and blade steaks.  I also bought myself a beautiful new cast iron cooking pot the perfect size and shape for braising steaks.  So Sunday night it had to be braised steak in my beautiful new olive green pot.

I saw this idea on Delia Smith's website of braising a steak with the flavours of peppercorn steak and thought it was a good idea especially as my Father loves black pepper.

This fed 6 (2 with very large appetites)

  • 2 tablespoons of whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • salt 
  • 4 large braising steaks
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove sliced
  • 1/4 bottle of red wine
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Sprig of thyme
Pummel the black peppercorns in a pestle and mortar or grind very coarsely.

Mix the ground pepper with the salt and flour, then place on a large plate and coat the steaks.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or cast iron pot and then brown the steaks, I did this in two batches as I had a lot of beef.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Crispy chopped salad

Saturday evening we were invited over to a good friends for dinner.  She was making Mexican lasagna and I offered to make a salad to go with it.  I love cilantro and I would usually have used it in this salad; but her husband really does not care for it, so I switched it up a little. Though it was a cold wet dark evening I wanted to make a salad that was crisp and light to compliment the rich slightly spicy main course.


  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove grated
  • Salt and pepper

  • 1/2 bunch of large green onions chopped
  • 1 container of small tomatoes halved
  • Small bunch of basil chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh mint leaves chopped
  • 1 heaped cup of bean sprouts
  • 1 romaine lettuce
  • 1 avocado chopped

Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and add the avocado to stop it from going brown.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Easy home made cranberry pork Italian sausage

I have always thought to myself when presented with a new situation, or skill to perform "I can do that, how hard can it be?" When I was 16, and working on the weekends in a store selling sewing supplies, a customer came in and asked if I could recommend a seamstress to sew a dress with the supplies that she had bought.  "I can do that for you" I said. Now I had never made any clothes before, but she took me at my word and using the pattern, (and I expect help from my Mother who was a very god seamstress) I delivered the made dress.  So when presented with the fact that I could not get to my favourite sausage store to buy sausages for New Years I thought "how hard can making sausages be?"

Well in fact a lot easier than making a dress for the first time.  I do not have a sausage stuffing machine, but I was making sausages to go inside a sausage roll, so I did not need to stuff them. I also do not have a meat grinder, so I bought ground pork instead of grinding it myself.

I did a little research on sausage ingredients and found that the ratio of salt to meat is important for a sausage, and the addition of fennel seed is important for an Italian sausage.

2lb ground pork
1teaspoons of salt
1 tablespoon of fennel seed.your blender to grind them up, or do it manually in a mortar and pestle.
11/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1tablespoon of  finely minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup of dried cranberries (optional)
1tablespoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes

I ground my fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar, but you could also use a spice grinder.