Sweet Potato and Haloumi Quiche

The name of this recipe is a sweet potato and haloumi quiche, but really its a sweet potato, spinach, red onion, mustard, ham and haloumi quiche, but that was just too long! When Craig and I were dating he made a quiche similar to this one and I was so impressed I married him! Since that time this quiche has evolved by incorporating lots of ideas mostly found in various Donna Hay magazines. However Craig can still claim the sauteed onion and seeded mustard base, and that is one of my favourite parts!

Sweet Potato and Haloumi Quiche

(preparation time 20min, cooking time 50minutes, serves 6)

Ingredients

1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry (thawed)

1 tbs olive oil

2 tsp seeded mustard

½ medium red onion thinly sliced

70g baby spinach stems removed

200g sweet potato thinly sliced

50g shaved ham

4 eggs

1 ½ cup milk

2 tbs melted butter

1 cup grated cheese

½ cup self raising flour

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Spray a 24cm quiche dish with cooking spray. Place puff pastry sheet on dish and press to shape into the dish. Poke holes with a fork into the pastry case to prevent the case form puffing up too much when you dry bake it. Place the pastry case into the oven and dry bake in the oven for 10minutes.

2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Add onion and seeded mustard, stir fry until the onion is soft. Add the onion and mustard mixture to the base of the puff pastry case once dry baked.

3. meanwhile, place the sliced sweet potato in a microwaveable bowl with a few tablespoons of water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for a couple of minutes on high to soften the sweet potato.

4. Place a thin layer of ham on top of the onion and mustard mix followed by the spinach and then sweet potato. repeat this one more tiome so you have two layers of each (except the onion). Place the sliced haloumi on top of the last layer of sweet potato.

5. Whisk together the egg, milk, butter, flour and a little salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Fold in the cheese and slowly pour the mixture over the layered spinach, sweet potato and haloumi. You will find that the cheese tends to stay on top but this means that a nice cheesy crust forms.

6. Bake the quiche in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden. Allow it to cool a little before cutting into it. You can eat it hot or cold, both are great! Serve with a salad or some steamed vegetables.

Bus Station Keftas

Craig bought me a North African and Middle Eastern recipe book for Christmas this year, I have only tried a few recipes so far but this one has been a stand out! According to the book this is the kind of dish that is sold at bus and train stations throughout North Africa and the Middle East. It is cooked on the spot and eaten straight from the pan.

Its a really easy dish to make and the only item that is hard to find is a Moroccan spice blend called ras el hanout. I found it online from spice bazaar and it cost me $4 for a pack. Sounds expensive but you only use one teaspoon. I have made it about five times and haven’t used half the pack yet. Because ras el hanout is a mixture of many different spices there isn’t really an easy way to replace it with something else (unless you make it up yourself).

Bus Station Kefta

Serves 4

Ingredients

225g minced (ground) lamb

1 onion finely chopped

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

5 eggs

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Bunch of flat leaf parsley chopped

2 tsp olive oil

400g can of chopped tomatoes

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp ral el hanout

Small bunch of fresh coriander roughly chpped

Salt and ground black pepper

Crusty bread to serve

Method

1. In a bowl, knead the minced lamb with onions, breadcrumbs, one egg, cinnamon, chopped parsley and salt and pepper until well mixed. Lift the mixture in your hand and slap it down into the bowl several times.

2. Take a small amount of mixture and shape it into a small ball, about the size of a walnut. Repeat with the remaining mixture to make about 12 balls.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy frying pan. fry the meatballs until nicely browned. Turning them occasionally so they cook evenly.

4. Stir the tomatoes, sugar, ras el hanout and most of the chopped coriander into the pan. Bring to the boil, cook for a few minutes to reduce the liquid and roll the balls around in the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Make room in the pan for the remaining eggs in the pan and crack them into the spaces between the meatballs. Cover the pan, reduce the heat and cook for about three minutes, or until the eggs are just set.

6. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped coriander and serve in the pan with chunks of bread to use as scoops.

Note: I didn’t have any fresh coriander, and no time to get any so I just used a little extra parsley and added half a teaspoon of ground coriander into the sauce. Also I was making it for a large family dinner and so I tripled the recipe, and cooked it in a large casserole dish. Which meant that after I cooked the meatballs in the pan I combined it all in the casserole dish and put it in the oven at 200C, the eggs took about 5-8 minutes to cook in the oven.

Feijoa and Lemon Muffins

About a week and a half ago Craig brought home some feijoas that a lady at work had given him. I remember having feijoas a couple of times with my grandpa a good eight or nine years ago but otherwise they are not a fruit that we regularly eat.

They weren’t ripe yet and so we put them in the fruit bowl and forgot about them until tonight. After snacking on a couple of them we decided to try to incorporate them into a desert. There were actually very few recipes online but we came across a couple that we had the ingredients for. The recipe i’m blogging today was actually for feijoa and lime muffins (a popular feijoa recipe ), except, I had lime juice but not actual limes. However I did have a lemon. So we decided to substitute the limes for a lemon and it was still delicious, Craig absolutely loved them. If you come across any feijoas in your travels try out the recipe, the tartness of the lemon fits very nicely with the sweetness of the feijoa, and as usual muffins are super fast to make.

Feijoa and Lemon Muffins

(makes 10, preparation time 10minutes, cooking time 25minutes)

Ingredients

A large juicy lemon

60g butter (melted)

2 large eggs

200g plain flour

2½ tsps baking powder

100g sugar

1 cup peeled and diced feijoas (about 6-8)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Place paper cup liners in a muffin pan.

Finely grate the zest lemon squeeze the juice .

Tip this into a large bowl with the melted butter and eggs.

Whisk really well together until light and fluffy.

Sieve the flour with the baking powder and fold gently into the mixture with the sugar.

Finally fold in the feijoas to the batter and fill the muffin cups three quarters full.

Sprinkle the tops with a little extra sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until turning golden and the muffins are firm to the touch when patted.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Frangipane and Lemon Tart

This tart comes from Donna Hay’s “A Cook’s Guide”. It’s one of my favourite books as it has plenty of basic recipes such as sweet shortcrust pastry, sponge cake, roast beef, frittata etc. This is a family favourite now as it has a very subtle flavour that does not overpower thus allowing you to add extras like berries or ice cream without making the desert too sweet. Its also a very quick and easy one to make.

If I was making it for family dinner I would make it in a large loose-bottomed tart tin, however as it was just the two of us I decided to try out some new smaller tart tins. The original recipe also doesn’t have the lemon juice or the berries, but I really like the added flavour. I think this is a recipe that can be easily altered to suit your tastes.

Frangipane and Lemon Tart

Ingredients:

Sweet shortcrust pastry

1 1/2 (225g) cups plain flour

125g butter, chilled and cut into cubes

1/2 cup (80g) icing sugar

3 egg yolks

1 tbs iced water

1 tsp finely grated lemon rind

Tart

100g butter softened

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 egg

1 egg yolk (extra)

1 tbs lemon juice

1 cup (120g) almond meal

1/4 cup (35g) plain flour

1/4 cup (20g) flaked almonds

1/4 fresh or frozen berries

Method:

Pastry

Place the four, butter and sugar in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

While the motor is running, add the egg yolks and water. Process until the dough just comes together.

Turn onto a floured surface and gently bring together to form a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Roll the dough out between two sheets of non-stick baking paper until it is about 3mm thick.

Line a loose bottomed tart tin with the pastry. Trim edges and prick the base with a fork.

Line the case with non-stick baking paper and fill with baking weights. I didn’t have any so I just used rice.

Bake like this for 15minutes, remove the weights and baking paper and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the pastry is light golden.

Tart

Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and using an electric mixer beat until light and creamy.

Gradually add the egg and extra egg yolk and beat until just combined.

Stir through the almond meal, flour and lemon juice until well combined.

Spoon the mixture into the pastry case and top with the flaked almonds and berries. Bake for 30-35minutes or until set. Allow to cool in the tin.

 

Enjoy!

Fresh Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli

After 6 LONG days in a row at work, today was the start of my weekend (two days late) and what better way to spend it than eating delicious food! I was looking to make some fresh pasta and had some ricotta and spinach in the fridge so that is what I googled! I came across this great recipe by Food Nouveau http://foodnouveau.com/2011/04/20/recipes/making-fresh-homemade-pasta-spicy-spinach-ricotta-ravioli-with-light-tomato-sauce/, and I am so glad I made it because it was healthy, delicious and really fun to make. It did take a while, probably about 2 hours in total including the rest time for the pasta, but it was definitely worth it!

Hopefully you will be able to make it on your weekend, whatever day of the week that may be!

 

Fresh Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Light Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

Makes about 32 ravioli, enough for 4 to 6 servings.

Pasta

Sea salt

150g baby spinach

1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)

1 large egg

Filling

300g fresh ricotta cheese

50g prosciutto, finely diced

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

1 small hot red chilli, very finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

Sauce

10 large ripe vine tomatoes

6 garlic cloves, finely minced

3tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp sea salt

3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

Freshly ground black pepper

Shaved parmesan cheese to serve

Method:

To make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add baby spinach and cook until wilted and tender, about 3 minutes. Drain in a sieve and run under cold water to cool. Squeeze water from spinach just until damp and then finely chop.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and pinch salt. Mound flour mixture and form a well in the centre. Add spinach and egg to the well. Using a fork, gently break up yolk and slowly incorporate flour from inside rim of well. Continue until liquid is absorbed, then knead in bowl until dough forms a complete mass. It will still look floury and the vibrant green color of spinach will not come through yet. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes more, sprinkling more flour as the dough becomes sticky again.

Once you’re done kneading, wrap the dough tightly in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes, or for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. The resting period is really important so don’t skip it!

To roll the pasta: Divide pasta dough into 4 pieces. Cover 3 pieces with plastic wrap (as it dries out very quickly). Flatten dough so that it will fit through the rollers of a hand-cranked pasta machine set at the widest setting. Feed the pasta into the machine at this setting for 3 to 4 times, folding, flouring the exterior and turning pasta until it’s smooth. Keep on rolling pasta through machine, decreasing the setting one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta) until pasta sheet is about 2mm thick, for me this is setting number 4.

Flour both sides of rolled pasta sheet and cut out 7cm pasta rounds (I used a scone cutter). Make sure each round is well floured and keep flat on a plate covered with plastic wrap while you roll out the next 3 pasta sheets.

Note: After cutting out rounds in a pasta sheet, you’ll be left with quite a lot of trimming. Brush off excess flour, knead it back together in your hands (like a ball of play-dough), then flatten it and put it back in the pasta-rolling machine, rolling it just once per notch, until you’ve reached the desired thickness again. You’ll be able to cut out at least 4-5 more rounds from this smaller sheet.

Keep your pasta rounds well floured, tightly covered in plastic wrap while you quickly mix the filling together.

To make the filling: Mix everything together.

To make the ravioli: Cover two baking sheets with baking paper.

Place 1 heaped teaspoon of filling in the centre of a pasta round. Pick up the pasta round in one hand, and wet its edges with cold water using one finger or a pastry brush (careful not to wet with too much water). Cover with a second round, pressing edges to seal, making sure no air bubble remains inside. Repeat for all ravioli. Keep ravioli flat on a baking sheet, making sure they don’t overlap. Cover with plastic wrap.

To make the sauce: Dice the tomatoes and finely chop the spring onion. In a large pan over medium heat, fry the garlic in 3tbs of the olive oil for a minute or two until cooked, but not yet coloured. Add the red pepper flakes followed by the diced tomato, spring onion and salt. Allow the tomatoes to slowly simmer and soften until they form a sauce. Add the chopped basil, several cranks of black pepper  to finish. Heat back up, then take it off the heat and reserve until ready to serve.

Putting it all together: Bring a large pot of salted water to a low boil; avoid a rolling boil, which may cause the pasta to open up. Gently reheat the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally. Warm up serving bowls in the oven.

In batches of 12 to 14, cook ravioli in the boiling water until tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer ravioli to serving bowls. Spoon sauce over ravioli, garnish with shaved parmesan and serve immediately.

Because there is only Craig and I , I just used half of the pasta for the ravioli and then made the rest of it into fettuccine with the pasta cutter. I’m going to freeze the pasta for later in the week! However, if you want to freeze any ravioli or just the pasta itself, cut it how ever you want it and place it in a zip lock bag in the freezer. It will last for a few months.


Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup

One of the best things about being at university was the cheap Chinese place that sold chicken and sweet corn soup for $2.50 a bowl. For my friend Sarah and I, that was a pretty sweet deal in winter. Recently I have been craving some of that soup and the canned stuff is just not the same. I had a day off work today so set some time aside to make it and it turns out it it is probably the easiest soup I have ever made!

I ended up making a combination of a few different recipes that I looked at online and here was the final result:

 

Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup

(Serves 6, 10 mins prep time, 35 mins cooking time)

 

Ingredients:

1 medium sized chicken breast (or two thighs) skin off

2 cans of creamed corn

6 cups (1.5L) of salt reduced chicken stock

2 tbs light soy sauce

1 tsp fresh ginger

2 eggs lightly beaten

2 tbs corn flour combined with 2 tbs water

1 tsp sesame oil (optional really)

salt and pepper

Spring onion as a garnish

 

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C

Trim chicken, place on a sheet of aluminium foil, season with sesame oil and a little salt and pepper. Wrap in foil, place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes (until cooked through).

While the chicken is cooking, combine the cans of creamed corn, chicken stock, soy sauce and ginger in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to simmer.

Once simmering, slowly pour in the egg mixture, stirring as you go, this will cook the egg in thin strands.

Add the corn flour mixture to thicken the soup, simmer for a few more minutes then set aside.

Once the chicken is cooked, allow it to cool a little then tear into thin strips, add the chicken to the soup and heat through.

Divide soup into individual bowls and add the spring onion as a garnish before serving.

 

This soup is seriously delicious!

 

Note: You can use any kind of chicken for this for example BBQ chicken from the night before torn into strips, you can cut up your chicken finely and then pan fry, steam or poach etc. Essentially you just want about 400g of shredded cooked chicken. I just think that you get the juiciest chicken by cooking it in the oven in foil and you can do other things while it’s cooking!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

10 ways to make your oatmeal more appealing!

Apple and Strawberry Puree with Coconut

I have heard people talk about how boring oatmeal/porridge is, but it’s something that I have never understood!!! Growing up weekend porridge was a tradition and a treat for us. Different to the school mornings that consisted of Vegemite on toast, we would wake up on a saturday or sunday morning to find Dad making porridge for the 7 of us (5 kids!), and would add to it all sorts of delicious toppings. Porridge on the weekends is one of my favourite childhood memories.

Since being married we have occasionally had porridge phases, however recently I had a bit of a scare at the doctor when I found out that I had high cholesterol. We have a family history of high cholesterol and heart disease and now I’m going to try my very best to cut foods high in cholesterol out of my diet and increase my fiber intake. Step one: porridge each morning. The Australian Heart Foundation has a great website that give you  tips on how to lower your cholesterol through diet rather than medication. http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition-facts/Pages/default.aspx. On the cereals page it highlights that porridge oats are a great source of wholegrains that can not only aid in digestion but are really low in saturated fats and therefore cholesterol!

Now back to the boring porridge. Porridge has NEVER been boring for me because there are some seriously tasty healthy ways to bring a bit of excitement to it. Here are 10 that I have tried and tested and find DELICIOUS!

1.
A small handful sultanas/raisins
1 tbs desiccated or shredded Coconut
Half a banana sliced

2.
1/4 cup of  fresh apple chopped finely
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon 

3.
3 tbs apple and strawberry puree (golden valley fruit puree is what I used above, they come in lots of different brands and varieties though) 
1 tbs shredded coconut

4.
1 tbs honey
Half a banana sliced

5.
1/2 cup chopped dried dates

6.
 2 tbs low fat vanilla yogurt
1 tsp ground cinnamon 

7. 
2 tbs low fat vanilla yogurt 
1/4 cup fresh or frozen berries (just add frozen berries to the oatmeal while it is still too hot to eat) 

8. 
2 tbs apple juice
A small handful of sultanas/raisins 

9.
2 tbs dried cranberries
1 tbs shredded coconut

10.
1/4 cup of the fresh fruit of your choice
2 tbs chopped walnuts or pecans 

 

On a side note, I always cook my oats in water with a pinch of salt. If my porridge is too thick I add a little soy milk (cholesterol free!). This also makes the porridge smoother.

I hope you’ll be having some delicious oatmeal/porridge this weekend!!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

When I started this blog my brother in law Kent sent me a link for a cauliflower crust pizza, essentially an Hawaiian pizza with a base made out of cauliflower. Finally I have gotten around to buying a cauliflower and am therefore able to give it a try! My husband and I often make our own pizza usually using pita bread as a pizza base but this was random enough to draw us away from our usual to try something new. It was actually really easy to make, especially using a food processor to shred the cauliflower.  The recipe I used was by Recipe Girl http://www.recipegirl.com/2012/01/16/cauliflower-crust-hawaiian-pizza/#.T1aXBgE_CTo.facebook, however I did change a few things, and as you can see by the pictures the topping is the most obvious!

Lauren’s version of Cauliflower Crust Pizza:

(Gives you one 10 inch pizza – feeds 2-3, prep time: 25 min, cook time: 20 min)

Ingredients:

Crust:
1/2 large head cauliflower (or 2+ cups shredded cauliflower)
1 large egg
2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt

Topping:
1/2 cup tomato passata (tomato puree)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Any other topping you would like: ham, pineapple, salami, mushroom, capsicum, olives etc.

Directions:

Shred the cauliflower into crumbles, this is easily done in a food processor (don’t make a puree) or you can use a cheese grater. You need 2 cups of shredded fresh cauliflower. Place this into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes (don’t add any water). Allow the cauliflower 10 minutes to cool.

Preheat the oven to 220C. Line a pizza pan/cookie sheet with baking paper. In a bowl combine the cauliflower (about 1 1/2 cups after cooking) with the egg, herbs, garlic and salt. Pat the crust into a 10 inch round base on the prepared pan (it wont be like dough). Spray the crust lightly with non-stick spray and bake for 20minutes (until golden). Remove the crust from the oven and carefully flip the base over, uncooked side facing up (easiest using another sheet of baking paper on top and flipping it over onto the new sheet). Return the crust to the tray and bake for another 5-10 minutes (until golden).

When the crust is done, spread the tomato passata onto the crust leaving a centimeter around the edge. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese onto the base, add any toppings you would like. Craig and made two pizzas, one with ham, pineapple, capsicum and mushroom, and one with salami, mushroom, fresh tomato, pepper and parmesan. Once your toppings are on the crust sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and bake in the oven at 220C until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Cut into 6-8 slices and serve immediately.