Sunday, 14 May 2017

Simplest Peanut Satay Sauce


There are some recipes that are timeless. Do you remember the 70s and 80s when the 'in thing' was the prawn cocktail- nude, little prawns hanging over the side of a dish containing the ubiquitous thousand island dressing? Let's not forget the shredded lettuce. Just in case you have forgotten, I found a photo on Wikipedia to jog your memory.  

I will not dwell on prawn cocktails any longer but rather I will share the simplest peanut satay sauce you will ever make. Many years ago I found a recipe that didn't require roasting peanuts, grinding peanuts, mixing things with the peanuts, etc,etc. It was great and I made it many times but often I would either not have all the ingredients in the house or forget to put something in because I no longer used the recipe. 

Fast forward a few more years and I was looking for tasty recipes for my annual family get together. The weather in Brisbane in April is beautiful and perfect for a barbecue so we decided to cook chicken sticks and sausages and anything else our guests wish to bring with them.

I didn't even look for the recipe this time. 
My peanut satay sauce now has only 3 ingredients.


1 can coconut milk
6 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
3 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce- more if you like it hot.
(This makes a large quantity.)


Method
Heat slowly and stir until well combined.
Simmer until desired thickness.
If the sauce starts to separate, stir vigorously and it will recombine. 

Ideal accompaniment for any meats, to dip raw vegetables in or spice up roasted veggies. 



Sunday, 9 April 2017

Sweet Crusted Almonds


Almonds are a great source of protein and make a great snack but in pursuit of making them taste not just delicious but truly amazing, the addition of extras can pack on the calories.

This is another of my low, fat nut recipes. I used raw sugar; only because I didn't have brown sugar when I wanted to cook and a trip to the shop was a bit much. The raw sugar gives them a crunchy, light crust which is delicious.


INGREDIENTS
3 cups of raw whole almonds- about 750g
1/3 cup raw sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon- more or less to taste 
1/2 teaspoon ground rock or sea salt 
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

METHOD

1. Preheat oven to 135 degrees Celsius (275F.)
2. Line large baking tray with baking paper.
3. Whisk egg white, vanilla and water until thick and foamy.
4. Add cinnamon, sugar and salt.
5. Whisk until well mixed.
6. Add almonds and stir until evenly coated.  
7. Spread evenly onto baking sheet.
8. Bake for 30 minutes.
9. Stir and separate any that are stuck together.
10. Reduce oven temperature to 100 degrees Celsius (205F) and bake about 30 minutes until dry.  
11. Stir and leave on tray to cool. They will become crisp once cool.
12. Store in airtight container. 

For a bit more of a kick check out my Spicy Spanish Almonds Recipe





   

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Spicy Spanish Almonds



These delectable almonds are another of my range of delicious nuts. For some bizarre reason they seem a bit more 'masculine' than my traditional sweet roasted macadamia nuts so I cooked a batch for brother's birthday. 

INGREDIENTS
3 cups of raw whole almonds
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
1 teaspoon ground rock or sea salt 
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water

METHOD
1. Preheat oven to 135 degrees Celsius (275F)
2. Line large baking tray with baking paper
3. Mix sugar, spices and salt in large bowl
4. Whisk egg white and water until thick and foamy
5. Tip almonds into egg white mix and stir to coat 
6. Tip into spice and mix to coat
7. Spread evenly onto baking sheet
8. Bake for 30 minutes
9. Stir and separate any that are stuck together
10. Reduce oven temperature to 100 degrees Celsius (205F) and bake about 30 minutes until dry.  
11. Stir and leave on tray to cool. They will become crisp once cool.
12. Store in airtight container. 

A few interesting facts about almonds

  • The trees and their blossoms are truly beautiful.
  • Technically, almonds are the seed of a tree.
  • They are a member of the Amygdalus family and related to other fruits that contain hard pits, including cherries, plums and peaches. 
  • They thrive in mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers in full sun.
  • Nutritionally they are praised due to the presence of monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fibre, antioxidants, vitamins like riboflavin, and trace minerals such as magnesium.


Friday, 10 February 2017

Strawberry Hazelnut Cake




When you ask somebody what they would like for dinner, you have to then be prepared to create what they have asked for. On this occasion, the request was for "something healthy." Damn, there goes my ideas of a luscious chocolate cheesecake or a cream laden pavlova.

I dragged out a "Slimmers' Book," that obviously hadn't seen the light of day for many years and began to flip. There were some quite nice looking recipes in it, but most with watery looking sauces and over proportioned with vegetables. There were, however, some tasty looking desserts that looked ideal for this horrendous, humid weather we are surviving through at the moment. 

This hazelnut strawberry cake is delicious, but I have to confess I made some small modifications, so it might not be as "slimmers" as it was originally. Not too decadent though.

INGREDIENTS
Cake
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar
  • 1/3 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/3 cup ground hazelnuts


Strawberry filling
  • 125g light cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry or raspberry jam
  • 1/2 of 250g punnet strawberries


Cream cheese topping
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence


Decoration
  • Remaining half punnet of strawberries
  • Small amount of ground hazelnuts.

METHOD
1. Grease deep 20cm round can pan and line base with baking paper.
2. Beat eggs and sugar in small bowl with electric mixer until thick and creamy.
3. Fold in sifted flour and hazelnuts.
4. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
5. Bake in a moderate over for 30 minutes.
6. Turn onto wire rack to cool. 

Strawberry Filling
7. Blend or process cream cheese, jam and 1/2 punnet of strawberries until smooth.

Cream cheese topping
8. Blend or process all ingredients until smooth.

Assembly
9. When cake is cold, cut in half horizontally.
10. Spread with filling and top with remaining cake.
11. Spread cream cheese filling over cake.
12. Decorate with reserved strawberries and ground hazelnuts.
13. Refrigerate for several hours.





















Sunday, 5 February 2017

NOT ANOTHER GREEK SALAD- Ann Rickard


        Photo courtesy of Nick. Scopelos

Ann Rickard is a Noosa based writer with six travel books under her belt. All have quirky names: "Three in a Bed in the Med;" "Flash and Brash with Fries on the Side" and "The Last Book about Italy." She has won the Australian Society of Travel Writers Australian Travel Writer of the Year (2005,) Travel Book of the Year (2007) and is the life editor of the Noosa News. 

Ann sets off to Greece with her life partner Geoffrey in search of wine, adventure, inspiration and lesbians. The lesbians are found on the island of Lesbos, chosen to visit not only because of the remarks heard about gay women visiting there but also because it appeared to be one of the least commercial of the Greek islands with petrified forest, ancient ruins, a thriving agricultural industry, unspoilt culturally enlightening museums, etc. etc. 


This was not the first time Ann and Geoffrey had visited Greece so they wanted check out some sights to see if they had changed at all. Naturally they had and this met with some disappointment. But they also take on new adventures. Ann casually describes the hike up the mountain to the Agios Simeon monastery by way of a goat track recommended by Stavros (of course.) 

                                                           Agios Simeon Monastery

They take off at one o'clock - the hottest part of the day when everyone is thinking about closed blinds and cool siestas. There is no sign of cars but plenty of donkey droppings and the air becomes still and hotter as they climb. "It's pleasant, despite the heat," but even horses think they are nuts.

Ann's book is filled with anecdotes such as these and is easy reading. It is also dotted with a bit of whining about lack of money and villages that have too many tourists (just like them.)

Is it a book that you could use to plan out your once in a lifetime trip to Greece? Not really. There are some useful facts but I feel it is more a memoir of ramblings through life and relationships. There are a few spelling and grammar mistakes that are distracting but don't let that put you off. It is entertaining and light-hearted; something that often missed in a 'real' travel book. 


  







      

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

SUNDOWN CROSSING- Lynne Wilding


I was given this book by my sister last Christmas. As I opened it, she said, "I thought it would be an easy, relaxing book for the New Year." She was correct. It has a naturally flowing plot with a few twists and turns to keep the pages turning.

The story is based in a vineyard in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, well known as one of the world's greatest wine regions. First settled in the mid 1800s by English and German immigrants, the valley is a mere 25km long but with its hot, dry summers and cool, moderate winters, it manages to produce 21% of Australia's wine. 

Carla, who was born and still lives in New Zealand inherits her father's vineyard when he suddenly dies. Estranged from his wealthy wine making family in the Barossa Valley, her father had left the country and never returned so Carla had no idea that he owned the vineyard.

Carla, her young son and Angie, partner of her father and vigneron make the difficult decision to bring the vineyard back to life and make it profitable.

This is not easy because of the ruinous state of the vineyard and the vendetta that is mounted by her estranged relatives in an attempt to cause it to fail. The family want her to sell the land to them and will stop at little to achieve this. 

Of course, true grit, hard work and love win over and we have a "happily ever after" story. The large wealthy family grow to love Carla after realising that she had nothing to do with events that occurred before she was born. The aunt who believes that murder is the best option is safely relocated to Spain to avoid arrest and Carla gets married to a lovely gentleman after a few dinners and some architecture advise. 

This is an easy read and is difficult to put down at times. 
What have I learnt from it? Time can heal wounds and persistence can pay off. 

Lynne Wilding, born and bred in Sydney, Australia is the author of several novels and the inaugural president of Romance Writers of Australia inc. 


   
Photo courtesy of The Book Depository.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Quick Vanilla Fudge


There are times when what you really need is something sweet and delicious. Fruit and vegetables are "great" but just don't do the job when it's Sunday evening, tomorrow is the start of another working week and you feel more tired than you did when the weekend started.

Today is one of those days so a batch of quick vanilla fudge would be absolutely perfect. 

INGREDIENTS
400g white chocolate
250g butter, chopped
3 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup cream
vanilla essence to taste

Topping of choice such as:
   hundreds and thousands
   grated dark chocolate 

METHOD
1. Place chopped chocolate, butter, sugar and cream into a heavy bottom saucepan.
2. Stir over gentle heat until chocolate and butter have melted and mixture is smooth.
3. Simmer for 1 minute.
4. Beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
5. Add vanilla.
6. Pour into foil lined tin. Suitable sizes are 20cm square or 28cm x 18cm.
7. If decorating with hundreds and thousands, sprinkle over and refrigerate until firm. 
    If decorating with grated chocolate (I used dark chocolate for this batch) wait until fudge cools to warm then sprinkle over.
8. Refrigerate until firm.
9. Cut and store in airtight container in the refrigerator.  

Makes about 36 pieces.