Thursday, 29 March 2007

Creamy Tuna and Vegetable Pie

So today, I was wondering what to cook for dinner - HAD to be something with tuna because all the meat I have in the freezer has been designated for meals for the rest of the week.

Didn't want to do a boring tuna mornay or any of the usual boring tuna things, so a little light turned on in my head. I was thinking..tuna..sauteed mixed vegetables...cheese...creamy white sauce - all encased in a golden pastry..mmmmm, this might actually work! A creamy tuna and vegetable pie.

Firstly, I knocked together a quick shortcrust pastry (all the recipes to follow) then as it was chilling in the fridge, I got to work with chopping the vegetables, sauteing them and allowing to cool, whilst I prepared the white sauce.

It all came together pretty quickly, though I spent a bit of time waiting for the filling to cool before adding it to the lined pastry pie dish - if the filling is hot, well the butter rich pastry is just going to melt and fall apart, don't want that - so to avoid a disaster, LET IT COOL!

You also need to 'blind' bake the pie crust before adding any filling as this stops the dough from being soggy!

It is a WONDERFUL pie for kids. The vegetables are all hidden by the creamy sauce. I must say my son who is 3.5, absolutely loved it - and I am thrilled he enjoyed it, gives me great satisfaction knowing that I made something he ravaged!

I must make mention, as I am a 'bit o' this, bit o' that' cook' - I will, like always, try to give as accurate measurements as possible!

So, without further ado...lets make a start on this recipe!!!

Sam's Shortcrust Pastry :

  • 2 C Plain Flour
  • 150g butter ( I used canola margarine) - must be very cold, straight from the fridge
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6-8 Tb chilled water
  1. In a bowl, add your flour. salt and butter (canola margarine) and rub it with your fingertips, until it resembles crumbs.
  2. Cautiously, add chilled water, tablespoon by tablespoon, and using a blunt knife, mix it together using a cutting motion, until it comes together - then get your hands in there and gently knead it to get it all together in a ball.
  3. Pretty easy stuff - then put it in a little plastic bag and chill in the fridge 30 minutes.
Saute your vegetables :
  • 1/2 zucchini, grated or finely diced
  • 1/2 brown onion
  • 2 medium celery stalks, finely diced
  • 1/2 C frozen mixed vegetables (corn kernels, carrot, peas, corn) the one I buy also has cauliflower and broccoli core in it - this is good for 'bulking up' the filling.
  1. Heat a pan on medium heat, when it is hot - add a drizzle of good olive oil,then add the grated zucchini, onion and celery and saute these for around 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the cup of frozen vegetables, stir for another 3-4 minutes until done.
  3. Turn off heat and move pot to the back of the stove.
For the White Sauce :
  • 50g butter (I used canola margarine)
  • 50g Plain flour
  • 2 -3/4 C milk
  • 1 Massel Chicken Cube these are what I have been using for years, they're great and far superior to cheapie stock/bouillon cubes plus, they're suitable for vegetarians, yes! CHICKEN FLAVOUR made from vegetables!
  • pinch of sea salt and grind of pepper
  • 425g can of tuna (in brine)
  • 1/2 C grated tasty cheese
  1. Place butter in a pan and melt on medium heat, when bubbling, dump in your plain flour and half the milk, and begin whisking immediately, this will ensure you have a lump free sauce.
  2. Drop in the Massel cube, salt and pepper, keep whisking, until you see the sauce start to thicken.
  3. Add the rest of the milk, continuing to whisk and as it thickens again, add the 1/2 a cup of grated tasty cheese, whisking until it melts.
  4. Drain can of tuna and add to the sauce.
  5. Turn heat off and now add the sauteed vegetables to the white sauce.
  6. Allow the sauce and vegetable mix to cool completely.
Blind baking the pie crust :
  1. Preheat oven to 180c.
  2. Remove pastry from fridge, flour work surface and pull approximately half the pastry off the lump and gently knead a little.
  3. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out in a rough circle shape and to about 6-7mm thickness.
  4. Brush some olive oil in your pie dish, and lay the pastry into the dish, using the overhang to help you adjust the pastry to 'sit right'.
  5. Lift dish up and use a sharp knife to cut off the excess pastry. (Put excess pastry aside - you will have enough filling and pastry to make another pie, one for dinner and one to freeze!)
  6. Rip a piece of baking paper and lay this on the pastry and then proceed to fill and weigh the paper/dough down with either rice or beans - this allow the pastry to cook through without bubbling or rising.
  7. Put it in the oven for 20 minutes, keeping an eye on it, it should be taken out just before it reaches the 'golden brown' stage.
Assembling the pie :
  • OK, begin to fill the pie crust with the cooled vegetable/sauce filling. Fill it to the top.
  • With another piece of pastry, flour your work surface, and using your floured rolling pin - roll out the "lid" of the pie to about 6-7mm.
  • Break an egg into a little bowl and gently whisk, using a pastry brush, paint the egg wash around the rim of the pie crust, so it 'adheres' the crust and the 'lid' together.
  • Lay the pastry over the filled pie crust, take a fork and and press the edges down and this is purely optional : with some of the excess dough, cut out a shape and lay it on top of the pie.
  • Brush the top of the pie with some of the remaining egg wash.
  • Place in the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes, keeping an eye on it and taking it out when it is a rich golden brown colour.

I served mine with a side of garlic and chive mashed potatoes and a salad of tomatoes, cucumber, onion and basil, drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper *just to 'freshen' the palate*.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Apple and Sultana Scrolls

Here's something easy when you get a sugar craving and feel like something sweet with your mid morning or afternoon tea, the ingredients are just basic pantry ingredients AND, it isn't too fattening either..(if you can just stick to one scroll!)

  • 2 C self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp mixed spice
  • 60g chilled butter, cubed
  • 125ml milk
  • 1/3 C sultanas
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored, coarsely grated

chocolate icing:

  • 1/4 cup icing sugar mixture
  • 1 Tb cocoa powder
  • 1 Tb milk
Preheat oven to 200c

  1. Place flour, sugar and mixed spice in a large bowl. Use your fingers to rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Make a well in the centre and add the milk and sultanas. Use a round-bladed knife in a cutting motion to mix until evenly incorporated and the mixture just comes together.
  3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead for 2 minutes or until smooth.
  4. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out dough into a 25 x 30cm rectangle. Sprinkle with apple. Starting from the long side, firmly roll dough into a log. Trim the ends. Cut crossways into twelve 2cm thick slices. Arrange scrolls cut-side up, side by side on prepared tray.
  5. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the chocolate icing, combine the icing sugar and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Add the milk and stir until combined and smooth.
  7. Drizzle scrolls with chocolate icing and serve immediately.

Cool Kitchenalia

This flour duster, is used for flouring your work surface...sure, you can spread it with your hands, but this doo-dad gives nice, even coverage and you can't forget the fun factor ;)

This is one very handy measuring jug - I have one of these and it is the best liquid measure I have owned - the rubber grip is very nifty!
Now THIS is cute!! The 'Dash', 'Pinch' and 'Smidge' measurements are no longer a mystery!

Check out the link!

Monday, 26 March 2007

Mmmm what a yummy dinner!

We had the yummiest dinner last night, initially, I had intended for it to be a Sunday Roast lunch at 1pm, but we decided to go to the 'Good Guys' in Oxley and we ended up walking out of there $1000 poorer...we bought a new Canon camcorder (which records onto the little 8cm DVDs) and we also got a new fan dangled, state of the art, flip cordless phone..a very expensive piece of plastic you can talk into in, other words!

Anyway, sorry for the diversion there, where were we..ah yes the Sunday Roast, well I am trying to attempt a revival of the old school Sunday Roast lunch in my family. I think it would be nice to make a tradition of it, so when the kids are older and Aaron and I are old, grey and wrinkly - we can all have Sunday Lunch together once a month or whenever the kids will have spare time in their busy lives to come and visit their oldies lol.

So the lunch I had meticulously planned ended up becoming dinner due to the time factor of going out and blowing a thousand dollars..but it was all good as it tasted, smelt and looked divine AND I didn't take any photos because I was so hungry, that I ate it before I remembered to take a snap.

I had a rolled shoulder of pork, with a nice fine layer of crackling on it. I dried the roast through the netting with a kitchen paper towel, and then rubbed some sea salt flakes into the skin, and then flipped it over and rubbed my 'rub' into it.
The rub consisted of crushed 4 colour peppercorns (red, black white and green), sea salt, lemon zest, rosemary, a ton of garlic and the best olive oil money can afford - all smashed into a fine paste in the trusty old mortar and pestle and smeared and massaged into the meat...I then returned it to the fridge for a few hours for the flavours to penetrate the meat.

I made Cauliflower Cheese, beautiful creamy, white cauliflower - steamed, smothered in a white bechamel sauce topped with grated parmesan and tasty cheese and nutmeg and baked until bubbly and golden.

And then the vegetables..just the usual ones which accompany a roast spuds, whole baby carrots, pumpkin and quartered onions...the spuds and onions I 'tossed' in some olive oil, salt and pepper and rosemary and put in the roasting pan as is..and the carrots and pumpkin the same but with the addition of some cumin as well, as this really compliments them. All banged into a roasting pan and roasted.

Took the meat out after it was done (220c for the first 30 Min's and then 180c for the remainder 45 minutes) let it rest and then carved it...what a great joint of meat!
Used the pan juices to make the wickedest gravy..basically just added a little plain flour as a thickening agent - bit of white wine..stir it around, and it was done.

After ALL that, I had dished every ones dinner up and realised that I forgot to make apples sauce and some peas....ah well, there's always next time...

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Caramelised Onion Dip

OK, I am hoping that this recipe will make up for the previous one lol..this one takes a little longer, but at least you can brag to your friends you have made it from scratch..
  • 1 TB canola oil
  • 1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 TB balsamic vinegar
  • 1 C light sour cream
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Baked potato chips, for serving
  1. Heat a heavy non stick saute pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the canola oil and the onions. Stir until onions are coated with the oil.
  3. Stop stirring the onions and allow to sit until caramelization begins. Once the onions start to turn brown, stir only when necessary to prevent burning.
  4. Once onions are caramelized (they'll be brown and sweet), add the balsamic vinegar and continue to saute until balsamic vinegar is nearly dry.
  5. Mix the caramelized onions with the sour cream, garlic powder and seasoning salt. Mix completely and pour into a small bowl.
  6. Place in refrigerator to allow the flavors to mellow for 30 minutes.
  7. Serve with baked potato chips.

French Onion Dip for dummies

This is one if the first things I ever knocked up in the kitchen when I was a kid, I got the recipe from my Aunt - and it is so easy, you could do it blindfolded...but be warned, it IS 'tacky' hehe - but tastes great and is good after a few beers when you get struck by the munchies...

You can serve it with Jatz, vegetable crudites, chippies - oh and don't forget,this is a 'sometimes' food ;)

  • 1 sachet French Onion Soup mix

  • 1 tub/carton Sour Light Cream

  • 6 Tb warm water

  • 1 Tb fresh or dried chives

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl - thoroughly, making sure all soup mix is incorporated through the sour cream.

  2. Cover with plastic wrap and let flavours develop in the fridge for about 2-3 hours.

  3. Pour into a small serving bowl, stir and serve!

Dead easy "Insalata Caprese"

'Insalata Caprese' is a simple, gorgeous salad, utilising tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, and olive oil. So simple, it can be thrown together at the last moment...I LOVE it's simplicity and it tastes like heaven...

  • 220g fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced approx. 1.5cm thick

  • 2 large vine ripened tomatoes, sliced approx. 1.5cm thick

  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves, torn roughly

  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

  1. On a serving plate, arrange the mozzarella and tomato around the edge, alternating mozzarella and tomato slices.

  2. Tear up the basil leaves, and sprinkle them on top of the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

  3. Season with a bit of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

  4. Just before serving, drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over the salad.

Friday, 23 March 2007

My finely tuned Vegetarian Samosa recipe

I thought the first recipe I would post is my Vegetarian Samosa really has taken me about 2 years to fine tune this recipe - slightly adapting it each time I made it, until now..I think I may have perfected it finally!

My inspiration for this particular samosa, came from one lazy Sunday afternoon of sauntering around the Fremantle Markets in Fremantle, Western Australia (an old haunt of mine, from back in the day when I used to live there)..there is a little takeaway stall there out the back in the fruit market section and they sell similar samosas there. I bought one and I have never tasted such a delicious samosa.

So ever since then, I have been experimenting with spice quantities to create the perfect balance.

The other unique thing about my recipe, is that it has pumpkin in it, as well as the usual potato/pea combination..I have seen a LOT of samosa recipes and I do not recall seeing any with pumpkin in them - but I must say, it works really well with all the spices and flavours.

Samosa Filling:

  • 2 medium sized potatoes, peeled

  • 2 C pumpkin, peeled and chopped

  • 1 C of peas (frozen is fine)

  • 2 TB ghee

  • 2TB olive oil

  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped

  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

  • half tsp ground ginger

  • 1 and a half tsp salt

  • 1 tsp ground coriander

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 1 tsp garam masala

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • half tsp of dried chilli flakes
  1. Place prepared potatoes, pumpkin and peas in a steamer and steam until soft.

  2. Divide steamed vegetables, mash half and mix in the reserved half - so you have a mix of mashed vegetables and chunky veg - this is a textural thing.

  3. In a frypan, heat ghee and olive oil on medium high heat, add onions and saute for 10 minutes until sticky and golden - stir now and then, making sure they do not stick.

  4. Once onions are sticky and golden, add garlic, ginger, salt, coriander, turmeric, masala, cumin and chilli flakes and keep stirring them until they are toasted (they will become very fragrant and aromatic)

  5. Add a splash of water to this spice mix to 'loosen' it up a little bit and then mix it into the vegetable filling, thoroughly combining all the ingredients and set aside to cool.

Samosa Pastry:

  • 2 C Plain flour

  • half tsp of salt

  • 4 TB olive oil or ghee

  • 12 TB water
  1. Rub the oil or ghee into the flour until it resembles a crumbly crumby mix, add half a teaspoon of salt.

  2. Add the 12 Tablespoons of water and mix with your hands until it is a a dough (please note that you may need more water or more flour depending on the individual consistency of your dough - so little by little, just add the needed amount to make it workable)

  3. Flour a work surface, and knead dough for 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until required.

OK, so now you have everything here comes the bit where you assemble them.

  1. Cut dough into 4 pieces. With one piece, roll it out until it is about 3-5mm thin.

  2. Use a round plate or pot lid as your template (approx. 15cm in diameter) cut dough with sharp knife around template.

  3. In the middle of your samosa dough circle, place a couple of Tablespoons of the spicy vegetable filling, wet your finger with some water and run it along the edge of the dough.

  4. Fold dough over the filling, forming a crescent, semi-circle shape and use a fork around the outer edge to press it down.

  5. Continue this process, until all the dough and filling has been used - however many you make depends on the size of the template you use.

  6. I use my deep fryer to cook a temperature of 190c for about 3-4 minutes or until they are crisp and golden brown, remove from oil and drain on absorbent kitchen paper.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

First Entry

Well here goes, my first entry..not too much to write about now, but I will be back later!!