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OMG Baked Brie

11 Oct

Mmm mmm mmm! That’s the sound your friends will make when you feed them this baked brie. It’s surprisingly easy to make and tastes mind-blowingly good!

baked brie cheese - a delicious treat to serve as part of a finger food platter

Ingredients:

one full round of brie

few sprigs thyme and rosemary

one clove garlic, finely sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Buy a full round of brie, preferably one in a wooden box as you can use this wooden box to bake it in. (See Note)

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced, or 200°C non fan-forced).

Unwrap the brie, and discard the wrapper. Place the brie on a square of baking paper, enough to come up the sides of the box, and put it back into the box.

Cut a few holes into the top of the brie with a sharp knife and insert sprigs of thyme and rosemary, slivers of finely sliced garlic, and season with salt and pepper.

Cover the entire box loosely with a piece of aluminium foil and place in the oven for about 20 minutes.

This can be served in the box, or removed from the box (carefully!) and is best eaten with a knife and a fresh baguette.

Enjoy!

Notes:

You can get away with buying a cheaper brie and baking it in a small, preferably round, baking dish, by following the same baking paper and aluminum foil method.

Play around with flavours – try finely sliced sun-dried tomatoes and olives, with sprigs of oregano for a different taste.

Easy Spiced Eggplant Canapes

29 Jan

These tender juicy little bites of vegetabley goodness are really cheap and easy to make. When someone thinks of canapés, or hors d’oeuvres, eggplant is not usually the first thing that comes to mind, but these delicious little nuggets are a real surprise that will impress your guests and leave you looking like a master chef!

These little bites are delicious, cheap and easy to make

Easy Spiced Eggplant Canapes

Ingredients:

(makes about 50 pieces)
1 eggplant, cubed
2 Tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1 cup of plain flour
1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk
1 cup of bread crumbs

Dipping sauce:

¼ cup whole egg mayonnaise
¼ cup cream
2 teaspoons chicken stock powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1 stalk sliced spring onions
salt & pepper to taste

How to:

Dice the eggplant into bite-size pieces. Mix 2 tablespoons salt and 2 teaspoons cumin together and dust over the cubed eggplant.

Set up three bowls: place 1 cup of flour in the first bowl; make an egg wash by whisking together the egg and milk in the second bowl; and the breadcrumbs in the third bowl.

Coat each piece thoroughly in flour, then in the egg wash, then coat liberally in bread crumbs.

Heat a fry pan over a medium heat with about a 1mm layer of canola oil (or other low-flavoured oil) to cover the base of the pan. Working in batches, fry the eggplant cubes, turning frequently, until browned and crunchy all over. Remove from the pan and drain any excess oil by placing the cubes on a paper towel.

Making the sauce:

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly, reserving a tsp of the sliced shallots for a garnish.

Enjoy!

Tips

It helps to work out a system by which you keep one hand dry and get one hand wet, otherwise the crumbing process turns into a much bigger mess than necessary! You can also use a fork to coat the pieces in egg and transfer them to the breadcrumbs to reduce the mess factor.
You can also fill a bag with flour and a bag with bread crumbs, place the pieces inside and shake well to coat. Do the breadcrumbing in smaller batches to ensure even coverage. I don’t recommend doing this with the egg wash.
These can also be made gluten free, if you substitute the flour and breadcrumbs for gluten free varieties. Orgran corn crispy crumbs make a tasty crispy coating, I found them in the gluten free section of my local supermarket. You can also leave out the milk from the egg wash for lactose intolerant guests.

The best chicken soup ever

29 Nov
The best chicken soup ever - really fills the house with delicious aromas

Chicken soup with tarragon and cheesy croutons

How good is a chicken soup on a cold, rainy day? This one’s really easy, you don’t need to pre-cook anything, you can just throw everything into the pot and turn it on.  I love the way this soup fills the house with its delicious aroma – it really gets the mouth watering. The tarragon makes a real difference – it doesn’t matter if you use dried tarragon out of a jar, the time it has to infuse brings out the flavour.

Ingredients:

Serves 4

2L water

2 Tbsp powdered chicken stock (I use Vegeta)

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3-4 bay leaves

8-10 peppercorns

Salt to taste

4 chicken thigh fillets, diced

3 rashers bacon, diced

3 whole bacon rinds

1 large stick celery, sliced

1 large carrot, sliced

2 tsp fresh thyme

2 tsp fresh or dried tarragon

1 tsp fresh or dried rosemary

½ cup cream

Optional: other veges I might add sometimes are pumpkin, potato or mushrooms. Small pasta like risoni or vermicelli also make a hearty addition. Add pasta about 15 minutes before serving so they don’t get overcooked.

To serve:

Bread stick, sliced

Cheese slices

 

How to:

Bring the water to the boil, bung all the ingredients in except for the cream. Bring to the boil again, and then let it simmer gently for 30-45 mins.

To make the croutons, slice the bread stick to your desired thickness, place a slice of cheese on top, taking care not to hang over the edges of the toast. Place under a hot grill for 3-5 minutes, and keep an eye on it, so that it doesn’t burn. The cheese should bubble and go slightly brown.

Just before serving, stir in the cream and test if it needs any extra salt, stock powder, pepper etc. Take out the bacon rind and bay leaves before serving. (And watch out for the peppercorns – they bite!)

Place the cheesy croutons into the soup, or on the side.

Enjoy!

Easy peasy guacamole

20 Nov

Avocadoes are in season right now in tropical Queensland, indeed some people have them falling off trees and are giving them away! They’re also cheap at the supermarket at the moment. To make guacamole, you need really ripe avocadoes, so if you see some on special, pick those, they’re ready to go straight away.

Easy guacamole - perfect for a party

Ingredients:

1 soft, ripe avocado
2-3 Tbsp  sour cream
¼ onion, chopped finely
½ tsp minced garlic
Squirt of lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp salsa / chopped tomatoes
Chilli flakes
Salt & pepper

How to:

Cut the avocado in half, remove the seed, and scrape the avocado flesh into a bowl. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, onion and garlic and mix thoroughly. If you have some salsa lying around at home, add a couple of heaped spoonfuls of this into the guacamole. If you don’t have any salsa, you can chop up some tomatoes, or use diced tomatoes out of a can. If you don’t use salsa, you might want to go heavy on the chilli, salt & pepper, to give it extra flavour. If you use salsa, taste the mix before you add any further seasoning.

Stir it all up well and transfer to a serving bowl. Decorate the bowl with a dollop of sour cream, some grated parmesan or romano cheese and a sprinkling of chilli (anything red stands out really nicely against the green guac, instead of chilli try paprika, cayenne pepper or sumac). Serve with plain corn chips.

Enjoy!

Cooking 4 Cheats!

3 Nov

The website for people who want to cook but don’t have access to a pantry worthy of Masterchef. Make good, wholesome, simple dishes that are easier to make than you might think, and look and taste far more impressive than they really should!

You should be able to find all the ingredients you need in your local supermarket, without a visit to a specialist deli.

It’s cooking 4 cheats! But it’s not really cheating, since you can proudly boast that you did make it yourself!

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