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Baked Mushrooms

I recently discovered baking mushrooms maintains the earthy taste and deep flavours of mushrooms far better than any other cooking method. This dish is simple, quick, versatile and tastes – oh so good.

Brown, Swiss or Portobello Mushrooms have the most flavour
30g butter
fresh herbs

  1. Heat oven to 220 C.
  2. Tear mushrooms and place in 20cm diameter metal baking dish.
  3. Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and fresh herbs of your choice. I like thyme or continental parsley.
  4. Dot with a few little knobs of butter – you need very little.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve as is as an innovative and healthy snack or starter. Alternatively makes a great breakfast or lunch dish if you spread sourdough toast with goats cheese and serve mushrooms on top of the goats cheese with a few extra herbs sprinkled on top.

Liz’s Beef and Vegetable Soup for the Last of the Cooler Days

The days are warm already this year with the garden thinking that spring has arrived. However, the nights are still cool – time to enjoy my hearty homemade soup one last time before the warm spring evenings are upon us. This recipe is cobbled together from watching my mother and grandmother making soups with leftovers from the pantry and the fridge. It tastes wholesome with friends and neighbours always asking for some – it’s one of those dishes that never finishes as each day you add a little more water to top up what you ate the previous day !!!

Serves 8.

2 pieces veal osso buco
1 cup dried Italian Soup mix – you want the mixed beans and lentils with no barley
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
3 sticks celery, sliced
3 large carrots, sliced
3 medium desiree or kestrel potatoes, peeled and sliced
mixed herbs – whatever you can find; Bay leaves, Rosemary, parsley stalks, thyme, and the light green celery leaves from the heart of the bunch of celery
1/4 cabbage, shredded
800g(2lb) can diced tomatoes
2 Beef stock cubes
4 cups water
miscellaneous vegetables from fridge to add at the end; I like sliced zuchinni and green beans

  1. Brown the Osso Buco in a little olive oil and butter in a large pot; Remove.
  2. Now saute the onions and garlic. When soft add the herbs to bloom – sautéing in oil releases far more flavour than adding the herbs to the liquid at the end.
  3. Add celery and carrots and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Now add the soup mix, beef stock cubes, canned tomatoes, water and the browned so buck. Bring to the boil. Turn to a low simmer. Simmer for 60 minutes.
  5. After 60 minutes, add the potatoes and shredded cabbage. Continue cooking for another 60 to 90minutes until the soup mix is cooked.
  6. Remove the osso buco. Add marrow from bones to the soup. Remove fat from the meat and shred it. Return shredded meat to the pot. The soup should be thick but if u think it needs more liquid add some now – add half cup water at a time so that you don’t end up diluting soup too much. Bring back to boil. Taste and add seasoning as required.  It is best left for a day at this stage to improve flavour but of course can be eaten immediately.
  7. Just before serving add miscellaneous vegetables on hand; Green Beans, sliced zucchini, etc and heat. Boil for no more than one minute to keep vegetables crunchy.
  8. This soup can keep for up to a week if you reheat it every day. Reheat slowly so as not to burn. Add additional water if it gets to thick BUT add water when soup is hot. The soup thins up as it heats so you cannot be sure how much water is required.
  9. Enjoy with crusty bread.

Crunchy Layered Oats, Yoghurt and Banana Tart

This is a lovely tart with crunchy oats base, a tart creamy subtle middle layer, and a fruit topping. It is simple and quick to make but tastes elaborate. You can use in season fruit for the topping – in summer try strawberries, raspberries, or stone fruit. In winter banana is delicious or you can even use a quality apricot or black cherry jam.

Serves 6-8.

1/2 cup sticky brown sugar is plenty
2 cups quick porridge oats
180g(6 oz) butter
3/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1.5 cups plain yoghurt, Greek style
1 Tablespoons caster sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
Fruit of your choice: 3-4 Bananas/1 punnet strawberries/etc
1/2 cup jam to glaze – use apricot for bananas or redcurrant for strawberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
  2. Gently melt brown sugar and butter in a saucepan – do NOT let it boil. Remove from heat and stir in the oats.  Spread evenly into a greased 24cm(9-10inch) diameter flan dish.
  3. Bake in the top half of the oven 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
  4. In a bowl stir yoghurt, sour cream, sugar and lemon zest for the middle layer together. Pour on top of the oat base. Put dish back in the oven for 8 minutes. Cool. The yoghurt topping will be smooth and slightly firm.
  5. A couple of hours before serving slice the bananas (or halve the strawberries if using) and layer on top of the yoghurt base. Melt the jam for glazing in a small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave. Brush onto the fruit with a pastry brush.
  6. Use a sharp knife to cut the crispy base and serve as is or with cream or ice cream.

Souffléd Fish Pie

I always sought the unusual – even in the times where meat and two vegetables were the standard fare. One sunny summer’s day in 1982 I discovered this recipe in a quaint cookbook at a school fair. It was an incredibly modern recipe in it’s day and became the regular favourite way to cook our weekly fish dish. It’s stood the test of time – still a little different and quite delicious with the unusual combination of fish and ham and the souffle topping works well.  Serve it with steamed vegetables in winter or a green salad in summer.

Serves 6.

1kg (2lb) firm white fish like ling or cod
60g (2 oz) butter
3 Tablespoons plain flour
1/2 cup grated cheese
2 cups milk
3 eggs
75g (3oz) chopped ham
2 teaspoons dill or fennel seeds

  1. Butter a large shallow gratinee or pie dish. Cut the fish into large pieces and lay in the dish in a single layer. Sprinkle with dill or fennel seeds, salt and pepper.
  2. Pour over the milk, cover the dish with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 400F/200C for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove fish and reduce oven heat to 300F/150C. Pour the milk off the fish into a separate jug. Add the chopped ham to the fish in the dish.
  4. Melt butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring all the time. Gradually add milk fish was cooked in, still stirring. Bring to the boil. Add cheese and stir until melted and smooth.
  5. Cool slightly. Then add egg yolks, one by one stirring thoroughly after each addition.
  6. Whisk egg whites until stiff and fold into the sauce with a metal spoon.
  7. Pour this mixture over the fish in the dish. Cook in the centre of the oven at 300F/150C for 30 to 40 minutes until risen and golden brown.
  8. Serve immediately.

Lentil Soup – Good Old Fashioned Eating

This is real winter comfort food – warm, filling and full of flavour. I used to make a pot of soup on Sunday and we would enjoy it for lunch and/or dinner throughout the week. It’s also a healthy after school snack. Just add a little water when it thickens up and you can keep going for days. Reheat over medium – not high – heat and stir frequently to ensure it does not catch at the bottom of the pot.

Serves 8-10.

½ ham hock (omit if vegetarian)
1 onion, chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
500g(1 lb) uncooked brown or puy lentils
1x800g(2 lbs) tin tomatoes, pureed
2 beef  or vegetable stock cubes
6 cups water
chopped parsley to serve

  1. Place all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for about 1½ hours stirring from time to time.
  3. Add another cup of water if it becomes too thick.
  4. Serve garnished with parsley.

Dondeng – A Popular Family Casserole

This is a popular family casserole that we nicknamed Ding dong do.  Whilst it is a curry of Asian origin this recipe is mild with only a pinch of chilli powder and ideal for all children. The lemon rind, almonds and jam give it a rich dark colour and beautiful flavour. If you like it hot serve some chopped chilli on the side.

Serves 6.

2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1kg topside or chuck steak, cubed
3 Tablespoons whole almonds
1 Tablespoon grated lemon rind
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons plum jam or any dark jam
1ml chilli powder
1 cup beef stock

  1. Place beef cubes in a plastic bag. Add a little flour and toss cubes in the bag till coated with a fine layer of flour.
  2. Brown meat in batches in a large pot, removing when golden.
  3. Then sauté onions and garlic in the same pot.
  4. Add meat to onions after a few minutes.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 2½ hours or till meat is tender
  6. Serve with steamed rice

Citrus Self Saucing Puddings – sooooooo good

image1-3It’s great to have a yummy dessert after a lazy Sunday dinner, especially if we didn’t have a big afternoon tea.  As these puddings are quick and easy to prepare with ingredients usually in the pantry, it can also be  thrown together on a week night. Another family favourite.

Serves 4.

1 cup self raising flour
¾ cup caster sugar
½ cup dessicated coconut
½ cup natural yoghurt
1 egg, beaten
50g butter, melted
grated rind of 2 lemons
grated rind of 2 oranges
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3 oranges)
¾ cup caster sugar, extra
1½ T cornflour
½ cup boiling water

  1. Heat oven to 170°C (325°F).
  2. Grease and flour 4×1½ cup heat resistant dishes.
  3. Place flour, sugar, coconut, lemon and orange rind in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
  4. Mix yoghurt, egg and butter together. Add to flour mixture. Mix well.
  5. Spoon about ½ cup of mixture into each pudding bowl
  6. Combine extra caster sugar and cornflour and sprinkle over puddings
  7. Combine juices and boiling water in a jug and pour a ½ cup over each pudding
  8. Bake for 25 minutes or until skewer inserted halfway down comes out clean

Dust with icing sugar and serve after 10 minute. They should be warm rather than boiling. Sooooooo Good.

Tuna and Mushroom Pasta satisfies the whole Family

A quick and easy sauce to prepare – perfect for busy work days or lazy Sunday evenings.  I usually used thin spaghetti  or tagliatelle as the pasta and my favourite tinned tuna is the Sirena brand.

Serves 4.

500g pasta
1 onion, chopped
100g button mushrooms, quartered
2T tomato paste
1x384g tin tuna
300ml cream
chopped parsley to garnish

  1. Boil pasta in a large saucepan until al dente
  2. In the mean time sauté onion in a frying pan over a medium heat
  3. Add mushrooms and toss lightly
  4. Stir in tomato paste, tuna and cream and bring to boil
  5. Toss sauce through drained pasta

My Apple Crumble for Any Casual Occasion

This dish occupied legendary status though I was never really sure why. I guess everyone loves apple type desserts and those who tasted mine swore it was the best they ever had. I used to make these in leftover Sara Lee containers by the dozen and freeze them so that I always had one for unexpected guests or to act as a filler after a light family meal. Bianca would never have any as she didn’t like apples – maybe one day she’ll have a go and taste this.

Serves 4.Apple Crumble

1x454g(1lb) can pie apples
1/4cup sultanas or raisins
1/4cup chopped walnuts
zest/rind from half a lemon
2t cinnamon
2-3 Tablesppons lemon juice
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
150-200g(1/2lb) butter

  1. Heat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Make crumble by processing flour, sugar and butter till crumbly. Add more butter if crumbs are too fine.
  3. Layer pie apple in a 19cm(7 inch) diameter soufflé dish.
  4. Sprinkle with sultanas, lemon zest and juice, nuts and cinnamon.
  5. Stir gently to mix.
  6. Sprinkle crumble mixture evenly on the top.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes till brown (20 minutes if you’re going to freeze).
  8. Eat with vanilla ice cream, cream, greek yoghurt or just as is.

Lasagne tastes so much better Homemade

It tastes so much better homemade despite the fact that there is some work and so many dishes. My son, Sven, always loved the crispy topping – finishing the top with the lasagne sheets instead of the cheese sauce makes it extra crispy. Sven and his Dad were always in there fighting for that last helping.

Serves 6-8 (In our family it was only enough for 4 !!!!!)

Meat Sauce
1 tablespoon oil
500g (1 lb) minced steak
2 x 470g (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon rosemary
½ teaspoon sugar

  1. Saute onion and garlic.
  2. Add mince and brown over a high heat.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer 30 minutes.

Cheese Sauce
60 g (2 oz) butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
pinch nutmeg
125 g (4 oz) grated cheddar cheese

  1. Melt butter in saucepan, stir in flour; cook gently, stirring, 1 minute.
  2. Gradually add the milk, stir until sauce boils and thickens.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg. Finally add cheese.

Assembling the Lasagna
250 g (8 oz) lasagne noodles
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
½ cup cream

  1.  Layers 1/3 of the meat sauce in the base of a 33cmx22cm (9x12inch) ovenproof dish.
  2. Cover with 1/3 of the cheese sauce; Then layer lasagne pasta sheets to cover top completely.
  3. Repeat these three layers twice more finishing with the pasta sheets on top – not the cheese sauce.
  4. Sprinkle top of lasagne sheets with 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese.
  5. Bake in moderate oven 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven, gently pour or spoon cream over the top of cheese. Bake for further 10 to 15 minutes.

Pear Crumble with Oats Topping – Yum!

This oats based topping is a healthy alternative topping to try for crumble. It adds a crunchy but chewy texture. Pears have a wonderful flavour when baked and make a delicious alternative to apples.

Serves 6IMG_0693

4 pears, peeled (or 1x440g (1 lb) tin pears)
1 lemon, juice and rind
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup self raising flour
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
125g (4 ounces) butter
Yoghurt to serve(optional)

  1. Heat oven to 180°C(350°F).
  2. Core and slice pears and place into a lightly greased 1.5L (3 pint) casserole or 6 individual ramekins.
  3. Sprinkle with juice and rind of 1 lemon.
  4. Place oats, self-raising flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a food processor.
  5. With the motor running add butter cut into cubes.
  6. Process until butter is rubbed in.
  7. Sprinkle over pears and bake for 30-45 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Serve warm with thick yoghurt.
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