Zeppole

Wikipedia says a Zeppola is “an Italian pastry consisting of a deep-fried dough ball of varying size but typically about 4 inches in diameter.”  This is a recipe from Dennis- Katherine’s partner.  He is known for cooking up some lovely meals…..often with an Italian influence.

The hard part of this recipe I think is letting them cool down enough before you pop them in your mouth!  I am definitely going to be whipping up a few batches over Christmas….the kids especially seem like getting the icing sugar all over the place. 🙂

  • 4 1/2cups plain flour
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 package rapid rise yeast
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Powdered sugar/Icing sugar
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Grease bowl with oil. Mix yeast & vanilla with warm water.  Let sit for 10 min, or until the yeast starts ‘bubbling’.  Add flour and mix. The batter will be wet and sticky. Heat oil to 375F. With a greased table spoon scoop batter into oil and fry until golden brown. Serve warm topped with powdered/icing sugar.

Autumn Soup

Fun fact: have you noticed that you feel fuller longer when you have soup?  That is because if you drink water with your meal, it passes straight through   your stomach. That same amount of water, blended with your food to turn it into soup, will be retained in the stomach while the solid nutrients are digested. The stretching of the stomach wall suppresses the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin, so you feel full for longer.

But, on to this nice seasonal soup, really simple to pull together. A nice hint of sweetness form the apples which really comes out in the roasting.

  • 1 butternut or acorn squash (or any other autumnal squash really)
  • 2 red onions
  • 3 apples
  • 2 T rapeseed oil
  • 1 t garam masala
  • ½ t cumin seeds
  • 500mL vegetable stock

Peel, core and cut the apples in to quarters. Cut the onion in to quarters and chop the squash to be about the same size.  Toss all the veg with the rapeseed oil and spices and roast at 180C for an hour. Let veg cool, scrape the flesh of the squash in to a blender, add the rest of the veg and the vegetable stock and blend until a smooth.  Pour the puree through a sieve in to a pan and cook over medium heat until it comes to a gentle boil.  Serve it up – with a drizzle of olive oil, or even a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds.  Surprisingly tasty for such a simple dish

Joyceeeee’s Potato Salad

This is Katherine’s (the one who is creating all these great illustrations) mom’s potato salad recipe. She asked me to post this today so “folks can make it for the Thanksgiving holiday”.

Definitely a nostalgic, and classic recipe (at least for us Yanks).  As a kid I had a ‘thing’ about egg-whites and used to try and steal all the yolks which I thought were delicious (and sneak the whites onto my brother’s plate!). I’ve grown out of that and now just happily devour a plate of potato salad without picking through anything.

  • 6 Big Russet Potatoes
  • ½ red onion diced small
  • ½ cup celery diced
  • ½ cup of mayonnaise (mix in a bit of mustard to taste)
  • ¼ cup of sweet pickles,  diced small
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • Paprika

The night before you want to eat this up…. boil & peel potatoes & eggs and let cool in fridge over night (salt the potatoes). The next day cut up the cold potatoes and eggs (leave one egg for decorating the top) In a LARGE bowl mix the eggs, potatoes, onion, celery and pickles. In mixing cup stir mayo and a bit of wet mustard and add a tiny bit of sweet pickle juice. Mix the dressing in with the rest of the ingredients. Add Salt and Pepper to taste and mix. When you are ready to serve the salad  – slice the left over egg and place the slices on the top of the salad and sprinkle with a bit of paprika. Simple.

Max’s Yankee Toad in the Hole with Creamy Pancetta Gravy

This is a recipe for Max, George’s little brother who lives next and who does an amazing velociraptor impression.  Max doesn’t like sauces- so he may not appreciate the gravy….but that is optional (and I think George might like the gravy).

My inspiration for this was a marriage of a classic Brit comfort food, Toad in the Hole, with a nostalgic Yank childhood favourite, Corn Dogs….which along with cotton candy and funnel cakes were a fairground staple when I was growing up.  But  – unlike funnel cakes and cotton candy… corn dogs were actually as good as you remembered.

Toad

  • 8 good big meaty pork sausages
  • 1 can corn (200g, but if you love corn, by all means add more)
  • 1 ½  cups cornmeal
  • ½  cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Gravy

  • 100g pancetta  – chopped
  • 3 T groundnut oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 3T all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • few grinds of black pepper
  • 1-2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 dashes of Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, or other hot sauce (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200C.  Brown the sausages and set aside.  Make the cornbread batter – in a bowl stir together the dry ingredients, in a separate bowl mix the egg and butter milk together, then add the melted butter. Mix the dry in ingredients the wet ingredients. Put your baking dish (the dish I use is 10×8) in the oven with 2T groundnut oil for ~5 min to heat up oil.  When the oil is hot, take out the dish, dump in the can of corn, then add the cornbread batter. Top with your sausages – then put it all in the oven for 25 minutes, or until cornbread looks lightly golden brown.

While the ‘toad’ is cooking make your gravy. Heat the groundnut oil in a nonstick skillet.  Add the onion and pancetta and sauté until inion soft and pancetta is beginning to crisp up, ~5-7 minutes.  Add the flour and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the Worcestershire, salt and tabasco, then slowly add the milk, stirring constantly.  Once all the milk is in, stir occasionally for about 10-15 minutes until the gravy has thickened.

Et voila….serve your toad with the gravy (and maybe a bit of mustard)…and some sautéed greens and you have a pretty scrummy meal!

Veggie fritter and halloumi stacks

 

A healthy veggie-filled, meat-free meal.  Courgettes (in the UK, zucchini in the US…and I have no idea why the Brits go with the French name and the Yanks go with the Italian name)  are my fall back vegetable…you can do everything with courgettes, stir-fry, soup, roast, deep-fry, puree… and they are great at soaking up yummy flavours.  When I was very young I would sometimes ask for just courgettes for dinner.  My mom would slice them up and saute them in olive oil and butter then top them with a generous handful of Parmesan cheese.  That and a big piece of buttered bread and I was satisfied.

Now I am not an advocate of ‘hiding the veg’ to trick children into eating them, but this may be a way to encourage them to eat more veg, these fritters are fun to make – and are kind of like savoury pancakes. 🙂

Corn and Courgette fritters

(Makes 8 fritters)

  • 400g courgettes
  • 100g frozen sweetcorn (unless you have fresh off the ear)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 40g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 20g fine polenta or cornmeal
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ t ground coriander
  • ¼ t ground turmeric
  • Optional: 15g fresh herbs, chopped
  • Oil, to cook
  • Pomegranate molasses
  • 250g block Halloumi, cut into 5-6 slices

Tahini Sauce

  • 1 cup tahini paste
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp fresh parsley, minced

Prepare the Tahini sauce:

Put the garlic cloves, lemon juice and half the water in a food processor.  Blitz until mostly smooth.  Add the rest of the water and the tahini.  Blitz until smooth.  Mix in the Parsley, set aside.

Prepare the fritters

Defrost the corn. Grate the courgettes into a colander and toss with the salt. Let drain for 20-30 minutes, put the courgettes into a tea towel and squeeze out all the liquid, then put into a mixing bowl with the corn.

Mix the flour, polenta and baking powder together well, then stir into the courgettes, along with the spring onions, beaten eggs, the grounder coriander, turmeric, salt and herbs.

Heat some ground nut or sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, drop spoonfuls of the batter into the pan and flatten slightly. Cook for a couple of minutes until golden brown, then flip and repeat. In a separate pan, heat some more oil and fry the halloumi – about 1 minute each side until golden brown.

Make the stacks- fritter, halloumi, fritter. Top with a drizzle of pomegranate molasses and tahini sauce….and enjoy!

PB&J cake for Devin

My nephew Devin lives in California, he is very curious and fun to go grocery shopping with because he loves going through the vegetables and fruits, looking for new things and asking me how you cook them. Devin loves his veg…and steak.  He also loves a good PB&J sandwich for lunch, so I thought I would make his favourite lunch in to dessert!  Devin especially likes grape jelly in this PB&J…so rather than ‘jelly’ I have loaded the cake up with fresh grapes.

Fun fact about peanut butter – it takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter…..and for me any peanut butter dessert is going to at the top of my list.  I especially love peanut butter shakes,  mmmm.

So, let’s get cooking!

  • 1t vanilla
  • 175g butter, softened
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 2 generous cups red or black seedless grapes, washed, dried and sliced on half

Heat oven to 170C.  Grease and line a loaf pan (11cmx21cm). Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time.  Mic in vanilla then add ½ of the flour and ground almonds.  Mix in and then add remaining flour and ground almonds.  Fold in eth grapes, spread in to your loaf pan and bake for 55min.  Let cool completely before frosting.

Frosting

  • 125g cream cheese
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 50g smooth peanut butter

Mix it all together….and then spread across the top of your loaf cake.  Then see how long everyone can wait before devouring the cake!

Broccoli and Pasta the perfect blend for a date….a.k.a. George’s Broccoli Pasta Bake

George lives next door to me, and his favourite breakfast is toasted muffins with chocolate spread….I couldn’t create a recipe from that, but luckily he loves broccoli, macaroni  cheese and something he calls ‘cheese flan’.  Now those I could work with.  It may sound a bit rich , but I have tried to pack a lot of broccoli in to ‘lighten’ it up a bit.  It is really simple and quick to pull together….especially if you have a steamer that you can put over  the pasta while it is boiling

Some fun facts about broccoli – it originated in Italy, and was eaten by the Romans in 6th century BC, so it kinda makes sense it is a good ‘partner’ for pasta.  Apparently  Drusus Caesar, son of the Roman emperor Tiberius, so loved broccoli that he ate little else for more than a month. He only stopped when his pee turned green. Eeek!

There is a lot of broccoli here, but I am pretty sue your pee won’t turn green. 😉

  • 500g broccoli (regular ‘ol broccoli…or purple sprouting)
  • 200g pasta (elbow macaroni or whatever shape pasta is to hand)
  • 5 eggs
  • 40g flour
  • 360ml whole milk
  • ½ t salt
  • 2t Dijon mustard
  • 225g cheddar cheese, grated

Heat oven to 180C. Steam the broccoli for 3-5 minutes.  Cool then chop it up. Cook the pasta until al dente (ever-so-slightly under cooked is best).  Generously butter a 2 ½ quart baking dish.  Whisk the flour in to the eggs, then whisk in the milk, mustard and salt.  Mix the broccoli and pasta together and pour in the prepared dish.  Sprinkle half the cheese over the broccoli/pasta.  Pour the egg mix over then top with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 min at 180C, then turn heat up to 200C and bake for an additional 5-10 min or until cheese is just getting a hint of brown.

Tropical beef tacos

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As a kid tacos were always my favourite dinner. At first I thought Taco Bell was great (Americans will know what I am talking about and yes I am embarrassed) …but I soon gained an appreciation for my mom’s minced beef tacos and couldn’t get enough! I loved taco night.

This is a different take, drawing inspiration from another childhood favourite – Chinese Tangerine Beef, with the fun of a stuff your own taco.

It is really quite simple, comes together quickly an is something everyone can make their own with different toppings (seems to be a growing theme….but it really is a great way to encourage kids to experiment a bit with their food).

Beef filing:

  • 500g beef steak (I use bavette)
  • 2 oranges
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch chili flakes (optional)
  • 1Tablespoon peanut oil , pus anoter 1T for cooking
  • 1Tablespoon corn starch

Zest 1 orange and juice 2 oranges, mix together with peanut oil, cumin, oregano and coriander in a shallow glass baking dish.  Slice beef in to ~1/4 inch strips and mix in to the marinade.  Leave to marinate for 20 minutes or overnight.

Pineapple Mango salsa:

  • 1 cup  pineapple chunks (or all mango or all pineapple works as well)
  • 1 cup mango chunks
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 3 green onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ t smoked paprika
  • ½ t ground cumin
  • ¼ t salt
  • ½ cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • 1 chopped jalapeno (optional)

Pretty simple – chop it all up and mix it all together.

Cook it up: take the meat out of the marinade, put onto a plate and dab off excess marinade with a paper towel.  Dust the beef strips with 1T corn starch and stir-fry in a hot skillet or wok in 1T  peanut oilfor 3-5 minutes, until cooked through and a nice brown crust has formed.  Add the remaining marinade back to the pan and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

Toppings:

  • Shredded cabbage
  • Chopped spring/green onion
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sliced radishes

Serve it up: Heat up 6-8 tortillas, put a few strips of meat in to each, add a selection of toppings and a bit of the salsa.  Now that your taco is stuffed…stuff your face!

 

California Roast Veggies

Why California? You ask…well…I asked Katherine to draw some roast veggies and when I got the sketch I had a good laugh and was inspired to revise the recipe with some more classic ‘California’ ingredients, and both Katherine and I grew up in California, so why not.

Roast vegetables are an easy simple way to use up what you have lying around, so, as always, improvise a bit!

  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 T olive oil
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Handful of pumpkin seeds

Heat your oven to 200C. Chop up the broccoli florets, then peel the stem of the broccoli and roughly chop.  Peel the carrots and cut in to ‘batons’. Put all the veg in to a baking dish.  In a separate bowl add the zest and juice of the orange, the chopped garlic and the olive oil, whisk together then pour over the veg and then sprinkle on the cumin seeds.  Stir everything up – I find mixing it all up with your hands quite satisfying, then put in the oven for 20 minutes.  Take this dish out and drizzle a bit of honey over everything then put back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the veg is just starting to get a bit if brown on the edges.  Take out the dish, sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds and enjoy…and I am pretty sure you won’t have any leftovers.

Enchilada Lasagne

Enchiladas…but layered up like lasagne, a marriage of two delicious dishes that always go down well with kids (and grown-ups). Voila.

I have a soft spot for enchiladas, they are definitely in my top 10 comfort foods (number one being mashed potatoes and gravy).  As with all the recipes I post make this your own by substituting  the chicken or sweet-potato with whatever is in season, or whatever your little sous-chef desires.  This is a great template recipe to play with and tastes even better the next day.

Sauce:

  • 680g jar of passata
  • ½ onion – chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • ¼ t ground coriander
  • ¼ t smoked paprika
  • ½ t ground cumin
  • ½ t dried oregano
  • pinch salt

Heat 1T olive oil in a pan and sauté onion over med/low heat 3-5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and cook over low heat while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 200g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 med/lg sweet potato
  • ¼ t dried oregano
  • ¼ t ground cumin
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • ¼ c chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

Bring chicken stock to boil, turn down to med/low and add chicken breasts. Poach for 10 minutes, then turn of the heat and let the chicken sit in the broth for 5 minutes. Remove to a plate to cool for a few minutes, then shred with 2 forks and put to a bowl.

While chicken is poaching – prick the sweet potato a couple times with a fork then put on a plate and cook in a microwave for 6 minutes – then let sit for 5 minutes.  Scrape out flesh and add to shredded chicken.  Add crumbled feta, oregano, cumin, fresh coriander, onions and mix together.

Assembly:

  • 12 corn tortillas–cut in half (half circles are easier to build a solid layer than a full circle)
  • 1c shredded mild cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 180C.  Coat a 9×9 inch baking dish with olive oil.  Place 6 tortilla halves on the bottom of the dish and top with 1/3 of filling mixture, then put a few tablespoons of sauce over the filling.  Put 6 tortilla halves over this …and repeat until you end with the last 6 tortilla halves.  Pour the remaining sauce over the top, spread the shredded cheddar over the top and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Serve with sour cream, chopped fresh coriander and chopped black olives (and maybe some chopped fresh jalapeno if you want a little kick).