Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mu Shu Pork

Jo has decided we need to go on a health kick, loose a few pounds, cut out some of the God given good stuff, like butter and cream etc.

I really don't know why she feels she needs to do this as she is looking pretty damn gorgeous if you ask me, maybe it is just her way to get me to loose a few pounds, she'll loose hers dieting, then I loose mine chasing her about!!

Still I figure if I loose a few pounds, I might just catch her a bit more often and as we are off on holidays soon there should be plenty of opportunities ahead.

I have got a stack of healthy recipe books in my pantry, in fact I have most of the recipes in an excel spreadsheet so that when we are right into it all I need do is filter out 5 or 6 meals for the week and I have an instant shopping list and daily menu, that is sad!!

Anyway tonight I felt like something a little different, in as far as different can be when cooking what is basically a stir fry, so I Googled "healthy recipes" and one of the top items caught my eye, one because of the name of the dish and two because it was on Taste, a website I have come to like for really good simple recipes that taste fantastic, the dish is called Quick Mu Shu Pork.  Now I do not know what Mu Shu means, but I do understand quick, and this was hands down the quickest meal I have ever cooked.  After slicing the meat and then browning off and removing to a bowl to add the sauces to marinade, I started a 10 minute timer, which actually went off whilst we were eating our meal, that is quick!

The best thing though was the flavour and the absolute YUM YUM YUMMINESS of this little dish, pork has never tasted so good!  I used a pork fillet which I sliced about a quarter of an inch thick and on the diagonal, it was so juicy and the marinade really brought out the flavours.
Oh by the way, that is a Lime Soda, no vino for two weeks!!!
When I look now at the photo on the recipe compared to my photo's it looks a little different, but then I remind myself that I did not have any cabbage, something Jo was pleased about as it tends to give her gas!  Instead I have used an Asian vegetable called Choy Sum, I love this vegie for it is flavour, but more so for the beautiful yellow flowers, which look great when presenting the meal to Gorgeous Jo.

Well here is the link to this wonderful recipe, if you like quick, inexpensive and tasty food, you'd best be getting a copy of this one!

PS just quietly, it was just as well that I only cooked enough for two serves or i could have been in it a little deeper than usual.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Roast Chicken with Chorizo and Tomato

I wanted to cook this dish a few days ago, but when I told Jo what I was about to do she quickly said no way, as she did not like the idea of me firing the oven up on a 40C degree day.

By the look on her face she meant it and we opted for a BBQ that night instead.
I found a recipe on a fellow Perth bloggers pages and as he has similar tastes to my own, I was keen to try it out, however since my original yearning I had found a very similar recipe on the Gourmet Traveller site which included a video featuring Emma Knowles cooking the dish.  I opted to cook it in the way Emma had mainly due to the inclusion of a fresh herb and paprika marinade and the way she prepared the dish generally appealed to me.

The weather was somewhat cooler today, and as I did not have a lot of other options for dinner tonight anyway, I got the nod to prepare this extremely tasty dish and it was well worth the wait.  I love anything that includes roasted tomato and the berry tomatoes I used in this dish tonight were so full of flavour they almost stole the show.   There was one small bone of contention though as I mucked up in not having a loaf of crunchy bread on hand to soak up the delicious gravy!

If you'd like to try this dish have a look at these recipes,

Gourmet Traveller - Emma Knowles version or

Mangiere - Joe Camerilli's one pot version

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bowls, Beer and a BBQ

I have been organising a barefoot bowling function for the social club at work over the past few months, finally after much preparation the day came yesterday, whilst I was preparing the last few things for the BBQ the heavens opened up and I thought for sure everything was going to be ruined.  But after quickly sending out an email stating come rain, hail or shine we were going ahead, the sun reappeared and by the time people started rocking up a few hours later, it was a scorcher.

The event was held at the Yokine Bowling Club, and what a great venue for it, it was fantastic, as were the people at the club, ever so helpful and concerned for us to enjoy our function, the facilities here are second to none, the greens, BBQ area and bar were all first rate.

There were 36 people attending, the event included a game of lawn bowls, a BBQ and a few beers to quench our thirsts, and we were all very thirsty and with a couple of beers come a healthy appetite, so it was a good thing there was plenty to eat!

For the meat we had Scotch Fillet steaks, sausages and tandoori chicken, the fillet I picked up in bulk from Drovers in Joondalup and had to butcher it into steaks myself, something that is harder than it looks I was to find, but it worked out well and the meat was delicious. The chicken I prepared at home the night before and was served cold, this is the one thing I would do differently next time by cooking on the day instead. 

The BBQ’s at the club are fairly new, big 4 burners and stainless steel hotplates, fuelled with natural gas, took a bit to get them going, but found it a lot easier once the gas was switched on!  The huge cooking surface accommodated 100 snaggers in the one go, which made cooking a lot quicker, something I appreciated being such a hot day, as I did the huge fan one of the club members came out and turned on for me, as noisy as it was it was worth its weight in gold!

For the salads I prepared a Potato salad with Dijon mustard mayonnaise from a recipe I found on Taste, this was a great salad and one that had people coming back for seconds, I pretty much followed the recipe as it was, just adjusting the quantities to size it up for a big mob, using 2.5 kilos of chat potatoes.

I made a Nutty Brown Rice Salad from a recipe I found online from a channel nine production, it was very similar to a recipe Jo makes, just had a few more ingredients, again, whilst I followed the recipe I adjusted ingredients to 3 times the size, I love this salad it is so full of flavour and the toasted seeds used give a great crunch factor, it also looks great once served up.

Whilst I was preparing stuff in the kitchen, I showed Jo what I had for the garden salad platters and she felt I did not have quite enough, so I brought some extra leafy things to pad them out, ended up with four beautiful looking platters, of which 2 and a half were not touched, still better to have too much than not enough, and then we also did not expect the potato and rice salads to go off like they did!

To add a bit of variety I made a couple of small pickled tomato, onion and cucumber salads and opened a couple of cans of beetroot, along with the bread rolls the food table looked pretty amazing and it was great to see everyone loading their plates and sitting together to eat on a lovely hot evening! 

Once fed we were all out again on the bowling rinks, rolling up well into the night and the beer was so chillingly cold, the only way to have it on such a hot night was going down nicely too! To see all the photos from the night click this link.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jack's Seafood Spaghetti with Asparagus

2 tbl spn olive oil, I used chilli infused EVOO YUM YUM
1 onion, diced
small red capsicum, diced
3 - 4 anchovy fillets
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bunch asparagus, chopped
3/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 fillet fish, diced
200g prawn flesh
100g scallops
250g spaghetti
salt and pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, once boiling add the pasta and cook as per packet directions  
Heat oil in heavy based pan on low to medium heat, once oil is hot add onions, capsicum and anchovies, sautĂ© slowly for 8 minutes, adding garlic half way through
Add asparagus, cook for a couple of minutes, increasing heat to medium-hot
Then add wine and cook off until evaporated by about half
Add the fish and parsley, stir through and cook for about two minutes, season with pepper, test for saltiness, add some if required 
Add the prawn flesh, stir through cooking for a minute 
Add the scallops, stir through the sauce for about thirty seconds
Cover and turn the heat off, leave sitting until pasta is ready there will be enough heat in the pan to cook the scallops perfectly
Once pasta is cooked add to the pan
Combine with the sauce, put the lid back on whilst you cut some crusty bread and open a bottle of wine
Bon appetto
Wanted something quick and tasty for dinner tonight, this pasta dish filled the bill nicely, it took about 40 minutes from start to finish and it was scrumptious, I had to call into the veggie shop to pick up some fresh parsley and spotted the asparagus as I was at the check out, so glad I picked some up it went fantastic with the seafood pasta.

I loved the colours of this dish through the cooking process, hence the numerous photo's!!  Now whilst I am talking about photo's, if you click on a photo, it should open up to full size and you can easily scroll through all photo's posted, have noticed this works on most blog sites I visit.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gary Renwick is FIFTY!!!

50 year old man looks like this!
Jo and I were fortunate enough to be invited to my friend Gary’s 50th Birthday celebrations on the weekend.  Gary and his lovely wife Cathy, live on a 2.5 acre property about twenty minutes drive from our place, and it was the venue for the party, and what a great venue it was.
Myself, Gary and my brother Kevin
Gary went all out to ensure he and his guest enjoyed the night, providing beautiful food, more liquid refreshments than you could poke a stick at and a live band, which played our sort of music, a fantastic night, one which we will remember for a long time.

There were around 70 guests in all, a big mob to feed, so how do you go about that? Well if you’re from a wee island in the South Pacific, as Gary is, then there is only one way, a Hangi of course.

This was my first Hangi experience and I can only hope that it is not too long before I get to enjoy such food again, it was awesome, to say the very least.  And how interesting to watch the Maoris do their stuff, first wheeling in the purpose built, portable, steaming Hangi oven and then disrobing it of sheet after sheet of damp hessian, then banana leaves, stones and finally a couple of trays of foil wrapped full of beautiful vegetables, finally to reveal 8 chickens, 4 legs of lamb, a slab of beef and a slab of pork.  

The chickens where stuffed, the slabs of meat were peppered with cloves of garlic, my mouth was watering watching them carve the meat up and it was music to my ears when the chap called out “come on you lot dig in”.

It really is hard to describe just how good the food was, the meat was so so tender and the vegies so full of flavour, when they revealed just how much food was in the Hangi, I said to Jo there is no way this lot will get through all that, but they did and now knowing how good Hangi food is I have realised what a silly statement that was!
Easy Company belting out "They say it's your Birthday"
"Hope you have had a good time"
Happy 50th Birthday Gary and thanks to you and the lovely Cathy for a great night.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

White chocolate mousse and summer fruit's trifle

Making this white chocolate mousse and tropical fruit trifle for dessert for a family gathering we will attend on Sunday night to celebrate the 68th Anniversary of my parents Wedding Day.   Dad passed away in 1994, however we still celebrate the day as it marks the day our family began.  We will gather at my sister Carmel's home in Yokine, who had calculated the anniversary to be 58 years, so we had a laugh when after I asked if she knew how old our eldest brother Pat would be this year and she realised he will be 67.

The dessert is based on a recipe I found at Christmas time in the West Australian online edition, I say based on as I have changed a few things and just hope it works out OK, never having made a trifle of any kind before I am not sure what to expect, and will have to wait and see how it goes on the night.

There are a few steps to making this, but the good thing is you can do it in stages and then bring it all together to about 90% complete before sitting it in the fridge over night and then completing it the following day just before serving.

Meringue, for topping
1 egg white
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon icing sugar.
Pre-heat conventional oven to 120C.
Beat the egg white until nice and frothy, add the vinegar, salt and half the sugar, beat more and when combined, rain remaining sugar in until well beaten and the mixture forms soft white peaks, sprinkle icing sugar over the top and gently fold in with a spatular.  Transfer into a piping bag fitted with 1.5 cm nozzle and pipe mix onto a lined baking tray, making tall spirals 2 - 5 cm high, place into oven and bake for 30 minutes.  Store in an airtight container until required.

Berry fruit marinade
200ml fresh orange juice (about 4 large navels)
1 tbsp icing sugar
120 ml Cointreau (use rose water if you prefer non alcoholic)
300g frozen berries
Squeeze oranges, combine the juice in a bowl with icing sugar, Cointreau (or rosewater) mix well and then add frozen berries, combine and set aside.

250g block Cadbury's Premium White Chocolate
5 egg whites
1/2 cup caster sugar
200ml thickened cream
Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Beat the egg whites and half the sugar until the sugar has dissolved, then slowly rain the remaining sugar in whilst beating, continue beating until the mixture holds soft white peaks.  Gently fold in half the cream, then half the cooled melted chocolate, when well combined add the other half of the cream, once folded through fold the remaining chocolate through. Place in the refrigerator until required.

Trifle Layers
2-3 ripe mangoes, diced 1cm cubes
6 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
6 thick slices Panatone
Berry fruit marinade
Small can Passion-fruit pulp

To garnish
Icing sugar
Fresh berries
Ready to go in the fridge overnight

To put the trifle together, layer the bottom of your bowl with half the panatone slices, spoon half the berry marinade over the top of slices, then half of the dice mango and kiwi fruit, using a spoon scatter dollops of the passion-fruit pulp over the fruit, then cover with half of the chocolate mousse, smooth the surface and repeat process to add another layer the same on top, cover and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to serve, unwrap and cover the top with the meringues, add berries in between and then dust with a little icing sugar.

And I must say I am very happy with the way it looks, finished off with the meringue, fresh strawberries and cherries, can't wait to dig in!