live life, celebrate food, share both with those you love

Friday, 29 July 2011

Recipe: Asian pork mince stir-fry

I call this dish "Asian" as it has definite Asian influences (soy, coriander, cashews) but I doubt it's very authentic... however it is a bowl of yumminess!
Om nom nom!!

It's my 5 yr old niece's favorite dinner, makes great leftovers, is SUPER quick to make and is such an easy dish to modify! If you don't have green beans, use carrots or water chestnuts or add all three to bulk out the dish. Don't like fresh coriander? I won't judge you... ok maybe a little... use fresh basil, or thai basil. You get the idea!

This also makes a great filling for San Choi Bow, Spring Rolls or an Asian Omelette - if you're not sure how to make these dishes, I promise I'll post details in the very near future!

500gr Pork mince
2 tbsps sesame oil
3 spring onions, finely sliced
2 clove(s) fresh garlic, crushed
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
Fresh chilli (as much as you like, or none for kiddies) deseeded, finely chopped
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c oyster sauce
1/2 c water
1/2 chicken stock cube
2 tsps brown sugar
300 g green beans, cut into 2cm lengths
Small handful roasted cashews, chopped
Small handful fresh coriander, chopped
Cooked rice to serve

- If you haven't got cooked rice, get this going first as it will generally take the longest to cook.
- Make sure everything is chopped and ready to go - you should be able to get this to the table in 10-15 minutes!
- Combine soy sauce, oyster sauce, water, stock and brown sugar in a bowl and set aside for later.
- Heat a large frying pan over medium to high heat.
- Add oil and heat until smoking.
- If your frying pan is big enough, crumble all the mince into it and cook for a few minutes, breaking up lumps as you go. You want to brown the mince all over. (If your pan is small, do this in batches)
- Remove the mince from the pan and set aside.
- Reheat the pan and cook the spring onions, garlic, ginger and chilli for 1 minute.
- Add beans and stirfry for 2 minutes.
- Add cooked mince and sauce mixture and allow to cook for 2 minutes or until sauce has reduced and thickened a little.
- Add cashews and coriander, mix well and you're done!
- Serve immediately with cooked rice.

NOTE: I've noted this recipe as Gluten-Free, but you MUST check your labels to ensure this, every product is different and some manufacturers are sneaking gluten into their products.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Recipe: Queijadinha (aka sticky, sweet, yummy, coconutty, thingies!)

I'm starting to notice that gluten-free recipes can have some pretty bizarre ingredient combinations! But that being said, I've found another DELICIOUS - although slightly weird - gluten free snack that the kids will love... I promise! (I'm not gluten intolerant myself, but I have lots of friends who are which is why you'll see the occasional gluten free recipe/idea popping up on Mama Sabi)

So what are Quejadinhas? It's a popular Brazilian kids lunchbox snack and it's pronounced kay-jah-dee-ña and is essentially a sweet, sticky, chewy, coconut macaroon.
1 cup dried shredded coconut (or freshly grated if you can find a fresh coconut in the middle of this soggy Melbourne winter!)
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsps finely grated Parmesan cheese (I know, but trust me!)
1 tbsp sugar (optional, I found the condensed milk sweet enough)
2 egg yolks

- Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F)
- Grab a muffin tin, or two mini muffin tins, and line the holes with paper cases. (you must do this or you can pretty much kiss your tins goodbye!) 
- Mix all the ingredients together to make a wet mix.
- Spoon mixture into the paper cases and bake for around 30 minutes for normal size muffins or closer to 15 minutes for mini muffin tins - the tops should be golden either way.

- You can't taste the cheese in these, it just helps cut through the sweetness of the condensed milk.
- Don't be tempted to eat them hot, these taste best once cooled to room temperature.
- Remember these are a lunchbox TREAT!
- They should stay fresh for 2-3 days inside an airtight container.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Freezer guide

Ever wondered how long you should freeze food? Here's a quick checklist:

  • Cooked meats - 3 months
  • Mince - 3 months
  • Pork - 6 months
  • Chicken, raw - 6 months
  • Lamb - 9 months
  • Beef - 12 months
  • Whipping cream - 3 months
  • Ice Cream - 4 months
  • Cream cheese - 4 months
  • Butter, pasteurized - 6 months
  • Cheese - 6 months
Other stuff
  • Cakes, Cookies and Breads - 3 to 4 months (like a cake would make it to the freezer!)
  • Fruits and Juices - 12 months
  • Egg Whites, out of shell -12 months
  • Coconut -12 months
  • Nuts - 12 months (this is THE best way to store nuts, as they don't go rancid and you can generally still eat them straight out of the freezer)
  • Vegetables - 12 months

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Breakfast... on the run!

It's Monday tomorrow and I can already feel a case of Monday-itis coming on... and it's going to hit hard!

You know the feeling, it's the middle of winter, it's cold and dark outside, so you lean over and hit that snooze button... one more time... just 5 minutes more... what's the harm... WHOOPS!  Now you've missed your train!  You jump out of bed in a mad panic and out the door, praying that your boss is also having 'a great morning' so you can sneak to your desk/register/cubicle-of-hell.  Just as luck would have it, nobody's noticed... despite your unwashed hair, untucked shirt and smeared lipstick!  But then you hear an all too familiar noise, it's your tummy rumbling and you've already blown your last paycheck on those hot little stilettos over the weekend!

Time for breakfast... on the run!

Yoghurt Pots
These are fantastic and are so quick to prep in advance.  Grab your favorite yoghurt (try to opt for a real yoghurt not those sugary excuses) some muesli and grate an apple.  You can either mix the 3 together, just like a bircher muesli or layer them in an appropriate container - like a plastic cup with a lid that can easily fit in your bag.  Add some blueberries, nuts and cinnamon for an extra flavor hit.  The ratio should be equal yoghurt to muesli and if you mix the lot together, it should stay good as long as the use by date on the yoghurt.  Just grab one in the morning on your way out the door!

Fritatta muffins
Sorry I'm not talking the sugary, triple choc, fat laden muffins here!  Savoury, high protein 'frittata muffins' are great to keep the mid-morning snacks to a minimum.  Mix together some eggs, sliced spring onions, diced capsicums, a little chopped cooked bacon and some cheese.  Add in any of your favorite herbs and spices and pour the mix into a non-stick muffin pan.  Bake for 30 minutes in a 180 degree celcius (350 fahreinheit) oven.  Once cool store in an airtight container for 3 days. 

Chop up your favorite fruits (berries, pineapple, mangoes) and store them in 1 cup portions in the freezer - keep your banana's separated or the fruit can get a little mushie.  Throw half a frozen banana and one portion of fruit in a blender with a cup of milk, soy or juice.  Blend until combined, adding in a little more liquid if it's too thick.  For a summery treat add in a half cup of coconut milk!  Pour into a large cup with a lid and sip on the train.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Recipe: Portuguese Custard Tarts!

For some of you, these tarts are SO 2006! But for me these are the most devilish, divine custard tarts of all time!! So much so that I whipped up a batch last night after work... and last Tuesday... and the Monday before that... but I'm not addicted, I could give them up if I wanted too... I COULD!  Ok, I can't :)

Drooling as I post!!

Makes 12 melt in your mouth delicious tarts!

Custard ingredients:

3 egg yolks - you could whip up a quick Pavlova with the whites... just saying ;)
1/2 c caster sugar
2 tbsps cornflour
400mls light cream (heavy cream makes oily tarts)
2 tsps vanilla extract
Strip or two of lemon rind

Pastry ingredients
1 sheet of ready made puff pastry
Cinnamon (optional)
Caster sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 220°C

Method for Custard:

- In a heavy based saucepan, gently whisk the yolks, sugar and cornflour into a paste.
- Add the cream slowly and whisk together.
- Place over medium heat and gently stir, bringing to the boil. It will thicken once it boils. I generally cook for another 30-60 seconds to get a thick, glossy custard.
- Take the custard off the heat and mix in vanilla and lemon rind. (I use a veggie peeler to peel strips off my lemon)
- Transfer to heatproof jug and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard so it doesn't form a skin.
- Put custard in fridge to cool... and I dare you to stop eating it! :)

Method for Pastry Shells

- Lightly grease a standard 12 hole muffin tin.
- Take the plastic backing off the pastry sheet and sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over the pastry - this is optional, but I love the little extra touch.
- Cut the pastry sheet in half and lay one half on top of each other, cinnamon sugar sides together.
- Leave around 5 minutes to warmup and soften, but not too long or it will dry out.
- Starting at the short end, roll the pastry up into one short, fat log.
- Cut into 12 slices, approx 1cm thick.
- On a floured surface, roll out the rounds into 10-12cm circles.
- Gently press these discs into the muffin holes. (The pastry should come out of the holes slightly as it will shrink whilst baking, also these tarts have a rustic look so don't be too perfect)

Final steps:
- Remove the lemon peel from the custard and spoon tablespoons of the custard into the raw pastry shells.
- Bake tarts on middle rack of hot oven for 20-25 minutes until golden.
- Leave in tin for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to wire rack - they will be very hot!


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Hot, the Mild and the Exotic

Don’t be intimidated by the large herb and spice section at your local supermarket. In our culturally rich societies, supermarkets need to stock a wide variety of ingredients to please the local communities. I would guess that most people will only be able to identify 10-20% of the herbs and spices on offer and probably purchase even less.

The general rule on herbs and spices is less is truly more. You don’t need to add 15 different things to one dish to make it interesting - unless it's a wonderfully true Indian curry!

Always remember to buy what you need, not in bulk; they are sold is small jars and packets for a reason! As a general rule, dried or ground herbs and spices last 12 months. The flavors really do start to disappear after around a year or even quicker if you don't store your herbs and spices in a cool dark place. So many people I know have jars of spices that are at least 3 years old... or even older! I go a little crazy when I recognize a brand label that disappeared when I was still in highschool! Ask yourself; isn’t it better to have a fresh and flavorful meal than a boring bland one? Go on, be brave and throw out that $2 bottle of Nutmeg you bought when you first moved out of home all those years ago. After all, it's only $2!

My top 10
  1. Salt - THE essential but use in moderation!
  2. Pepper - I use black and prefer to grind my own so the oils are broken into the dish, but feel free to buy pre-cracked or ground if you prefer.
  3. Paprika – sweet, smoky or spicy; the choice is yours. Still not sure? Opt for Hungarian it’s the most popular and is neutral on the spice scale.
  4. Cumin – ground is easiest for most things. You can also buy the seeds and grind them yourself, but I’m trying to save you time and effort.
  5. Coriander – ground and fresh. If you’re making salsa it must be the real herb, but dried or the fresh tubes (in the vegetable section at your supermarket) are fine for marinades or sauces.
  6. Oregano – in comes in flakes or powder form, use less of the powder as it's stronger in flavor.
  7. Basil – fresh is best, but dried is ok for slow cooked sauces and stews. (same rules as Coriander)
  8. Chilli flakes – optional of course, but in my opinion a pinch is good in almost everything!
  9. Cinnamon / Nutmeg – both are great for different things. Cinnamon is the milder of the two, but should still be used in sparingly, generally a dash is enough. Nutmeg is spicier and warmer, great in the winter months – try it sprinkled on a hot choc on a cold blustery night. 
  10. Exotic spice mix of your choice – this is an individual choice but can make a boring old chicken breast an exotic wonder in seconds. Try Morrocan, Portugese, Cajun, Creole or whatever else sparks your interest. If you’re still a little unsure, check the ingredient list, looking for spices that you generally like. I love the "Herbies" range here in Australia, they can't be beat for flavour!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Recipe: Garbanzo Cake

What on earth is a Garbanzo cake, I hear you ask. Well, don't let the ingredients scare you as it's one of the most simple, delicious, moist cakes I've ever had!! I dare you not to rip it out of the oven early as the aromas of cinnamon and orange waft through your house :) Did I mention it's gluten free, dairy free and made from chickpeas?? Have I lost you yet? Please trust me on this!

I love this cake as is, with a cup of tea, but you could also jazz it up with double cream and fresh fruits. Unfortunately my photography skills don't show this cake in all it's glory, but truth be told the photo from the cookbook isn't that exciting either. You MUST make this cake!


This recipe is borrowed from "Mexican - healthy ways with a favourite cuisine" by Jane Milton

550gr chickpeas (garbanzo beans if you're in the USA)

4 eggs
1 c caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsps cinnamon
Zest and juice of 1 orange

- Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F)
- Grease and line a loaf pan with baking paper.
- Drain the beans and rinse well.
- Take a small handful of beans and rub them between your palms to remove the thin outer skins. This takes a little time but is well worth the effort! (see pic)
- Throw the beans into a food processor and whiz until smooth. Or if you have a blender, pulse until smooth.
- In a mixing bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Add the bean paste and mix until smooth - it will be a very wet mix!
- Pour the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 90 minutes.
- Once cooked, remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes to firm up before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Recipe: Pumpkin muffins - sweet or savory, what's your flavor?

The bub I'm currently incubating, makes me eat fruits and vegies, like there is no tomorrow... I wonder if she'll still be interested in such things once she's out and her very naughty diabetic Nonno (grandpa) introduces her to cakes, sweets and chocolate? Hmmm...

Savory dressed in blue, Sweet dressed in pink
Last night I 'needed' minestrone soup, a classic staple during the cold wintery months in our house and a great way to use up older vegies in the fridge. I didn't feel like adding pasta, but how would vegetable soup keep my tradesman husband full?

The answer - savory pumpkin muffins!

Then I remembered my own mother used to make delicious sweet pumpkin damper - but of course she no longer has the recipe. So I searched the interwebs, made some modifications and whipped up my own pumpkin muffins.  Enjoy!

Base ingredients
- 2 1/2 c self-raising flour (you could use wholemeal)
- 1 c cooled mashed pumpkin*
- 60g butter, room temperature
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 c milk

Savory muffins
- 1 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

Sweet muffins
- 1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 c chopped walnuts (save a few to press into the top before baking)

- Preheat oven to 220 Celsius and grease a 12 hole muffin tin or line with paper liners.
- In a bowl, beat the butter with a spoon to soften, then add your savory OR sweet ingredients and mix.
- Next mix in pumpkin, egg and milk.
- Slowly add the flour and mix well, it should resemble a fairly soft dough.
- Fill each muffin hole, almost to the top - you should easily get 12 full muffins from this recipe.
- For savory muffins, sprinkle a little extra cheese before baking.
- For sweet muffins, press a few walnut pieces into the top of each muffin and sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar before baking.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until a little golden. The muffins should spring back if you touch them with your finger - be careful, they will be very hot!
- Let cool on a wire rack and serve. (I enjoy them best whilst warm but they are still fabulous the next day in a lunchbox)

- 250gr of whole pumpkin should be more then enough for this recipe. Just peel, chop and boil until tender. Then mash or use a stick blender, you don't want any chunks. Why not freeze any leftovers for another batch or use as baby food?
- I recommend using Jap or Kent pumpkin for this recipe as Butternut naturally has a higher water content and you'll need to add a lot more flour to the mix.
- Other sweet options could include: different nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple pieces or sultanas.
- Other savory options could include: feta or Parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, bacon pieces or chopped spinach.