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

Thursday, 13 October 2011

I love you... I love you not

I'm not sure why, but every time I try to walk past a Greek cafe, I must peer into their window and look for a Greek Yoyo... and if I see one, I MUST buy one.  So you would think that I have a deep love affair with the Greek Yoyo... but you would be mistaken!

I do love all the core ingredients.  I mean whats not to love?  A creamy, custard center, sandwiched between two sponge-cake like biscuits, with a swirl of chocolate icing smothered on top.  Yet every time I bite longingly into one of these delights... I'm disappointed!  The spongey biscuits are too dry.  Or the custard is still grainy.  Or the chocolate icing is too sweet... and yet, as shown in the pic, I must devour one if I see one!!

What's your weird love/hate relationship food item?

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Beef Burgundy alla Julia Childs

Ever since I saw the movie Julie and Julia, I've been obsessed with French cuisine!  Much to the dismay of my waist line... SO much butter! The main dish featured in the movie is Boeuf Bourguignon, translation: Beef Burgundy.  This is by far, one of my all time favorite Winter meals... especially with Parmesan mashed potatoes!  It's everything that comfort food should be rich, hearty and delicious... could be the fact that it involves an entire bottle of wine :) 

And since Mother Nature has stolen our Spring and plunged us back into the wet, Wintery chills... what better time to make this divine dish! Please note, it takes 2-3 hours to cook, but who wants to go outside when it's raining?
My idea of a TV dinner, mmmmm!
The original recipe can be found here, but it's quite labor intensive, so if you're after a simpler version, keep reading... please keep reading!

- Olive oil
- 4-6 slices bacon, sliced into 1cm strips (the amount depends if you prefer short or long rashers)
- 1kg gravy beef cut into large cubes, 3-4cm approx
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp plain flour (or cornflour for gluten intolerance)
- 1 bottle (750ml) of your preferred red wine - I use Pinot Noir
- 1 Beef or Vegetable stock cube
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- Bay leaf
- Button mushrooms, halved or quartered
- Small handful fresh parsley, chopped
- Butter

How to...
- Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celcius and put a large heat proof casserole pan on a medium to low flame (I use a shallow 30cm cast iron pan, with a lid, for this dish)
- Add a little olive oil to your pan and gently fry off the bacon.  Keep the heat low to avoid splatters.  Once slightly browned, remove with tongs and set aside.
- Allow pan to reheat - don't drain off fat!
- Special note: dry the beef using paper towels! There's several scenes in the movie revolving around this French tip and it's amazing the difference it makes. Your beef will actually brown and turn crisp instead of stewing! This adds to the rich flavor of the dish.
- Fry the 'dried' beef a few pieces at a time in the hot pan. Once brown on all sides, remove and add to bowl with bacon.
- You may need to add a splash more olive oil to the hot pan at this point and add the onion and carrots.  Cook for a few minutes to soften.
- Return the beef and bacon to the pan, season with salt and pepper and add flour. Stir to coat and allow to sit for a minute or two, so as to create a 'crust' on the meat.
- Add a little wine and use a wooden spoon to gently scrape any yummy bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the rest of the wine, stock cube, tomato paste, garlic, thyme and bayleaf and stir gently to combine.  The meat should almost be covered, but it's ok if a little of the top is poking out of the liquid.  If you need more liquid add a little water, but don't over do it, or you'll have a watery casserole.
- Turn the heat up to allow the casserole to come to a simmer. Then cover with lid and place in the oven for 2.5 - 3hrs.  It's done when the meat falls apart when stuck with a fork.
- Just before serving saute the mushrooms in a knob of butter until slightly browned and sprinkle with parsley.  Add to the casserole, stir and serve generous ladles full with creamy, parmesan mashed potatoes... YUM!!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Mmmmm... muffins!

How good are muffins?!  Ok, well they're not great if you're watching your weight or listening to a personal trainer, but everything in moderation right??  That's why this recipe only makes 6 full size muffins, so you won't feel 'as bad' :) Of course you could use this same recipe to make 12 mini muffins or double it and make 12 FULL size muffins.

Oh and you could freeze any leftovers... IF there are leftovers!
mmmm, white choc and raspberry... they didn't make it to the freezer!
Basic muffins
1 c self raising flour

1/4 c caster sugar
1/2 c milk
20g butter, melted
1 egg
For flavor ideas... see note below.
How to… 

- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

- Grease a 6 cup capacity muffin tray (or 12 cup if you're doubling the recipe)
Quick rule: always place your dry ingredients into a bowl and then gently mix in your combined wet ingredients
- Place the flour and sugar in a bowl.
- Mix the milk, butter and egg in a seperate bowl.
- Add the wet mix and your choice of flavor to your dry ingredients and mix until just combined. (Over mixing will give you tough, chewy muffins)
- Spoon the muffin mixture into your prepared muffin tin and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
- Let muffins cool in pan for 5 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool... mind you, I think these muffins are best enjoyed warm!

Popular Flavors

Here's a few suggestions, but use your imagination and come up with your own favorite!
Choc Chip - add 150g of your favorite chocolate chips
White Choc and Raspberry - add 100g of chopped white chocolate and 1 c of frozen raspberries (don't thaw the berries)
Apple and Cinnamon - peel and roughly chop 2 apples and add 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
Banana and Walnut - peel and mash an overripe banana and add 1/2 c of walnuts.