19 April 2012


Ness, my sister-in-law, posted a link to this recipe - banana choc chip muffins.  You can't go wrong - fruit and chocolate all wrapped up in a neat little muffiny package.  Perfect timing too, thanks Ness, 'cause we had some bananas that were in serious need of use.  I doubled the mixture, figuring to take some to a friend's house this evening, and the rest for the weekend.  If they last that long... 

So, thanks to Ness and to Chelsea sugar, we have lift-off! 

2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (duh, as if you'd leave the skins on)
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil (I used rice bran)
1 cup milk
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips (or a little more...)
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Spray muffin tray with non stick spray.
  2. Beat eggs, bananas, oil, milk and brown  sugar together – just lightly. Mix in flour, baking powder and chocolate chips. Don’t over mix – ingredients should be just gently stirred together to combine.
  3. Spoon into prepared tins and bake for 15 – 18 minutes, until puffed and golden brown and inserted skewer comes out clean.
  4. Cool for 2 minutes in tins, then gently twist and ease onto wire rack
NB: Above ingredients is for one batch.  Ness brushed hers with a little maple syrup before cooking, for an extra glaze. 

17 April 2012

home James, and don't spare the horseradish!

I was fossicking in the pantry the other day, looking for a particular biscuit recipe, and got sidetracked by the recipe books that lurk in the back.  We've got a fair few recipe books, most of them lovely glossy things which really deserve to be on display but who, in reality, are left to skulk about at the back with those bits of couscous and polenta that inevitably escape their boxes.  On impulse I pulled a couple out which I'd not seen before and discovered one of the golden oldie greats of cookery - an Australian Women's Weekly compendium.  We've since surmised that it must have been given to KB, 'cause he didn't recognise it either, but having flicked through it we both had to admit that, whilst not as cool perhaps as some of the current TV celeb chefs, the Aussie WW knows its stuff when it comes to straight-forward, pleasing to the eye, non-tricky good food. 

There was one dish in particular that caught the eye as one to throw together before the book got put away again (as, sad to say, it now has, until next time I'm looking for inspiration or a biscuit recipe).  Creamy horseradish chicken with garlic sauteed spinach.  Sounds good, right?  It was!  And as we were getting this ready, KB decided some roasted pumpkin, beetroot and spinach couscous (based on a recipe found later in the same book) was in order, as a side.  So, without further ado, dinner... 

For the chicken
4 thin chicken breasts (or cut two fatties in half)
1 tbsp oil
1 spring onion, sliced thin
dash white wine
160 ml cream
2 tbsp prepared horseradish
good squeeze lemon juice
1/2 tsp dijon or wholegrain mustard
finely chopped dill
20 g butter
2 cloves crushed garlic
spinach, coarsely chopped, for 4
  1. Heat hald oil in pan and cook chicken until cooked through.  Remove from pan.
  2. Heat remaining oil in same pan.  Cook onion until soft.  Add wine and cream, bring to the boil, then simmer for a couple of minutes.  Add horseradish, lemon, mustard and dill and stir through.  Return chicken to pan and remove from heat. 
  3. Melt butter in second frying pan, add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add spinach, cook over low heat until wilted (about 2 minutes). 
  4. Serve chicken on spinach, drizzled with horseradish sauce, alongside couscous. 
NB: We didn't have any white wine in the house, so left that out. 

For couscous
500 g piece pumpkin, chopped coarsely
1 tbsp oil
4 beetroot, peeled and chopped
1 tsp chicken stock
2 cups boiling water
2 cups couscous
150 g trimmed spinach, shredded coarsely
handful cashews, or other nut
equal parts lemon juice and olive oil
1 tsp honey
ground cumin and cayenne pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 22o degrees celcius and roast pumpkin and beetroot with a little oil for about 30 minutes (turn halfway through).
  2. Place couscous in bowl.  Stir through stock powder.  Pour boiling water over, until level of water just a little higher than couscous.  Stir, cover with plate or lid, and leave for 5 minutes or so.  Once cooked, fluff (stir through a little butter, if you like), stir through spinach and set aside.  
  3. Combine dressing ingredients (this really is to taste, so sorry for the lack of firm guidance). 
  4. Combine roasted ingredients with couscous in serving bowl.  Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with nuts. 

16 April 2012

Fahrenheit capers

There's a local restaurant in town, Fahrenheit, who do a tapas menu.  Tasty tasty plates of food, designed for sharing, but equally perfect as an appetiser or light lunch.  I'm usually lured in by the calamari, or breads and dips, before my eyes even get a chance to peruse the rest of the menu, but recently when there a word caught my eye...dill. 

I love dill.  It's quite a strong-flavoured herb, so needs to be used sparingly when coupled with more delicate flavours, but adds depth to dishes with its hint of aniseed.  KB and I recently used some dill in a horseradish and cream sauce (recipe to come, watch this space), but it's the super-simple, super-satisfying tapas that I'm waxing lyrical about at the moment. 

Basically, it was salmon bruschetta, with a creme fraiche base, rather than salsa.  Awesome.  And how did they stop the salmon-creme fraiche combo being too rich - dill and capers baby!  A winning combo, if ever I saw one.  I mean - you could use that for so much - creme fraiche, dill and caper as a sauce for pasta, as a base on pizza, a dollop on top of a steak... But, if you're wanting something nice and easy, but really really smart and tasty for the next time you're doing nibbles, try this...

loaf ciabatta (or sourdough, turkish etc)
olive oil
smoked salmon, sliced thinly
creme fraiche
fresh dill
  1. Slice bread quite thinly and brush with oil.  Grill to lightly toast.  I would cut the pieces to bite size. 
  2. Mix capers into creme fraiche (I like quite a few, but that's to taste).  You could chop up and stir some dill through here too, if you want a stronger dill flavour. 
  3. Lay strips of salmon on crostini (the fancy name for your wee toasts).  Add a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprig of dill.  Voila, c'est tout. 
NB: the photo obviously doesn't match - spoons in place of bread - but I'm sure you can fill in the gaps.