Saturday, June 11, 2016

Weekend Cooking: Open Cannelloni with Pork Meatballs

We love a good lasagne in this house, but unless you buy a pre-prepared one, it is a bit of work so it is more a weekend kind of meal, with plenty of leftovers for during the week. Making it from scratch, there's the making the meat sauce, and the white sauce and layering it up and cooking it. It is something that I do semi-regularly using a lower fat recipe which is quite tasty but I have also tried a couple of different recipes for making during the week. One was a slow cooker lasagne which I don't think we need to say much more about because it was truly awful. This recipe, whilst not technically lasagne, is a fair substitute and doesn't take too much time or effort to prepare.

The recipe once again comes from an issue of Diabetic Living, but this time is from a celebrity chef by the name of Michael Moore. Now, to be fair, I don't remember hearing about Michael Moore before, but there was a bonus lift out in the March/April issue. There weren't a lot of recipes that I could try because he used a lot of almond meal in his recipes which don't work with our allergy issues but I was impressed with how simple this seemed and then when I had made it, with how tasty it is.

I would say to make sure that you spread your sauce enough to ensure that the lasagne sheets all have sauce on them otherwise you end up with some crunchy bits. Unless you like crunchy bits of course!

No idea why there is so much talk about lasagne in this post when it really isn't a post about lasagne at all!

Open Cannelloni with Pork Meatballs
Serves 6


485g lean pork mince
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tspn crushed black peppercorns
Sea salt
1 egg white
Cooking spray
300ml bottled Napolitana pasta sauce
350g fresh egg lasagne sheets
60g grated parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Mix mince with garlic, onion, black pepper, salt and egg white in a bowl. Dip your hands in cold water. Roll mixture into 14 even meatballs and set aside.

2. Grease a large baking dish and spoon a little Napolitana sauce over the base

3. Trim lasagne sheets into squares and place a meatball into the centre of each one. Place into baking dish; repeat with remaining lasagne and meatballs.

4. Pour over remaining Napolitana sauce to cover and sprinkle with parmesan. Bake in over for 45-50 minutes.

In other news, I had to make chocolate cake this week (yes, had to) but wanted to do something a bit different than just ice it. I made my standard chocolate cake, but rather than using icing I bought a couple of tubs of low fat chocolate mousse from the supermarket and stirred it until it was smooth and then used that as icing! Sprinkle with a crushed up Flake or grated chocolate and voila.

Have to say, I will definitely be doing that again. Easy and very tasty!!



Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Weekend Cooking: Pulled Pork Ragu

I am trying to be a bit more organised, and if there's one thing I can do it is to cook up something big that we can have for dinner on a Sunday night and some leftovers during the week.

Last year I made this when a friend came around for dinner, but it was only as I was looking through all the back issues of Diabetic Living that I found the recipes again. I think that this particular issue (July/August 2015) is the issue that I found the most recipes I wanted to try since I subscribed to the magazine. I have previously shared a recipe for Green Chicken Curry Pie which also came from this issue and that is a recipe that I still make regularly, and I have got another recipe that I might post later.

This week though I want to share a recipe for Pulled Pork Ragu, a perfect recipe for cool winter afternoons!! When I first made this recipe I was surprised at how simple it really is. So long as you allow enough time for the slow cooking then there is a bit of work, then leave it and when you come back you get this tasty pulled pork. Yum

The actual recipe for this is Pulled Pork Ragu which is served with celeriac, parsnip and parmesan mash but the posh mash part wasn't a hit last time, so now I just cook normal plain mashed potato. Still tasty!!

Pulled Pork Ragu

1 tspn extra virgin olive oil
1.5kg piece pork leg roast, skin removed, trimmed of fat
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 thin slice prosciutto, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
125ml (1/2 cup) red wine
400g can no-added-salt chopped tomatoes
400g can no-added-salt tomato puree
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs oregano
Flat leaf parsley leaves, to serve.

1. Preheat oven to 140C (fan forced). Heat oil in a large heavy-based stoveproof and ovenproof dish. Add pork and cook, turning often, for 6-7 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a plate. Add onion, carrot, celery, prosciutto and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Increase heat to high. Add wine and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add tomato, puree, rosemary and oregano. Bring to a simmer. Return pork to dish. Add to oven and cook, covered, turning once, for 4 hours or until meat starts to fall apart. Transfer pork to a plate, reserving sauce in dish. Set aside for 15 minutes.

2. Using your hands, pull pork into long shreds. Bring reserved sauce in dish to a simmer over a medium heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until sauce reduces slightly. Stir in pork.

3. Cook mash potato

4. Divide mash between serving bowls. Spoon over pork ragu. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Weekend Cooking: Vanilla Slice with Passonfruit Glaze

So we're just going to pretend like this isn't my first post in 9 months. We're going to pretend that in the last 9 months I haven't been to America and New Zealand, that I haven't been in a relationship for the first time in 15 years and then not been in a relationship any more, we're going to pretend that I have been posting all about all of these things. Oh, and I am going to pretend that I have been reading lots and lots of books.

Now that we are all caught up, I thought I would share a recipe for one of my absolute favourite things to eat....when it is done well. Over the years I have had some amazing vanilla slices, also known colloquially as 'snot blocks', but I have also had some pretty bland and tasteless slices with a plastic texture to the custard. A good vanilla slice is worth driving for miles for, and I may have taken a detour to small country towns that are famous for their vanilla slices once or twice!

I was kind of surprised when I saw this recipe in the current Diabetic Living magazine, and once I saw it all of a sudden I had an urge to actually try and make vanilla slice for the first time ever. And I have to say I am pretty damned pleased with myself. They turned out really well, and I ended up making it twice in five days! And I might make it again this weekend....maybe. (Edited to add, I have indeed made it again this weekend)

I also got lots of complements for it too which was nice. I was especially  pleased that the custard wasn't plasticky! It was light and creamy and tasty. Well done me!

This is actually a sponsored post, hence the specific brand name for the sweetener.

I would say that I didn't actually make the passionfruit glaze because I don't like passionfruit so I used the icing from another recipe, which I will include below. The first time I did only use the 9 biscuits but because my tin is slightly bigger I ended up using more biscuits the second time because otherwise the biscuits move round too much when you pour the custart over them.

Vanilla Slice with Passionfruit Glaze

 (Serves 18 apparently, or 9 big ones!!)

Cooking Oil Spray, to grease
18 lattice biscuits
1/2 cup custard powder
4 cups skim milk
1 cup Equal Spoonful
2 Tbspn vanilla extract
2 Tbspn fresh passionfruit pulp
1 Tbsnp cornflour
Extra1 Tbspn Equal Spoonful

1. Grease a 20cm square tin with cooking oil. Line base and sides with baking powder

2. Line base of hte tin with 9 lattice biscuitsin a single layer, leaving a 1cm border. Set aside.

3. Put custard powder in a medium saucepan and whisk in milk in two batches until well combined and smooth. Cook over a medium heat stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until mixture is very thick. Remove from heat and stir in Equal Spoonful and vanilla extract.

4. Pour into prepared tin. Spread surface to smooth. Top with 9 lattice biscuits in a single layer, leaving a 1cm border. Refrigerate for 5 hours or overnight or until set.

5. To make passionfruit glaze, put passion fruit pulp, cornflour and extra Equal Spoonful in a medium bowl and stir until combined. Cut slice into 9 squares, following biscuits as a guide then cut each squre in half to form triangles. Drizzle with passionfruit glaze and serve.


When I made the icing, I used 1 teaspoon of light margarine, 2 tbspn of skin milk and 1 cup of icing sugar and mixed until thoroughly mixed.I might try using a bit of lemon juice one time and see how that works!!

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Weekend Cooking: Chocolate, chocolate and yet more chocolate

I have been on something of a chocolate odyssey lately. Yes, I know that this is in direct contrast to all my posts about healthy food and diabetes friendly food but what can I say? It's chocolate, and really good chocolate is hard to resist.

This particular quest started a few months ago when I snuck over to Adelaide for the weekend to see a friend. Over there at the moment there is something of a trend towards dessert style cafes where they have speciality hot chocolates, chocolatey desserts plus hand made individual chocolates. When I was there for that weekend, I was taken to one place in particular that I still think might be worth making the 9 hours drive just to get some of their hot chocolate! It was so good!

When I came back, it got me wondering where Melbourne's best chocolate shops might be, and so my odyssey began in earnest! First step was to find a list of the best chocolate shops and then start working my way through them. This was a sound strategy. My friend and I visited a couple of places in one day, and we will get back to the list in due course.

My gauge for how good a chocolate shop is is currently the hot chocolate. I want Belgian chocolate, I want creamy and smooth and I don't it to be powdery. It is surprising how many cafes (as opposed to speciality chocolate shops) serve up a hot chocolate that tastes as though it is powdered chocolate with a bit of hot water added.

And then there is the food, usually chocolate not always! Our first stop on the list was a very famous chocolate shop called Koko Black. I ordered a home made crumpet with choc hazelnut spread* and a hot chocolate which wasn't too bad. I have been a bit obsessed with home made crumpets since I had one at a cafe back in June and it was sooo good. Unfortunately though, there aren't that many places around that do them.


                                                                                    
We may have been a bit ambitious in doing two chocolate places in one day but they are both in the same shopping centre, we did some shopping in between, we were there etc etc etc. And it turns out that this is my favourite so far. The hot chocolate at Cacao is so cool. You basically get a mug of frothy milk and a jug of the hot chocolate syrup and you mix it up yourself! I took the boy there a couple of weeks later and he wasn't really that keen but once he saw how it comes and tasted it, he was definitely converted!



Yesterday we went off list and went on a walking tour in the city that ostensibly focussed on chocolate! I say ostensibly because whilst there was chocolate in abundance we also got to sample cupcakes and macarons as well. My whole purpose of this rambly post was to share some of the photos from today.

Along the way we got to hear a little bit about the history of chocolate, cupcakes and macarons, as well as the locations where the shops were. All up we went to six different destinations. Some of them I had heard of but others were new to me. Given that we just got a taste there are good reasons to go back to some of them at least!!








*If I get round to it I will write a post about how crazy this city is for Nutella at the moment! Melbourne has gone nuts for the stuff!!

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Weekend Cooking: Green Curry Chicken Pie

In my last Weekend Cooking post, I talked about how I find looking through relevant magazines and cook books really helps in getting and keeping my head into the right place for weight loss. Each time I receive a new magazine I spend a long time reading through the recipes and the stories and then go through it again and again. Eventually I will actively choose recipes that I think I want to try. This is one that jumped out pretty quickly from the July/August issue, and just like last week's recipe it was one that I made twice within a few days because it was such a hit. Well, and also because I had all the ingredients on hand and only had to buy an onion to make dinner. In fact, when I had the discussion with the boy to determine what he might like to eat for this week, this was the only thing he asked for again which would make it three times in less than two weeks.

Confession time. Until a few weeks ago I had never made any kind of green curry from scratch. I recently made a recipe from the Symply Too Good to be True cookbooks which I might share another time but having made that I felt that I could try and make this version without too much difficulty. It is actually a pretty easy recipe although preparing the filling does take a little time. The other recipe is probably lower calories but I must confess that I have really enjoyed being able to have some pastry without feeling too guilty.

Green Curry Chicken Pie


1/2 tspn olive oil
1 brown onion, cut into thin wedges
1 tbspn green curry paste or gluten-free curry paste
2 tbspn wholemeal plain flour or gluten-free flour
2 tspn Massel Salt Reduced Chicken Style Stock Powder**
250ml (1 cup) boiling water
80ml (1/3 cup) Trident Light Coconut Milk
2 tbspn skim milk
250g skinless chicken breast fillet, cut into 2cm cubes
200g broccoli, cut into small florets
50g (2 cups) baby spinach
1 sheet 25% reduced-fat puff pastry or gluten-free puff pastry
50g egg, lightly whisked
40g (1 1/2 cups) mixed salad leaves, to serve

**I used the reduced salt chicken stock powder I had in the cupboard

Preheat oven to 210C (fan-forced). Line an oven tray with baking paper. Put a rectangular 750ml (3 cup) ovenproof dish on prepared tray.

Heat oil in a medium non-stick saucepan over a medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes or until onion begins to soften.  Add curry paste and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add flour and cook stirring, for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and gradually whisk in combined stock powder and water until sauce is smooth. Add coconut milk and milk, and whisk to combine.

Return pan to stovetop and cook, stirring over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture thickens and comes to a simmer. Remove pan from heat, Add chicken, broccoli and spinach, and stir to combine. Spoon mixture into the prepared dish.

Lay pasty sheet on a clean surface. Cut 4 x 1 cm thick strips of pastry from the perimeter of the sheet. Brush rim of dish with a little egg and press pastry strips around the rim. Brush with egg. Top with remaining pastry, rolling out slightly, if needed, to fit. Trim edges. Brush with a little egg. Cut a few small slits in the top of the pastry. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Serve pie with salad leave.

Serves 2

There is also a suggestion that you could make a fish pie by replacing the chicken with boneless fish fillets and the green curry past with red curry paste. The teenage boy would not be a huge fan but it might be something I might try in future.

I will say that the pie actually looks huge so it isn't like it isn't a generous serving for two.

The first time I made this I stuffed up the pastry so I had some leftovers. Just because I could I made a really quick free-form apple pie using fresh apple. By free-form I mean that thing was messy, messy, messy but it tasted good. This was a hit with the boy, and during the course of the week he made himself another couple of pies. I did laugh though because, when I made it, it was some apple and cinnamon shoved in the middle of some pastry with the uneven sized edges folded in. His pie was beautifully presented with plaited pastry and looked very professional.  Then the second time he made a pie this is what he presented. I would point out that this was all for him though!!



Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Weekend Cooking: Pork Nachos

My quest to find recipes that are healthy, tasty, acceptable to the teenage boy and diabetes friendly continues, and I have to say I think this recipe is a winner!

One of the things that I have noticed in my weight loss journey is that I am more likely to be successful when I am spending time looking through the Diabetic Living magazines that I am subscribed to and the cook books that I have (the ones that focus on weight loss and diabetes only) even if I am not picking recipes to make. It's almost as though it is part of training my brain to think differently. I study the magazines as soon as I receive them and then again and again. Luckily this is a magazine that I do find lots of tasty looking recipes in.

This recipe is one that I found in the May/June issue of the Australian version of Diabetic Living magazine.

I actually cooked this twice in the space of week. The first time was on a Sunday night when I asked a friend and her kids around for dinner at short notice. Everyone liked it but the 3 year old was particularly enthusiastic, even coming back for seconds. Mum was also impressed when I told her how many vegetables there were hidden in it! The second time was at the request of my teenage son. Again, I am not going to tell him how many vegies there actually are in it.


Pork Nachos


1 brown onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
1 zucchini, roughly chopped
1 red capsicum, roughly chopped
1 tspn olive oil
400g Heart Smart pork mince (very lean)
1 tbspn salt-reduced taco seasoning or gluten free taco seasoning
400g can no-added-salt chopped tomatoes
1 tspn Massel chicken style salt reduced stock powder
185 ml (3/4 cup) water
400g can no-added-salt red kidney beans, drained
80g Macro Original Corn Chips**
40g (1/2 cup) reduced-fat grated cheese
1 large tomato, chopped to serve
Coriander leaves to serve
2 tbspsn extra-light sour cream

**I couldn't find this particular brand so I just used ordinary corn chips

Put onion, garlic, celery, zucchini and capsicum in a food processor and process until finely chopped.

Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add vegetable mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until vegetables soften. Increase heat to high. Add mince and cook, stirring often, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon, for 3-4 minutes or until mince is browned.

Add taco seasoning to pan and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add canned tomato, stock powder, and water. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add beans and cook, uncovered, for a further 10 minutes or until mixture is thick.

Preheat oven to 180C (fan-forced). Spoon mince mixture into a shallow ovenproof dish. Arrange corn chips on top, pushing slightly into mince. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Top with tomato and sprinkle with coriander.  Serve with sour cream.

Serves 4.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Weekend Cooking: Gunfire breakfast

Today is Anzac Day - a day that is very important for Australians and New Zealanders. It is a day where we gather together to commemorate the sacrifices that have been made by those who have served our respective countries.It is always an emotional day, and a special day, but it was more so today because it is the 100th anniversary of the landings at Gallipolli.

Over my years of blogging I have written a number of posts about Anzac Day so I won't talk too much more about the history of the day. Instead, I thought that I would share my day, and one particular aspect of it for Weekend Cooking, because today I did something I have been meaning to do for years and years but never quite gotten around to. I went to the Dawn Service at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance.

A number of weeks ago I was talking with a friend about the fact that I had never actually been to a dawn service and she said that she hadn't either. Given that it is the 100th anniversary we both agreed that this was the year to do it, and so a plan was born. We figured that if we both committed to it then neither of us would be tempted to rollover and go back to sleep because it was too cold or wet, we were too tired or whatever the excuse was we came up with on the day.

We therefore headed into the city around 4am and made our way to the Shrine of Remembrance, a building I had only visited for the first time back in January, and joined around 80000 other like minded people to wait for the coming dawn. One of the most incredible things was realising how quiet that number of people can be sometimes, particularly during the minute's silence.

I get emotional whenever I hear the Last Post play and today was no exception but there were many other emotional moments too, such as hearing the hymn Abide with Me interspersed with a gun salute and hearing current and former service men sharing stories not only from WWI but also showing how the hardships faced back then can be linked with our current soldiers who answer the call whenever they are required to serve around the world.

I thought I would share a couple of the photos I took before getting to the foody part of this post.


Shrine of Remembrance in the pre-dawn light

Looking back towards Melbourne from our possie near the shrine





One of the things that they did for this year was ask the community to knit some poppies. Yesterday they formed a carpet in Fed Square, one of the major public spaces here in Melbourne, but today they lined either side of Princes Bridge which was part of the route for the parade that also happened today. It is a pity that it was so wet today as the poppies looked a bit sodden but it still looked very effective.




Now onto the food part....

Up until this week I don't believe I had ever heard the term gunfire breakfast, or if I had it had definitely slipped from my somewhat porous mind. I was talking to my sister about coming into the ceremony and she mentioned staying for the gunfire breakfast. This is apparently part of the traditions of Anzac Day with a lot of Returned Services Leagues (RSL) putting on the breakfast after local ceremonies. For ours, a gold coin donation was requested with proceeds going towards charities that work with former soldiers.

What is the gunfire breakfast? Glad you asked. Back in World War I, the diggers would be given a breakfast of .... before they faced going over the top and into the path of danger and for so many of them potential death or injury. During the ceremony today, they talked about the original gunfire breakfast consisting of black coffee laced with rum, some beef and potatoes and maybe some biscuits, although there does seem to be a bit of conjecture around the definition of what made up a gunfire breakfast. Regardless, I am not sure that I would feel the need to eat much if I knew that at some point in the coming day I would be facing imminent death!

Today's breakfast wasn't fancy, and possibly not all that recognisable by original diggers but still there was no actual gunfire so that's a bonus.  The food today was provided by the catering corps of the army. Probably my first and perhaps last time to be fed by such a group!  It was interesting because we were standing near the family of a soldier from the catering corps so we got to eavesdrop on their conversation. It turns out that today to feed however many thousands of people stopped for breakfast there were 10 tents that between them were expected to serve up around 900 kilos of sausages alone! Must be a huge logistical event!! I presume that we were eating powdered egg rather than the real thing because otherwise it would be difficult to imagine breaking that many eggs! Apparently there were also a lot of Anzac biscuits that were being given away but we didn't end up lining up for those!

So whilst this might not be the prettiest or tastiest breakfast I have ever had, it certainly had a lot of meaning and seemed like a perfect way to follow the dawn service.. It consisted of sausages, eggs, onions and bread. We did end up heading back into the city to find nice coffee, something the coffee lovers with me insisted upon!!



Below is a list of links to posts I have previously written about Anzac Day

2013 - Quote from Daughter of Mars by Tom Keneally
2012 - Joint post with Maree from Just Add Books
2011 - Acknowledging indigenous diggers/I was only Nineteen
2010 - My grandparent's story/reading war stories
2009 - Two up.
2008 - The Last Post

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.

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