Saturday, September 22, 2018

Weekend Cooking: Steak with Mushroom Sauce

We interrupt the recent cake fest on my blog to bring you something savoury!!

It may be a bit hard to tell from all the cakes I have been posting lately but in theory we are still trying to eat a bit healthier. This is a recipe we have made a couple of times now so I wanted to save it somewhere we can find it!!

This week I am sharing a recipe that is not only delicious but it includes a fair amount of vegetables too. It comes from the last edition of Diabetic Living. I do still buy this magazine, I just haven't quite been cooking out of it constantly as I have been in the past. I possibly am paying the price for that weight wise, but never mind.

Steak with Mushroom Sauce

500g lean rump steak, trimmed of fat, cut into 4 pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tspn olive oil
1 bunch broccolini, trimmed, diagonally halved
290g (2 cups) frozen peas
250g Swiss Brown mushrooms, sliced (or a selection of other mushrooms)
250ml (1 cup) salt-reduced beef stock or gluten-free stock
1 tbspn wholegrain mustard
2 tspn cornflour or gluten free cornflour
1 bunch baby carrots, trimmed, scrubbed, steamed, to serve
500g small potatoes, halved, steamed, to serve

Preheat over to 180C (fan forced). Rub steak with garlic and pepper. Heat oil in a large cast iron or stoveproof frying pan over medium-high heat. Add steak and broccolini. Cook for 2 minutes, turning steak once. Place peas around steak. Add pan to oven and cook for 5 minutes, or until steak is cooked to your liking.

Transfer meat and vegies to a platter. Cover with foil to keep warm. Add mushrooms to pan and cook over medium-high for 3 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. Whisk stock, mustard and cornflour together. Stir into pan. Cook, stirring, until sauce comes to a simmer. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until sauce thickens.

Slice the steak. Return steak and peas to the pan. Sprinkle with pepper. Serve with the steamed carrots and potatoes

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.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


Whilst I am not reading anywhere near as many books as I used to, things are much better than they have been over the last few years when it comes to reading. I think last year I read 12 books in total for the year. 12!! A few years ago, reading 12 books in a month would have been a bad month! At the moment, I am on track to read about 50 books for this year, which I am pretty happy with.

When I was on Instagram the other day I saw about RIPXIII - the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge that is hosted at Readers Imbibing Peril. This is a challenge that I used to look forward to every year, and that I participated in regularly. It is something of a shock to realise that I haven't participated in it for 5 years. When I was thinking about my previous participation in this challenge it has lead me to think about so many people who blogged but have now disappeared, including Carl who originally hosted this challenge. It pleased me to see that the challenge is still recognisable as the RIP reading challenge of old, but still moving forward as well.

When I looked at what I want to read over the next few weeks though, I realised that quite a few of the books I want to read fit the challenge criteria which is to read and enjoy books that are

Dark Fantasy.

The books that I have in mind to read before the end of October include The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan, The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton and Lethal White by Robert Galbraith.  I am thinking that I am going to try and stretch myself to read one more and therefore meet the Peril the IVth level of participation. I have no idea if I will actually review any other books, but there's still fun to be had on Litsy, Instagram, Twitter etc even if that doesn't actually happen.

I actually finished listening to The Ruin yesterday and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. The audiobook was narrated by Aoife McMahon and she did a great job in telling the story. I wasn't always 100% convinced by her Irish-Australian accent, but I think that every Irish-Australian out there probably have different inflections in their accent anyway. I also swear that at one point the wrong name (Ella) was used for a character  (Emma) but I didn't end up trying to find it again to see if it really happened of it was just my hearing!

The story itself was interesting. It starts with a young police man being sent to a house where there has been a report of domestic violence but when he gets there he finds two kids who have been obviously neglected and abused, and their dead mother who has apparently died of a heroin overdose.

Fast forward 20 years and Cormac Reilly has just returned to Galway having lived in Dublin for many years and worked his way up into specialist units in the Garda. He has returned to Galway for personal reasons and finds himself ostracised from his colleagues, not knowing if he can trust some people he called friends, suspicious of some of the events that are happening within the station and only being allocated cold cases.

One of the cold cases he is allocated to reinvestigate is the death of the mother, and he is taken back in time to the case that he has thought of many times over the years. But when the young boy, now grown, is found dead in a suspected suicide, things get complicated.

I enjoyed the narrative a lot, and I like that this is the first in a series. I particularly like that there are still threads of the story that I suspect will flow into the next book. I think we got to know just enough about Cormac in this book to keep me reading, without having his whole backstory overwhelm the storyline of the book.

Dervla McTiernan is an Irish born author who moved to Australia a few years ago. It's a long standing Aussie tradition to claim anyone with this kind of background as an Aussie, and I am therefore counting this towards the Australian Women Writers Challenge.
I never really wrote a post declaring that I was participating in the challenge this year, but I would say at least half of the books I am reading at the moment are by Australian women writers, so my participation in this challenge over the last five or six years has definitely left a lasting impact on my reading choices.
Rating 4.5/5

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Weekend Cooking: Caramel Banana Upside Down Cake

It seems that baking has become my thing. I think it is partially because it is nice to have an appreciative audience. The SC is always happy to eat what I cook. His theory regarding cooking is that it doesn't really matter if it's not quite perfect because you can eat your mistakes. Previously, if I made something new my son would be unlikely to even try it. Actually, that still hasn't changed.

I have posted before about the Bake it Boxes that I have been doing, but the other thing I have done is joined a Facebook club called Queen Baking Club. Queen is a brand of baking products such as vanilla extract, food colouring etc here. The idea is that every fortnight, the good bakers at Queen set a challenge and then anyone who wants to can attempt to make it. They also have a better baking newsletter as well where they send out some hints on how to bake better. From this I made a raspberry roulade with an amazing cream cheese filling.

Back to the baking club. So far, there have been four challenges. The first one was for Vanilla Slice. I haven't actually done that one yet, but I will eventually. The third was for cupcakes that included unicorn and mermaid flavouring. Whilst I am keen to try the meringue frosting, I am not sure what unicorn and mermaid taste like so I am thinking I am going to give that one a miss. The fourth one was a Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Ganache. Oh my goodness. So good! I will probably post that recipe soon. Wait, there was Chocolate Coconut Custard Layer cake too that I did make too.

The eagle eyed amongst you may notice that I missed the second one which was a Caramel Banana Upside Down Cake which is the recipe I am posting today. I made this for my son's last family dinner before he went back to America to college a few weeks ago.

I think I had the oven a fraction hot (still getting used to the new oven) so it might be a fraction dark, but everyone enjoyed it, and it was delicious with whipped cream (as whipped by the sous chef who also goes by the moniker of the cream whipperer!)

Caramel Banana Upside Down Cake

  1. 125g butter, at room temperature
  2. ¾ cup, firmly packed (165g) brown sugar
  3. 2 tsp Queen Cinnamon Baking Paste
  4. 1 tsp Queen Natural Organic Vanilla Extract
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 275g (1 cup) mashed very ripe banana
  7. 185g (1 ¼ cups) plain flour
  8. 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  9. ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  1. 150g (¾ cup, softly packed) brown sugar
  2. 75g butter, diced
  3. 4 medium (about 170g each, with skin) ripe bananas, peeled and cut lengthways

For the Topping

1. Preheat oven to 160°C (fan-forced). Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.

2. Combine sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves and starts to bubble. Simmer for 15 sec without stirring. Pour into prepared tin, spread to cover base then set aside to cool slightly.

3.Arrange  bananas in tin over sugar mixture, cutting to fit when necessary.

For the Cake

1.Beat butter, sugar, Cinnamon Baking Paste, and Vanilla until pale and creamy, scraping down sides when necessary. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until well combined.

2. Use a fork to mash bananas on a plate. Add to butter mixture and beat on low to combine. Sift together flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add to banana mixture and beat on lowest speed until just combined.

3. Spoon mixture into prepared tin and smooth surface with back of a metal spoon, making a shallow well in centre.

4. Bake for 70 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Stand in tin for at least 10 minutes before turning onto a serving plate or cake stand with a lip.

Tip: Pack the bananas as tightly as possible in the base of the tin for the best visual effect

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, September 08, 2018

Weekend Cooking: Jolly Good Food by Allegra McEvedy

A while ago now I mentioned a Youtube TV series called Word of Mouth which seeks to combine a love of books and a love of food into one delicious package. In the course of one of the episodes one of the guest authors mentioned this book and I just had to go and get it from the library.

I have posted a couple of times over the year about how much I loved the Enid Blyton books, especially the Magic Faraway Tree books and the Wishing Chair books. I wasn't as fond of the Famous Five and never read the Malory Towers books, but those books where the children found adventures in other lands were amazing to me. Such good memories.\

I am not really the target audience for this book. It is really a children's cookbook, and the recipes reflect that, but it has been fun for me to take a look at as an adult.

The book is broken into six parts and each part includes a small snippet from the relevant books. There is Breakfast with the Naughtiest Girl, Elevenses in the Secret Seven's Shed, Picnicking with the Famous Five, Teatime Treats up the Faraway Tree, Suppers on the Secret Island and Midnight Feasts at Mallory Towers.

My favourite chapter was the teatime treats of course. Why wouldn't it be when the treats include Google Buns (back before google was google), Mother's Macaroons, Silky's Pop Tarts, Toffee for Moon Face, Clementine Treacle Tart and Raspberry and Vanilla Water Ice.

Below is a video of the author making Google Buns with her daughter

I thought though that I would share a page which is the recipe for the pop cakes so you can see the style of the book and the sheer fun of the illustrations

Silky was pleased. She sat there brushing her beautiful golden hair and ate sandwiches with them. She brought out a tin of Pop cakes, which were lovely. As soon as you bit into them they went pop! an you suddenly found your mouth filled with new honey from the middle of the little cakes. Frannie took seven, one after another, for she was rather greedy. 

Beth stopped her. "You'll go pop if you eat any more!"

As an aside, do you ever find yourself reading your own old blog posts. I do it with Weekend Cooking posts, but when I do find myself looking back at some of my old content I realise that I wasn't too bad at this book blogging thing back in the day. Not now, but never mind.

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, September 01, 2018

Weekend Cooking: Raspberry-flecked Sour Cream Cake

A few weeks ago now I posted a Nigella Lawson recipe that I got from Masterchef Australia of Walnut, Ginger and Carrot Cake. As a result of how delicious that cake was I thought I would take a look at some of her other recipes.

Nigella Lawson must be one of the most famous food names in the world. Whilst I obviously know who she is and have watched the occasional episode of her TV shows I wouldn't really call myself a fan. I certainly can't remember cooking any of her recipes before.

Having borrowed At My Table from the library, I took a leisurely look through all the recipes and found several that I am interested in making. I must say I really enjoyed reading the intros to each of her recipes. There are warnings to not even think of substituting light coconut milk for full cream coconut milk, or my favourite one which is the introduction to a Brussels Sprouts with Preserved Lemons and Pomegranate. The paragraph starts "There is a vociferous anti-sprout brigade, but I have no time for the Brussels bashing bigotry." As an anti-sprouter I laughed!

There's a number of recipes I want to try. Some of the recipes that I want to try are Chicken and Pea Tray Bake, and the Chocolate Olive Oil Mousse. There's also a White Chocolate Cheesecake that I am tempted to try so that I can compare it to the one that I have been making to great acclaim for several years.

My first recipe to try though was this one, mainly because I wanted to try out the freeze dried raspberries but also because it looks really pretty and not too difficult. In the intro to this recipe it advises that you shouldn't substitute fresh raspberries, and that if you don't have a savarin ring, which I don't, then you can make this in a 1lb (450g) loaf tin.

Raspberry-flecked Sour Cream Cake

175g plain flour
1/2 tspn baking powder
1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda
175ml sour cream, room temperature
150g caster sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tspn vanilla extract
125ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing the tin
2 x 15ml tbspns freeze-dried raspberries, plus more for sprinkling


125g icing sugar
1-2 x 15ml tbspns freshly boiled water

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan-forced. Grease your 22cm savarin ring generously with oil using a pastry brush., and leave the tin upside down over a piece of newspaper or baking parchment while you get on with making the cake batter. Or line a loaf tin.

Mix the flour, baking powder and bicarb in a bowl. Put the sour cream into a large measuring jug, add the caster sugar, eggs, vanilla and oil and whisk to mix.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and beat until you've got a smooth batter. Fold in the freeze-dried raspberries, then pour the mixture into the prepared mould (or loaf tin) and bake for 30-35 minutes (or 45-50 minutes if using a loaf tin) until the cake is risen and golden brown and a cake tester pronged into two parts of the cake comes out clean. Sit the cake in its tin on a wire rack until cool before turning out, easing it gently with a small spatula first.

Once the cake's completely cold, transfer to a cake stand or plate. Mix the icing sugar with the freshly boiled water, adding 1 tspn at a time, until you have a thick but still pourable consistency: around 4 teaspoons of water generally does it. Make sure there  are no lumps before you spoon it all over the top of the cake and sprinkle immediately with freeze dried raspberries.

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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