Monthly Archives: July 2016

Macadamia White Chocolate Cookies

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For the first six months of our marriage Mr Firehouse worked FIFO. He would fly into Perth early on a Monday and stay a week, sometimes two, before flying back on a Friday. We had a bunch of lovely friends in Perth who took great care of him. Inviting him over, taking him out and generally keeping him entertained.

I was still getting the hang of the wife thing, so I would attempt to make baked goods to ship over with him. Unfortunately for them, I was still figuring out how to use our brand new oven. If it came with an instruction manual, I never saw it. Instead, I was faced with multiple symbols on a dial to denote baking, fan baking, grilling and the only one I could confirm for certain, light.

It really was hit and miss, I made  mini cheesecakes once, turned the dials with reckless abandon and the cheesecakes took about one and half hours to cook. Thankfully, our guests were patient, and didn’t mind the wait.

One night before a Monday flight, I decided to make some white chocolate and macadamia cookies. I had a recipe that I’d made successfully while at my parents and I had all the requisite ingredients. I couldn’t see anything going wrong. The batter was fine, my trusty Breville Mixmaster did all the hard work. I dutifully placed tablespoons full on the tray and whacked them in the oven. Fifteen minutes later I pulled then out and I was confronted with a goopy mess, the cookies had melted but not baked. The tops browned but the bottoms still soft and uncooked. I tried a second tray, same deal. AHHHH!

Mr Firehouse saw my distress and did what he did best, he consulted technology. He checked on the interweb and found a manual to decipher the oven markings. Turns out, up until that point, I’d been grilling my food.

We managed to salvage quite a few cookies from that disastrous run and the recipe still stands, or at least its 100th iteration maybe.

 

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
  • 200 g white chocolate chips

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Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In medium bowl combine flour, soda and salt. Mix well, set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together. Since these are cookies, they don’t need a lot of air, you want a grainy paste. Once they’ve reached that consistency add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until fully combined.

Add the flour mixture and mix until combined. Finally add the nuts and chocolate and mix until they are evenly distributed.

Drop tablespoons dollops of the mixture onto baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Move immediately to cooling rack.

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Filed under Sweet Treats, Uncategorized

Sweet Potato Pancakes

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For a long time my son Callum didn’t like toast for breakfast. He preferred cooked breakfasts, pancakes, waffles, bacon and eggs. I had neither the time nor the energy to indulge him so I created some cheats. This was one of them. A sweet potato pancake that I made in bulk and froze. Easy to whip out of the freezer and defrost even on a morning before work.

In fact, the day of little Miss M’s arrival I was making a large batch of these, in a valiant attempt to prepare for the madness that would follow. I dropped Callum at daycare and made a triple batch of this recipe. I cooked them, lay them on baking trays and left them to cool while I visited the Ob/Gyn. Sadly, I never made it back home, I just continued onto hospital. It was only a few days later when my sister-in-law was at our house, waiting for a tradie of some sort, that she texted me and said “What should I do with all the pancakes?” I sadly had to tell her they’d been sitting on the counter for days and would need to be binned.

The idea for the pancakes came from Jessica Seinfeld’s book, Deceptively Delicious. While I like the ideas for her recipes, hers have more of an “increase veg, decrease calorie” philosophy. I love the increased veg idea, but both my little mini humans need all the calories they can get. So nothing but full fat here.

 

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup of self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 1/2 cups full cream milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup steamed sweet potato, mashed (about 1 medium sweet potato)

Preparation

In a large bowl whisk together the the flours. Add the milk and butter and mix well. Whisk the two eggs lightly and add to the mix, mixing till there are no lumps. Finally add the the sweet potato and mix well until it’s even distributed.

Butter a large skillet or pan and place over a low to medium heat. When the pan is hot, place 1/4 cup of the mixture into the pan, leaving a few cm between each pancake to allow for spread.

Flip the pancake gently when bubbles cover the surface. I find these pancakes get more brown, as compared to the plain ones, the sugar content in the sweet potato will do that.

Cook for the few minutes on the flip side before cooling and serving to your demanding clientale.

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If you want to freeze, just lay them flat on a tray with some baking paper and freezer for an hour or two before placing in zip lock bags.

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Filed under "Something" Free Cooking, Baby Friendly Food, Non-Sri Lankan Food, Snacks and Sides, Uncategorized, Vegetable Dishes

Pumpkin Curry with Coconut Milk

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As you probably already know, I’m a big lover of pumpkin. Especially pumpkin soup. It’s warming, sweet, creamy and comforting. However, when I have made it for Sri Lankan relatives, especially male ones, they don’t seem to get it. I suspect this curry has a lot to do with it. Pumpkin, cooked Sri Lankan style, is heady with spices and fragrant to the max. It’s the same type of warm, comforting and creamy without the sweetness of roasted butternut. This dish is decidedly savoury, while I think pumpkin soup, especially the kind made with butternut can be a bit of a fence sitter.  I for one will always be pumpkin fan, in whatever style you serve it to me!

By the by this dish also has the added bonus of being vegan.

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Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion finely chopped
  • 2 green chillis sliced
  • 1 handful of curry leaves
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1/2 stick of cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 1 pandan leaf
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 kg kent or jap pumkin cut into large, even chunks
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk powder
  • 2 tsp, dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. toasted coconut to garnish *

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Preparation

In a shallow dish or wok fry the onion,garlic, curry leaves, cinnamon, pandan, cloves, cardomom, and green chilli with the oil. Fry over a low heat until the onion is soft and the spices are fragrant.

Add the turmeric and fry for a 1-2 minutes until it’s well incorporated and slightly toasted.

Add the chopped pumpkin and cover with enough water to submerge the pumpkin. Cook over a medium heat until the pumpkin is just soft.

Add a little water to the coconut milk powder and make a paste. Add the dijon mustard and stir well before adding to the pumpkin curry. Bring the whole mix to a gentle simmer and add salt to taste. Take off the heat and add the toasted coconut just before serving.

* to toast the coconut, add 2 tablespoons of shredded coconut to a dry pan. Cook over a gentle heat, stirring constantly until the coconut has changed is colour and is brown and fragrant.

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Filed under Curries, Sri Lankan Food, Vegetable Dishes, Vegetarian Curries

Borscht

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My family has rather a strong connection with Russia. In the late seventies my father travelled to the former USSR to study mining engineering. He spoke no Russian, knew no-one and had never travelled outside Sri Lanka. He spent the first year learning Russian and over the next five became well and truly immersed in Russian culture. He can still shot vodka, can still speak Russian, especially after said vodka’s and enjoys Russian food slathered in copious amounts of mustard. A lot of my father’s friends are friends he made while in Russia. When growing up, it wasn’t unusual to see a Russian potato salad at family dinner a long with yellow friend rice and chicken curry.

My Uncle Shelton likes to do a fully fledged Russian meal. He cooked it for me while I was pregnant and a few months ago he came over, groceries in hand and cooked me and Mr Firehouse the full deal. A beautiful red beetroot borscht, a rice pilaf and a potato salad. Served with rye bread and plenty of mustard it was a delectable treat! It was a chance for me to sit and watch in my own kitchen and take notes as he masterfully prepared the meal.

Since then, borscht appears on our weekly meal plan often, especially with two children who love beetroot.  It’s a warming, comforting meal and freezes well when I make a big pot over the weekend. And, best of all, apart from a little peeling and chopping the prep is pretty simple.

When I have time, I make my own beef stock and then use the meat off the bones in the soup itself. But, it tastes just as good with good store bought stock and a piece of beef that benefits from slow cooking.

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Ingredients

  • 500g of stewing beef
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 2 potatoes chopped
  • 2 large beetroots chopped
  • 1/4 cabbage chopped
  • 1/4 cup dill
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • salt and pepper to season
  • rye bread and hot english mustard to serve

Preparation

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In a medium pot cover the beef with water and set over a low heat to boil. Boil until the meat is fall apart tender. At this point take off the heat, remove the meat and pour the stock into a jug. Chop and reserve the meat.

Place the jug of stock in the fridge and skim the layer of fat once it has solidified.

In a large pot add the stock, meat, chopped veg and seasoning. Add enough water to covet the vegetables. Bring to the boil and cook until the vegetables are tender but retain a bite.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with sour cream and freshly chopped dill.

Serve with a side of rye bread spread with hot English mustard.

 

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Filed under Non-Sri Lankan Food, Soup, Uncategorized, Vegetable Dishes