Tag Archives: Savory

Daring Bakers- Lasagne

The Daring Bakers challenge for this month is lasagne.

img_0669This is a lovely homey dish.  I didn’t count as I put them in but there is 9 very thin layers of homemade spinich pasta with a thin kiss of bechamel  sauce and a seriously good ragu between each layer.  How good?  It beats my previous fav Heston Blumenthals (from In Search of Perfection) hands down.

I did tweak the meats a bit.  I had some slightly freezer burnt pork fillet, regular bacon and kangaroo steaks that I put through the KitchenAid mincer.  Every time I use it it is better value!


We make pasta at home fairly often.  I found the spinich pasta needed an extra egg to get the right consistency (maybe I squeezed too much water out of the spinich).  Matthew my good husband quite enjoys rolling out the pasta so I left him to it using the pasta machine.  Note the beer in reach.  Making pasta must be thirsty work!


I assembled this as the pasta came off the machine so I skipped the parboil stage.  I did moisten each layer using a spray bottle, and it worked a treat.


img_0674This was great fun and gave us a great dinner to share.

For the benefit of the auto checking software:

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Daring Bakers- Pizza, Pizza, Pizza it’s a lotza fun!

Apologies to Hi-5 for the vauge plagarism of their song for the title of this post.

This months Daring Bakers is home made pizza.  Recipe from Peter Reinharts most excellent, The Bread Bakers Apprentice.  I made this the first time in the month for Liam’s birthday party.  Perfect party food.

I let everyone top their own pizzas and even had them have a go at (trying) to toss the pizza dough in the air.  Given the hoards of children and general busy-ness of a childrens party I couldn’t get anyone to take a photo of me trying to spin the pizza.  So here are 2 photos of family having a go. The first is my good husband.  Not a great photo but the only time anyone got ‘take off’ and it is definite proof of concept.

Apologies to Sarah (for using this photo) she gave it a red hot go.  I am sure the look on my face was even more concerned!

In the interest of fairness I made the pizza again (for the express purpose of getting photos).  I also added in some slightly underfed sourdough starter.  I decided I wanted the crust a little thicker so I divided the dough into 4 portions this time.  It made it so much easier to work with.

Matt was coming home early.  The dough was prepped.  The kids were excited.  The oven was seriously hot, hot hot.

Matthew was late, the kids were increasingly ratty.  So I made them a pizza.  I tried to get my 5 year old to take an action shot but he wanted to use the camera to take photos of his dinosaur bedspread he got as a birthday present.  I got hungry and made myself a calzone.  Forgot to put cheese inside so sprinkled on top.  Still no action photos.

Matt came home.  The phone rang.  I stepped outside for a well deserved moment of quiet.  Matt was really helpful and made the final two pizzas.  No photos.  Small tantrum from me….  Matt only trying to be helpful.

The best laid plans.

This challenge was lots of fun.  I found the dough got way too thin and ripped in the middle when I tried the toss (especially on the first batch which felt quite wet).  On the second go the individual pizzas developed a bit of a skin sitting on the bench and that made them feel a lot easier to work with.  I got more of a gentle stretch over the knuckles and got a reasonable thickness and shape.  Their was a lovely crumb structure with the slightly thicker base I preferred.  I couldn’t really taste a difference in the sourdough spiked dough and the base recipe.  But I have never been good with less is more on a pizza.

Daring Bakers- Lavash Crackers

This months Daring Bakers challenge choosen by Natalie from Gluten A Go Go and co host Shellie from Musings From The Fishbowl was Lavash Bread from Peter Reinharts The Bread Bakers Apprentice.  It is a recipe that can be adapted to be gluten free and is vegan.

I love baking bread.  I am a fan of the no-knead techniques and tend to bring some of the ideas from no knead into any bread recipe.  An easy way to do this is to include an auto-lyse step.  (My version writen here is a rough and ready version of an ancient technique). In a nut shell you mix the flour, water and usually everything but the salt together (with a spoon) until it is a rough shaggy mess.  Walk away (for this I hung the laundry on the clothes line).  Come back in about 20 minutes (add the salt now).  Mix or knead away.  This gives the flour a chance to absorb the liquid the gluten starts to unravel itself.  The resting period usually shaves a couple of minutes off the total kneading time required.

Aside from reducing kneading time (handy if you don’t have a mixer) it also means you preserve the caritonoids in the flour.  Caritonoids give flour it’s creamy yellow tinge.  Most mixers introduce lots of air into the dough.  The oxygen bleaches the flour, so does the salt which is why lots of bread recipes have you hold the salt back until well into the mixing process.  If time allows, I include 2 minute breaks when using the mixer as it lets the dough do some of the work for you.

I gave this a ferment in the fridge overnight to develop more flavour.  I used my pasta maker to get this dough nice and thin.

When it came time to add flavours to the crackers I used a technique usually reserved for adding herbs to pasta.

I rolled out the dough to the correct thickness and then sprinkled on my herbs and seeds.  I then folded it over (like closing a book) and put it through the pasta maker again.  This meant the seasoning wasn’t as pretty as in Reinhart’s book but became integrated into the cracker.

These took 15 minutes to bake.  I precut most of them, and they baked the most evenly.  You really do need to let these get golden brown if you are after the crispy thing.

I served these with baba ganoush and a baby spinich, cashew and chili dip.  I wish I could say I made them but time got away (I am typing this up on the 27th-the posting date and I only baked this evening) and I went to some very good bought dips.  I will make these Lavash again and will make my own dips…

Beef Rendang and Roti

This is one of our favourite dinners.  We used to go to the sunset markets for our fix but taking 2 small children through the markets can be a bit stressful.

Rendang is a lovely spicy slow stew of beef.  I must confess I used a packet curry paste.  With a little tweaking at the end it is fabulous.

So I cubed the beef then browned it (not a step on the packet but one I like to include).  Then I added 500ml of stock and the rendang paste and brought it up to a simmer on the stove

Then, into a very slow oven for as long as you can take the amazing smells.  I cooked mine at 120C for 4 hours.  I used a cast iron pot with the lid on.  You could use a slow cooker, but I do not have one.   

I then took it on the stove to reduce the sauce (this took only 5 minutes).

 To finish it I added some toasted coconut (this thickens the sauce and adds flavour) and some finely sliced kaffir lime leaf (for freshness and zing). 

kaffir lime leaf

Finally I served it in a roti canai, this is an asian flat bread.  It is so good and light.  I have made many types of bread but this is one I buy.

Generally the rendang roti gets served with some shredded cucumber and carrot.  I also like a dollop of natural yougurt.

There you have it.  Dinner at my house.

Warm Stir Fried Kangaroo Salad

I bought some kangaroo fillet for Mother’s Day dinner and was lucky enough to get Pepper Crab instead.  So what to do with the kangaroo?  

Matthew had Uni tonight so we needed to have dinner in shifts.  This recipe works really well for this.  We had run out of potatoes but had one sweet potato left.  I remembered a lovely warm beef salad I had at Wagamamas in Sydney earlier in the year, so I tried to recreate aspects of it using what I had to hand.

Sweet potatoes grow locally but regular potatoes do not.  One of our local restaurants Pee Wees brings sweet potato crisps to the table as you wait for your starters.

I adapted the Warm Stir Fried Chicken Salad from the Wagamama cookbook and it was fabulous.  I changed the meat, added tomato and cucumber to the salad and gave it a sweet potato crisp finish.  If you don’t want to mess around with the sweet potato crisps, may I suggest some fried shallots (available in the Asian section of many markets).  The crunch textural factor added a lot to this salad.   Did I mention this was good? 

Warm Stir Fried Kangaroo Salad. (adapted from The Wagamama Cookbook)

400g kangaroo fillet cut into strips (use what ever meat you like, if any one tries tofu let me know!)

vegetable oil for stir frying

for the marinade

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 teaspoons light soy sauce

juice of 1 lime

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 large red chili, trimmed and chopped

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

for the salad

2 handfuls of mixed salad leaves

1/2 cumumber sliced thinly

1 tomato sliced thinly

2 Tablespoons (6 teaspoons) of Wagamama salad dressing

2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

3 teaspoons chopped coriander

1 lime halved

for the sweet potato crisps (this is more than you need but you will snack on these).

1 sweet potato sliced into ribbons using a speed peeler (wide vegetable peeler)

Oil for deep frying


Mix all the ingredients for the marinade.  Add the meat and marinate for at least 2 hours in the fridge.

Meanwhile make the sweet potato crisps.  Heat the oil to 180C/360F.  Deep fry in small batches.  Cook until the edges turn caramel coloured,  they will crisp up more on standing.

Heat a wok until completley hot add the oil and then the meat, stirring constantly.  Kangaroo is best served rare 2-3 minutes, chicken will take 4-5 minutes.

Mix the salad leaves with the dressing.  Divide between 2 plates and scatter over the toasted sesame seeds and chopped corriander.  Top with the meat and serve with a lime half on each plate.


Wagamama salad dressing

2 teaspoon finely chopped shallot (I used spring onion with good result)

2.5 cm (1inch) piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated (I peel mine and leave it in the freezer ready for action)

1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

4 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar

3 teaspoons tomato ketchup

3 teaspoons water

100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) vegetable oil

9 teaspoons (45ml) light soy sauce.


Whisk ingredients together and set aside.  This can be kept in the fridge for a few days.  (I put this all in my mini blender and it emulsified beautifully. I now prefer this method for this dressing).  


Pepper Crab

I thought I would post something I didn’t cook.  My lovely husband made me dinner for Mother’s Day.

I have no prep photos but this was the finished product.

My brother Michael dropped off 3 rather large mud crabs last Monday (what a lovely man!).  We polished off 2 that night one boiled and the other in a Chili Crab sauce.

Tonight we had Pepper Crab from the linked recipe.  It was really lovely.  We only used 2 chilis in the chilli crab recipe and it was rather spicy indeed (it called for 7!) so Matt left it at one chili for tonight’s feast.  He served it on a bed of plain sushi rice which absorbed all the gooey goodness.  So very very yummy.

I feel like a lucky Mummy.  Happy Mother’s Day to all the other Mother’s out there!

Indian for Dinner

So after all the sweet things recently, I thought we should try for more veggies.

Tonight I made nann from this recipe.  It worked well.  I used the variation of adding the garlic to the melted butter.  Yum!

I delved into Nigella Lawson’s Feast cookbook and made the Muttar Paneer and Aloo Gobi from her curry banquet.

I had never eaten Muttar Paneer before but I had seen the paneer cheese beaconing from next to the halomi.  I have looked at the recipe many times and it felt right for tonight.  It was lovely.  I soaked up all the lovely juices with the naan.  The Aloo Gobi was really nicely spiced.  The potatoes could have been browned up a bit more but the boys were hungry and so was I.

Muttar Paneer

Serves 4-6

125ml vegetable oil (I used a lot less)

1 x 227g packet paneer

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

2.5cm fresh ginger

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp tumeric

500g frozen peas

1 tsp tomato puree

250ml vegetable stock

Put the oil into a frying pan.  Nigella suggests the frying pan you will continue cooking in but the paneer splatters a lot.  I used a saucepan and then didn’t need as much oil.  Cut the paneer into 1 cm cubes.  Fry until golden and drain on paper towel and set aside.

Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the oil out of the pan.  Peel and cut the onion in half, peel the garlic and ginger and slice them roughly.  Put them in the food processor and blitz to a course pulp.  Fry gently in the frypan with a touch of salt for 5 minutes.  Stir in the garam masala and tumeric and cook for another 2 minutes before adding the still frozen peas.

Dissolve the tomato puree in the vegetable stock (I used 1/2 a massel stock cube) and pour over the contents of the pan.  Stir cover with a lid and simmer for 5-15 min (Nigella suggested 15 but the peas were well cooked by 7 min).  (You can pause the recipe at this point and heat up when ready to serve).  Add the crispy paneer cubes and serve.


Allo Gobi

Serves 4-6

500-600g waxy potatoes, peeled

4 spring onions cut into 1/2 cm rings

1 large head cauliflower cut into small florets

4 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I used the leftover oil from the paneer)

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp yellow or brown mustard seeds

1 tsp ground coriander seed

125ml water

1/4 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp ground ginger

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper.



Cook the potatoes whole (in salted water, you can also blanch the cauliflower which I did in the hot  potato water for 3 minutes) and leave them to go cold, then dice into 3-4cm cubes.  

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the cumin and mustard seeds until they begin to pop.  Add the cauliflower and spring onions and cook on medium to high heat until the cauliflower takes a deep colour in places.  Add 125 ml water, cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes.  

Take off the lid and add the other spices, lemon juice, diced cook potatoes, salt and pepper to taste.  Stir carefully to incorporate everything, and cook for another 5-7 min until cauliflower is tender and potatoes are heated through