Pumpkin, Spinach and Pine nut Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

There is something about the heat that turns me into a lazy cook. I want to have meals with plenty of fresh beautiful ingredients, but it can’t take too much effort or preparation. That’s why I love having barbeques so much. In summer I don’t tend to want to be standing inside a hot kitchen cooking on the stovetop when I could be outside on the deck  relaxing while my husband cooks on the barbeque. I’m in charge of marinating the meat an hour or so before it’s cooked and then all I have to do is prepare a salad, then sit back and relax with a drink.

For a long time one of my favourite salads has been this Pumpkin, spinach and pine nut salad with honey balsamic dressing. Every ingredient in it I absolutely love and all they all marry together so perfectly. I never bother to peel the pumpkin as the skin can be eaten and I find the colourful skin adds to the appearance of the dish. Plus, who wants to waste time peeling? Continue reading

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Salmon with sweet chilli balsamic glaze

It’s that time of the year when the Christmas tree has been packed up and the last of the panettone, mince pies and ham have been devoured that reality hits. Yes, it’s time to start eating a bit healthier again…

So I’ve been flicking through some of my old Weight watchers recipes and I came across this beautiful dish that I had forgotten about. It is one of those meals that requires almost no effort whatsoever, so it really blows you away when you taste it and wonder how something with so few ingredients can taste so good. Mmm, so good I have eaten this twice in the last week! Isn’t it a great feeling finding a recipe that not only tastes great but is good for you as well?

The sweet chillli sauce and balsamic vinegar form a sticky, caramelised coating over the cooked salmon which imparts a wonderful flavour to the fish. I love how simple this meal is to cook. The salmon is wonderful served with vegetables or even some steamed rice and asian greens. Continue reading

Posted in Diet friendly, Seafood | 2 Comments

Baked Peaches with Ricotta and Chocolate

I thought it would be fun this year to join a group of food bloggers in Australia doing the 2011 Cookbook Challenge. Every two weeks everybody participating has to cook a recipe out of one of their cookbooks which is based on a particular theme. You have to publish your recipe on your blog by the end of the two weeks. The theme changes every two weeks. I figure this will be a great way for me to try some new recipes I wouldn’t normally try and see what exciting things other people are making on their blogs. If you would would like to join in or see the links to the recipes of all the other participants you can here.

The first theme of the year was stonefruits. This was a great theme because there are so many recipes out there with stonefruits. I have been really enjoying peaches this summer so I decided I wanted to cook another peach recipe but try a dessert instead of a savoury dish (you can see my recent post on Pork with fresh peach chutney here). I was looking through all my cookbooks and I found a lovely sounding dessert, Baked peaches with ricotta and chocolate,  in a cookbook by Karen Martini. I have a couple of stunning cookbooks written by Karen. Unfortunately, like a lot of cookbooks in my collection they haven’t been used much, so I thought I would give her recipe a go.

The peaches are basically baked with a mixture of ricotta, chocolate, currants, orange and lemon zest on top. A sauce is made with shiraz, brown sugar and coffee, to accompany. Continue reading

Posted in Cookbook Challenge 2011, Desserts | 11 Comments

Chicken and Pistachio Korma

I love Indian curries but often the thing that holds me back from cooking them is the huge list of spices needed and the effort required to make it. Usually I end up with a kitchen looking like a disaster and me looking frazzled and cranky. They really seem to be something you can make only on weekends when you have an afternoon free and a lot of patience.

I saw Poh making this curry on her show on ABC TV a while ago and it went on to my to-do list straight away because it looked so easy and quick to make compared to my idea of a curry recipe. I ended up getting her cookbook, Poh’s Kitchen, for Christmas. This was the first recipe I wanted to try and I wasn’t disappointed. Continue reading

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Pork with fresh peach chutney

Cooksploits is finally back after some time off! I have been busy moving house in the last month so I have been a bit too preoccupied to be cooking up any masterpieces lately. But things have started to settle down now and I have been very keen to get down and dirty in the kitchen! I was very spoilt at Christmas this year and received a beautiful bright red Kitchen Aid mixer and about 7 new cookbooks! Now I am in a house with a (hopefully) more reliable oven I am going to be busy baking and cooking up a storm and trying out lots of new recipes.

We have been getting a few beautifully warm days on the Central coast lately which to me means barbeque weather. One of the other things I love about the arrival of summer is the abundance of fruit at the green grocer. The smell of a juicy ripe peach, plum or mango is irresistible!

This is one of my favourite meals to cook in summer. Pork marinated then cooked on the barbeque is teamed with a sweet and spicy peach chutney and some steamed basmati rice. The chutney is actually very simple to make and only takes about 15 minutes to prepare and cook. I find the sweetness of the peaches in the chutney offsets the heat from the chilli and peppercorns beautifully. This is one those dishes to enjoy on a summer evening sitting on the deck watching the sunset. What could be more perfect? Continue reading

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Iced Cinnamon Scrolls

The smell of cinnamon wafting out of the oven is so warming. I’m fan anything with cinnamon in it and these scrolls are no exception! I remember when the first Bakers Delight shop opened near us when I was a kid. Mum would sometimes buy us a scroll as a treat and I though they were the best! I’m glad I am able to cook these myself now because they are even better warm out of the oven. It’s just a shame I know how much butter goes into them now…

When I first saw this recipe for Iced Cinnamon Snails by Bill Granger feature as a Baking Club challenge on the Taste.com.au forums, I knew I would have to try it. It has taken me a long time to get around to making it, because unfortunately I have an extremely old oven which heats very unevenly. Thus you have not seen me doing much baking on this blog! But lately I have decided that I can’t stop baking indefinitely until I have a new kitchen, so I have been getting a bit more daring with what I will try cooking in my oven. I was actually really pleased with how these scrolls turned out. They are perfect to have with a cup of tea fresh out of the oven, still warm and with a little icing drizzled over the top. Continue reading

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Butter Chicken

My first introduction to Indian cuisine was Butter Chicken eaten in a food court about 10 years ago. Since then I have been in love with it! We live not far from a fantastic Indian restaurant  which we frequent and Butter chicken is still one of my favourite dishes to order. I realise that ordering Butter chicken is about as Aussie as ordering Sweet and sour pork from a Chinese restaurant or Ham and pineapple from a pizza place, but really, who can resist it?

To date my absolute favourite recipe for Butter Chicken is Tandoori-baked butter chicken from delicious magazine (you can find the recipe on Taste.com.au). Admittedly it uses curry paste and simmer sauce from a jar, but the end result is amazing and the closest I have ever come to replicating what you get in a restaurant. I have always wanted to cook Butter chicken from scratch, but the last time I  attempted it the kitchen ended up looking like a bomb site. Every pot and pan we own was littering the benches and smoke was billowing from the oven because I was so busy slaving over my curry I forgot to check the naan bread I had under the grill! Lesson learned: never put baking paper under a grill- it WILL catch alight!

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Chinese Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

One thing I love about Sydney is meeting up with friends about midday on a Sunday for Yum Cha. We’ll grab dish after dish that comes out and eat as much as we can possibly fit in and it’ll still come to less than $20 each. I love how busy and frantic Yum Cha is: lining up to wait for a table with a throng of other hungry patrons, looking at all the dishes being wheeled past in the trolley, grabbing all the favourites and trying to spot the trolley with the elusive salt and pepper squid before it runs out. Dumplings are one of my favourite things to eat, dipping them in the soy sauce then biting into the slippery dumpling skin to find the delicious filling inside. Continue reading

Posted in Asian, Fingerfood, Pork | 4 Comments

White Chocolate Creme Brulees

The first thing I look for when I scan through a dessert menu at a restaurant is creme brulee! It doesn’t matter what flavour, although I do have a preference for white chocolate. Who could resist cracking through the hard toffee to get to the smooth, creamy layer underneath? I have always thought creme brulees were really difficult to make, but this recipe is actually very simple and quick to prepare. The most difficult part was not spilling the water bath whilst moving the brulees in and out of the oven. It does help if you have a little blow torch at home, otherwise you will need to try using the grill to caramelise the sugar topping, which I imagine is a bit more challenging.

The brulees ended up tasting just like one would have in a restaurant, and the texture was perfect- very thick and velvety smooth.  My husband thought this was the best dessert I have cooked yet, so I think this is definitely a recipe worth trying, especially to impress dinner guests, or for a romantic evening for two! Continue reading

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Marinated Beef fillet rolled in fresh herbs

A good piece of juicy, tender beef fillet, cooked to perfection, is something I will gladly pay for at a restaurant. I have never been game to try it at home, mainly because my past experiences trying to cook expensive cuts of meat just right have resulted in either a bloody mess or overcooked, tough meat. But perhaps I am becoming more daring in the kitchen or just becoming better at cooking, because when I found some aged grain fed centre-cut beef fillet on special at the supermarket I thought it was about time to give it a go. Once I brought it home I searched through recipes to find out how best to cook this cut of meat and came across this recipe from my favourite magazine.

This recipe is actually very simple to make, the only difficulty is judging how long to cook the beef in the oven for. If you check the beef after about 10-15 minutes it should feel soft and springy for rare, otherwise just leave it in for a little longer. Mine ended up taking 20 minutes, however my oven temperature is a bit variable so it will depend on your oven. The original recipe is for a 2 kg piece of beef so you can certainly adapt the recipe for more people.

I found the Asian style marinade with the coriander and parsley a nice change from the usual way restaurants serve beef fillet with potato mash and red-wine reduction, which is more suited to the colder weather. This recipe would be lovely as an easy roast to cook during spring or summer. served with a salad or vegetables. Continue reading

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