Potato Gratin

It’s Winter again and yes, I know it’s been over a year since my last post. For anyone who reads this blog, (yes, this means you!) sorry for the long delay. No, I didn’t drop off the edge of the earth (thankfully!) and I am still alive and breathing (thankfully!!).  I’ve been a bit busy and I have to admit I haven’t felt inclined to write in a while. Dear old blog…”maybe I didn’t love you quite as often I could have“… but you were ….*sometimes*… on my mind, hehe.  Anyway…I didn’t forget you and here I am again.

After a pretty warm and mild Autumn, Winter is starting to settle in and wrap Sydney around her cold, windy, drizzly blanket. And, as always, the chilly weather is making me crave warm, comfort food.

Potato Gratin is one of those comfort foods. It’s familiar (we go way back since Primary school days), tastes delicious and it’s consistent (no matter where you are or how old you are when you eat it, it will always taste about the same…which is comforting).

To make the potato gratin, you’ll need:

About 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, sliced thinly

About 1 cup reduced fat cream or skim milk, warmed.

1 cup shredded strong cheese (I like aged cheddar, colby or gouda)

About a teaspoon of Rosemary or your favourite herb mix

1 clove of garlic

Salt and pepper.

May You Cookt It |Potato Gratin

  1. Preheat oven to about 180 degrees celsius.
  2. Halve the garlic clove and rub the sides and bottom of the baking dish with it before discarding the clove.
  3. Layer the potatoes into the baking dish in an overlapping pattern.
  4. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the warm cream or milk over the potatoes.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for about 35 mins or  until the potatoes are tender.
  7. Remove the foil and sprinkle the cheese mixture over the potatoes. Bake for a further 10-15 mins until golden.

May You Cook It | Potato Gratin

That’s all there is to it. Very easy and so nice served warm out of the oven. It makes a delicious side dish and I usually serve it with steak and a bit of steamed vegetables. Definitely one of my favourite Winter warmers!

May You Cook It|Potato Gratin

Mocha Chiffon Cake with Buttercream frosting

It was my brother’s birthday recently and his favorite cake is mocha chiffon. Like a dutiful little sister, I decided to make him a mocha chiffon cake for his birthday. To be on the safe side, I decided to use a tried and tested recipe which is outlined below. It’s pretty straightforward to make and tastes delicious!

For the mocha chiffon cake you’ll need:

6 eggs at room temperature, separated.

1/2 cup oil

1 cup sugar

1 tsp cocoa power

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 tsp coffee and chicory essence

1 cup self raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cream of tartar

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1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius and grease two 9×2 inch baking pans.

2. Mix the yolks and sugar until light and creamy. Gradually add the oil then mix in the vanilla, chicory and coffee essence.

3. Sift the flour and baking powder into the yolk mixture. Mix until well combined.

4. Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks.

5. Gradually fold in the egg whites into the yolk and flour mixture.

6. Pour  the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 25 mins or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

7. Leave to cool in the pan for about 15 mins before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

8. Sandwich the cakes using some of the buttercream icing and decorate the exterior with the remainder. I used a blue ombre design  for my brother’s cake and topped it off with 2 large gumpaste flowers.

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For the buttercream frosting you’ll need:

1 cup butter

1 tsp vanilla essence or preferred flavoring (for this I used (surprise, surprise!) coffee and chicory essence)

3 cups icing sugar

1. Whisk butter and icing sugar until light and creamy.

2. Add the essence and a little milk if a lighter consistency is desired.

Chocolate Mousse

This  chocolate mousse  is very simple to make and delicious too. It’s a great choice when you want to make dessert in advance but don’t want to spend a lot  of time preparing it.

To make it, you’ll need:

500ml thickened cream

150g dark chocolate

1 Tbs gelatine

1/2 cup warm water

2 punnets fresh raspberries

Base:

Approx 10 digestive biscuits (or shortbread biscuits)

1/4 cup almond meal

2/3 cup melted butter

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1. Place the biscuits in a food processor and grind to a fine consistency. Or place the biscuits inside a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin until crumbly.

2.  Mix in the melted butter and almond meal with the ground biscuits then press the mixture into a greased tart pan.

3. Bake at 180 for about 15-20 minutes until golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

4. Mix the gelatine into the warm water.

5. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler until smooth.

6. Whisk the cream, then gently pour in the chocolate and gelatine into the cream. Continue whisking until smooth.

7. Pour the mixture into the cooled base then place in the fridge to set for 1-2 hours.

8. Remove the mousse from the pan and garnish with fresh raspberries before serving

Egg Pie

Egg pies are one of those kinds of dishes that take me back to my childhood. I used to love eating egg pies, especially when they were cool, straight out of the fridge. I never could figure out why I grew out of them, but for some reason, I haven’t really hankered after them over the last few years. That changed last night when I suddenly had a craving for a slice of cool, soft, creamy egg pie. I guess my egg pie craving made up for its frequency by its intensity – it was back with a vengeance! That the craving would come after business hours when any bakery with a right to call itself a bakery was closed is just typical of my cravings. My cravings always seem intent to achieve maximum inconvenience for me. There was nothing for it but to head to the kitchen and whip up a batch. It was delicious though and I think I will stock up on some ready-made pastry shells or short crust pastry for next time. The recipe is pretty simple but making the pastry from scratch can take some time.

Egg Pie | May You Cook It

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.

DOUGH

2 cups plain flour

2/3 cup shortening

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vinegar

1 egg yolk

About 1/3 cup ice water
FILLING

1x  375ml can evaporated milk

3 large eggs

1 stick softened butter.

1 cup sugar

Vanilla essence

Lemon zest

 

Instructions

Dough:

  1. Blend flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in the shortening using a pastry cutter.
  2. Combine the vinegar, water and egg yolk. Gradually add it to the flour mixture and knead the dough well.
  3. Leave the dough to rest about 30 mins.
  4. Roll out the dough to fit into a 16 inch pie plate with about 2 inches extra for the sides.
  5. Press the dough into the pie plate and allow the sides to hang over the pie plate. Press out the crust around the sides and cut off any excess dough.
  6. Set aside.

Filling:

  1. Whip the eggs then mix in the remaining ingredients.
  2. Pour the mixture into the pie crust.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 180 degrees celsius. Bake for another 15-20 minutes until cooked (you can test it by inserting a toothpick in the custard- if it comes out clean, the pie is ready).

Stir Fried Vegetables

Stir frying is a general term used to describe a Chinese cooking technique (chǎo) which involves heating a small amount of oil in a wok before adding spices then frying meat and/or vegetables while tossing the ingredients swiftly together. The term was first penned by Buwei Yang Chao in her book How to Cook and Eat Chinese and has since become a conventional description of many other Asian dishes using a similar style of cooking.

I love the tastes and spices in Chinese cooking and I particularly enjoy the light and fresh flavour of this recipe. Its good to have as a side dish but is also delicious on its own.
Stir Fried Vegetables | May You Cook Iy

Ingredients

3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
Sliced cuttlefish balls (optional)
about 1 cup chopped Chinese broccoli
about 1 cup chopped zucchini
about 1 cup chopped carrot
about 1 tsp fish sauce
about 2 teaspoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
6 tablespoons water

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the Shaoxing wine, sugar, water, cornstarch and fish sauce
  2. Heat the wok and add the oil. Add the ginger and stir fry until aromatic.
  3. Add the cuttlefish and swiftly stir fry until cooked. Add the remaining vegetables and stir quickly.
  4. Add the sauce into the wok and stir until the sauce thickens.
  5. Transfer the vegetables into a dish and serve immediately.

Mixed Paella

For last night’s New Year’s Eve dinner, I decided to make Mixed Paella. The Paella is a rice dish that originates from Valencia, Spain. Although many forms of the dish exist, there are three types which are generally more well known, namely the Seafood Paella, Valencian Paella and the Mixed Paella.

The Mixed Paella is comprised of a mixture of seafood, meat, rice and vegetables. It’s a very delicious, festive and colourful dish. Ideal for celebrating the new year :)

The Paella is traditionally cooked in a paellera (a flat round pan with two handles)  over an open fire and is served directly from the pan. If you don’t own a paellera, you can use a similar kind of flat pan which should also work fine.

Mixed Paella | May You Cook It

To make this Mixed Paella you’ll need:

12 mussels

12 fresh tiger prawns

2 crabs

2 cups water

2 skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into serving pieces

4 chorizo sausages, cubed

2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 green capsicum, chopped

1/2 red capsicum, chopped

3 cups medium grain rice

6 cups chicken or fish stock

1 can peeled tomatoes

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped.

1 tsp saffron

olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 medium lemon, sliced.

  1. Clean the mussels then place in a large pan with 1/2 cup of water. Steam until the shells open discarding any that remain closed. Set aside.
  2. Place the crabs and 1 1/2 cups or so of water in a separate pan and boil until cooked. Set aside.
  3. In your paellera (or your alternative cooking/serving pan)  heat about 4 Tbs olive oil and brown the chicken. Set aside and keep warm.
  4. In the same pan, cook the  chorizo. Transfer to a plate when cooked and keep warm.
  5. Add the prawns and cook for several minutes until the colour changes. Transfer to a plate  and cover with foil.
  6. Sauté the garlic and onion.
  7. Add the chopped capsicum, tomato, rice and paprika. Stir until combined then reduce the heat to medium low.
  8. Add the saffron and 2 cups of the stock. Stir the rice until combined.
  9. Add the chicken and chorizo along with another 2 cups of the stock. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  10. Stir in the remaining stock and simmer for a further 10 minutes or until the stock is absorbed. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Stir in half the prawns.
  12. Quarter one crab and stir into the rice. Keep the other for garnishing.
  13. Arrange the crab, prawns and mussels on top of the rice.
  14. Turn off the heat and cover with a clean tea towel or with foil. Set aside for about 15-20 minutes.
  15. Garnish the dish with a few pieces of sliced lemon before serving.