Monday, October 26, 2009

Beef Stirfry with Udon Noodles

I love to cook stirfries, as they are quick to cook and are a great way to include a lot of vegetables in dinner (including using up any odds and ends in the fridge at the end of the week). For some variation, make a stirfry with noodles.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

1 tbsp oil
300g stir fry beef (or slice some cheap, boneless steak)
200g baby corn (can be canned), halved
1 small carrot, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
200g udon noodles, strands separated
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Sesame seeds, to serve

Heat half the oil in a wok over high heat. Once smoking hot, add the beef and stir fry for 2 minutes, or until just cooked through. Remove.

Re-heat the wok with the remaining oil. Add the corn and carrot, and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the shallots and cook for a further 30 seconds. Add the noodles, soy sauce and oyster sauce, and stir-fry for 1 minute or until all combined. Re-add the beef plus the sesame oil, and mix until heated through.

Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Sprinkle Biscuits

Not all baking needs to be fancy (or come from a supermarket mix packet). These biscuits are very simple to make, quick to cook and will be devoured quickly.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes
Makes: 24

125g butter
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg

Cream butter and sugar in a bowl, with a spoon. Add the egg, then the flour, and mix well. Place spoonfuls of the mixture on a tray covered with baking paper (ensuring a largish gap is left between the spoonfuls, as they will expand), then sprinkle some sprinkles over the top. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 180C, then move to cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Muesli with Yoghurt & Honey

Whilst travelling, I got sick of having muesli with milk on days where we didn't get out the gas stove to cook breakfast (which was most days). To vary our breakfasts, I started having yoghurt instead of milk with my muesli, either unsweetened yoghurt plus a drizzle of honey, or one of the pre-sweetened, flavoured yoghurts.

I know this is similar in concept to bircher muesli, but without the work and time involved in making it from scratch, as I'm just using store bought muesli. Some fresh fruit such as strawberries also makes it extra tasty!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Do Your Bit for Food Waste

It's horrible to read stories with such figures as Food waste bill tops $5b. I always make a conscious decision to not buy more food than I will use and to try and use up ingredients from my fridge and pantry before they go off (and into the bin). Try and do your bit by looking first of all in your fridge and pantry, before heading to the supermarket or ordering take-away. You'll help your wallet, too.


Spaghetti with Salami and Baby Spinach

For a while, spaghetti with semi-dried tomatoes, garlic, chilli and basil leaves has been a Friday night staple for me, helped by the fact that I generally only needed to buy some semi-dried tomatoes from the supermarket on the way home and pick some basil off the balcony. Whilst travelling around Australia, I came up with various variations on this dish (which is quick to cook and only needs two burners), concentrating on using ingredients that needing minimal refrigeration (courtesy of our heavy duty esky or cooler), with this salami and baby spinach version being a favourite.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

160g spaghetti
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red birdseye chilli, finely chopped
12 slices salami (such as cacciatore), halved
60g baby spinach leaves

Cook the spaghetti in boiling water, until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a frying pan and cook for the garlic and chilli for 1-2 minutes. Add the salami and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, until beginning to brown. Add the spinach leaves (gradually, if there isn't initially enough room for all of them in the frying pan), stirring them in with the other ingredients, until the spinach leaves have wilted.

Drain the spaghetti and mix in the ingredients from the frying pan. Pour over the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil (or extra olive oil to taste) and season well with salt and pepper, and serve.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Magazine Recommendations

Two magazines I regularly buy and enjoy the recipes from are RealLiving and Notebook:. Neither of them are solely food magazines (the formerly mainly concentrating on affordable home decoration, whilst the latter is a women's magazine that is not obsessed with celebrities), but both of them have a food section that is wonderful in different ways.

The recipes in RealLiving are generally simple, with good weeknight recipes and always a delicious sweet recipe.

Notebook: generally has more complex recipes (some don't even have an indication of how long), but I particularly enjoy the From the Pantry section (which has recently focused on ingredients such as canned tuna and chickpeas) and the In Season listing of fruits and vegetables that are currently, you guessed it, in season. Notebook: also has an excellent website with many of their recipes online.

Pad Thai

I love a good home-made pad thai. It's quite easy to make, as long as you prepare everything first (or have a second person to assist), because you need to add the ingredients to the wok in quick succession. A decent size wok is also essential. And it's easy to experiment a bit and vary the strength of the ingredients until you get the pad thai that is just perfect for you.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

100g medium-width rice stick noodles
2 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
2 eggs, whisked
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
100g chicken breast, sliced into strips
2 tbsp pad thai sauce (I prefer Por Kwan brand, refer to your jar for serving size)
1/2 tbsp fish sauce
100g cooked & peeled prawns (buy frozen or from a seafood counter)
2-3 shallots, sliced
1-2 handfuls bean sprouts
Chopped peanuts, to serve
Fresh limes or lime juice, to serve

1. Soak the rice stick noodles in boiling water, generally for about 5 minutes (refer to packet for specific directions).
2. Meanwhile, heat half of the oil in a wok, over medium-high heat. Pour in the eggs and cook like an omelette, flipping when the bottom side is cooked. Remove from the wok, and roughly slice.
3. Re-heat the work with the remaining oil, over high heat. Once the wok is hot, add the garlic, and cook for only 30 seconds. Then add the chicken, and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes, until no longer pink.
4. Drain the rice stick noodles and add to the wok, along with the pad thai sauce and fish sauce. Stir to mix all ingredients. Once mixed, add the prawns and cook for 1 minute.
5. Add the shallots, sliced egg omelette and bean sprouts to the wok and cook for 1 minute, or until all heated through and mixed well.
6. Serve, topped with chopped peanuts and lime juice, to taste.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hunting for Mudcrabs

Actually, my favourite meal whilst away travelling was definitely the dinner of mudcrabs we had in Lombadina. Lombadina is located on the Dampier Peninsula, north of Broome, and many of the local Aboriginal settlements offer the chance to go out mudcrabbing , then eat the proceeds. The hunting for the mudcrabs is the hard part (luckily, our guide caught a decent number), with the cooking just a matter of boiling them in water for an amount of time dependent on the number of crabs. Read more about the mudcrabbing here.

Mussels in White Wine on the Beach

One of my favourite meals whilst travelling was a meal of mussels steamed in white wine, that we cooked and ate on the beach at Coffin Bay National Park. Easy one pot cooking, quick to prepare, minimal dishes, and very tasty...

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

1kg live mussels, rinsed and debearded
1 cup white wine
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Handful fresh mixed herbs, such as parsley, optional
2 tbsp butter
Crusty bread, to serve

Combine the white wine, shallots and garlic in a large billy (or pot) over medium heat. Simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Add the mussels. Cover and increase the heat, cooking until all (or almost all) of the mussels have opened (about 5 minutes). Stir in herbs and butter, and remove from heat.

Eat straight from the billy, accompanied by the crusty bread (and the rest of the bottle of wine!)