Sunday, 29 April 2007

Easy Peasy

It’s getting cold in Sydney. I know this because I’ve started wearing a scarf this week. I’ve also noticed that I am craving soups for lunch. Not the watery-type clear soups, but that more hearty and substantial soup which you can have as a meal. Of course the plus point is that these soups tend to be healthy too. I made this soup for Quikong for the first time two weeks ago when he was feeling under the weather, and it got his approval. He even had a second helping!

I made this yesterday for lunch and plan to freeze the rest of it for a quick and easy lunch at work. Making this is super easy. The only “hard” bit is chopping everything up and waiting for it to be ready. It’s high in protein and fibre. Pair it with a couple of slices of crusty bread and it becomes a very healthy and hearty meal.

Easy Peasy Autumn Veggie Soup
(serves 4-6. I suggest making double of this recipe and freezing it )

250g of a mix of your choice of: pearl barley, lentils (red spilt, whole green), peas (yellow, green, red), beans (white, black eye, red, faba, pinto); rinsed
1.5 L stock (veggie or chicken)*
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 large carrots, diced
200g pumpkin, diced
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
freshly ground black pepper (or 2 small dried chillies finely sliced )
Optional: 1 tspn of your favourite dried herb

(*or 1.5 L water with 2 heaped tbspn of powered stock)

Place all the ingredients in a large heavy based pot, bring to the boil and simmer for an hour, or longer (till the beans and pear barley are tender). Stir occasionally. The lentils and pumpkin would have disintegrated into the soup by now. Add more boiling water if the soup gets too thick. You may also need to add salt to taste.
(a) add 1 small can of chopped tomatoes (reduce water to 1.25L) and a few tspns of curry powder. Then serve with pappadums.
(b) add chicken, potatoes and a tspn of dried rosemary
(c) crumble some feta cheese just before serving
(d) add ½ cup of brown rice and a extra cup of water/stock

Source: Own creation

Taster Notes by Quikong

All I recall is having a second helping, so it must have been pretty good!

(Nora: His comment is based on the same soup that I made last fortnight.)


Friday, 27 April 2007

Oh, how Delightful!

When I came across the theme for Muffin Monday (MM02) which was to create Muffins that Make you go *Ooooh!*, my mind started to tick instantaneously. The challenge by Elena of Experiments, who is hosting this blogging event, is to create "Unusual and Unique Muffins - using ingredients that you won't normally find in a muffin that you could buy from a store".

Staring at our pantry, my gaze settled on the little bottle of rose water that I had recently purchased. I felt this sudden surge of inspiration - "I shall make turkish delight muffins!", I declared. "Huh?" came the reply from Quikong. I didn't realise that I had said it out loud. Anyway, Quikong usually ignores my ramblings and mumblings but the words "turkish delight" must have caught his attention. He LOVES that sticky sweet treat. After explaining to him the MM02 theme, and describing what I was planning to do, he responded, "as long as there is chocolate in it." He was actually right on the mark - turkish delight and chocolate are very well acquainted. Just look at the confectionary ailse of any grocery store and you can find several brands (e.g. Fry's) that produce chocolate with turkish delight flavours. You can even find chocolate turkish delight easter eggs.
Turkish delight can be flavoured with rose water, vanilla or mastic and can contain nuts such as hazelnuts or pistachios. It is made from starch and sugar; and cut up into small cubes that are dusted with a powdery mixture of cornflour and icing sugar which prevents sticking.
This recipe is for all those turkish delight lovers out there!

Turkish Delight Muffins

(own creation)

Makes 6 Extra Large Muffins
(the basic muffin mixture was adapted from the recipe provided by Elena)

2 Cups self-raising flour
1 Tspn Baking Soda
½ Tspn Salt
1 Cup Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
½ Cup Vegetable Oil
½ Cup Milk
1-2 tspn of rose water
a few drops of red food colouring

a few cubes of store bought turkish delight
good quality dark couverture chocolate

Stage 1:
Prepare the chocolate covered turkish delight which will be stirred into the muffin mixture: Using a sharp knife that has been coated with the powdery mixture, cut the turkish delight pieces into smaller cubes. Melt the chocolate in a microwave and coat the small pieces of turkish delight. Set aside to set or place it briefly in the fridge while you prepare the muffin mixture.
Stage 2:
Preheat oven at 180C (Fan-forced) and place rack in the center of the oven.
In a large bowl sift together the dry ingredients.
In separate bowl whisk together eggs, vegetable oil, milk and rose water.
Pour egg mixture into the flour mixture and fold in ingredients. Seperate the mixture into two protions. Drop a few red food colouring into one portion and mix.
Fill muffin cups - start with either the pink or yellow, then place a few of the chocolate coated turkish delight cubes on it, then pour other mixture, and then pour the first mixture again until ⅔ full. This will create the marbled effect (see second photo of the sliced muffin).
Bake for 20 minutes until deep golden brown, and after a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove muffins from the tins and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Dust the cooled muffins with the powdery mixture from the turkish delight. or place a few of the chocolate covered turkish delight cubes on the muffins and drizzle with melted chocolate.
And, devour...... oh, it tasted so delightful!!!

Taster Notes by Quikong:
.Taste, teture, looks - 3.5/5, Originality - 4/5
Total - 7.5 spoons out of 10
Suggestion - Cut the turkish delights bits smaller and put more in each muffin.
Do check out Elena's blog and the MM02 round up:

Muffin Monday


One more thought about Anzac Day.....

Since meeting Quikong more than a year ago now, he has taken it upon himself to educate me about all things Aussie. Not just the fun bits like eating pie and dancing in the rain at this year's Homebake, but also regarding Australia's history. The one that moved me greatly was the battle of Gallipoli. Quikong said that he would like to visit Gallipoli at least once before he dies. It is a pilgramage that thousands of Australians make annually, especially on Anzac Day. I wanted to share this quote about Gallipoli that really moved me:
"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours... You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now living in our bossom and are in peace. Having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well" ~ M.K. Atatürk (1881-1938, Founder of the Turkish Republic and its first President)

If you have a chance, do watch the Australian film "Gallipoli", a 1981 film by Peter Weir (a very young Mel Gibson stars in it).

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

A short history lesson told by a biscuit

Today is Anzac Day, a very special day for both Australia and New Zealand. It is the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. Since I couldn't wake up in time for the dawn service, I thought that I would pay my respects in the way I know best...yes, it is yet another good excuse to bake. Bake biscuits to be precise. Not just any biscuit...of course it had to be Anzac biscuits.

There are a few versions concerning the origins of the Anzac biscuit. My favourite version is the one that describes the thoughtfulness and resourcesfulness of wives and mothers who wanted to send treats to their loved ones who were fighting in the trenches during World War I. All these women could use were rationed supplies that they had available. They also had to make sure that these biscuits could survive the long journey by sea-mail to the war front. And that was how the Anzac biscuit was created. So much history in a little bicky!

I think that this is the easiest biscuit recipe that I've ever come across and the biscuits keep well in an airtight container. There are several variations of this recipe and this is the one that I used (my notes in italics). Since we didn't have golden syrup in our pantry, I used maple syrup instead. Maybe it was not such a good move (see taster comments below).

Anzac Biscuits
(makes 8 giant or 24 regular biscuits)

1 cup plain flour, sifted
1 ¼ cup rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
125g butter, chopped
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (slightly heaped)
2 tablespoons of hot water

(1) Pre-heat oven at 160 C (fan-forced). Line baking tray with non-stick baking paper (I used a non-stick baking tray).

(2) Combine flour, oats, coconut and sugar in a bowl.

(3) Place butter and golden syrup in a saucepan and stir over low heat until melted (I used the microwave). Remove from heat. Combine bicarbonate of soda and hot water (it will froth up) in a small bowl and stir into golden syrup mixture. Add immediately to flour mixture and stir until well combined.

(4) Roll mixture into balls (what size depends on your preference, you can make 8 "giant" cookies" or 24 regular sized ones). Place onto baking trays & flatten it, allowing a bit of room for spreading. (important: Since the biscuit dough doesn't spread much during baking, I had to flatten the balls quite a bit)

(5) Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden. Vary the baking times depending on whether or not you want your cookies crunchy or chewy and how large your biscuits are.

(6) Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and allow biscuits to cool completely. Keeps well in an airtight container.
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Taster Notes by Quikong:
The biscuits are nice tasting, have the correct aesthetics, but if we're to strive for prefection I can think of a couple of suggestions. Firstly, don't use maple syrup, not only is it no longer an anzac bicky in name, it tastes weird to any australian used to eating the genuine article. Secondly, I think they need more oats, the biscuits were very grainy and not chunky ( the way my mum makes them).
6.5 spoons out of 10.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Under construction....
Stay Tuned!