Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Stuffed Eggplants

Well, there's been a pretty long hiatus on the food blogging front for me, but in my defence it's harder to find time when I don't have a desk job, plus finishing the PhD was exhausting. But it's over now and I'm determined to write once a week, on my day off. It's not like I've not been cooking, in fact I've got a couple of new things up my sleeve. Today's post is one of them, a meal I first tried a couple of months ago and now have almost every week. It's healthy, cheap, easy and fast. Plus I've always wanted to enjoy eggplant because it's so pretty and purple, but I just never liked it that much. Cooked this way they are really delicious.

Stuffed Eggplants
(serves 4)

2 large eggplants
2 tablespoons butter
8 medium sized button mushrooms, sliced
1 brown onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons italian herbs
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 bunch asparagus, chopped
small handful chopped olives
3 tablespoons tomato paste
400g can tuna
1/2 cup grated cheese

First, cut the eggplants in half lengthways, rub with oil and bake at 200 degrees celsius until the skins have darkened and the flesh is soft - check this by gently poking a fork into the centre of one of them.

While the eggplants cool, melt the butter in a large pan and then saute the mushrooms, onion and garlic with vinegar, sugar and herbs until soft.

Continue to cook the mushrooms and onion on a low heat while you carefully take the flesh out of the eggplants. Use a sharp knife to cut out the centre of each eggplant half, leaving about a centimetre inside the skin. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh out. It should be soft enough to mash up with a spoon on a small plate.

Add the mashed up eggplant to the mushroom/onion mixture, along with the remaining ingredients except the cheese. Cook on medium heat, stirring, until the asparagus has turned bright green. Then remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and spoon into the eggplant halves. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake at 200 degrees celsius until  the cheese has melted.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My favourite sort of meal - quick and easy pasta

A new recipe today! We have had a couple of great days here in Wellington, which gives me the chance to take the dog for big walks. This afternoon we went so far that I needed a decent dinner, only I don't have much food in the house because I've been a little broke. So what to do when there is not much food and you are really hungry? You make an impromptu pasta dish. This one is based on carbonara, so the sauce features whisked egg and parmesan. It only takes as long to make as the pasta takes to cook, and it is yummy and filling. It would be even better with the addition of some cooked chicken or bacon, and a salad with lettuce and cherry tomatoes would go really well too. Shame I didn't manage to take better pictures.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

First real dinner in new home

A new post! It's been ages. Why? I'm not sure. Just don't have so much to say about food at the moment. Perhaps because while I was living at my sister's I was sort of on pause. Perhaps because I am just making the same old thing. But today I made something up again, in celebration of having gathered together an eclectic assortment of kitchen stuff for my new house. It is still really lacking in furniture and flatmates, but I'm getting there. So today's dinner was a white bolognaise, inspired by the turkey mince that was on special. It was good, I recommend you make it, and to finish off my evening I am going to go to bed with a movie and a bowl of cocoa puffs. After walking my whining dog that is. So, on to the recipe!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Banana Cake

Somehow I have gone all this time without dedicating a post to banana cake. A staple in NZ, it was not a common cafe treat over in Ireland, so I guess I just forgot about it. I think my recipe probably comes from the Edmond's cookbook, but my version is slightly altered, probably to suit my tastes and what was in my kitchen cupboard when I wrote down the recipe. On this particular occasion my banana cake wasn't perfect, on account of the electric egg beater dying halfway through mixing the butter. It had been on its last legs for awhile, clearly struggling to do its job, not to mention the blue sparks. This time, though, I knew that it was time to stop when I noticed a little bit of smoke coming out of the vent at the front. So my butter and sugar were not fully creamed, but I forged on ahead, adding more ingredients. Perhaps I should have melted the butter/sugar instead of just continuing, because as I mixed in the other ingredients I noticed quite large blobs of butter in the batter. But after adding the eggs it was too late so I kept on going and the cake turned out well enough - although I really would recommend making sure to cream the butter and sugar properly. This particular banana cake doesn't have the usual chocolate icing; instead I sprinkled it with chopped nuts and chocolate chips before baking, and topped it with my homemade chocolate fudge sauce.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Vanilla Mascarpone Cream

Today I am finally making a new post, but it is a very short and simple one. Basically, lately I have not been cooking or baking a lot of new things because I just haven't felt like it. Last week I was sick as a dog and I was going to post a soup recipe, even though it was days before I had any appetite to eat my soup. But the recipe was just not good enough to blog about - the soup could have been great, because it was my friend's recipe and it was delicious when she made it. But it's one of those recipes where you just know what to do and can't write it down, so my approximation was nothing like her soup. I will have to try again. For now I have made pumpkin pie instead, which is already in the blog, but what I added this time was a cream-cheese cream to serve it with instead of ice-cream or plain cream. And it was good. Almost like having cheesecake filling on your pie. Or brownie. Or cookie. Or chocolate bar...am I taking it too far?

Vanilla Mascarpone Cream

250 ml cream
250 grams mascarpone
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup icing sugar (or less if you don't have such a sweet tooth as I do)

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whip until thick. Add more flavour if you like and serve immediately on top of your favourite dessert or sweet snack.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Berry Custard Swirls

A new recipe, yay! It was Easter weekend, and I felt like making something, and that that something should be bread. Only I didn't feel like making hot cross buns even though it was Easter, and I sort of felt like making cinnamon swirls but not entirely, so I decided to mix it up a little by using some sort of strawberry filling. Then I thought, why not add coconut? Of course, if you don't like coconut you can always just leave it out and make plain bread dough so don't let that stop you making these! In the middle you could simply but some sort of jam, but I actually made my own filling with mixed berries that were in the freezer and I've tried to approximate the recipe (because I was just throwing things together). Finally, the buns were topped with a vanilla custard icing, and more coconut, which is of course optional. They were really delicious and a big hit, so go and make some right now!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Creamy Avocado Pasta

Being out in Colac Bay by the beach on a windy day makes me hungry, which in turn makes me feel like writing about food! This is not what I am making today but something I whipped up a couple of weeks ago, and then again a week later but the first time was better, so I've tried to make the recipe below more like the first time. Basically it's a good, fast pasta dish for an evening when you are hungry and want food quickly - but it's also rather rich so you wouldn't want to eat a huge amount of it; let's call this a light meal or a side. I really recommend it though, it was delicious. Plus isn't avocado full of the good types of fat that we should all eat more of?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cookie Dough Cupcakes

So, long time no writing. Why? Well I don't really have a specific excuse, other than that I am busy either working, or procrastinating while worrying that I should be working, plus I'm not actually baking that often. So these cupcakes were made a couple of weeks ago and I've not got around to writing about them until now. Finally I have tried a cupcake recipe other than my usual and it turned out really well - cookie dough flavoured cupcakes. Though I think the line between cookie and cake is fine enough that you could also call these chocolate chip cupcakes and nobody would try to tell you any different. The frosting, however, really does taste like cookie dough and it is so good. Which brings me to the moral of the story - no matter what it is you feel like baking, frost it with copious amounts of cookie dough flavoured frosting. Imagine a good chocolate brownie with cookie dough frosting, how good would that be?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
recipe from tidymom.net

Cupcakes (24):
330 grams butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 2/3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line two muffin trays (24 holes) with paper liners.

In large bowl beat the butter with the brown sugar until it the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

Add 1/2 of the milk and beat lightly, then sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix slowly until the dry ingredients are all combined, then beat in the second half of the milk, the vanilla essence and the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin trays and bake for about 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.

330 grams butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3 1/2 cups icing sugar (approximately)
1 cup plain flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla essence (I used vanilla bean paste)

Beat the butter together with the brown sugar until the mixture is smooth.

Adding a half cup at a time, beat in 2 cups of icing sugar and the remaining ingredients, until the mixture is smooth. Slowly continue adding icing sugar until the frosting has the required consistency.

*Then if you want to be over the top with the cookieness, make them into cookie monster cupcakes:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Frosted Milo Cookies

Cookie day again! I have not been baking enough since being back in New Zealand, I have no occasions to bake for, and the result is that my last batch of cupcakes were not up to their usual standard! Luckily, these cookies turned out nicely and got a lot of positive comments. Of course, if you are not in the southern hemisphere you won't know what Milo is and will have trouble finding it but I'm pretty sure you'll find a suitable subsititute - Milo is a malted chocolate drink powder that we use here to mostly make a hot drink with water and milk, but you can have it cold too (I prefer it cold). It's not strongly chocolatey and the malt taste is not too strong either. You could probably replace it with ovaltine and cocoa for this recipe, or some other malted drink powder. Or, go to you local Asian grocery store and just have a look around because technically we are Australasia and you can get Milo in many pacific countries, so you might just find it there, in a green tin.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cheddar & Vegetable Penne

What do you do when it's already evening time and you're hungry and you have no meal planned? You whip up a pasta dish, that's what you do. This time around my quick pasta features vegetables sauteed with balsamic vinegar until they are sweet and soft, and a bastardised version of carbonara using plain old cheddar cheese. It turned out so yummy that I had to quickly write down what I put in it and take a photo so that I could make it again. And maybe other people will want to make it too? I've also been baking so keep an eye out for the next post, it's going to be something really yummy and chocolatey.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Homemade Paella

These days the food posts are really few and far between, and I have all but stopped adding my recipes to blog-hops and checking out other people's blogs and recipes. In a way it's because I have gotten a bit lazy, have not been cooking that much and my procrastination over writing my thesis is stopping me from doing anything meaningful at all (including this) because as soon as I go to do something I know that I should really be doing thesis work. I should be cooking more though, because I enjoy it, even though I don't have all my friends here to feed like I did in Ireland. I'm hardly baking either, which is absolutely shocking for me! So tomorrow I am going to bake cookies (they will be a peace offering to my Dad because I left the door to his beach house wide open after I had been staying out there a few days - woops!). Today's post, however, is of a meal that I made a week ago for my family - a paella recipe out of a tapas recipe book that came all the way to me from Spain. It was really delicious and really easy to make too, I will be making it again soon I'm sure.