Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spaghetti Matriciana

There are so many "traditional" or "regional" recipes for this dish just like there is for most Italian meals. Dice pork cheek, speck, proscuitto or even thick cut bacon rashers are commonly found amongst the ingredients, some use onion some don't, and the list goes on. I will say however that it is a well known sauce and normally found on menus at most Italian Restaurants.

As always, I have modified the common ingredients for much low fat friendlier substitutions with substituting on the flavour. The bacon filled spicy tomato sauce is quick and simple to prepare and cook making this a weeknight hit and it also ranks high on the comfort food list. You can adjust the level of chilli flakes to suit your taste. My kids are enjoying spicy food but everyone is different.

Spaghetti Matriciana
(recipe adapted from Woolworths Australian Good Taste Magazine April 2010)

Serves: 6
Points per serve: 5

375 grams thin spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
125g Weight Watchers bacon (98% fat free) coarsely chopped
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1/3 cup white wine
700ml bottle Passata or tomato pasta sauce
1/2 cup water
2 dried bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
40 grams finely grated fresh parmesan
additional basil leaves for garnish

Bring a large saucepan of water to boil and cook spaghetti as per packet instructions. Drain.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon and the onion for 5 minutes, stirring, or until golden. Add the garlic and chilli. Cook for 30 seconds or until mixed through and fragrant. Add the wine, stirring to pick up any pan bits, for 1 minute. Add the passata, water and bay leaves. Simmer for 10 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add the pasta, basil and half the parmesan. Toss to combine. Serve topped with remaining parmesan and extra basil.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pork Cutlet with Mushroom, Vodka and Chilli Sauce

I had actually planned using Char Sui Sauce as a marinade for the pork cutlets tonight but my plans changed when I got home to find we didn't have any Char Sui sauce.... so I guess Char Sui Pork Cutlet with Sesame Noodle Salad will have to wait for another day.

Needless to say I had to come up with something else using the pork cutlets which I did have. So in an imaginative mood I decided on tonight's meal, Pork Cutlet with Mushroom, Vodka and Chilli Sauce. I was fancying a creamy sauce also which was good as it calmed the chilli taste.

Pork Cutlet with Mushroom, Vodka and Chilli Sauce

Serves: 4
Points per serve: 6

4 pork cutlets, 200 grams each, fat trimmed
freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray
100 grams mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons Vodka
1 teapsoon chilli paste , or to taste
1/2 cup low fat cream

Season pork cutlets on both sides with salt and pepper.

Coat a large frying pan with cooking spray and cook pork over a high heat for 3 - 5 minutes on each side depending on your preference. Remove from heat. Place on a plate and cover with foil.

In the same pan add the mushrooms and cook for 2 - 3 minutes or until softened. Deglaze the pan with the vodka, swirl around covering all the pan. Add chilli paste, mix through. Add the cream and mix well.

Serve pork cutlets and serve with the sauce.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Köttbullar and Gräddsås (Swedish Meatballs with Cream Gravy)

As I have previously mentioned while growing up some of our family friends were Finnish and Swedish and of course that friendship meant their food! One of our all time favourites are Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs) especially when served as a meal with mashed potatoes, Gräddsås (a creamy gravy) and Lingonberry Jam.

While these make a satisfying meal they are often included as a dish in the smörgåsbord buffet and normally without the gravy. Either way they are delicious and always on the menu for lunch when we go shopping at Ikea. You can actually buy frozen Köttbullar and a packet mix for Gräddsås in the Ikea food shop so you can quickly whip this meal up. I however thought it was about time I actually made these myself.

Köttbullar and Gräddsås (Swedish Meatballs with Cream Gravy)

Serves: 4
Points per serve: 6.5

Points for Köttbullar per serve: 4.5
Points for Gräddsås per serve: 2

1 onion
cooking spray
1 cup milk
75 grams breadcrumbs
250 grams extra lean beef mince
250 grams lean pork mince
1 egg
white pepper
ground allspice
200ml liquid beef stock
1 tablespoon soy sauce
100 ml reduced fat cream
1 tablespoon plain flour, if desired
white pepper

Finely dice the onion and sauté gently in a small pan coated with cooking spray. Soak the breadcrumbs in milk. Blend the ground meat, preferably in a food processor, with the onion, egg, and milk/breadcrumb mixture to the firm and moist consistency and season to taste. Add a little water if the mixture feels too firm.

Shape small meatballs with the aid of two spoons and place on water-rinsed plates. Coat a large frying pan with cooking spray and place the meatballs in the pan and let them brown on all sides. Shake the frying pan often. Remove from pan to a plate, cover with foil and keep warm.

To the same pan add the beef stock, bring to the boil and scrape the bottom while stiring. Strain the pan juices to remove lumps and stir in the cream. Thicken with the flour a thicker sauce if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with mashed potato or boiled potatoes and lingonberry jam.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Prawn Laksa

I know that we only had a "laksa" flavoured meal the other day but we are all really enjoying the flavour recently. In fact I think we may just have a few more Thai style meals in the pipeline especially considering the kids are starting to like the spicy yet sweet flavours that come from that cuisine.

I must admit I really like Thai or Chinese style noodle soups and I know Noel does also, so given the opportunity for having all the ingredients for a soup this is what we had.

Noel had an RDO on Monday and this is what he had decided on for dinner. And I must say I really enjoyed his dinner..... thanks darling!!

Prawn Laksa

Serves: 4
Points per serve: 7.5

125 grams rice stick noodles
125 grams rice vermicilli
cooking spray
500 grams raw prawns, peeled and tails removed
4 spring onions, sliced on diagonal
1 carrot, peeled and finely sliced
4 tablespoons Laksa paste
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
200 grams snow peas, trimmed
375 gram can Lite and Creamy Coconut Flavoured Evaporated Milk
200 grams bean sprouts
2 tomatoes, cut into 8 wedges each
fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
1 red bullet chilli, to garnish if desired

In a large bowl cover noodles with boiling water and allow to soak for 5 minutes or until soft. Drain and set aside.

Spray a large wok or frying pan with cooking spray and heat over high heat. Cook prawns for 2 - 3 minutes or until they start to turn pink. Remove from pan. Add carrots and spring onions and stir fry for 2 - 3 minutes or until softened. Add laksa paste and stir fry for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add chicken stock, lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar. Add in snow peas and toss to coat. Stir through the evaporated milk but do not boil. Add 150 grams of bean sprouts and toss through. Remove from heat.

Place 1/4 of the noodles in the bottom of each bowl, place 4 wedges of tomato in each bowl and evenly divide out the laska soup on top on noodles and tomato. Garnish with remaining bean sprouts, coriander and chilli, if using.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Red Curry Beef and Vegetable Stirfry

Tonight I really wanted a big serve of vegetables - haven't quite felt that I have eaten enough of them lately and was really fancying the vitamin hit!! But at the same time wanted lots of flavour.

Many years ago I used to make a beef red curry but of course then it was full fat coconut milk, oil and lots of noodles. Needless to say once the thought of this dish was in my head I just couldn't get rid of it and set about recreating it to fit in with my Weight Watchers lifestyle, but not as a curry rather a stirfry. Using Red Curry Paste made it a quick meal to prepare and it also wasn't overly spicy but still had a little kick.

Thankfully the kids are great at experimenting with new flavours and are also getting better at handling a little more spice in their meals so naturally they enjoyed this dish not to mention Noel and I did too. In fact there was a little bit of disappointment when I packed the leftovers up for Noel's lunch - I think the kids wanted to eat it after school tomorrow!!

Red Curry Beef and Vegetable Stirfry

Serves: 4
Points per serve: 6.5

60 grams raw cashews
cooking spray
500g lean beef strips
1 brown onion, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced on diagonal
3 tablespoons red curry paste
375ml can Carnation Light and Creamy Coconut Evaporated Milk
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 red capsicum, sliced
2 bunches bok choy, roughly chopped
200 grams snowpeas
100 grams bean sprouts
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander
Preheat grill on high. Place cashews on a baking tray and grill for several minutes to roast. Set aside.

Spray a wok or large frying pan with cooking spray and cook beef in batches for 2 - 3 minutes until browned but not overcooked. Remove from the pan. Add the onion, carrots and 1 tablespoon water and stirfry for 2 - 3 minutes or until carrots are softened and water evaporated. Remove from the pan also.
To the same wok or frying pan add the red curry paste and the evaporated milk. Bring to the boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar and fish sauce and cook for 2 minutes. Add the capsicum and cook for a further 2 minutes. Return the beef, onions and carrots to the pan and add the bok choy and snow peas. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Mix together the water and cornflour. Stir through the cornflour mixture until it thickens. Add the bean sprouts, mixing to combine. Serve immediately scattered with the cashews and coriander.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Party Pinata Cake

Alexandria is turning 9 on Thursday but had her party early. Every year I let the birthday person choose the cake that they would like and Alex decided that she wanted a Party Pinata Birthday Cake. Infact Alex has been eyeing this cake off for several years but has always chosen a different cake so I had a feeling that it would be this one I was making this year before she told me.

The cake recipe is actually from The Australian Women's Weekly Kid's Birthday Cake Cookbook, which has so many cake recipes in there and trust me, a cookbook worth buying especially if you are the birthday cake maker for kids young and old!

Although you cannot see the cake itself, it is actually decorated in chocolate butter cream (chocolate frosting) topped with lollies and then enclosed in a chocolate shell which is also decorate. Sounds hard but the cake wasn't too much of a challenge to make and the decorating although looking simple was probably the most fiddly part of the process.

Needless to say Alex enjoyed cracking open the casing with a hammer to expose the bounty of lollies hidden. As she hit the casing lollies flew off landing all over the table and then it was a scramble with her and her friends to eat the lollies off the table - I am actually not sure how many of them ate the actual cake!!

Party Pinata Cake
(recipe adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly Kid's Birthday Cake Cookbook)

For the sponge:
3 eggs (at room temperature)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup cornflour
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup jam, your choice of flavour

For the chocolate butter cream icing:
125 grams unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk

For chocolate shell:
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
450 grams milk chocolate melts

Pinata fillings/decorations:
2 bags (approximately 20) gold coins
100 grams various milk buds
100 grams fruit chew/jubes
50 grams milk chocolate
50 gram packet Smarties
200 gram packet giant Smarties
5 ladybirds
5 bumblebees
** note you can decorate with any lollies of your choice
toy hammer, for cracking pinata
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Grease and line 2 20cm round cake tins.

Beat eggs in a small bowl with electric mixer for about 8 minutes until thick and creamy. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until sugar dissolves. Transfew the mixture into a large bowl.

Sift dry ingredients together three times then sift evenly over egg mixture. Fold gently. Spread cake into prepared cake tins and cook for 10 - 12 minutes or until cake is cooked. Remove carefully from tins and cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile beat butter in a small bowl with electric mixer until as white as possible. Sift together the cocoa powder and half the icing sugar. Gradually beat icing sugar and cocoa mix into the butter along with the milk. Beat in the remaining icing sugar.

Grease a large pudding basin (make sure it's bigger than the cake) with vegetable oil and place in the freezer for 10 minutes. In a small glass bowl over a simmering saucepan of hot water, melt the milk chocolate melts, stirring continuously until all smooth. Ensure the bottom of the glass bowl does not come into contact with the hot water. Remove pudding basin from the freezer and working quickly, place the melted chocolate in the basin. Swirl melted chocolate around to coat the inside of the bowl completely and evenly. Continue swirling until chocolate begins to set and stops flowing. Return bowl to freezer and freeze until chocolate is set completely.

Once sponge is cooled place one sponge on the cake board, spread with jam and then sandwich together the other sponge. Cut a deep hollow circle in top cake. Cover completely with chocolate butter cream. Top with coins, chocolate buds and fruit lollies.

Carefully place the pudding basin with set chocolate shell over decorated cake. Using a hot cloth rub outside of the bowl until the chocolate shell slips out of the basin.

Melt the milk chocolate and working quickly secure smarties, ladybirds and bumblebees to the chocolate shell.

Allow the birthday person to break chocolate shell open with toy hammer.

Cake iced (frosted) and lollies scattered on top.

The plain casing.... lots of chocolate!! My kids were in heaven!

Before it got smashed with the hammer to find the cake and lollies.....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pork Cutlets with Cranberry Wine Sauce

I feel as I have not only neglected this blog but my friends who pop in just to see what's been cooking at The House of Murray. Don't panic we are not giving up or stopping this blog, in fact it's for purely work and family related reasons that the posts lately have been few and far between.

Firstly I have just returned from a work road trip which has seen me travelling around Northern Victoria last Tuesday through to Thursday. Needless to say, I have been eating at motel restaurants and not cooking for myself. Noel and the kids have been at home but he didn't have time to contribute.

No sooner had I unpacked from the work trip Thursday evening than it was time to repack on Friday evening as we had a family holiday as it's the Labour Day long weekend. We left for Halls Gap, in the Grampians, early Saturday morning and returned Tuesday night. We did have a fantastic weekend break and enjoyed spending quality time together.

During our trip I was given "time off" from cooking dinners so we did eat out every night and had some wonderful meals. The first night we ate at The Kookaburra Restaurant in Halls Gap where I had a magnificent meal, Kangaroo Fillet with a Caramelized Port, Cream and Seeded Mustard Sauce and Noel had the Duo of Pork, Chargrilled pork fillet with slow-baked spare rib served with an apple, lime and ginger sauce. Both of us really enjoyed these meals, and the kids enjoyed their meals also which made it very tempting to return there for the next two nights but we didn't!!

We also ate at Mings Oriental at the National Hotel in Stawell which was a Chinese and Australian Restaurant within a wonderful old hotel. It was the type of place you wouldn't expect to find, if you know what I mean? An Aussie Pub, where you walk through the lounge area to see a couple of regulars propped up at the bar drinking their pots of beer. Through the door to the dining room you entered an old style dining room with a little servery and this massive chalk written menu half filled with Chinese style dishes and the other classic Aussie dishes such as steak and chips, parma and chips, etc. We had the Chinese banquet and everyone enjoyed that. All the individual meals were good including the Mongolian Combination, Sizzling Garlic Prawns but Noel and I really enjoyed the Beef with Lemongrass and Chilli (we even got a choice of the temperature scale 1 - 14! We chose 10 and that was quite hot!) As you can tell we would recommend both these restaurants if you are ever in the area!

As you can all imagine that I have so many new dishes that I want to try and replicate after reading all the lovely restaurant menus for the last week. Of course they will need to be Weight Watcher friendly so the next few weeks could be very interesting indeed for the family with experiments in the House of Murray kitchen!

So now we are back and settled we finally sat down to a home cooked meal - one which I enjoyed but must be honest and say that Noel found the sauce quite sweet. I had found this recipe some time ago and wasn't quite sure about serving cranberry with pork. In my mind cranberry goes hand in hand with turkey while apple sauce is the choice condiment for pork! However since trying I have to say that the cranberry mixed with the sage and thyme was quite suited for the pork and it's one of those recipes that you just cannot believe that it's actually low fat.

Pork Cutlets with Cranberry Wine Sauce
(recipe source delicious magazine - December 2005)

Serves: 4
Points per serve: 7

4 pork cutlets, trimmed of fat
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup (250ml) dry white wine
1 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 tablespoon thinly sliced sage leaves
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Season the pork cutlets with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and fry the cutlets for 2 - 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Transfer the cutlets to a baking tray and cook in the oven for 5 minutes or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, add the garlic to the frying pan and cook for a few seconds over medium heat. Add the white wine and cranberry sauce and stir to melt the sauce. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes, then stir in the sage and thyme. Return the pork cutlets to the pan and coat in the cranberry wine sauce.

(click here for a printable version of this recipe)