Thursday, November 26, 2015

Bobotie ~ aka South African Curried Mince Pie

The name of this dish is definitely an intriguing one... which of course made me want to make it without even reading the ingredients.

It's the national dish of South Africa Bobotie, pronounced ba-boor-tea,  is a pastry free pie made with a filling of curried meat and fruit topped with an egg based custard!

It's very similar, I guess, to a Shepherd's Pie but without the mashed potato topping.  The topping made with eggs and sour cream was creamy and although I was sceptical about it, surprised me with both texture and flavour.

What can I say - overall it was delish and very easy to make something I love on a week night.  I used half mild curry powder and half hot curry powder but the choice is yours depending on your tastes.  The mixture of curry flavours combined with the sweetness of the apple and raisins makes you instantly understand why this is a much loved dish.

Bobotie ~ aka South African Curried Mince Pie
(Recipe sourced from Weight Watchers Double Up Dinners Cookbook)

Serves 8
ProPoints per serve: 8

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 brown onions, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 kilogram extra lean beef mince
2 teaspoons tumeric
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 green apples, grated
2 carrots, grated
1/2 cup raisins
4 cups passata
2/3 cup low fat sour cream
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 degrees Celsius fan forced.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Cook onion and celery, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened.  Add mince and cook, stirring to break up lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned.

Add tumeric and curry powder and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.  

Add carrot, raisins and passata and bring to the boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.  

Place beef mixture in a large ovenproof dish (or divide between two 1.25L oven proof dishes if you wish to freeze).  Smooth the surface.

Combine sour cream and eggs in a bowl.  Pour sour cream mixture over the mince mixture.  Place bay leaves in the center of each dish.  Bake for 40 minutes or until topping is set.  Serve.

Should you wish to freeze - cool and wrap dish in a double layer of plastic wrap.  Wrap in foil.  Freeze for up to 3 months.  Defrost in fridge overnight.  Reheat in oven preheated to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 degrees Celsius fan forced for 30 minutes or until hot.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Parmigiana

When our daughter was about 7 years old she declared that when grew up and got a job she was going to be a food tester! Not a average food tester though she was going to find the best Chicken Parmigiana in the whole world!  Every time we went out for dinner and there was Parmigiana on the menu you could guarantee that she would order one (and to be honest it's now her favourite fall back menu item).

Today she is 14, currently focused on becoming a Food Scientist and yes, still loves her parmas!

Parmigianas are such an iconic dish here in Australia with many pubs boasting they have the best, or the most different varieties. Chicken fillets either coated in breadcrumbs or not - some with ham, some without ham and then others with an array of different toppings such as Mexican, garlic prawns, fried eggs, bolognaise sauce, and the list just goes on and on.  A few of my favourite variations include Acapulco Chicken, Chicken Pizziola, and Veal Campagnola.

I like experimenting with the idea of this dish also so when I read this recipe I knew it would have to be trialed in the House Of Murray...  and it was wonderful.  The filling soft and flavoursome.  The outside crunchy and covered in a mix of tomato and cheese - what more could you want?

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Parmigiana
(Recipe adapted from Women's Weekly Weeknights Fast and Fabulous Cookbook)

Serves: 4

cooking spray
4 chicken breast fillets, all visible fat removed
40 grams baby spinach leaves
1 1/3 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup plain flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups stale breadcrumbs
1 cup bottled tomato pasta sauce or passata
1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius or 180 degrees Celsius fan-forced.

Line a large baking tray with foil or baking paper and spray with cooking spray.

Using a sharp knife cut a pocket into each chicken breast without cutting through or piercing the outside.

In a small bowl combine spinach, ricotta and onion. Mix well to combine.

Fill each pocket with 1/4 of the ricotta mixture, pushing mixture into the pocket to evenly fill the chicken. Secure pocket opening with toothpicks.

Coat schnitzels in flour, shake off excess. Dip in combined egg and milk, then in breadcrumbs.

Place schnitzels on the baking tray, spray with cooking spray and place in oven. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes, turning once.

Place schnitzels in baking dish, top with sauce and cheese. Roast, uncovered, in oven, 10 minutes or until cheese melts.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Beef Keema with Cumin and Currant Pulao

We had a busy evening tonight we doctor's appointments so I needed something quick and easy to prepare and put on the table. This dish perfectly fits both the "quick" and "easy" requirements and has a magnificent satisfying flavour.

Keema  is a traditional South Asian meat dish and it is main ingredient in mince meat, whether lamb or beef which is cooked with spices, peas and potatoes.  The meat mixture is also used as a filling for samosas or naan bread.  This dry style curry dish compliments the Cumin and Currant Pulau with both dishes flavours complimenting each other.  I love the sweetness of the currants against the spiciness of the beef curry.

This weeknight wonder is something we have cooked before and it was totally devoured.  It's somewhat simple but definitely packed with the perfect combination of spices.  The kids actually get excited when I cook this dish and there is generally nothing left for lunches the next day.

Beef Keema with Cumin and Currant Pulao
(Recipe sourced from Women's Weekly Weeknights Fast and Fabulous Cookbook)

Serves: 4
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 small brown onion, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons dried currants
500 grams lean beef mince
2 teaspoons mild or hot curry powder (depending on taste)
1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
1/4 cup water
4 green onions, sliced thinly
2/3 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup firmly packed fresh coriander leaves

To make pulao, heat half the oil in large frying pan. Cook brown onion, garlic and spices, stirring, until onion softens. Add rice, cook, stirring, until rice is coated in spice mixture. Stir in stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in currants; stand, covered, about 5 minutes or until rice is tender.

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in large frying pan. Add mince and cook, stirring, until cooked through.
Add curry powder and ginger; stir until fragrant. Add sauce, the water, green onion and peas. Cook, stirring, until peas are tender.

Serve keema on pulao, sprinkled with coriander.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Chilli Chicken, Mushroom and Pesto Pizza

Nothing beats a Saturday night relaxing with a few drinks and a pizza especially when the pizza is home made and so fresh.

Noel enjoys simple plain and tasty pizzas whereas I tend to experiment a lot with flavours.  I first saw this recipe in one of our many cookbooks a long time ago and knew it would be cooked.  I had to adapt it a little as I am also a huge fan of mushrooms and bocconcini  on pizza and of course, omitted the olive oil from the chicken mixture as it simply does not need it.

The flavour kick was amazing.... chilli and garlic enveloped in freshly shredded chicken, vegetables and cheese with mouthfuls of basil pesto drizzled on the top.  What more could a girl ask for?  Maybe a bigger tummy.....  LOL!!

Chilli Chicken, Mushroom and Pesto Pizza
(recipe adapted from Women's Weekly Weeknights Fast and Fabulous Cookbook) 

Makes: 1 large pizza
Serves: 4

1 ball of Noel's pizza dough or a shop brought base
1 skinless chicken fillet
cooking spray
1/4 cup tomato paste
50 grams grated tasty cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 brown onion, thinly sliced
100 grams button mushrooms, sliced
100 grams cherry tomatoes, sliced thickly
100 grams baby Bocconcini
1/4 cup basil pesto

Make dough as per recipe.

Place 2 cups water in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium - high heat.  Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.  Drain and allow to cool.  Once cool, shred chicken into small pieces.

Preheat pizza oven to 280 degrees Celsius or oven to 240 degrees Celsius or 220 degrees Celsius fan-forced.

Spray pizza tray with cooking spray.

Roll out dough and place on pizza tray or place pizza base on tray.

Spread dough or pizza base with the tomato paste and sprinkle over the grated cheese.

Combined chicken, chilli flakes and garlic in a small bowl. Arrange chicken mixture, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes over pizza. Top with Bocconcini.

Bake pizzas for 10 minutes in pizza oven or 15 minutes in oven or until browned lightly and bases are crisp.

Drizzle pizza with with pesto and serve.

Noel's Pizza Dough

Since Noel received the pizza oven for his birthday in April we have been experimenting with pizza's naturally. It's been fun with trying all different bases from using shop brought to making our own. And while some have been disastrous and messy its been great entertainment to say the least!

A lot of research has gone into our pizza capers - both reading (thank God for Google) and by trial and error.  Definitely the flour has a lot to do with it.  We have purchased some Italian Pizza Flour, which is a high protein flour. According to Lighthouse Baking great dough comes from using a flour with a protein level of 12%. The high gluten level in the flour gives the dough a good elasticity and robustness. Gluten is the key to great pizza dough; it forms strands which bind together like a web during the mixing and kneading process, air bubbles are trapped in this web and expand during cooking allowing the pizza dough to rise. During baking the stretched gluten becomes rigid as the moisture evaporates from the heat of the oven and sets the dough structure. (Not good if you are gluten intolerant - sorry).

However I take my hat off to pizza dough makers - it's not easy that's for sure.  To be honest I think we both started this "dough"quest thinking how hard could it be?  Some flour, some yeast, some water..... well here is the thing... it is HARD!!  

One of my all time favourite pizza bases is at La Camera (I would love to meet the chef there) where their Garlic and Cheese Pizza is to die for.... so soft but not too thick either.  As you can imagine every time we mix a new batch of dough I am thinking about this pizza and praying ours comes out the same... tonight it was very close so we were both really happy.

We are not at the point of spinning the dough to stretch it or throwing it in the air like in the movies but we are getting somewhere with our dough making skills......

Noel's Pizza Dough

Makes: 4 large pizza bases

650 ml lukewarm water
17 grams instant yeast
1 tablespoon caster sugar
900 grams pizza flour
100 grams semolina
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a medium jug combine water, yeast and sugar.  Mix well and allow to stand until yeast is fully dissolved.

Place flour, semolina and salt into a large bowl and mix to combine.  We used the blender with the flat paddle but wooden spoon will be fine.

On speed number 1, if using blender, add half the water and mix until it starts to form a dough.  Add remaining water and continue to mix until a smooth dough starts to form approximately 5 minutes. Change to the dough hook and continue to mix dough for a further 10 minutes.

If using your hands continue to mix until all flour is combined and a smooth, soft and springy dough is formed.

Place olive oil in a large bowl and swirl it around to ensure that all of the inside of the bowl is greased.

Place dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm position.  Allow dough to double in size, approximately 1 1/2 - 2 hours.


Once risen, take out of bowl and divide into 4 balls.  Do not knead.

Spray pizza trays with cooking spray and hand press the dough into shape.

Top with your favourite toppings.

Remaining pizza dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen.  Defrost at room temperature prior to using.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Italian Sausage and Beef Bolognaise

Good ol' Spaghetti Bolognaise just got exciting.  This was absolutely to die for.... and just raised the bar for "Comfort Food".  I would have to say one of my new all time favourite pasta sauces.  The thought of putting Italian sausage into the beef sauce was something I had not thought of doing before although saying this I have made Rigatoni Milano before just using pork sausage as the meat component in the sauce..  

Not the quickest to make but definitely worth all the effort.  The Italian sausages need to be skinned and cut/broken into small bite size pieces before cooking.  As usual I managed to sneak in extra vegetables also these were not that recognizable by the time the sauce had finished cooking - winner on the fussy kid front.

The additional herbs complimented the already existing flavour of the Italian sausage which all enhanced the thick rich tomato sauce.  My favourite undertone was the fennel, both from the sausage flavourings and the fennel seeds but everything combined made my taste buds dance.  

The kids really enjoyed this different sauce even with our son Oliver asking "Please Mam can I can some more?"  

And of course I said..... "Yes you can!

Italian Sausage and Beef Bolognaise

Serves: 8

1 kilogram Italian sausage, skins removed and cut into small chunks
1 kilogram lean ground beef
2 brown onions, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 x 425 grams tinned diced tomatoes
1 cup tomato paste
700 gram bottle passata (tomato puree)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
3 teaspoons dried basil leaves
2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 carrots, grated
2 large zucchini, grated
400 grams pasta, of your choice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large frying pan cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. 

Transfer to a large saucepan and stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, passata, and water. 

Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, oregano, parsley, salt, and season with freshly ground black pepper. 

Add carrot and zucchini.  Stir well until well combined.  Simmer, covered, for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, and rinse with cold water. Set aside.  

When ready to serve, place pasta in serving dishes and top with pasta sauce.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Cheese and Bacon Scrolls

This morning while I was making the kids a treat of Cheesymite Scrolls I thought I would make some Cheese and Bacon Scrolls (using the same dough recipe).  Another favourite of the kids is cheese and bacon rolls.  Have you guessed that we all love bread yet?

Just like the Cheesymite Scrolls these were easy to make (a couple of extra steps to take) but definitely nice to est fresh from the oven.  Perfect for a lunchbox treat also.  Also freezable, so handy to have for a quick snack, lunch or after school treat.

Cheese and Bacon Scrolls
(recipe adapted from The Organised Housewife)

Makes: 10

150 grams bacon, all visible fat trimmed and removed
3 cups Self Raising Flour
pinch salt
50 grams reduced fat butter
1-1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups reduced fat grated tasty cheese

Heat oven to 220 Celsius.

Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. (Or you can use a bench blender on speed 2)

Stir in enough milk to make a soft dough.

Knead on a lightly floured board.

Roll to form a rectangle that is roughly 40cm x 25cm.

Spread tomato paste over the dough using a blunt knife or spatula. Sprinkle bacon over the tomato paste.Sprinkle 1 cup cheese over the top.

Roll up the dough starting from a long side first.

Cut 10 x 4cm pieces from the roll.

Place these pieces close together, cut side up on a greased baking tray. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool.

Cheesymite Scrolls

Both my kids have grown up eating Cheesymite Scrolls - a baked roll of light dough laced with vegemite and cheese. It has long been a quick fix for hungry kids when we are out shopping and we can therefore avoid the dreaded food court at the shopping centre.

Not lovers of vegemite in our house so I have adapted the recipe by using Promite - a yummier (in our opinion) spread which is the equivalent to good ol' vegemite.  

Super easy to make and superb to eat fresh from the oven.  Perfect for a lunchbox treat also.

Another amazing thing about this recipe is that you can freeze individual rolled up scrolls (wrap in plastic wrap and place in a snap lock bag) and allow to defrost prior to baking.  I don't get to do that though as these just get snapped up at our house!!

Cheesymite Scrolls
(recipe adapted from The Organised Housewife)

Makes: 10

3 cups Self Raising Flour
pinch salt
50 grams reduced fat butter
1-1 1/2 cups milk
1-2 tablespoons Promite or Vegemite
1 1/2 cups reduced fat grated tasty cheese

Heat oven to 220 Celsius.

Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. (Or you can use a bench blender on speed 2)

Stir in enough milk to make a soft dough.

Knead on a lightly floured board.

Roll to form a rectangle that is roughly 40cm x 25cm.

Spread promite/vegemite over the dough using a blunt knife or spatula. Sprinkle 1 cup cheese over the top.

Roll up the dough starting from a long side first.

Cut 10 x 4cm pieces from the roll.

Place these pieces close together, cut side up on a greased baking tray. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool, if the kids will let you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Roast Chicken with Bacon and Fresh Herb Stuffing

I've said this a few times but nothing beats a home-cooked roast chicken......... tonight was one of those nights where I just wanted something "Plain Jane" yet full of flavour.  Walking through the supermarket I spotted a bargain.  A whole "chook'' and at a brilliant per kilogram price it was impossible to walk past (Coles have them on special this week for those in Melbourne).

There's really not much to talk about when cooking roast chicken.  You clean it, season it, stuff it (if you wish) and then put it in the oven to roast away.  One good thing about roast chicken is that it does not take as long to cook as the red meat roasts making a mid week roast very possible to organize.

I usually make a Sage and Onion Stuffing but thought I would go for a different spin on the stuffing. This flavour packed bread mix full of fresh herbs (a mixture of what I had on hand) and everyone's favourite bacon scented the chicken meat delicately.

Roast Chicken with Bacon and Fresh Herb Stuffing

Serves: 8

1.6 kilogram whole chicken
6 slices wholegrain bread
2 onions, peeled and finely diced
2 teaspoons garlic, crushed
120 grams bacon, all visible fat removed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons fresh herbs mixed (rosemary, sage, oregano, parsley, marjoram)
1 egg, lightly beaten
extra fresh ground black pepper for seasoning
1/2 - 1 cup water

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Prepare a baking tray with a cooking rack inside.

Clean chicken in cold water, removing any additional skin/fat and inners. Remove from water and drain. Place on workbench and pat chicken skin dry using paper towel also wipe out chicken cavity of any extra water.

Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and bacon, cook stirring for 10 minutes or until onion is softened and bacon starting to brown. Set aside and cool.

Using a food processor make breadcrumbs using the bread. Pour into large bowl. Add onion mix and mixed herbs. Mix to combine. Add egg and mix to bind together.

Place stuffing mixture into cavity of chicken. Pushing in firmly to ensure it stays put. Tie legs together if you wish with cooking string.

Season the outside of the whole chicken with salt and pepper.

Place chicken on the cooking rack in the baking dish. Put water in bottom of baking tray filling until base is covered. Cook in the oven for 1 hour or until cooked to your liking and juices run clear.

Serve with your favourite vegetables and gravy if desired.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


It's Melbourne Cup Day here - the race that stops the nation so as like all other "Melbournites" we happily took the public holiday, had a few drinks with close friends and tried to cook up a feast.

We brought ourselves a rotisserie recently and have been having kebabs quite often. When we get a kebab (or souvlaki) from a takeaway I love it when Tabbouleh is available and always make sure that have it inside my wrap along with the meat and garlic sauce.

I believe that this is the key ingredient to a kebab or souvlaki - the freshness of the herbs and the light not overpowering dressing adds so much flavour to the meat wrap. I enjoy it that much I can just sit and eat it just like a normal salad.

The traditional Tabbouleh recipe calls for Burghul, which is cracked wheat but I couldn't source this locally this morning. I improvised and used Couscous. I must say unless you were a detective you really wouldn't have noticed the difference and I am starting to think that many take away food shops use couscous and not burghul.

No blogging about the meat on the rotisserie as yet - that's something that we are still working on however I have put a photo below of what we served up on today, Melbourne Cup.  Today we had a mixture of lamb and chicken.


Serves: 8

3/4 cup couscous
3 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
3/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a small saucepan. Add salt and couscous. Remove from heat and using a fork, stir couscous to ensure all the grain in covered in the water. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes.

Place  parsley, mint, tomato and onion in a bowl. Add couscous (you will need to break up the lumps), Stir to combine.

Mix oil and lemon juice together in a small jug, whisk to combine. Drizzle over tabbouleh. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Serve.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)