Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cannelloni Ricotta with Tomato Sauce

This is one of my favourite meals to eat.  The kids love it and you will find it is a great Summer time dinner that you will want to make again.  It does take a little preparation time but it is so worth it. Each time I make it, I do it a little differently, maybe adding a few pine nuts into the cheese mix one time or using cannelloni tubes instead of the lasagna sheets.  Just follow the instructions below to find out what works best for you.  Don't forget to improvise along the way, that's how most of my cooking gets done.  Enjoy!!

Cannelloni Ricotta with Tomato Sauce

                                        Tomato sauce ingredients

                                        1 red onion finely diced
                                        1 800g tin of chopped tomatoes
                                        3 garlic cloves
                                        1 teaspoon sugar

                                        Cannelloni ingredients

                                        5 large silver beet leaves (stalks cut off) cut finely
                                        lasagna sheets (quick cooking ones)
                                        500g low fat ricotta cheese
                                        1/4 cup grated parmesan
                                        3 garlic cloves crushed
                                        fresh basil chopped
                                        1 egg yolk
                                        1/4 grated parmesan for topping
                                        1 cup grated colby or cheddar cheese for topping

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F.  Steam chopped silver beet until wilted and soft, but still bright green, put aside to cool.

Gently cook onion in a pan in a little olive oil until soft, add tinned tomatoes and garlic, simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, you can also add some chopped basil to the tomato sauce as well as adding basil to the cheese mixture.  Add salt, pepper and a teaspoon of sugar, mix and take off stove.  Using a hand blender purée the tomato mixture to remove all lumps, then put aside.

In a bowl mix together ricotta cheese, grated parmesan, cooled silver beet, chopped basil, egg yolk and salt.

Next you need to pre-soften the lasagna sheets in a large dish with very hot water big enough to hold them.  This doesn't take very long, about 5 minutes, or alternatively you can use cannelloni tubes.  I use Barilla la collezione lasagna sheets as they soften and cook quickly and you don't have to worry about crunching into hard uncooked pasta.  Don't leave them soaking too long as they tend to stick together.

Cover the base of your large baking dish with some of the prepared tomato sauce, reserve some for covering the cannelloni.  When lasagna sheets are ready lay one out at a time, put some of the cheese and spinach mix on the end of the sheet and roll it up into the cannelloni, place in the baking dish.

If you're using cannelloni tubes, put your cheese mix into a zip lock bag, snip off the bottom corner of the bag and squeeze into the tubes.

Cover the cannelloni with the rest of the tomato sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese and parmesan for the topping.

Cook for 30-40 mins in a hot oven, 200°C/400°F until golden brown.

Serve your Cannelloni ricotta with a salad and you will find it to be a lovely light but very tasty meal, perfect for those hot Summer nights.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

I have been making this chocolate fudge recipe all of my married life, about 15 years so far.  It is my special Christmas fudge that I make once a year, however I seem to be making a couple of batches each year now, especially for those church Relief Society Christmas dinners and wrapped up as gifts for friends around this giving season.  It is so simple and easy to make, it is also very sweet so don't be tempted to eat it all, wrap some up and enjoy sharing the rich chocolatey goodness with someone special.

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge

                                        250g dark chocolate melts
                                        250g dark cooking chocolate
                                        395g tin of condensed milk
                                        60g butter
                                        1 1/2 cups pistachios 

Heat the shelled pistachios in a hot pan on the stove until they are lightly browned, keep shaking the pan to cook evenly, do not burn.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. You can use any kind of dark cooking chocolate, I just mix it up a little with different types, or you can just use 500g of the same dark cooking chocolate or dark chocolate melts.

Then add the condensed milk and keep  stirring gently until all of the lumps of chocolate have dissolved.

After adding the condensed milk the fudge mixture thickens and becomes glossy, when all of the chocolate lumps have dissolved you can add the pistachios and mix in.  The more pistachio's the better, I think.

Pour the mixture into a lined rectangular tin, cover with plastic and refrigerate for a few hours.

When the fudge has set, remove from the tin and cut into small cubes.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  This fudge looks fantastic wrapped up in clear cellophane and tied with a ribbon for an easy Christmas gift.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Apple Blueberry Pie

In honour of the first apple pie I baked back in 1997, which happened to be Canadian thanksgiving, today I have baked an Apple Blueberry pie.  I know I'm a week late for Canadian thanksgiving, but I didn't have the ingredients last weekend and today even though it is Spring here, it happens to be very windy and chilly, the perfect kind of day for pie.  This is my trusty go to recipe that I have used since 1997 for apple pie.  I also use the same pie crust recipe, without the sugar, for any savory pie I might make.  Enjoy!!

Apple Blueberry Pie

                                               Pie crust

                                         2 1/4 cups plain flour
                                         1 teaspoon baking powder
                                         1/3 cup cornflour
                                         1/3 cup custard powder
                                         185g butter, softened
                                         2 tablespoons sugar
                                         1 egg yolk
                                         2/3 cup water
                                         1 egg white

                                         7 large apples, I used Granny Smith
                                            with a few Pink ladys
                                         1/2 cup water
                                         3 tablespoons sugar
                                         l/2 teaspoon cinamon
                                         1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
                                         1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
                                         2 tablespoons apricot jam (I used mango jam)

To prepare the pastry sift flours, custard powder and baking powder into at bowl, rub in the softened butter and add the sugar. 

Mix together and then add the egg yolk with the water.  You may need to add a little more water if it's not coming together as you mix and knead it.  Knead together and then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To prepare the filling peel, quarter and core the apples.  Cut each quarter into three slices.  Put apples into a saucepan with sugar, cinnamon, lemon rind and water. Cook on the stove until apples become tender but not soft.  Add the frozen blueberries and mix gently with the apples for a couple more minutes then take off the stove.

Turn oven on to 190°C/375°F.  Remove pastry from the fridge and divide into two.  Roll out one half of the pastry on a lightly floured surface for the base of the pie, enough to cover the edges of a greased pie dish.   Spread the base of the pastry in the pie dish with apricot jam,

then add the cooked apple and blueberries.  Brush the edges of the pastry with lightly beaten egg.

Roll out the second half of pastry and place over top of pie.  Squeeze the edges together, trim and then pinch to shape.  Cut a slit in the top of the pie to allow steam to escape.  Brush the top of pie with egg white and add any cut pastry shapes, I cut out some little maple leaves.  

Finally sprinkle with a little extra sugar and bake in oven for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

When pie is ready allow to sit for a few minutes then best served hot/warm with ice cream.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hash Browns

I made these for breakfast this morning, I felt like a little something different and I had never made them before.  They went down really fast.  My boys said they were like the real thing you buy in a restaurant, except for the really brown ones, they were a little too crunchy.  These might be just the thing for a Fathers Day breakfast.  Enjoy!!

Hash browns

                                       6 large unpeeled potatoes washed and grated
                                       1 egg lightly beaten
                                       2 tbs plain flour
                                       Salt and pepper to season
                                       Grape seed oil for frying in

Preheat oven to 120°C/248°F, and line a baking tray with paper towel ready to put the hash browns on when cooked.  Turn stove onto medium-high heat with oil in the pan to a depth of 2 cms or so.

While the oil is heating up, grate the potatoes into a sieve or colander to allow the moisture to drain.  Squeeze the grated potatoes to get out as much moisture as you can.  

Transfer potatoes to a large bowl, beat the egg, add to potatoes and mix.  Sprinkle the flour lightly over the potatoes, add salt and pepper, mix until combined.

To test the oil just drop a little potato mix into the heated oil.  It should brown up pretty quickly if the oil is ready.  Don't have the oil too hot, but just enough to lightly brown the hash browns.  Grab a small handful of potato, shape it in your hand, place into the oil and flatten with a spatula so it will cook evenly.  Depending on your pan size, cook about 5 at a time.  When the edges start to brown check to see if it's ready to flip over.  You want them to be a golden brown on both sides.  Top up oil in pan if necessary.  Keep cooked hash browns on the lined tray in the oven.  Repeat until all of the potato mix is finished.

Serve with a little fruit, some bacon or eggs.  You can even add some sweet potato or onion to the potato mix for a little variation.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Caramel White Chocolate Blondies

This recipe is one my mum used to bake for us as kids....and still does.  She used to make it for my primary school tuckshop and the kids used to love it.  Her recipe was a little different from mine below as she used to put sultanas and chopped up dried apricots in it and she called it 'Fruit Slice'.  I'm afraid it was time to reinvent the recipe as we got a little tired of the fruit in it and as some of my boys don't seem to like sultanas in cakes any more, so we replaced them with white chocolate buds.  This brings out the caramel flavour of the mixture.  Although you can try it with sultanas and dried apricots or some macadamia nuts for a different flavour and texture.  Play around with your add in's to find your favourites!!

Caramel White Chocolate Blondies

                                     250g butter
                                     2 cups brown sugar
                                     2 eggs
                                     2 cups flour
                                     4 teaspoons baking powder
                                     2 teaspoon vanilla
                                     1 cup white chocolate buds

Turn oven on to 180°C/ 350°F.  Melt the butter in a saucepan over the stove.  Add the brown sugar and mix well until mostly combined.

Take off the stove and let it cool a little while before adding eggs, you don't want the eggs to cook as you add it to the mixture.  Mix thoroughly while adding eggs.  Add vanilla, flour and baking powder and combine.

Pour into a lined lamington tin or 33 x 23 cm rectangle pan.  Sprinkle white chocolate buds over top and push a few in or alternatively you can add them in the mixture before pouring into the tin.

Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes.  Do not over bake otherwise it becomes too crispy, you want it to be moist and soft.  Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes before slicing into squares.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sausage and Bean Hotpot

This recipe is basically a concoction of recipes I have followed, improved upon, now it is just in my head and at last I have written it down.  This recipe uses a lot of staple canned vegetables that I keep a good stock of on the shelves.  Four bean mix, tinned tomatoes and tomato soup, the fresh vegies are pretty basic too.  The sausages I used were extra lean pork sausages with ginger and shallots, you can use whatever sausages you like, so long as they are flavoursome and preferably not your cheapest variety of pigs bits and pieces (sorry).  My slow cooker is 6 litres, if yours is smaller just halve the ingredients.  When cooking I always make a big batch so we can spread it across for two meals.  You can also cook this on the stove top in a large pan which is what I used to do, at least with the slow cooker you can leave it all day.  Enjoy!!

Sausage and Bean Hotpot

                                     4 potatoes diced
                                     1/2 orange sweet potato diced
                                     1 red onion sliced
                                     2 sticks celery diced
                                     4 cloves of garlic cut in half
                                     2 500g packets of sausages
                                     2 800g cans of diced tomatoes
                                     1 420g can tomato soup
                                     1 750g can of 4 bean mix drained and rinsed
                                     2 1/2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
                                     1-2 tablespoon soy sauce
                                     1 tablespoon brown sugar
                                     salt/pepper to taste
                                     2 teaspoons chicken stock dissolved in the water
                                     2 cups water
                                     1 cup chopped green beans (optional)

Brown the sausages in a pan and then add to slow cooker. 

Dice and slice vegetables and add to slow cooker along with the garlic.

Add the canned ingredients, the worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, water and stock.  If you're like me who left it until midday to get the pot ready, keep slow cooker on high for a few hours first.  Otherwise just slow cook on low for at least 6 to 7 hrs.

One hour before serving take the sausages out of the pot and slice into bite sized pieces and then put them back in the pot.  I also like to cut up some green beans at this stage and put them in the pot too, so they don't get too soggy for the first serving and stay a little crunchy.

Serve with some toast or a crusty loaf of bread.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Raspberry Hazelnut Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

It was Donald's (my husband's) birthday yesterday so I was searching for the perfect cake to bake.  Last year I baked a rich Black Forest Gateau, this year it is more fruity and nutty with hazelnuts and raspberries.  The mixture for the cake is the most delicious mixture I have ever tasted and this recipe makes a large batch so there will be plenty of finger dipping and taste testing as you go.  The recipe calls for a mascarpone cream icing but I have decided to make a maple cream cheese icing instead.  I'll let you know how it all works out together. 

Raspberry Hazelnut Cake

                              250g butter softened
                              2 cups caster sugar
                              6 eggs
                              1 1/2 cups plain flour
                              1 teaspoon baking powder
                              1 cup hazelnut meal
                              2/3 cup sour light cream
                              300g frozen raspberries
                              1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts chopped coarsely

Maple Cream Cheese Icing

                              60g butter softened
                              250g cream cheese softened
                              4 tablespoons maple syrup
                              2 cups icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180°/160°C fan forced, 350°F/325°F fan forced.  Grease a deep 22cm round cake pan, line the base and sides with baking paper.

Beat butter and sugar in medium bowl until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in the sifted flour, baking powder, hazelnut meal and sour cream.  Fold in the raspberries gently, you want to try and keep them whole. 

Pour mixture into the pan.

I had a bit of mixture left over so I poured it into a friand tin which made perfect little samples of the cake to taste test.

Bake cake for approx 1 1/2 hours.  Stand cake in pan 10 minutes then turn top-side up onto wire rack to cool.

To make the Maple cream cheese icing beat butter, cream cheese and syrup in small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Gradually beat in sifted icing sugar until spreadable.  Spread over the top and sides of the cooled cake and sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts.

The maple cream cheese icing was very smooth and delicious with the hazelnuts and raspberry cake, very yummy indeed.

Both recipes can be found in The Australian Women's Weekly Mix : cakes, muffins, biscuits and puddings.