Thursday, October 27, 2011

63/656 - Mum's red devil's cake

Australia celebrates World Teachers' Day tomorrow and so I thought I would bake a cake for the teachers at my children's school.

And what a decadent cake this is!

With more sugar, chocolate and butter than you can imagine, this is definitely not the snack for the dieter. Apparently Stephanie's mum did not usually ice this cake but I decided to up the fat content even further and top it with chocolate buttercream icing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

62/656 - Jill's warm prawn and mint salad

We decided to cook our fish and veg on the barbecue for dinner tonight and a warm prawn salad sounded like a wonderful accompaniment.

The dressing for the prawns had a coconut milk base and was spiced up with fish sauce, lime, garlic, fresh chilli, sugar and ginger and then topped with shredded mint.

Once the prawns had been devoured, we discovered this was also a lovely dressing for barbecued fish. Another keeper.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

61/656 - Gingerbread

As Stephanie says, "This is one of those dark, fudgy gingerbread cakes, not the chewy sort used for making gingerbread men or houses."

I love traditional gingerbread, but am now also a fan of this ginger cake. Apparently it is lovely served with ice-cream or whipped cream but I think it stands quite well on its own.

Friday, October 21, 2011

60/656 - Baked bananas with meatloaf

I have always wondered what this recipe would taste like, and now that banana prices have come down (hooray) I thought it was time to try it out.

The meatloaf was very simple to make (and dead easy in a thermomix!) and was baked in the oven, bare at first and then wrapped in bacon. I didn't have any streaky bacon in the house and so I improvised, covering the meatloaf with short cut bacon secured with toothpicks. It looked a little bit like a very long, very pink echidna.

The gravy was rich and lovely, the meatloaf very tasty and I have decided that the bananas were an inspired addition, nice and soft and just a little bit sweet.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

59/656 - Red cabbage salad

One of the things I absolutely love about this book is the number of simple recipes that take almost no time to prepare, but which occasionally provide me with flavour combinations I might not have discovered on my own.

This recipe took only a matter of minutes - the cabbage was saut├ęd with garlic and chopped anchovies, with a dash of red wine vinegar and pepper to finish. I used white anchovies which are fresh rather than cured, and have a milder flavour than the ones you generally see used on pizzas etc.

What I loved most about this salad was that the anchovy flavour was gently dispersed throughout, leaving no boring bits.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

58/656 - Warm broccoli and cauliflower salad

It was great to have the opportunity to use my shiny new Thermomix in a challenge recipe today! This salad calls for the broccoli and cauliflower to be boiled but I like to steam my veg wherever possible. So out came the varoma and I was pleased to find that an entire head of broccoli and a head of cauliflower were able to be steamed together!  

Once steamed, they were dressed with oregano, olive oil, parsley, lemon and a lovely crack of pepper over the top to finish.

Definitely an afternoon snack worth repeating.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

57/656 - Asparagus soup

It's been a week since my last recipe, and the best excuse I can come up with is that Trev took the camera away to Phillip Island with him and I just couldn't bear to take mediocre quality photos of my creations.

So with that out of the way, I am pleased to report that this is a really lovely springtime soup. The only instruction I did not obey was the straining of the soup at the end. The asparagus I used were small and sweet and I did not find the consistency 'hairy' at all as Stephanie indicated it might be.

I also left off the whipped cream that is served with the soup, but that was purely a health related decision and I am sure it would have been a divine addition.

And then there were 656...

So it turns out my whiz bang spreadsheet is fallible after all. After a bit of a double check, it turns out there are actually 656 recipes in The Cook's Companion, not 655.

I toyed with the idea of updating all of the previous post headers, but realised that would be an insane waste of my time. Particularly given the fact that I am probably the only person who would notice the changes anyway.

So there it is - 656 is the new golden, and neatly palindromic, number.*

*The author reserves the right to discover further counting errors as this challenge progresses, although she is secretly crossing her fingers that this will not be the case.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

56/655 - Bok choy in hot and sour sauce

What a nice, simple recipe for a Tuesday night. The hot and sour sauce was fantastic, made from salt, sugar, cornflour, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce and rice wine. I decided to take the bok choy out of the wok and fry the chicken in the sauce which was absolutely fantastic.

I was a bit heavy handed with the dried chillies which I quite enjoyed, but the boys ended up a bit goggle eyed and running for the milk. They still told me that the sauce was "awesome", so no harm done. Their tolerance for chilli is becoming quite impressive! Time to hit them with a good vindaloo I think.


I doubled this recipe which was lucky because it meant that we all got a good sized serve, but also that the chicken was well coated as it cooked.

Too easy, and a great, simple sauce to add to my repertoire of things that make steamed vegetables taste good.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

55/655 - Spinach ricotta terrine with pear dressing

We had dinner with friends tonight and this was my contribution to the table. The terrine was very simple to make and is baked rather than pressed. It reminded me a lot of a very tall, very rich quiche.

The dressing was made from pears, olive oil, walnut oil and a splash of red wine vinegar. I think my pears must have been a bit on the measly side as I found the walnut flavour a bit overwhelming and had to add an extra pear to mine. The texture of the dressing was lovely and smooth and added tons of flavour to the terrine.

How exciting, 55 recipes down, only 600 to go!

Friday, October 7, 2011

54/655 - Cucumber as a cooked vegetable

Cooking cucumber was a first for me, and I must say I quite liked it! The cucumber is peeled, steamed and then pan fried with butter until you have a nice burnt butter sauce. Once the butter is sufficiently browned you throw in some lemon juice (which stops the butter from cooking) and some parsley.

Stephanie recommended that this be served over either chicken or fish. We chose to throw it over some prawns which I thought worked quite nicely.

53/655 - Fennel and potato fry-up

I think this might be the nicest way I have ever eaten fennel!

Pre-blanched and then fried up with potato, bacon, fennel seeds, garlic and onion, it's difficult to see how you could go wrong with this one. The entire family absolutely loved it and there was not a left-over to be seen.