Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Osso Bucco

Slow cooked meals are one of my favourite things about winter time, especially in Canberra when it gets terribly cold, there is nothing better than having a stew on the go on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

I recently became a member of the local library after reading a blog post somewhere about how this person would trial cookbooks from their local library before buying them, to see whether they were worth buying. I thought this was a great idea, I didn't even know they had cookbooks at the library (the last library I went to was my uni library many years ago...)

So I got my library card and started requesting books online and before I knew it I had 8 cookbooks to look through (I have slowed down my requesting now)..

One of these books was the women's weekly back to basics cookbook. I love the women's weekly recipes. I have their big red "cook" book and their big blue "kitchen" book which I am sure has all the recipes from this book in there, but these books have pictures for all the recipes, which the big books don't which I think makes you want to cook something more.

I would have to say that this was one of the best osso bucco's I have ever cooked. I usually haven't made a gremolata before either, but this time I did and it really adds a different dimension to the dish. The meat was deliciously tender (I cooked for a bit longer than specified) and the marrow was sensational, one of my favourite things about this cut of meat.

I served the osso bucco with some mashed sweet potato and potato, but you can serve with whatever starch you desire. I have served with creamy polenta before which was also very good, or just some nice fresh crusty bread.

Osso Bucco - from Women's Weekly Back to Basics

6 pieces of Veal Osso Bucco (about 1.8kg)
1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
45g butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 stalks celery chopped coarsely
6 anchovy fillets chopped coarsely
180ml (3/4 cup) dry white wine
2 tins of chopped tomatoes (820g in total)
1/2 cup chicken stock
5 cloves garlic, crushed
3 bay leaves
10 fresh thyme sprigs


1/2 cup of finely chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees/325 F

2. Coat veal in flour and shake off excess and fry in a pan with the oil and butter until browned all over (in batches) and then remove and rest on plate.

3. Fry the anchovies and celery in the same pan until celery softens. Add wine and bring to the boil and then add in the 2 tins of tomatoes, stock, garlic, bay leaves and thyme and return to the boil.

4. Place the veal pieces into the mixture so that they are all fully covered. Cook in oven with lid on for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender.

5. Make the gremolata by combining all the ingredients and then sprinkle over the osso bucco when serving.

There was a note in the cookbook that standing the pieces of veal in the pan rather than laying flat keeps the marrow intact. I missed this point when I made it, but my marrow was still intact. I think I will try the upright method though next time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Crust Pizza

A new crust store has recently opened up in Gungahlin and I was excited to try it out. I have never had crust pizza before and everyone raves about it.

We are not short for options for pizza in gungahlin by any means. We have the usual suspects of Pizza Hut and Dominos, there is an Eagle boys, Little San Severo (a family run pizza joint) a Pizza Capers and now a Crust Pizza. The people of gungahlin must really love their pizza!

I have tried all of the places now and I must say that my favourite place is Little San Severo. Their seafood pizza is the best pizza ever (will be sure to take photos next time I get pizza from there). I would love to know where they get their scallops from cause they are the fattest juiciest ones I have seen.

So what did I think of crust? Well I was not impressed at all. I found their toppings to be rather bland and their pizza base was terrible. I don't know if all crusts are like the one in Gungahlin, but I will definitely not order anything from there again. The only good thing was that I could order online and delivery was free and the pizzas were still piping hot when they arrived.

So these are the pizzas that I got below.

Seafood Pizza - M - $18

Close up shot

Mediterranean Lamb - M $17

Maybe I just had a bad experience cause everyone else out there seems to love crust, but I just didn't like it at all.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chicken Pesto Pasta

So the other day we were told that the owners of the place that we were renting wanted to move back into the place. As our lease had come up to the end of its contract it meant that we had to move out in 3 weeks!

After the initial shock and disappointment of having to move again (this will be the 6th time in 4 years) I quickly got on the web and started looking at places. Went to 2 inspections on Saturday and then found out this morning that we got accepted for the place that we preferred. So in 2 weeks we will be moving house.

So I am going to start using up a lot of things that are lurking in my freezer so we don't waste anything. One of the things that is now in my freezer is half a batch of this pesto that I made the other day. I bought some lovely basil to use in another dish and then I had a mass of basil left over so what better to do than make pesto. As I started to make it I realised I didn't have any pine nuts, but I did have a massive bag of almonds, so I substituted that instead. It worked out pretty well actually and the almonds gave a nice texture to it.

I decided to make a chicken pesto pasta and as I had a zucchini from my garden that I needed to use, I cut it into long strips and grilled it and then mixed it into the pasta at the end of cooking. It was very good. I also am now marinating chicken breast in olive oil and lemon (a tip I got from Donna Hay) whenever I cook with it as it makes the chicken so moist and tender and the lemon adds a great flavour too.

Nice fresh basil

Ready to be processed with other ingredients

The smells of this are fantastic

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Bunch of Basil
Almonds (or pine nuts)
Clove of garlic
Parmesan Cheese - about 2 - 3 tablespoons grated
Olive Oil

Process the basil, nuts, garlic together, then add the cheese. Mix in as much olive oil as required and season with salt to taste.

Half quantity of pesto
250gm pasta (use any, I usually like linguine or fettuccine)
500gm Chicken
Marinated/Grilled zucchini
Olive Oil

1. Dice up the chicken and marinate in some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

2. Get some water on the boil and add in the pasta

3. Fry the chicken in a pan until it's browned and cooked

4. Add the pesto to the chicken and cook until it's all coated and smelling wonderful

5. Drain the pasta and return to the pot

6. Add the chicken pesto and the grilled zucchini to the pasta

7. Serve with some extra Parmesan grated over.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake

I saw this cake on this wonderful site and thought it looked like a fantastic cake. I am really into flourless cakes at the moment and find them a lot moister and less filling than something laiden with flour.

I liked the addition of the almond essence as well, as it just brought something different to the cake. I am sure you could use an almond flavoured liquor instead, or any other type of flavoured liquor if you are not into almond.

I was planning to make this for my Dad's 60th in which we were going to be travelling back from Sydney on the day, so had to make something a couple of days before and this worked perfectly. I made it a few weeks before his birthday too, just to make sure it was good, and of course it was. Like I had any doubt in Lisa recipes! Frankie and I had a few pieces before I sent the rest of it to work with him where it went down very well.

For Dad's birthday I served it with some creme fraiche which cut the sweetness of the cake very well. Although I would be happy to eat with cream or ice cream or just by itself.

All the ingredients for the cake, and yes my eggs are dirty, that's cause my parents have chickens. Oh the joys of fresh eggs :)

First melting the butter and chocolate in a saucepan on very low heat.

In a separate bowl mix together sugar, cocoa, and almond essence

Then add the chocolate mixture to it and mix well

Add both the hazelnut and almond meal

Then add one egg at a time mixing well after each egg.....

...until the mixture looks something like this.

Then put into a greased springform pan (with a sheet of baking paper on the bottom)

Wait for it to cool and then put it onto a plate and eat up!

You can find the fabulous recipe here without my fabulous plating skills!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Claypot Chicken Rice

I got Christine Manfield's cookbook for my birthday last year and had yet to cook anything from it. As I love getting cookbooks for birthdays I got a few different ones and had a quick flick through and then forgot about them.

This year I am trying to use my cookbooks more, so I picked up her book and read it from front to end. The first time I had a look at it I saw a few recipes at the beginning and they looked rather complicated, so I think that was the reason for my quick flick. This time though I noticed there were quite a lot of recipes that didn't look too difficult and sounded great. So there will be lots more recipes to come from this book I hope.

This is a really great book and has a chapter on all the different countries/cuisines in Asia and then a few other countries such as Morocco, Mexico, Spain, etc.

I got this recipe from the first Chapter which is Chinese. It's called Claypot chicken rice and sounded quite simple and satisfying and both of those things it was! Although the timing on the rice cooking was not quite accurate, I needed a lot more time. Maybe it was because I didn't cook it in a claypot, I don't know.

The recipe starts of by getting the fiddly bit out of the way. This is the most time consuming part of the recipe measuring all the marinating ingredients.

Marinating ingredients and chicken

Chicken marinating

All the ingredients in the pot ready for the rice to be cooked.

Claypot chicken rice!

Claypot Chicken Rice - from Fire by Christine Manfield


2 Chicken Breasts cut into cubes (I think I will use fillets next time)
2 Cups Jasmine rice, washed
750ml White chicken stock (she has a recipe for this at the back of the book, but I just used plain chicken stock)
1 Chinese Sausage (lap cheung), sliced (I used 2, cause I love them)
8 Fresh Shitake Mushrooms, Sliced
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
3 Green Onions, finely sliced
4 Tablespoons chopped coriander

Chicken Marinade

40ml Sunflower Oil
60ml Oyster Sauce
40ml Light Soy Sauce
20ml Dark Soy Sauce
20ml Shaoxing Rice Wine
1 Teaspoon Sesame oil
1 Teaspoon Chilli oil
2 Teaspoons caster sugar
1/2 Teaspoon white pepper
1 Tablespoon cornflour
40ml XO Sauce

1. Combine the marinade ingredients and pour over the chicken meat, mixing to make sure everything is coated.

2. Put the rice in a clay pot (or pot) with the chicken stock and cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes

3. Spread the marinated chicken, sausage, mushrooms and minced ginger over the top of the rice. Cover and cook for a further 12 - 15 minutes until the chicken and rice are cooked.

4. Remove from heat and taste and season as needed and then sprinkle spring onion and coriander over the top.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Chicken and Haloumi

I was housesitting at my parents place a couple of weeks ago and it was great as they have foxtel. Every time over there I put on the food channel as soon as I get there and sit at the table and read through cookbooks. I am not obsessed with food at all...

Well on the Wednesday (or Tuesday) of that week Donna Hay's show was premiering which was even more exciting. I love Donna Hay's recipes. The few that I have tried have all been really simple and flavoursome, which is the best for mid week dinners. On the show she made a dish called chicken with haloumi and honey. Her advocation for the dish made me go on the web and look for this recipe. Luckily it was on the lifestyle food website.

It was a very simple dish to prepare and very tasty as well, the only thing I would change would be cutting the chicken breasts in half so they cook quicker. Also you have to eat the haloumi quickly otherwise it goes rubbery.

I just served it with a simple salad and some garlic bread.

Chicken ready to go into the oven

Fresh out of the oven!

Chicken with Haloumi and Honey - Recipe from Donna Hay

  • 2 x 200g chicken breast fillets, trimmed
  • 150g haloumi, cut into 4 slices
  • 1 tablespoon shredded lemon zest
  • 6 sprigs lemon thyme
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
  2. Place the chicken, haloumi, zest and lemon thyme in a ceramic baking dish.
  3. Combine the oil and honey and pour over.
  4. Bake for 18–20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Banana Leaf Restaurant

As part of my birthday celebrations last month, Mum and Dad took us out to a surprise night on the Wednesday following my birthday. Apparently there was something on this night that was only on this night but we wouldn't be able to eat there so had to go to dinner somewhere before hand.

I had no idea what we were going to, but then a couple of weeks before the dinner an ad came on the TV for a show at the Canberra Theatre called Shen Yun which was only on this night and the night before this, so I pretty much guessed that this was where we were going, plus the restaurant that we were going to was right near the theatre.

When we got to the restaurant we told them we had to leave in an hour as the show started st 7:30 and they said that's fine and that most of the people in the restaurant were going to the show also. So it must be the place to go if you are going to the Canberra Theatre.

I had never been to Banana Leaf before, but had heard lots of good things about it, so I was keen to try it out.

When we got in there the restaurant seemed pretty ordinary, which I find the norm with most restaurants in Canberra. They don't really put any effort into the decor/ambiance of the restaurant. We were also seated at one of those small tables which usually seats only 2 people, so it was really squashy for the 4 of us, which contributed to me knocking my champagne glass over as I was half way through my entree and it spilling all over my food. Hey I love champagne, but not in my food thanks!

The menu is quite strange, it's meant to be a sri lankan restaurant, but there are a lot of dishes on there that aren't.

Chilli Prawns - $19.90

Frankie, Mum and Dad all went for the chilli prawns which they said were quite good. There were quite a few prawns on here too which is always good to see. You can also get all the entrees in a main size which I think is a good idea too.

Smoked Salmon and Quail Egg Salad - $17.90

I wasn't particularly hungry, so I didn't want to get anything too filling for my entree, so I decided on the smoked salmon salad. When I ordered they told me they didn't have quail eggs either, so they were just normal eggs. I thought there might be some sri lankan influence to this, but there wasn't, so I was quite disappointed. It was very nice, just nothing special.

For mains there were quite a few options to choose from and lots more sri lankan dishes which I was happy about.

Sri Lankan Style Rice and Curry (with Beef) - $26.90

Both Frankie and Dad opted for the traditional curry in beef and chicken. It was massive and came with a lentil curry, sambol and chutney.

View of the accompaniments

This one is the chicken curry

Chicken Pittu - $24.80

Mum went with the Chicken Pittu which was described as pebbles of different flour and coconut served with a curry of your choice and traditional accompaniments. I am not sure what else was served with this, as it looks different from the previous meals.

Lomprisht - $27.80

I decided to go with the Lomprisht which is Basmati rice with a fragrant combination of chicken, fish fricadel and vegetable curries wrapped in banana leaves and baked served with condiments, sambol and mild curry sauce.

Innards of the Lomprisht

This was really delicious. I couldn't really tell what was in the parcel as everything sort of blended together, but there tasted as though there was some sweet potato in there which really brought all of the flavours together.

I don't know if I would come back here again as I found it a bit hit and miss and when you paying high prices you just want hits! I think if they fixed the place up a bit I might be tempted. It was a lovely night though and thanks to Mum and Dad for taking us out xx

Banana Leaf Restaurant and Cafe
U2/ 240 -250 City Walk
Canberra City 2601
Ph: 6248 5522

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

I was looking at Curtis Stone's website the other day and saw these amazing looking cookies that included my favourite ingredients, chocolate and peanut butter. I think most of my baking recipes on this site include those ingredients... His pictures look much better than mine, although when I was baking these I didn't realise the oven was on the grill setting so the first batch got a bit burnt on the top. I still ate them though!

The cookies were delicious and I love the chunks of chocolate in them rather than the choc chips. Make these now! You won't be disappointed..

He also has this banoffee pie on his website that looks amazing. I think I might have to make that one day.

First you need to get the dry ingredients ready in a bowl

Then place both sugars, chunky peanut butter, butter, honey, egg and vanilla in a separate bowl and mix together with electric mixer until all nice and creamy

Creamy mixture of goodness!

Then get your block of chocolate and chop it all up. The recipe called for 155 grams of chocolate, but when you have a block of 200 grams, I am going to use the whole lot!

Mix the chopped chocolate into the creamy mixture and combine it all together.

Place tablespoon sizes on the mixture on a lined cookie tray and then place in the oven

Plate of cookies ready to be devoured!

Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate Chunks - From Curtis Stone

Makes about 20 cookies


1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup natural chunky peanut butter (about 9 ounces / 280 grams)
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated / caster sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick / 125 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons honey
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces / 155 grams semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.
  2. Line 3 heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, honey, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended.
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture in 2 additions.
  6. Stir in the chopped chocolate
  7. Scoop about 3 tablespoonfuls of dough for each cookie onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.
  8. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the cookies puff and begin to brown on top but are still very soft to the touch.
  9. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes.
  10. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack and eat warm or cool completely.