Monday, 30 July 2007

Daring Bakers July Challenge - I did it!


Yes! Yeeeehah! I did it! I didn't think I could. Then I thought I could but didnt think I would - mainly because the main ingredient was Strawberries and they dont come cheap here in Malaysia. But I finally did it and it turned out great!
The July Challenge for the Daring Bakers was a Strawberry Mirror Cake. I'd never even heard of a Mirror Cake before! As I mentioned before, Strawberries dont come cheap in Malaysia. Even the local variety grown in the highlands dont come cheap. You can get the frozen kind but that runs pretty expensive too - at any rate, whichever strawberries I chose, I was gonna have to spend quite a bit - especially since so many strawberries are required. This was why I thought I wouldnt enter the challenge.

But then, this was my very first Daring Bakers challenge. Was money going to be such an obstructing factor? Some of the helpful DBs suggested I used mangoes instead but I decided I'd just take the plunge and splurge a little on this cake. For after all, without taking the plunge, nothing would be learnt. So I rationalised that I was just investing in my own advancement! :)

Looking at the challenge, I knew first off that this was something that I wouldn't normally attempt. I read the recipe, then read it again and re-read it, again and again and again. It seemed rather complicated with so many parts to it. But the more I read it, the more convinced I became that I would be able to make it. So.. One Saturday morning (the 14th to be exact), I woke up really early and decided to do it! This is how it went.

First step: the cake.
I have my own recipe for a sponge cake which turns out well each time. When I looked at this particular recipe, the 6 eggs and the need to separate the yolks and whites got me a little worked up. Too Complicated I screamed. But the spirit was to follow the recipe to a tee - and so I did.... The one deviation (this was allowed in the rules) I made was to use two round cake pans - simply because I dont have a large enough Jelly roll or Swiss Roll pan. The pans I used were smaller than my springform to save me having to cut it to size. Having read some of the DB posts, this meant that the cake would be larger/higher than needed - but I didnt pay much attention to that - more of that later.

Verdict? This is probably the best, nicest, tastiest, fluffiest Sponge cake I have ever produced. It turned out a little more yellowish than I'm used to but that may be because of the amount of eggs used? Anyway, I'm definitely using this recipe from now on for my Sponge Cakes!

Step Two: Strawberry Bavarian.
This was relatively easy and not as complicated as the recipe made out to be. Granted, making the Custard took some time but as I've made custard before for homemade ice-cream, I did have some prior experience. The other problem I had was with the gelatine in the Strawberry Puree. The gelatine just sort of sat there and didnt get spongy as the recipe said it would. So I stirred it a little and then everything got lumpy. However, I figured that the hot custard would melt everything and I think I was right. Everything smoothened out. I particularly liked the part where the mixture sits in a stainless steel bowl immersed in another bowl filled with cold water. It was fun seeing the strawberry mixture slowly start to thicken. After folding in the cream - it tasted rather heavenly. The Bavarian was a little sourish - but very refreshing. I'm not sure if I'd have preferred it maybe a tad bit sweeter but it was delicious all the same

Step Three: The Juice and Mirror
Again, this wasnt as complicated as it seemed. Everything turned out well but the mirror took a Loooooooong time to thicken, and I mean a really long time -probably due to the heat in Malaysia. I contemplated adding more gelatine but it did start to thicken after a long while. I think I may have added a little too much food colouring but it still turned out okay.

Step Four: Assembly
Sometimes what you think is the easiest part of the puzzle turns out to be the most difficult. Firstly, I considered omitting the part about cutting a cardboard to size, covering with foil and placing inside the springform. What a waste of time I figured. But I did it anyway - coz Thats What the Recipe Said! In hindsight, I think the purpose of this is to stop the cake from sticking to the springform - but I could be wrong. Anyway upon assembly, I think my two round cakes were a little too small (circumference wise) and a little to high. Never mind, lets just do it and see what happens. I should have paid more attention to what the other DBs had said about this but sometimes I think I'm too clever for my own good. (this is me eating humble pie) Also, in my excitement to see the finished cake, I just carried on.

To cut a long story short, there was just enough Bavarian cream to cover the second layer of cake - barely.

Pouring the mirror on was almost a disaster as the Bavarian came right up to the top of the pan - leaving very little space for the mirror. Also, the top of the cake wasnt completely flat so the mirror was thicker at the sides and very thin toward the centre. Getting the FULL pan to the fridge was another potential disaster but fortunately I got it in with minimum spillage.

Once in the fridge, the cake looked lovely while still sitting in the springform pan. I was still wary about the mirror setting but it did.

Finally: Serving and Tasting
Although warned, the mirror did break up a little at the edges even though I ran a knife all around it.
Taking the springorm off required a bit of help from my wife as I was too worried the mirror would tear. Also, some of the mirror leaked into the sides of the pan so one half/side of the cake was more red than the other. It gave it a nice effect though!


The cake cut really well and it looked lovely with the layers showing up and the mirror on top glistening. As for the taste, the cake was extremely light and refreshing. Everyone loved the Bavarian Cream and second servings were the order of the day.

What would I do differently? I think that maybe I would use more gelatine in the mirror as it really took ages to set and got me real worried as well. I'd also try and make the cake in two springforms and then cut them to size so that the layers are the correct thickness and size. Both really minor details as far as I am concerned.

All in all a very satsifying first challenge for me in the Daring Bakers! I had a lot of fun and I made something I would never have tried nor have had the confidence to do. Most importantly, everyone enjoyed the cake!

Thank you Daring Bakers! And now I proudly display their logo on my blog......


To see the other members and to get more information on the Daring Bakers, just visit The Home of the Official Daring Bakers' Blogroll
And.... this is the recipe we were given that we HAD to follow..


Strawberry Mirror Cake
The Cake
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
2 TBSP sugar
2/3 cup sifted cake flour
½ cup water
1/3 cups sugar
2 TBSP kirsch or strawberry liqueur

Strawberry Bavarian Cream
2 ½ TBSP unflavored gelatin
1 ½ cups strained strawberry puree(1 ½ baskets)
5 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cups milk
1 TBSP lemon juice
several drops of red food coloring
1 ¾ cups whipping cream

Strawberry Mirror
1 tsp lemon juice
1 TBSP kirsch
1 TBSP water
1 TBSP unflavored gelatin
Few drops of red food coloring

Strawberry Juice
1 ½ pints of strawberries(18 oz)
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup water

Method
1.Preheat oven to 450F. Butter and flour the sides of an 11-by-17 inch jelly roll pan(rimmed baking sheet). Line bottom of pan with a sheet of parchment paper cut to fit bottom pan exactly.
2.Beat eggs, egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar together in a medium bowl until thick and light. Beat in the vanilla.
3.In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, ad cream of tartar and beat until whites begin to form peaks. Add the 2 TBSP sugar and beat until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks(do not over beat).
4.Sift flour over the egg yolk mixture and fold in . Stir in one fourth of the whites. Then carefully fold in the remaining whites.
5.Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake until light brown and springy to touch(7 to 10 minutes). Cool in pan 5 minutes. Run a knife along edge to loosen. Invert cake tin to cut out 8 ¼ inch circles of cake. Wrap the cake layers, separated with waxed paper, and set aside. Cake may be frozen at this point.
6.To make soaking syrup: Combine water and the 1/3 cup sugar in saucepan; bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Cool to room temperature; flavor with liqueur. Set aside or refrigerate in glass jar until ready to use.
7.To assemble cake: Brush sides of 10-inch springform pan lightly with flavorless salad oil or almond oil. Cut out a cardboard circle that is exactly the same size as the bottom inside of the pan; cover cardboard with aluminum foil and fit into bottom of pan. Center one layer of the cake bottom of pan. Brush the cake with some of the soaking syrup to just moisten(not drench) the cake; set aside.
8.Prepare Strawberry Bavarian Cream. Immediately pour about half of the Bavarian Cream over the first layer of cake in the pan. Set the next layer of cake on top of the cream. Pour remaining Bavarian Cream over cake and smooth top of the cream with spatula. Refrigerate until the cream sets(1 to 2 hours).
9.Prepare the Strawberry Mirror.
10.To serve: Wrap a hot towel around the outside of springform pan for a few minutes. Run a small sharp knife tip around the edge of the Strawberry Mirror to separate it form the sides of pan. Mirror will tear when sides are unlatched if it is stuck at ANY point. Slowly unlatch the pan and slide it off the cake. Slice cake in wedges and serve in upright slices.

Prep Work
Strawberry Bavarian Cream
1.Sprinkle the gelatin over the strawberry puree in a small bowl and set aside until spongy.
2.Combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl’ beat until light. Bring milk to a boil in sauce pan. Pour hot milk into yolk mixture ans stir with a wooden spoon(it doesn’t say so but I would temper the egg mixture first to be safe). Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until your finger leaves a clear trail in sauce when drawn across the back of the spoon.(Do not boil or mixture will curdle.) Immediately remove from heat and stir in softened gelatin mixture. Pour into a stainless steel bowl places over a bowl of ice water. Stir in lemon juice and a few drops of red food coloring. Cool over ice water, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to the consistency of softly whipped cream.
3.White gelatin mixture is cooling, whip the whipping cream until it holds soft peaks. When the gelatin mixture resembles softly whipped cream, fold the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture.

Strawberry Mirror
1.Prepare strawberry juice.
2.Place lemon juice, kirsch, and water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over this mixture; set aside until spongy and soft.
3.Measure 1 ½ cups Strawberry juice into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer; pour over gelatin mixture and stir to dissolve gelatin. Tint to desired color with red food coloring. Place bowl over bowl of ice water and stir occasionally until the mixture is syrupy and just beings to thicken(do not let jell); remove from ice water.
4.When mixture is syrupy, pour a 1/16-inch layer over the top of cake. Refrigerate until set.

Strawberry Juice

Wash and hull strawberries; coarsely chop. Place strawberries in saucepan; crush to start juices flowing. Place over low heat; add sugar and water; simmer slowly 10 minutes. Pour juice and pulp through damp jelly bag or cheesecloth-lined colander and drain into a bowl for 15 minutes(Do not press down on fruit).

Adapted from Cakes and Pastries At The Academy by the California Culinary Academy 1993

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Cookie Decorating with the Kids


Phew! What a day! In fact, what a weekend! We did a Whole lot of cooking this weekend and finished off Sunday with my wife baking some cookies. We used the lovely set of cookie cutters that we bought not too long ago. There are some lovely shapes in the set including dinosaurs and lots of other animals. We made some glaze icing in a variety of colours for the children to decorate the cookies - anyway they wanted too! It was really Messy, but it was a whole lot of fun!

Here are some of the cookies they decorated.


Tagged for a Meme

KJ from A Cracking Good Egg tagged me for a meme quite some time ago. I must apologise for taking so long to get down to it but I've finally got off my butt to attempt this.
What I'm supposed to do is to post 8 random facts about myself. That might be more difficult than it seems but I'll give it a go anyway. After that, I'm supposed to tag 8 other people but I reckon I'll leave it as an open tag so that whoever wants to do it can just do it - just let me know as I'd like to read about it too.
If I bore any of you to death, I do apologise....!!

1. I first started to make desserts and bake at a very early age. I think I was about 9 or 10. I used to help Mom with the desserts and my very first dessert was a chilled cheese cake.

2. I studied Engineering in Melbourne, Australia and although I started baking young, I only really, really started cooking as a student. My favourite dish to make was Kheema (Mince Beef Curry) and my flatmates used to get fed up that I always cooked mince. It wasn't really always though......!

3. When I make something tasty or something turns out well, I announce to my wife "Ah McCain... you've done it again." This is in reference to an old TV advertisement in Australia where McCain frozen foods are used to save the day for a party or dinner the host has wrecked... yeah, my funny sense of humour shows up here.

4. I was involved in a nasty, nasty auto accident back in 1987.... and have lots of scars to show for it.

5. I love chocolate. Anything chocolate is good. But at the same time I dislike White Chocolate. In my mind, White Chocolate is not chocolate at all..

6. I love Aviation and that means anything to do with flying, planes, helicopters. I used to build model planes (Airfix) when I was young and still try to do some these days. I'm trying to inculcate that in my son too. I was lucky enough to work for the Airlines for 8 years and then another aviation related company for about 6 years - so I've been fortunate to have worked in my dream industry.

7. I always wanted to be a pilot and fly for a living. However, my father advised me to go "get a professional degree" and so I opted to do Engineering. I'd have chosen Aeronautical Engineering but there wasnt much scope for that in Malaysia at the time. So I did a double major in Mechanical and Computing. No regrets! While on the topic of flying, I was actually taken flying by my ex-Boss, Rob Black in Melbourne. We flew a Piper Seneca and it was awesome!

8. I've loved Sesame Street for as long as I can remember. I hate Barney though. And I've passed this on to my two children!

There, 8 random facts. Thanks KJ for tagging me. I've never really been tagged for anything before - just blamed for a lot of things....!!!

Profiteroles - or lets just call them Cream Puffs!



I've always wondered what the difference is between Profiteroles and Cream Puffs. When I was growing up, I had only ever heard of Cream Puffs. As I started to take an interest in baking and looking at recipes, I discovered this thing called Profiteroles. Even when I went out to swanky restaurants, they always served Profiteroles and never Cream Puffs.
Anyway, I've learnt since then that Profiteroles and Cream Puffs are really the same thing. Its just a way of making Cream Puffs seem rather fancy eh!
After my success a few weeks ago with Choux Pastry - where I made eclairs - I thought I'd try making Cream Puffs. After all there was some cream in the fridge that needed to be used up and I wanted to make something for the kids too.
Rather than just split the puffs and fill it with cream, I made chocolate cream or chocolate ganache (see the way everything has a way of sounding fancy....??!!!!) I piped the cream into the puffs so you couldn't see it but when you bit into it, chocolatey goodness filled your senses.
Needless to say, the kids loved it and I also went one step further and freezed a few of the puffs after filling them with the ganache. The result? A Chocolate Ice-Cream like cream puff.... really delicious and fancy - just like a profiterole should be!

Chicken Rice


Finally, I'm going Asian!! In Malaysia, this is one of the most popular dishes for lunch and even dinner and sometimes breakfast! Chicken Rice that you get at the hawker centres or stalls is usually made with either Steamed or Roasted Chicken. The secret to the great taste is that the rice is cooked in chicken stock. It goes really well with Bean Sprouts as well. Oh, and it is usually eaten with lots of ground chilli and ginger!
This is my wife's version of this great dish and she adds bean curd to the bean sprouts to make it a more wholesome and nutritious meal. She doesnt roast or steam the chicken either but rather boils it together with some tomatoes, carrots and some spices. Once the chicken is cooked, she uses the broth in place of water to cook the rice.
A rather simple dish to make and yet so, so tasty!


Saturday, 21 July 2007

Broccoli with Caramelised Onions


Yeap, today was a rather busy day what with making the Dory Fish as well as the Chocolate Pudding and also this dish.
I normally leave the vegetables to my wife to cook but this time thought I'd try out a slight variation on stir fried broccoli. No real recipe here but I think the difference is the caramelised onions. Again, no real secret here. Just fry the onions slowly in just a little oil till they are nice and browned and start to release their sugars. Then add in some garlic and the broccoli and fry quickly. Season with salt and the dish is done! The onions give the broccoli a lovely sweetish flavour and even my wife was surprised and how good it tasted.

Enjoy!

Self Saucing Chocolate Pudding


I was in a bookstore looking through some cookbooks and I chanced upon a recipe for a Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding. I've never made a self saucing pudding before so I was itching to try it out. Unfortunately, I didnt have any paper with me to surreptitiously jot the recipe down. So.... I came home, searched the web and found this recipe on recipe.org.au
It was fairly simple to make and even though my wife complains that I am too fixated with chocolate, she really did enjoy this dessert! I did too!!

The picture doesnt really do justice to the actual pudding but its really not a dessert for the eyes - its not a pretty cake - but it tastes just great!

This is the recipe

Ingredients

Pudding:
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
½ cup milk
60g melted butter
1 egg

Sauce:
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 ¼ cup boiling water

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease a 1-litre ovenproof dish with butter.
Place the brown sugar in a large bowl. Sift the flour and cocoa over the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter and egg and add to the dry ingredients. Beat until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture into the greased dish and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface.

To make the sauce: Combine the sugar and cocoa together and sift evenly over the chocolate mixture in the dish. Gradually pour the boiling water evenly over the sugar and cocoa (Ensuring the cocoa powder/sugar has dissolved).

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until a cake-like topping forms on the surface and a skewer inserted halfway into the pudding centre comes out clean. Set aside for 5 minutes then serve warm with ice-cream!

Note: It was delicious even by itself. I'd probably add a little less water to make the sauce thicker.

Baked Dory Fish with Mushroom Lemon Sauce


Yay the weekend is here again! I love the weekend coz I dont
have to go to work, I get time to spend with the wife and kids and last but not least, I get to experiment in the kitchen!
I must admit that before I started this blog, I used to make the tried and tested - but now I try and test different things out. I also realised that I dont have any curries or other local dishes on my blog and I was going to correct that today by making a curry.
My son however, had other ideas. He wanted some of my baked fish - so the curries will have to wait!
I usually make Dory with a white sauce or a lemon sauce. This time I thought I'd make it with a creamy mushroom sauce flavoured with a hint of lemon. It turned out rather well - meaning that it got the wife's and kids seal of approval - and that is all that matters to me!
I decided to 'jazz' it up a little by serving the fish on a bed of spinach. My wife liked that 'artistic' touch and even wondered why the spinach tasted so good. It was simply blanched in hot water and sprinkled with sauce. The reason it tasted so good was because the juices from the fish and some of the sauce dribbled on to it.
This is how I made my recipe for Baked Dory Fish with Mushroom Lemon Sauce. I didnt measure anything (as per usual) so the measurements are just an approximation.

Ingredients
4 large Dory Fillets (about 1.5 kg)
3 cloves garlic - chopped finely
250g Button Mushrooms - quartered
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
200 ml Milk
4 bay leaves
Juice from half a lemon
Salt
Black Pepper
Olive Oil

Method

Wash fish and cut into large pieces. Place on baking tray lined with aluminium foil. Make sure there is sufficient foil to cover the fish too. Fry garlic together with oregano and rosemary. Add in black pepper. Stri fry mushrooms till slightly soft. Remove from pan. Add in a little more oil and butter. Stir in the flour and cook until golden. Add in milk and cooked mushrooms. Add in lemon juice and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until mixture thickens. Meanwhile, season Dory fillets with salt and pepper. Rub some of the lemon juice on to the fillets. Place bay leaves around fish and then pour the mushroom mixture over fish. Spread the sauce evenly. Fold over the aluminium foil to cover sides and top. Bake in 200C oven for about 30 minutes.

Oil and juices from the fish while cooking will dilute the sauce, so ensure that your sauce is thick enough before cooking the fish in the oven.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Royal Foodie Joust #2 - Peachy Pasta



This is my submission for the August Royal Foodie Joust hosted by the Leftover Queen

For the August Joust the 3 ingredients provided were:
Peaches
Honey
Eggs

At first, I contemplated making a Peachy Dessert but since I made a dessert for the first Joust I thought I should try something different. Main meals always sit well with me and I decided on this creation for the following reasons:
1) We were having company this weekend
2) My kids love pasta
3) I wanted to try a different kind of Pasta Dish
4) I could 'kill two birds with one stone' by submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights too!
5) There doesnt need to be a reason okay! I just wanted to do it!

And so... my submission for the August Joust is:

Peachy Honey Mustard Pasta Casserole

This is how it goes

Ingredients:
400 g Chicken - cut into small pieces
200 g Button Mushrooms
5 cloves garlic
1 large onion
2 tsp Mustard
1 1/2 tsp Honey
1/4 cup cream
1 cup milk
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tin of canned Peaches
2 eggs
150 g Cheddar Cheese - grated
Black Pepper
Salt

Method
Hard boil the eggs, peel and chop. Set aside. Drain juices from Peaches and cut cube half of the peaches and set aside. Keep the rest to eat later!
Sautee Onions, garlic, oregano, rosemary and black pepper. Add in the mushrooms and chicken and cook well. Add in mustard and honey then the cream and milk. Mix well. Allow to simmer. Season with salt. Add in peaches and mix well. Take off from heat and allow flavours to infuse.



Meanwhile, boil your choice of pasta. I used Fussili Tricolore and the three colours added character to the dish. Mix the pasta with the sauce and add in the chopped hard boiled eggs.
Place into a pyrex dish or casserole dish and sprinkle with cheese. Bake in a preheated 190C oven for 30 minutes.


The verdict? Everyone liked it a lot and agreed it was different and rather uncommon. Most importantly, the kids loved it!

The pasta was certainly different and the peaches lent a nice sweet fruity flavour. The honey and mustard together with the cream base gave it an overall tang that was rather unique in a pasta dish. Nobody could quite figure out what was giving the pasta such a unique flavour and they were all surprised when I announced the ingredients!




So, if you liked this, please scoot over to the Leftover Queen's Royal Food Joust for August and vote for me and also to see what the other entries are.


This was also submitted to Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Ruth at onceuponafeast

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Spaghetti Bolognese with Meatballs



This weekend has been rather busy as far as cooking goes!

I'm not an economist but I do know that supply has to meet demand - and thats the reason for Pasta two days in a row! We had my wife's relatives who are visiting from overseas over for lunch. Their daughter loves Italian food and so I whipped up a Spaghetti Bolgnese. Michael asked if I could make some meatballs too and so I made the classic Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Sometimes the old time favorites are the best - after all, who doesnt like Spaghetti with Meatballs. I made my classic Bolognese sauce which uses two types of mushrooms for added flavour. I baked the meatballs separately while cooking the sauce and then once the sauce was almost ready, I chucked in the cooked meatballs to saok in the flavour.

Needless to say, the Bolognese sauce was a hit and the kids really loved the meatballs.

This is my own version of the classic Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Meatballs

600g Minced Beef
2 Tbsp Tomato Sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Salt
Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 200C. Mix all ingredients together and then form into small balls. Place on cookie tray and bake for about 40 minutes. Meanwhile make the sauce.

Bolognese Sauce

600g Minced Beef
4 tomatoes
6 cloves garlic -chopped finely
1 large onion - choppped finely
2 tsp Oregano
1 tsp Basil
1 tsp Rosemary
200 g Button Mushrooms
200g Swiss Brown Mushrooms
1 large red capsicum - diced
1 carrot - diced
1 can stewed tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato paste
Salt
Black Pepper

Sautee onions and garlic together with Black Pepper, Oregano, Basil and Rosemary.
Add in the beef and cook till well browned. Add in sliced mushrooms and cook till soft. Then add in the tomatoes and continue to cook, mixing well till tomatoes are soft. Add in can of stewed tomatoes, tomato paste and carrots. Cover pan and simmer. Season with salt and then add the capsicum and meatballs. Simmer for another 15 mins.

This is another contribution to
Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Ruth at onceuponafeast




Saturday, 7 July 2007

Stuffed Zuchini and Meat Loaf






As most of you would have guessed by now, I only really have time to cook on the weekends. The wife and kids end up being either my guinea pigs for something new I want to try or they just get to enjoy my tried and tested dishes.

Deciding what to cook can sometimes be difficult. More often than not, whenever I ask the kids what they would like, they end up giving the 'universal childrens answer' - ANYTHING! I remember my mother used to tell me "Theres no dish called Anything."
Since the apple doesnt fall far from the tree, I say practically the same thing to my kids. Anyway, since the pasta that I made for lunch was polished off, I had to cook again for dinner. I was in a rather creative mood so I decided to make Stuffed Zuchinis as a starter.
Something else that some of you may have realised is that I very, very seldom ever follow recipes. Even if I do, it is more as a guideline and I always omit and replace. Anyway, I saw Stuffed Zuchinis on one of the blogs that I've come across on the net and that was basically the inspiration for my own version of Stuffed Zuchinis.

Stuffed Zuchinis

2 large zuchinis (I used yellow ones although I normally buy green ones)
150g Oyster Mushrooms
2 slices bread
2 cloves garlic
Handful of pine nuts
Chilli Flakes
Salt
Pepper


Preheat oven to 200C. Slice the Zuchinis in half widthwise and then lengthwise so you get 4 'boats' out of each zuchini. Scoop out the flesh from inside with a spoon and set aside. In a food processor, chop the oyster mushrooms finely. Remove crust from bread and process in food processor till you get fine crumbs.
Sautee garlic and pepper. Add in pine nuts and fry till golden. Add in mushroom and flesh of zuchini and fry till cook. Season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Set aside.
Heat a little oil in a skillet and toss in breadcrumbs. Fry till golden. Fill zuchini 'boats' with filling and top with breadcrumbs. Bake for about 20 mins or till zuchinis are soft. The stuffed zuchinis turned out to be a hit not only with my wife but the kids as well.



For the main course, I made a meatloaf - something simple yet tasty. This wa a favourite meal of mine from my childhood and is basically my moms recipe passed on to me.

Meatloaf

800g-1kg minced beef
1 large red capsicum - diced
2 slices bread
some milk
3 cloves garlic
1 large onion
2 handfuls raisins
Salt
Pepper

Preheat oven to 200C. Lightly sautee garlic and onion and set aside. Slice crusts of bread then soak in the milk. Mash up with your fingers till it resembles a paste. Season meat with salt and pepper and then add in the onion, garlic, raisins and bread paste. Mix will. Pack meat mixture into a loaf pan and bake for about 40 mins or till done. Overturn onto a serving dish and let rest for about 10 mins before eating.

Michael loved the meatloaf and was doubly pleased when he 'found' a raisin in the meatloaf!



Asian Fusion Linguine - Presto Pasta Night


The kids wanted some pasta (again!) for lunch this weekend. They always want either a cream based or tomato based pasta but this time I thought I'd try something different.

I decided to make a pasta with an Asian influence. It turned out rather nice - sort of a mix between a sweet and sour sauce and a black bean sauce. Again, there is no real recipe to follow as I just chucked in this and that with a smidgen of this and a toss of that. But this is basically how it goes:

1 large onion - chopped finely
4 cloves garlic - chopped finely
1 tsp oregano
black pepper
250g brown mushrooms - halved
400g minced chicken
4 medium tomatoes - quartered
1 large green capsicum - cubed into large pieces

[the sauce is estimates only]
2 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tbsp HP Sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce

Method
Sautee the onion, garlic, black pepper and oregano. Add in the mushrooms and cook till juices come out. Add tomatoes and continued cooking till tomatoes are mushy. Add in the chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through. Pour in about 1 cup of water and mix in all the sauces. Cover and simmer for about 10 mins. Add in the capsicum. Season with salt.

I like my capsicum in this sauce rather tender so I let it cook until it is almost soft. If you prefer crunchier capsicum, then just add in in before serving.



This is another submission to
Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Ruth at onceuponafeast

Oh and I forgot to add that the kids did enjoy the different flavour and taste!!

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