Honey and Ginger Stir Fry

Ever since I started to have more time available to cook as it doesn’t take us an hour plus to get home anymore I have really enjoyed trying new recipes and trying little tweaks to perfect them. This also means that I have really gone off eating the ready made sauces that we used to end up eating because cooking from scratch was not appealing after our journey home. I can really taste the sugars and salt that are put into the sauces and they just don’t taste the same to me.

A recipe I always enjoy is my Honey and Ginger Stir Fry. To begin with the recipe didn’t include ginger so it was more honey and sesame and it was nice but adding the ginger, has in my opinion, really improved this dish! I also use half of the sauce to cook the chicken and then the other half over the vegetables and noodles when they are just about cooked.

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The recipe I use is as follows and is best served with noodles I find:

1/2 cup of Honey
4 tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons Oyster Sauce
3 teaspoons Sesame Oil
1 large chicken breast diced
1 teaspoon ginger paste
Mixed stir fry veg adjust depending on number of people (I use frozen stir veg and they work well in this)
Large handful of Cashew Nuts
Packet of noodles

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I then mix the honey, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil in a bowl with one cup (measuring cup) of cold water. Heat some olive oil in a pan and when it is hot add the ginger paste and the chicken which is cooked until it becomes golden brown.

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Once the chicken is browned pour in half of the sauce and cook for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the stir fry vegetables which I cook for about 5 minutes (following the packet instructions for the vegetables).

Once the vegetables are starting to cook throw in the cashew nuts and add the remainder of the sauce to cook everything together. When the sauce is heated add in enough noodles for the number of people you are feeding and cook them through until heated and then serve!

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Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup

Since having some leftover pumpkin at Christmas that I ended up throwing away I have wanted to try and make pumpkin soup. I bought some pumpkin about a week ago and then picked up some sweet potato when we went shopping last and decided I would have a go at making the soup in my slow cooker.

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I googled lots of different recipe ideas and decided to try the following recipe which I kind of made up from lots of different recipes but which worked really really well!

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Recipe:
Half a butternut pumpkin
One large sweet potato
One onion
2x stock pots
3x cups boiling water
Salt and pepper to taste

Method
Peal and Chop the pumpkin, sweet potato and onion and line the bottom of the slow cooker. Mix the stock pots in a jug with 3 cups of boiling water and add salt and pepper to taste.

I then cooked the ingredients of the high heat setting for 4 hours before mashing the ingredients up and leaving it to cool overnight.

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When your getting ready to serve it put the liquid through the blender and back into the slow cooker along with the cream and heat it on the hight heat setting for an hour until fully reheated and then serve.

I really enjoyed my experimental recipe and the Aussie and our friend who came to dinner like it too I think! Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the finished result but this is it mid cooking!

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Home Comforts

I’ve been in Darwin for just over a year now and until 2 weeks ago the fact that we often wouldn’t get home until 6.30/7pm evening and that I only had a BBQ to cook with meant I was a lazy cook trying to cook the easiest and quickest things possible with little experimentation.

I’m actually far too excited about the fact we have a cooker with an oven AND a grill. We also bought a slow cooker which meant I can try to recreate the delicious stews my mum makes as well as casseroles and the like.

Reading this blog post on the Smitten by Britain blog today really got me thinking about the foods I miss from the UK and the dishes I’ve cooked that remind me of home and my mums amazing cooking.

Every winter at home in the UK means stew season and on the weekends I’d often wake to the smell of my mums beef stew being cooked ready for re-heating at lunchtime or for dinner. This stew tastes fantastic the first time it’s cooked but is even better when re-heated especially with dumplings!

I made a Darwin version although called it a casserole as seems strange to call it stew and to be eating stew when it’s about 25 degrees.

Here’s what it looked like :

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To make the stew I basically placed the following ingredients in the slow cooker, cooked it on the fast cook setting for 4 hours and then cooked it for a further hour just before serving. The only thing I will change next time will be to add some corn flour to thicken the stock:

Stewing beef
Carrots
Onion
Swede
Turnip
Parsnip
Celery
1 litre beef stock
Worcester sauce
Pepper
Mixed herbs

I also had a craving for my mums cottage pie today and came up with this which we enjoyed a lot

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The ingredients were:

Minced beef
One onion
Two carrots sliced
Handful of mushrooms
Handful of frozen peas
Vegetable stock (I used a stock pot and added about a cup and a half of boiling water)

For the topping
8 potatoes
Butter to mix
Drop of milk
Grated cheese

To make the cottage pie I boiled the potatoes and carrots and started them at the same time but only boiled the carrots for about 10 minutes. Next I cooked the minced beef until it was brown, added the onions and mushrooms until cooked then added the stock, Worcester sauce, water along with the carrots and peas and simmered this until the stock reduced.

Once cooked I spooned it into an oven dish and mashed the potatoes with butter and pepper adding a drop of milk at the end. Once mashed I spooned it on top of the mince mixture and spread some grated cheese on top before placing the oven dish into the pre heated grill for about 10 minutes before serving.

This was a great home cooked meal and I’m looking forward to trying some when I get home in just 23 DAYS!!!!

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Creamy Salmon Pasta

In this post I mentioned that I had tried a delicious Salmon pasta at a restaurant in Darwin and wanted to give it a try and on Saturday night I gave it a go.

I’m not too confident on following recipes as I worry I will get them wrong or it won’t taste very nice because I’ve never tried it before. I also tend to use lots of pre-packaged mixes like pasta sauce rather than try to create it myself as we don’t really have a way of storing the ingredients you would need and it would be too expensive to keep buying them every time.

I started off by following this recipe or at least that is the one I found online standing in Woolworths trying to work out what ingredients I would need. When I looked a bit more I liked the look of this recipe as well so this dish is a bit of a combination of the two!

The ingredients for 3 people are:

Pasta of your choice – enough for the number of people who will be eating the dish
500g of smoked salmon – I used the pre packed sliced version but the salmon fillets would work and probably be a bit better as they would be more flaky
300ml of thickened cream
A spoonful of garlic paste
A couple of tablespoons of lemon juice – but add to taste
A handful of chives
Half a chopped red pepper (capsicum)
Half a chopped green pepper (capsicum)
Half a chopped medium sized onion
A handful of mushrooms roughly copped.

Salmon Pasta Ingredients

The Method:
I cooked the pasta and whilst it was cooking chopped up the peppers, mushrooms, onion and salmon into smaller pieces. Then when it was cooked I used the olive oil spray to cook the peppers mushrooms and onion altogether in the frying pan until softened.

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Then I added the pasta which had been drained back in to the pan and cooked it for a minute with the vegetables before adding all of the cream and cooking for a further minute making sure all of the ingredients were cooked in the cream.

Next I added the garlic paste, lemon juice and chives in to the mixture and cooked for a further minute.

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Finally I turned the heat off and in the salmon leaving it to cook for about a minute before serving it up.

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The final result was good, it wasn’t like the version I had tried during the week but I think that was because I had added lemon to the dish and I am definitely not a chef. It was tasty and full of flavour which was good as I worried it would taste a bit bland. I might experiment a bit and leave out the lemon next time but we quite enjoyed it and there are left overs which will definitely be eat up over the next few days!

Aussie Burgers

I haven’t done one of my “outback recipes” for a little while now so thought today’s dinner might be a good one for an update.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as an Aussie Burger but when I first visited Australia I had a burger which was very similar to this and called an Aussie Burger and so every often I make it for us. It seems a bit weird because of some of the ingredients but actually tastes so good, it’s definitely comfort food.

The recipe is also so straightforward and goes something like this:

For the Burgers the ingredients per person are…

Aussie Burger Ingredients

2 x burgers
1 x burger bun
1 x slice of cheese
2 x slice beetroot
1 x pineapple ring (would suggest using the ones in juice not syrup)

Then just cook the burgers on the BBQ and pile them up with the other ingredients in the bun. I chose a slice of beetroot followed by a burger then slice of cheese, burger and slice of pineapple. You can add sauce like ketchup but it has quite a lot of flavour without the sauce.

Aussie Burger Creation

For the chips I just bought a tin of pre cooked potates sliced them up into pieces and fried them in oil in a pre-heated frying pan.

Home Made Chips

I’m sure a chip pan would work as well but you’d have to be careful they don’t over cook as the pieces are quite small.

Salad

Finally I served it with a mixed salad and everyone dug in!

Aussie Burger Dinner

Salmon and Mushroom Pancakes

I realised on the way to work today that it is Shrove Tuesday which is the day before Ash Wednesday and signifies the start of lent. It is also known in some Countries including the UK and Australia as Pancake Day.

Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent.

I normally have sweet pancakes with things like sugar and lemon or maple syrup on Shrove Tuesday which are really delicious but decided to try some savoury pancakes today so we could have them for dinner and if we fancied it afterwards, to have some sweet pancakes.

I found the recipe that is the basis of this meal here and tweaked it a bit to fit my favourite ingredients and what we had in the fridge.

The Ingredients for the Mushroom and Salmon
Ingredients

Ingredients
A couple of handfuls of mushrooms diced
A couple of handfuls of green capsicum and red capsicum diced
A small onion diced
200g salmon
A small jar of hollandaise sauce
A tablespoon of dill chopped

Method
I chopped up the mushrooms, capsicum and onion in to small pieces and set them aside whilst i copped up the dill. i mixed the dill and hollandaise sauce in a bowl and set that aside as well. I then chopped up the salmon in to small pieces.

Cooking Vegetables
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I was lazy and used a pre mixed pancake mix where you just added water. The pancakes came out nicely but were a touch on the sweet side so I would recommend making up the pancakes yourself.

Pancake Cooking
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I then began heating up the frying pan to cook the pancakes, pouring in small amounts so that I ended up with 2 pancakes per person. At the same time I turned on the oven part of the BBQ to heat it up to 200 degrees C.

I cooked up the six pancakes setting them aside before beginning the salmon mixture.

Adding in the Salmon
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Firstly I cooked the onion, capsicum and mushrooms so that they were still a bit crunchy and added in the salmon by gently folding it in to the vegetables so that it didn’t break up to much.

I cooked the salmon and vegetables together for a couple of minutes before pouring in the hollandaise and dill which was cooked until hot.

With the Hollandaise
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I set out the pancakes in oven trays and spooned in the mixture in to each pancake. I tried to fold the pancakes up but couldn’t get them to stay in shape even with cocktail sticks so put both trays in to the BBQ, closed the lid and cooked them for about 7 minutes until the pancakes were a bit crunchy.

Ready for the Oven
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To finish of the dish I made up a light salad and served it with a pre-bought pasta salad we might have to have some sweet pancakes another day!

The Finished Product
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Outback Cookery Experimentation’s – Egg Fried Rice

I was also curious about how to make the perfect egg fried rice after trying the delicious delights lots of times.

I made this recipe, ohhh probably before Christmas and it tasted really good (if I do say so myself) and then when I tried it again last week I completely messed it up so it looked like a massive pile of mashed potatoes and was only edible when mixed with the sauce from the stir fry I created.

My mistake, I think, was to cook the rice and then immediately attempt to turn it in to egg fried rice so this time I cooked up some rice last night for our dinner and made sure there was some left over for tonight’s dinner which was to be egg fried rice and sweet chilli beef stir fry.

This is another BBQ recipe and is also all cooked in the same frying pan so saves washing up (ish, I have to use lots of bowls to transport the chopped up ingredients outside to be cooked so that creates a bit of washing up).

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The stir fry was not exciting as recipes go. I just cooked the beef in small pieces in sesame oil, wacked in some frozen stir fry vegetables (they always taste good but make things a bit watery which is a tad annoying) to cook for 4 or 5 minutes and then added in a supermarket bought sauce packet we bought last week as part of some good sounding deal! Let it all simmer and then it was ready to serve with the rice which was already cooked.

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My rice is based upon a few searches on the internet for recipe suggestions and started off as this recipe by BBC’s Good Food Guide with a few tweaks to make it just how I wanted.

Ingredients
Cold cooked rice left overnight in the fridge.
An onion chopped in to small pieces – I used a quarter of a small onion because I didn’t have heaps of rice so this should be adjusted.
A red peppers chopped in to small pieces – again adjust to the volume of rice.
A handful of frozen peas.
A handful of mushrooms chopped in to small pieces.
2 eggs.
2 teaspoons of sesame oil.
Some ground pepper.
Honey and soya sauce.
Vegetable oil.

Ingredients

I started by chopping the vegetables up so that they were nice and small and would cook quickly with the rice. I then mixed the eggs and sesame oil in a bowl and left it whilst I got to work cooking the rice.

I heated the vegetable oil in the frying pan until it was quite hot and added the rice which I cooked for a few minutes to make sure it was heated right through. When the rice was a little bit brown I added the vegetables and cooked them for a couple of minutes before adding the ground pepper and soya sauce for flavouring.

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I have discovered that the trick to the egg fried bit of the egg fried rice is to put it all in the frying pan and let it start cooking away a bit like an omellette. When it has started to thicken I then mixed it all in with the rice and vegetables and cooked it all until the egg was totally cooked before serving it up.

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