Things I Cook When I Get Home From Work, and a delicious Mexican Pork Chop with Beany Salsa!

Perfect weeknight meal- Mexican pork Chops with Beany Salsa!

Perfect weeknight meal- Mexican pork Chops with Beany Salsa!

I like to think occasionally as a person who loves cooking, occasionally I am allowed a few weeks of lazy. When I say lazy, I mean feeling terrible that I cannot be bothered to cook, and am taking packet soup for lunch and getting takeaway…

I started a new job last week and apparently I am not very good at listening and concentrating and learning in my old age and have been buggered by the time I get home!

None of this home by 5.10pm either, public transport means I get home more tired and later, not a great combo for dinners. Things that have been dominating my life are BBQ chickens (ah, what a total RIP OFF) and pizza.. And noodles..

But no! I am starting to feel more perky and am trying to get a routine going, and god knows my bank account nor can my waistline afford takeaways day in day out.

I am still working on cooking up a storm on a Sunday for meals for lunch for the week… give me time. It’s been really sunny and I have become addicted to the Hunger Games books, so that’s what my Sunday afternoon has consisted of…

So this is cause for a new strain of post! ‘Things I cook when I get home from Work’- so the names not very sassy.. but well.. That’s what it is! Things I cook, when I get home, From Work.

So for my first magical TICWIGHFW-( wow the acronym isn’t cool either) we are going south of the border! Ole! Mexican Style Pork Cutlets with a Bean Salsa!

Exciting things are: majority of ingredients I had at home, minimal carbs to give me a rest from Pizza, fresh delicious flavours, perfect for two, easy to multiply for more people, and YUM

Mexican Pork Chops with Beany Salsa

Its as easy as lemon, avo bean! (and coriander and onion and tomato)

Pork cutlets too, yum. This isn’t something that I cooked with until my ‘local supermarket’ started selling cute little packs of 2 cutlets- perfect for 2 people. Of course you can add rice, or even some nice sourdough bread to pop the salsa on, and double or omit the chilli, make it your own! I have also made the salsa before for breakfast with poached eggs!

Let’s start with a touch of advice: The key here is to make sure that the pan is hot. You want to be able to render off the fat on the side of the cutlet, whilst avoiding burning the sides. Depending of course on the thickness of the cutlet, I would recommend searing off the fat, then turning down the heat to cook for around 3 minutes each side*. I am ok with my pork being a little pink, but as always- cook to your liking.

*I subcontracted the cooking of the meat to my man partner, who sadly had our electric hell hole of a cook top up too high, so he absolutely gassed us out of our apartment for a few minutes. Low and behold the pork was still delicious! Smoke Alarm set off, neighbours in our block annoyed, but pork a success. Priorities.

Recovering from our smoke inhalation, but the pork was pefect

Recovering from our smoke inhalation, but the pork was pefect

Mexican Style Pork Cutlets

Serves 2

2 x 200-250 gram pork cutlets

Salt, pepper

Oil

2 teaspoons Mexican chilli powder (I used Master foods)

1 can ‘Bean Medley’- mix of kidney, chickpeas and white beans- drained and rinsed

1 avocado diced

1 tomato, diced or a handful or cherry toms, diced

½ small red onion, diced

Handful of fresh coriander, chopped

A few tablespoons of Lemon Juice to taste

Salt and Pepper

A slug of olive oil

White Vinager to taste

*optional- finely diced fresh chilli, de seeded and a teaspoon of tabasco or chilli sauce!

1. rub pork cutlers with salt, pepper a little oil and around 2 teaspoons of Mexican Powder. Let sit.

2. Mix together ingredients for salsa, adding salt, lemon and vinager to taste. Then do the same with any chilli you would like!

I like my salsa very acidic to cut through the fattiness of the avocado and pork, but as always taste taste taste.

I am excited to keep cooknig with pork chops, imagine all the spices and things that would go perfectly with it! So go forth, and cook pork.

A Chorizo and Three Cheese Frittata- or a Fridge-tata

Cheese fridge raid

Cheese fridge raid for the Fridgetatta

Amazingly funny right?

Let me explain. Now, as much as I love food shopping, and I do, its winter. And sometimes when  one gets home, and is warm, and cannot fathom taking of ones huge jumper and bed socks to go up to the shops, one makes a fridge-tata. A frittata made out of all that I could find in my labyrinth of a fridge.

This is a cracker of a thing to do when you’re either time poor or motivation lacking, and I like to file this under Things I cook when I get home from work.

This actually turned out amazingly well! It was actually like I imagined a TV show would go-

Celebrity Chef: ‘Oh No! A camera crew from a show of some sort that wants me to make a meal out of what is in my fridge! How embarrassing that all I have is chorizo, kale and 4 kinds of cheese!?!’

Because that’s what I had. So yes, it could have been worse.

Cheese and Chorizo Frittata Cooking

Cheese and Chorizo Frittata Cooking

But, this really is just another situation where you don’t really need a recipe, it’s more of a ‘Here’s a blue print, make something rad out of what you have’! And, another reminder to always always have eggs.

I meant well with the kale… I bought it as it’s so good for you and just didn’t fit it in my repertoire.. But this recipe made great use of it, and you couldn’t tell it was slightly sad and wilted!

Here is the intense ingredient list that was, in the end, phenom.

Fridge-Tatta For 4

(Or two for dinner with my Zingy Salad and breakfast the next day)

1 chorizo, thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 small chili

1 over ripe tomato finely chopped

1 bunch kale, sliced thinly (baby spinach would be great too)

One almost sad bunch of kale

Around 12 olives, sliced in half

Cheese: whatever you have!

I had as per this image a random assortment of cheddar, brie, blue and pecorino..

4 eggs

¼ cup milk

Salt and pepper

  1. Pre heat oven to 200 degrees. Or you can use your grill; mine did not fit my fry pan…
  2. Fry chorizo in a medium/hot pan until crisp and caramelized. Take chorizo out of pan and place on paper towel. Do not drain fry pan! Use the delicious oil to cook the rest of your ingredients.
  3. Soften red onion, garlic and chili in the pan. Add chopped tomato, kale and olives and cook until kale has begun to wilt.
  4. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix eggs, milk salt and pepper and I added grated cheddar in here. It would be nice to add some parsley, basil or any herbs here.
  5. Add chorizo back into pan, warm and add egg mixture.
  6. Add other cheeses if adding!
  7. Cook for 3-4 minutes until bottom is cooked, and sides start to cook and come away.
  8. Place fry pan into oven and cook for around 7-8 minutes until egg is set all over, or cooked to your liking.

Zingy Salad

· Mixed leaves, such as rocket and spinach.

· Half a lemon, squeezed.

· Sliced Red Onion

· Salt

· Pepper

· Olive Oil

Slice red onion finely. In a bowl, mix together the sliced onion and about 2 teaspoons of salt. Squeeze the salt into the onion with your fingers, and leave sitting for about 5 minutes. This little trick takes the edge off the onion and slightly pickles them! YUM.

Then in the serving bowl, place the pickled onions, and the juice of the lemon and generous olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and then add your leaves. Mix about, taste and make as zingy as you like.

YUM

Slow Cooked Beef and Red Wine Ragu

 

Beef and Red Wine Ragu

Beef and Red Wine Ragu

 

I don’t know how it happened but I lost my appliance confidence.

I normally love a good zappy appliance that makes life or chopping or whatever it’s good for, easier. But not with the slow cooker.

It sounds so easy- plug it into the wall, pop in some meat, herbs, wine. Turn on and leave allll day. Come home to delicious food.

Why was it then I had had a slow cooker for 4 months and had never used it?

Fear.

What if it burns down the house?

Totally rational. However, millions of people have slow cookers, and I am certain that some kind of testing would have been done prior to creating the machine to ensure this happened very rarely.

What if I get sick from the cooker not being hot enough?

See answer above.

What if the food isn’t cooked by the time I get home and my dinner plans are RUINED?

Not reaaaly the end of the world…?

So after my mother telling me to stop being such a woos and just use it, here we go!

I made sure it was on a day I was not working and simply casually popping in and out of the house on errands. (Meaning rushing to the shops and thinking I hear fire engines whilst I am out)

The Slow Cooker ready to go

The Slow Cooker ready to go

After numerous phone calls to my mother, googling and blog reading regarding liquid levels, temperature conversions and best way to set up the machine this is what I (and my mother) can tell you regarding slow cookers:

  1. Yes, it is true that if you are taking a normal stove top or oven top recipe and using a slow cooker, you need to reduce the amount of liquid. My recipe initially called for 2 cans of 800g chopped tomatoes, so I opted to use one can. I kept the wine the same amount because.. Well, I love wine.
  2. Do not fill the slow cooker too full. This sounds simple, but most slow cookers are not as large as ones casserole pot. Don’t just think, oh it’ll be fine! It will bubble over and release the delicious steam therefore flavour you are trying to keep in.
  3. Be flexible (see below)

I had the ragu on a low temp for 7 hours. This by all accounts should have cooked a ragu. After testing a piece, I was not happy. The meat was not pullaparty ragu-ey. In the end, I had to take said ragu out of the slow cooker. I decided to pop it on the stove and simmer a little hotter and harder for another hour and a half. By this time, the meat pulled part like a dream, and ragu was a success.

 

The beautiful beef with herbs, wine and vegies ready to stew!

The beautiful beef with herbs, wine and vegies ready to stew!

 

This can happen, it seems it is very much trial and error. If you take a recipe meant for the oven or stove top, the heat of course is going to be more direct and more intense, therefore different cuts of meat will respond differently. Just relaaaxxx (says my mother) and, until you are well versed in the slow cooker’s moods and speeds, give yourself enough time to give it a wack on the stove top.

The pasta: of course please make your own if you want to! I simply wanted that soft velvety freshly made pasta, but without making the pasta.. So I did our sneaky trick of buying good quality fresh lasagna sheets and slicing them into semi tagliatelle size lengths. The trick is to slice them haphazardly so they are not ruler straight. This feels cozy and handmade.

Pulley Apart Ragu-ey

Pulley Apart Ragu-ey

This was delicious. I love a ragu where the meat becomes shreds of its former self. If you don’t like this cook it slightly less!

But the flavour of the herbs, meat, wine and juices is warming meat hugs from heaven. Delish.

So nothing burnt down and no one got sick. Win for slow cookers everywhere! I will keep practicing! Leaving food to cook all day while you’re at work so you can get home relax and eat?? It sounds like a dream right?

But then, what will I cook when I get home?

Slow Cooker/Stove Top Beef and Red Wine Ragu

tbs olive oil

250g bacon rashers, rind and excess fat trimmed, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped

2 celery sticks, ends trimmed, finely chopped

1 brown onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1.5 kilo’s gravy beef, cut into chunks

1 x 800g cans diced tomatoes

375ml (1 1/2 cups) red wine

3 dried bay leaves

2 large sprigs fresh rosemary

1 x quantity pasta sheets

Shredded parmesan, to serve

Heat the oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add bacon, carrot, celery, onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the beef, tomato, wine, bay leaves and rosemary. Bring to the boil.

If stove top: Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 hours or until the beef is tender.

Slow cooker: Set to low and cook for 8-9 hours checking at the end!

When meat is ready, slice lasagna sheets into desired shape and length. Cook in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes depending on how you like your pasta.

 

The Finished Beef and Red Wine Ragu

Serve pasta topped with ragu and a generous grating of parmesan

 

 

 

Winter’s here! A Roasted Pumpkin and Garlic Soup to celebrate

Roasted Pumpkin and Garlic Soup

Roasted Pumpkin and Garlic Soup

So due to a lack of internet connection and a minimal desire to cook due to the perils of moving house e.g. having no idea where our pans/plates/knives are, my blog has been slightly silent of late..

I simply thought no one was interested that I had worked out fairly quickly where the best Pad Siew was in my new area or the closest bar to give me a break from unpacking boxes..

However, winter is here! And what does winter mean? Stews, meats and Soups! As we have seen here, here and here I love soup a little too much  but I am boring myself with my familiar veg soup and plain pumpkin.

We have recently signed up to the amazing Food Connect service- a company that home delivers seasonal boxes of fruit and veg to your door, that is totally sourced from farmers in the local Sydney Basin. Every thing is freshly picked and sent to you with the knowledge you are helping farmers in your area, and eating sustainably and seasonally!

This means each fortnight (weekly is too much food for just the two of us!) we receive a box delivered to our door of mixed seasonal veg! Its the best fun. It not only ensures we are keeping healthy with loads of veg, but is really fun not knowing what’s coming and being given things that are not in your usual repertoire.  It makes me think ‘What can I do with that!’ which is my idea of a good time when it comes to cooking.

This week was gorgeous fresh peas, silver beet, leek, cherry tomatoes and a big thing of pumpkin. And this brings us back to the question:

How to make pumpkin soup exciting?

I looked at the pumpkin and thought; I do not feel like standing near the stove boiling vegies into a soup. Then it hit me: Why don’t I roast them! This way I can continue with my busy day (Watching cooking shows on my laptop) and let the oven do the work!

Baking Pumpkin, Onions and Garlic for Soup

Getting the Pumpkin, Onions and Garlic ready for the oven!

And, I imagined, adding a roasty caramelised flavour to the soup. YUM. And don’t think eegads look how much garlic is in that! It’s being roasted, and turns it into this mellow creamy mild garlic taste.

A little help from Donna Hay who had a similar recipe in her mag this month, and we are good to go!

The Veg all lovely and roasted for the soup

The Veg all lovely and roasted for the soup

So here is my

Sassy Roasted Pumpkin and Garlic Soup

Please remember: these amounts are so variable. Cook with whatever you have and adjust to taste with stock and seasonings.

I used:

1.5 Kilo pumpkin chopped into small cubes

2 small brown onions, sliced chunkily

1 red onion, sliced chunkily

10 cloves of garlic, in skin

Olive Oil

1 teaspoon of dried coriander

½ teaspoon of chilli powder

Salt and Pepper

1 litre of stock

1.  Place pumpkin, onions, garlic cloves in a pan. Coat with oil, herbs and seasoning and toss to cover.

2. Place in 180 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. This depends on how caramelized you like it, and how hot your oven is. Set aside to cool slightly. When cool to touch, squeeze garlic out of their skins and discard.

3. Heat the stock in a saucepan, not to boiling, just to warm.

4. Place 1 cup of warm stock and slightly cooled vegies into a large blender. Blend until smooth.

5. Place soup back into a large pan, adding the remaining stock to heat through to serve.

Serve with Sour Cream and Porcini Oil if wanted!

A birthday request that turned into success: Prawn and Haloumi Salad

Haloumi and Prawn Salad

A Birthday Miracle!

 

It was my flatmates birthday. And I LOVE birthdays. Why? To me, of course, a birthday is a time to eat the most delicious things. But, as it is your birthday, and no one else’s, you must be able to eat exactly what you want. Exactly what you want.

When I was younger my mother subscribed to this adage, and I would always ask for her famous Chicken Curry. It was warm, not hot, flavoursome and always came with the most exciting side dishes. Chutneys, coconut bananas, pappadums, yogurt and cucumber and tomato with onion. It was a feast for the mouth, flavour, freshness and deliciousness. And the fact that no matter how much everyone else whinged ‘But we have that every year!’ it was my choice, and my Birthday.

With this in mind I asked my flatmate for her birthday dinner to name her 3 favourite things and I would make something for her.

Prawns, Haloumi and Chocolate, was the text I got in reply.

So this is how we come to a delicious prawn and haloumi salad!

I felt I was due poetic licence by NOT mixing the third favourite, chocolate, in the salad and simply doing the thing that must be done one ones birthday, and big fat chocolate cake with your name on it.

Chocolate Birthday Cake

This salad was divine; light, great textures and deliciously garlicky and salty from the prawns and haloumi. Keep in mind, the couscous is not a side, or main filler in the salad, it is to create texture and interest in the salad. This salad served 3 of us, probably eating a little piggishly, but none the less.

If you need to feed more people bulk up the couscous, and use the ½ cup couscous to ½ cup liquid as a guide. I used stock to add more flavour- of course you can use water, but to me any chance to add more flavour is essential to me.

I decided to cook the prawns in garlic and oil, with a little splash of white wine for delicious fruityness. I have also done the prawns before with rosé.. just amazing! The sweet fruity flavour of rosé makes the most amazing prawns. Try it. You just need a little splash in the hot pan, let it bubble and the flavour is there.

And the cake? Well, let’s just say I have NO problem with Betty Crocker icing, and nor does my flatmate.. So there is no recipe here, just a final note to say- Chocolate cake? YUM.

The Beautiful Salad

The Beautiful Salad

Sammy’s Prawn and Haloumi Salad

350 g fresh prawns, peeled and de tailed

2 large coves of garlic, finely chopped

A splash of white wine

(I would normally also add chilli, but as the birthday girl isn’t a big fan i left it out! But if you like, add one finely chopped chilli)

1 bunch parsley, finely chopped

I bunch mint, finely chopped

2 tomatoes, diced

3 shallots, diced

I large cucumber chopped

60g haloumi, sliced to your liking

½ cup couscous

½ hot stock  I used chicken

Juice one lemon

Lemon wedges to serve

½ cup olive oil

To serve, crusty bread or bread rolls

Heat oil in a pan and add garlic, let bubble but not burn, you are infusing the oil! Add prawns and the splash of wine, let cook till prawns are pink. Take off heat, but keep oil, and keep prawns warm.

In a bowl put couscous and hot stock, cover and leave for 5 minutes.

Clean pan and heat for haloumi. The key here is after you have sliced the haloumi, pat dry with paper towel. This ensures your haloumi will be crispy and sexy on the outside, and gooey and dellish on the inside. Fry in batches so they are not crowded in the pan, until golden.

In your serving dish mix the herbs, tomato and cucumber. Fluff couscous with a fork and add to dish. Drizzle with a little oil and the lemon juice, and some of the garlicky prawn oil from cooking.

Add your prawns and haloumi in whatever way you like, and woila!

 

I call this, a success!

I call this, a success!

Mini Cook Book Review: An Ode to Women’s Weekly Modern Australian Food

I was trying to be good. I mean, I do have a lot of cookbooks, and I was so set on the notion of not buying any new ones for at least a few months..or weeks. But then this one came along.

I’m not sure if anyone is familiar with the idea, but we have in our office a company that brings us cookbooks, kid’s toys, and other really random items. They come every few weeks with new goods, leave one of each as a show piece for you to look and come back 2 weeks later to see if anyone wants to buy…

It’s horrific. The cookbooks sit there, week in week out, winking at me as if to say ‘Come on Jen, I’m a great deal. Just have a quick look.’ (Cos they are a great deal) and then inevitably I look, and look again… and then buy. It’s an addiction..

My most recent purchase from this sly company was the newly released Modern Australian Food made by the always amazing Women’s Weekly geniuses!

Modern Australian Food by the Australian Womens Weekly

Modern Australian Food by the Australian Womens Weekly

 

Look, I may be a little bit of a cookbook hore, but this is a great one. It is divided into sections outlining the differences in our countries food and cultures from country, to city, to coast. Gorgeous scenic photos and themed recipes for all the vastly different seasons we have here.

I purchased this a few days ago and have already made two recipes- this and wontons! Good odds me thinks!

My first recipe to try was Chorizo with Chickpeas and White Wine. In the section for ‘City’ this is named as a Small Bite, in terms of tapas and share plates.

I am a sucker for chorizo, the cured spanish sausage, with all its paprika-ey amazingness.

I Heart Chorizo

I Heart Chorizo

As always with Women’s Weekly books all the recipes look like sure things- never an issue, never complicated and always a success.

I changed it a tiny bit, and added some extra veggies, as I needed some more vegetables after a weekend of Pizza… Don’t judge.

Below is my version of the recipe, but full credit goes to the cookbook and I thoroughly recommend purchasing this one as, like all their others, this is a classic I hope to keep and pass on to my daughters as my mum introduced Women’s Weekly to me!

Chorizo and Chickpeas with White Wine

Chorizo and Chickpeas with White Wine bubbling away!

Chorizo and Chickpeas in White Wine

1 tablespoon Olive oil

1 small onion (I used red as I had an overload) finely sliced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 cured chorizo sausages (340g) chopped coarsely

1 medium red capsicum sliced finely

400g can of chickpeas rinsed and drained

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ cup dry white wine

½ cup chicken stock

My addition:

¼ tspn of dried chili

1 small eggplant

To Serve

Lightly cooked Green Beans tossed in olives oil, lemon juice and Lemon Zest

Tortilla Wraps

Sour Cream

**The wraps and sour cream where because as DELICOUS as it was, I used a new brand of dried bird’s eye chilies.. Let’s just say we needed to chill it down a bit! But this was like an amazing Spanish burrito. Well done me!

Spanish Burrito

I think I just invented a Spanish Burrito!

 

  1. Heat oil in frying pan and fry chorizo until golden and crispy. Take out of pan.
  2. Add a tiny bit more oil if needed, and fry onion and garlic until softened. Add chili. Add capsicum, eggplant, chickpeas and Paprika and cook until tender.
  3. Add wine and stock and cook stirring until liquid is reduced by half.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. In a frying pan add oil and toss beans over a high heat. Add lemon juice and lemon zest and cook until aldente.
  6. Serve with warmed tortilla wraps,  sour cream and beans!
A healthy, spicy, flavourful dinner!

A healthy, spicy, flavourful dinner!

Yum!

Reminiscing on Christmas and A (little late) Christmas Canapé

So I know Christmas was a while ago, but I really wanted to share this canapé with you! Plus I am sad Christmas is over, and feel like reminiscing.. I didn’t blog much of my recipes over Christmas as I was well and truly on holidays not snapping much food and relaxing with my family.

It's the most wonderful tiiiiimeee of the year!

It’s the most wonderful tiiiiimeee of the year!

Christmas is the time of year I love, cooking cooking and more cooking. And the best part for me is being with my family, cooking for those I love and those I choose to spend the season with.

But it is a busy time, and it can stretch well into January especially in Australia where it’s summer and the time to entertain!

It’s easy to feel rushed and stressed when it comes to having visitors. But I feel like the most important thing is to look after yourselves AND your guests by making things that use delicious ingredients but not hours of prep. Otherwise people can sense your stress, and no one wants to feel like them coming over was a burden on you.

Its a delicious easy one, that is perfect for summer or winter, big groups or small. It’s so delicious I made it 3 times over the Christmas period, and no doubt will make it again at the drop of a hat! Its still party season so I feel like you should definitely crack this one out! Add a jug of Pimms and you are set!

So delicious, and with a reindeer platter. Win!

So delicious, and with a reindeer platter. Win!

 

The combination of horseradish, salmon, crème fraiche and dill is a fool proof one, but it can be changed to suit you or your guests tastes- I made these for my boyfriends family whose sister doesn’t like smoked salmon. I simply replaced the salmon with rare roast beef! Of course you can make the beef… I did NOT. I bought good quality thinly sliced roast beef from a deli and prepared it the exact same way. Now I think i will always do half/ half, its delicious.

I think cutting the bread is too cute, and I find a champagne glass is the best for it. You just want a little mouthful, and something that holds the toppings well. You can serve them warm in colder months, or as I do in summer just cool the toasts and they turn into little homemade Melba toast type chrisps. Plus I love tacky white bread for it, it holds its shape, chrisps up well and adds no overpowering flavour to the toppings. You can use whatever kind of bread you like, but this is my fave.

How to Make Canape Toasts

The recipe is SO flexible. It really depends on how many people you have, and it is so easy to make extra if your guests stay longer or are hungrier than you think!

YUMBO.

I wont be specific for this recipe as it depends on how many people, how strong you like your horseradish AND how big your champagne glass is! But to be helpful, I will say each slice of bread with my glass makes 3 rounds. I would allow 3 per person if having before a meal, perhaps 2 if you having a few different canapés as a cocktail party

Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Canape

My Fancy Smoked Salmon and Horsradish Canapes

1 champagne glass

1 loaf of plain white bread

1 tub crème fraiche

1 jar horseradish cream

300g smoked salmon (or roast beef)

Fresh Dill

Pre heat your oven to 180 or your grill to medium/high. Cut out the little toasts from the Bread and lay out on a baking tray. I don’t spray with oil, I prefer them when they are dry and crispy.

You will need to keep an eye on these! I have burnt a few.. 5-7 minutes or until they are as brown as you like and then flip over.

Meanwhile combine 3-4 tabllespoons of crème fraiche and 3 teaspoons of horseradish in a bowl. Taste- add more or less depending on your preference for horseradish! And create as much as you need!

Mincing Around: Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, and the Meat Loaf to prove it.

Don’t be like that. Meat Loaf actually is delish! It just sadly is one of the most unattractive things I have ever cooked..

Meat Loaf..

It’s whats inside that counts!

but guys.. DELICIOUS.

Now I love mince, for its protein filing qualities just as much as its thrifty budget helping ways, not to mention how versatile it can be. But here I was, running out of mincy things to do! My uncharted territory continues with this exciting old school beast of a meat loaf.

Now from all the recipes I looked at you can pretty much put anything in the thing! So I did!

I was very concerned that it would be a bland mincey thing that i remember from school camps and American Films from the 80’s and such. So that’s why I added few seemingly uncombinable combinations.

Meat Loaf Mix

Meat Loaf Mix

I pre cooked the onions and garlic together with my fave paprika and anchovies just to make sure there was a strong flavour base.  Then I added my sauces. Many mentioned Worcestershire sauce and mustard so I went with both.

I dig a bit of freshness so that was my thinking behind the fresh shallots and lemon zest.  And the chilli sauce? Well my sister, the greatest sister in the universe, lives in Tanzania. As exciting as that is, the chilli sauce she brings me every Christmas is more exciting.  In fact it deserves a picture:

My idea of a good time

My idea of a good time

I can’t really eat many things without it.. As crass as that is.

The meat loaf is a beast of a thing, and perfect hot and cold so I was excited for not only a big dinner but days and days of lunches! This didn’t eventuate, however, as my boyfriend ate it for breakfast.

Also I made a simple tomato sauce from some good quality canned tomatoes that were flavoured with herbs and onions. After tasting, I was happy and added nothing else. This was lovely on the meat loaf, and I had some steamed veg as well. Dinner Sorted!

The Meat Loaf before cooking

The Meat Loaf before cooking

It takes longer than I imagined, but make it on a Sunday and you’ve got some work lunhes sorted and a Sunday Roast that is suitable to be served with salad if you’re in this vulgar Sydney Summer, or hot veg and mash if you’re not!

Covered in Sauce and next to the vegies, he scrubs up ok!

Covered in Sauce and next to the vegies, he scrubs up ok!

Jen’s Eye-of-the-Beholder Meat Loaf!

800g pork mince

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1 tspn paprika

3 clloves garlic

2 anchovies

Zest of one lemon

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 egg

1 tablespoon seeded mustard

1 rasher bacon chopped

3 chopped shallots

Salt and Pepper

1 tablespoon chilli sauce optional!

Grated Cheese optional

“Tomato Sauce”

1 can diced tomatoes with onion and herbs

Grease a loaf tin, i used 11×21 x 6cm deep loaf pan. Heat oven to 180 degrees.

Gently sweat onions and garlic in the butter, add anchovies to melt. Add paprika and take off heat. Leave to cool.

In a bowl add mince, Worchester sauce, egg, mustard bacon and chilli sauce if using. Add cooled onions and chopped shallots and combine. Best to use clean hands so you can distribute all ingredients evenly.

Put into greased loaf tin and press down with your hands.  Grate cheese over the top. Bake for 1 hour, checking occasionally. Meat Loaf is ready when mince is cooked, juices run clear and top is browned. It will also pull away from the sides. I found ALOT of juices ran out so every 20 mins or so I poured out the juices to alow it brown and cook rather than steam!

Serve with the Tomato Sauce, vegies or a salad and I added a little extra Chilli Sauce! Goooo MINCE!

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Now to put it into practice…!

Conquering The Cake Pop!

You may already know that one of my favourite things is cooking something that you always imagine to be hard or stressful or seemingly immmpossible.. and coming out the other side victorious! This was the case with my pork belly, fudge and my fennel experiment. And my newest edition to the list of “conquered”?

Cake Pops!!

 Conquered!

So I know…they are totally the ‘It’ thing in baking at the moment and they are everywhere..

But forgive me… I was wooed by their cuteness and their novelty… and a great deal on a cake pop kit on the internet.. And a work mate’s birthday came around and I knew she would appreciate the pop!

First a little bit of background: where I work there are many employees and when its someone’s birthday it is an absolute shamozle trying to cut a normal sized cake into 25 slices.. It can also turn into a session of workplace politics where certain people get cake and certain people don’t. So to stop this silly cake warfare, cake pops could be the answer! I made more than 40 which meant there were plenty to go around.

The internet-bought kits came with 2 sets of silicone cake pop moulds. They are made up of 2 moulds with perfect circles that in one side is put the cake mix and then the other side is attached as a sort of lid for baking and creating the circular top. Below is one mould.

A Cake Pop Mould

A Mould: Top and Bottom

The Moulds Closed

The Mould, Closed as it would be for baking

It also comes with little plastic pop sticks, similar to a lolly pop stick for serving. I opted not to use them this time as I had SO many to make.

Of course if you were doing a less mass produced version you can create a delightful display using Styrofoam or a box, and sticking the little sticks in. This was too much for me at 10pm at night.. So I opted for a just a plate of little delights.

If you can’t get the moulds, look online there are great recipes for pops using either bought or home made cakes, just shaping them into the circles.

Cake Pop Test Run!

You will need for my recipe:

Silicone Cake Pop Moulds

1 x Cake mix of Choice

1 x bowl of melted chocolate

Sprinkles !

There are so many conflicting recipes on the internet for these pops. Many say to just buy a pre made cake and shape it into balls. Many say you must make your own batter as cake pops require thinner/thinker batter (depending on what site you are on) to work.

I will say this: I used a good quality bought chocolate cake mix and it worked perfectly. They were moist and light as if I had made a full sized cake, not dry at all. I am still a beginner baker, so if you are a little more advanced and have your go-to cake mix, use that and don’t be afraid! Otherwise, use your favourite cake mix and bake!

Ready for Baking

Simply fill the moulds, close and Bake!

I used a snipped off plastic sandwich bag to squeeze the mix into the holes. As you can see they are small and this was the easiest and least messy way!

After looking at 4 different sites, I had to gestimate the cooking time. I would say base this on how many you are making, how well you know your cake mix AND how well you know your oven.

My oven is notoriously slow, and old and horrid, so I added a few minutes! I baked them for 20 minutes and then sat them in the moulds to set and cool for another 15.

I was nervous popping them out of the moulds but I think the key is to really get in there and pop them out from the bottom! And then cool further.

The Little Pops

The upper dome of the mould helps it form its little pop shape!

I melted chocolate for ‘icing’ as I wasn’t very sure how I would use actual icing to ice the tiny balls so went with melted chocolate.

I then dipped half in sprinkles and half just plain choc.

The Pops!

The Pops!

I would say SUCCESS!

A Workplace Pop Sensation!

A Workplace Pop Sensation!

The only major issue was the moulds are the most horrendous things to clean. They still have slight remnants of cake on them after days of soaking. Any help on how to clean would be great!

To me these can be the thriftiest of creations.

Birthday? Cake Pops! Dinner at a Friends? Cake Pops!  Sunday? Cake Pops! They are just YUM.

Seriously though, the moulds are very cheap, and the batter whether you make it yourself or buy a mix? Cheap! The way to be creative is how you ice and display the pops.

SUCH fun.