Dear Readers,

 I have a Joseph Joseph spaghetti server and a pair of sage green-tipped mini tongs to giveaway to one lucky – or rather, curious – winner! All you have to do is post a question(in the comments section) on a culinary conundrum, and the person whose question that I end up answering in a post will win the giveaway. Questions can be anything from – why are hamburgers called hamburgers, when there’s no ham in it? To – how is it that millions of people can eat MSG everyday and not suffer the dreaded Chinese Restaurant syndrome, ie headache and dry throat? Or, why is tomato sauce called catsup? Or, what’s the difference between cookies and biscuits? So go put your thinking hats on, and post me a lovely, juicy conundrum and I might just post you the prize.

Happy cooking and thinking about food!

Jo

Of course, the sensible thing to do would be to use a spoon rest…

But then you wouldn’t have an excuse to use a nifty gadget like this…

Once in a while, BBQ Man’s Dad breaks out of character and does something rather unexpected. (Like pocketing some interesting bouncing rocks from a national park, but we won’t get into that…) This weekend he coolly turned out 4 perfect pizzas as if he’s been making them all his life! They were so good that I ate far too many pieces and could barely move from the table. And looking at the pics now…groan…I want some for breakfast!! Thanks Dad, they were deeeelicious!

First up, grab yourself a ready-made pizza base. Squeeze a sachet of tomato paste on.

Swirl the paste around with the back of a spoon. When you get tired,

hand the task over to an eager assistant.

Top the pizza with assorted goodies…

such as pan-fried chicken breasts, cherry tomatoes, ham, fried red onions and mushrooms

Don’t forget the cheese!

Pop it in a hot oven until the cheese melts

Slice, top with baby spinach leaves and serve.

(I LOVED the spinach leaves, it gave a new and entirely delicious dimension to pizza.)

When can we come over for pizza again, Dad?

Actually, affogato means ‘drowning’ in Italian, and if you want a dessert that will have you drowning (as well as melting) with pleasure, this is the one for you. It’s quite possibly the easiest dessert to make ever, and one that does not sacrifice an iota of elegance in spite of its quick-n-easy-ness. If you’ve not come across one, affogato is simply a scoop of vanilla ice cream served with a shot of hot espresso poured over. What you end up with is soft, melting, sweetness in a pool of hot, hard-edged coffee. If you’re like me you’ll spoon that into your mouth with a distant look in your eyes… I serve affogato with a little (or a lot) of Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) poured in with the espresso, thereby lifting it from merely delectable to positively decadent. Enjoy!

    

Affogato

This easy recipe has no hard and fast rules. What I give here is merely a guide. You or your guests may prefer more or less ice cream or coffee…or liqueur!

Ingredients

Good vanilla ice cream (I make and use Jamie Oliver’s semifreddo)

Espresso shots or plunger coffee, unsweetened

Whipped cream, optional

Method:

Serve each person 1 scoop of ice cream (and dollop of whipped cream)  with 50-100ml hot coffee poured over

Add a tablespoon of liqueur if you like, or more!

 

 One of the difficulties that homecooks face is the invariable, daily decision-making that might sound more or less like this: ‘Groan, what am I gonna make for dinner tonight?’ I don’t mind cooking everyday, but sometimes it’s hard to come up with ideas and I end up in a dinner-rut. (You don’t? Who cooks your dinner?) So I’ve pulled some recipes from the web, in the hopes that some of them might inspire you to try something a little different, or just to eliminate having to decide what to cook. There are 5 options each for meatlovers and for veggielovers. I plan to do this each Friday, which allows you to shop during the weekend for the following week. I hope you’ll find the selections useful and inspiring. Enjoy!

Meals for Meatatarians

  

Jamie’s Beef and Noodle Stirfry

Jamie Oliver’s Beef and Vegetable Noodle Stir Fry

Chicken Parimigiana, an Aussie Pub Classic

Martha Stewart’s Beef Stroganoff

Nigella’s ‘Toad-in-the-Hole’, an English Classic

Herb and Dijon Lamb Cutlets

 

Meals for Vegetarians

Jamie’s Linguine with Tomatoes and Capers

Zucchini and Ricotta Frittata

 Jamie Oliver’s Linguine with Tomatoes and Capers

Silverbeet and Mushroom Pie

Kylie Kwong’s Vegetable Sung Choi Pao

Indian Vegetable Curry

(Source: jamieoliver.com)

These little gems have oats, yoghurt and three different kinds of fruit in them, and have no sugar! They’re sweetened with only a little honey, and the result is a barely-there hint of sweetness, very moist and blueberry-juicy kind of muffin. I like having them on their own, or warmed up, split and buttered. If you like it sweet, split them and spread some jam on them (oh, that’s got my mouth watering!) I’m also going to try it with some spreadable Philly cream cheese. The beauty of their being not-very-sweet is that you have the choice of having something a little savoury with them, like some salted butter, or sweet, ie with jam or honey. They’ve been a welcome change to the ol’ breakfast routine. Enjoy!

Best Ever Breakfast Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

2 cups self-raising flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup rolled oats

2 eggs, lightly beaten

200g natural yoghurt

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

1 medium apple, grated

1/2 cup honey

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Method

Preheat oven to 190°C/170°C fan-forced.

Line twelve 1/3 cup-capacity non-stick muffin holes with large paper cases.

Sift flour and cinnamon into a bowl. Stir in rolled oats. Make a well in the centre.

Add eggs, yoghurt, banana, apple and honey. Stir to just combine. Fold in blueberries.

Divide mixture between paper cases.

 Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into 1 muffin comes out clean.

You’ll find the original recipe here

 

I wish I could say I lovingly shopped for this spicy stew of chickpeas and chorizo sausages, and that I made it to ward off the early Autumn chill. Because that would sound nice and romantic, wouldn’t it? But the sad truth is, I didn’t have time to make what I’d planned to make for dinner, and I felt like something tart and spicy… and then it suddenly hit me that I have all the necessary ingredients for this dish. And it wouldn’t (and didn’t) take much time to make.

I had a vague recollection of having read this recipe somewhere, and basically threw it all together and hoped for the best. It turned out quite well, and I think I’ll really enjoy it for lunch today. (OH MY GOODNESS! BBQ Man had some for breakfast! Is there any left???)

I served it with buttery polenta – although what I really wanted was the dense, chewy bread that we used to have at a Spanish restaurant in Adelaide. Next time I’ll actually plan to make this dish and will have good bread and olive oil to serve alongside it.

 Enjoy!

josashimi’s chickpea and chorizo stew

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

3 chorizo sausages

400 g canned chickpeas

1 medium red capsicum, cut to bite size pieces

2 medium zucchini, sliced into coins

1 small onion, finely chopped

2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 cup red wine

800g canned, diced tomatoes

2 tbs Spanish smoked paprika

1 tbs dried thyme

Method:

Heat oil in pan, fry onions for 2-3 minutes, then add garlic and stir

Add red wine, capsicum and chorizo, cook until the capsicum softens and the chorizo browns

Add zucchini, stir for 2-3 minutes, then add tomatoes, paprika and thyme, simmer for another 5 minutes

Serve with crusty bread

This is Jamie Oliver’s take on this stew. His is a more complex version.

PS. BBQ Man tells me there’s ‘A little bit left’ … 

 

My sweet friend Angela made me feel really special today when she took me out to breakfast. (Ahhh! What a treat! Isn’t it the nicest thing to be taken out for a meal?) She took me to Engine Room Cafe, a lovely, big old building right by the main railway station here in Toowoomba. I’m guessing it used to be THE engine room – but now it’s a big, beautiful cafe with lots of quirky kitchenware, jewellery, gifts and souvenirs to drool at after you’ve eaten. Coffee and breakfast were very good, and the servings were massive. After breakfast we went to an antique store just next door, where I swooned over old fashioned kitchen utensils, jars, bottles and fine china. I had a heavenly morning! Thanks Ange.

     

The longest table I’ve ever seen! Love it! (And there’s Angela, in the denim jacket).

  

My breakfast: Cafe Latte and ‘Engine Starter’ – rye toast topped with pesto, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, baby spinach and pine nuts. Y U M

Fell in love with this canvas mounted print. (*Casts sideways glance BBQ Man*)

A huge and beautiful cheese dome at the antique store

Vintage ‘Arabia’ teacup set also at the antique store