Damper

Damper is an easy-to-prepare Australian bread, traditionally cooked in a campfire or camp oven. Similar to puftaloons, damper is great served with a generous spread of butter, or with golden syrup.

Damper

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 25g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 175ml milk

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  3. Use a butter knife to stir in the milk to make a soft, non-sticky dough.
  4. On a lightly floured work surface, shape the dough into a soft, smooth ball.
  5. Set the ball of dough onto a baking tray and flatten it to a 17cm round. Cut a deep cross in the dough and brush lightly with milk.
  6. Bake the damper for 30 minutes or until golden. Best served warm.
Advertisements

Lamingtons

Love sponge cake? Then you will love lamingtons – an Aussie treat that always makes me think of Possum Magic, a celebrated children’s book by Mem Fox (my favourite author as a kid).

Lamingtons

Ingredients for the sponge cake:

  • 3 cups self-raising flour, sifted
  • 180g butter, softened
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup milk
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Ingredients for the chocolate coating:

  • 4 cups pure icing sugar
  • 1 ½ cups cocoa
  • 1 cup milk, extra
  • 4 cups desiccated coconut

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease a 28cm x 18cm slice pan, and line the base with baking paper.
  3. Use an electric mixer to combine the butter, sugar and vanilla into a light and fluffy cream.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Fold in the flour and milk until combined. Spoon the mixture into the slice pan.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until cooked and golden. Leave in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  7. While the cake cools, sift the icing sugar and cocoa together.
  8. Add the milk and stir until combined.
  9. Divide the coconut between 2 bowls.
  10. Trim and then cut the cake into 12 rectangles.
  11. Dip each piece in the cocoa mixture, allowing the excess to drop off. Use 2 forks to toss in one bowl of coconut. Set aside on a wire rack and repeat with remaining cakes.
  12. Use the second bowl of coconut to repeat step 11, so each cake has a clean white finish. Store in an airtight container until required (up to 4 days).

(photo credit: nicodemo.valerio via photopin cc)

Traditional Greek dolmades

My husband loves dolmades, but none are quite so satisfying as those made using his YiaYia’s recipe, which she was kind enough to share! These dolmades are so much tastier then any I’ve had from a restaurant or store, and healthy too.

Traditional Greek dolmades
(photo credit: Tania.Paz via photopin cc)

Ingredients:

  • 500g mince
  • 1 1/2 cups rice (uncooked)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 spring onions
  • 3 dill leaves
  • 2 parsley leaves
  • Handful of mint
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grape vine leaves
  • Olive oil

Method:

  1. Rinse the rice in a sieve to remove excess starch, then place in a bowl with the cup of water to soak.
  2. Wash and finely chop the spring onions, removing the roots.
  3. In a saucepan, bring a tablespoon of oil to medium heat and cook the onions.
  4. Add the mince and stir. While this is cooking, wash and finely chop the dill, parsley and mint.
  5. Once the mince has browned, add the rice and water. Stir.
  6. Add all other ingredients and stir. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Test and make sure the rice is soft, then remove the saucepan from the heat and stir.
  8. Cover the saucepan and allow to sit for 30 minutes (off heat) to allow the liquid to absorb.
  9. The rice should now be very soft, and the mince a good consistency.
  10. Roll the dolmades, using 1-2 tablespoons of mince depending on the size of the vine leaf.
  11. Use a saucepan with a strainer in it for cooking the dolmades. Put a small amount of water in the pan and cover the strainer with lettuce leaves. Lay in circular layers. When you are half way sprinkle a small amount olive oil over them. Do this again once you’ve finished laying all dolmades.
    Traditional Greek dolmades
    (photo credit: The Shifted Librarian via photopin cc)
  12. Place a plate on top of the layers and pour 1 cup of water over plate.
  13. Once water boils put on low with lid on for 30 minutes.
  14. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, then serve.

Note:  For a flavour boost, soak the rice in 1 cup of beef stock instead of water.

Slow cooked chicken and pumpkin curry

The weather is getting quite fresh in Queensland – winter is drawing nearer and the air is cool and crisp. I really love this time of year because it’s the perfect time to cook hearty comfort food, such as this delicious chicken and pumpkin curry.

Slow cooked chicken and pumpkin curry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/4 Jap pumpkin (also known as Kent pumpkin)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tab ginger paste*
  • 1 tab lemongrass paste*
  • 3 tabs yellow curry powder
  • 1 tab garlic powder
  • 1 tab onion powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tabs fresh lime juice
  • 1 x 398ml can light coconut milk
  • 1 red chili (optional)**

Method:

  1. Remove the chili top, and finely chop the chili.
  2. Pour the chicken stock and coconut milk into your slow cooker.
  3. Add the salt, ginger, lemongrass, curry powder, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric and chili.
  4. Stir until all ingredients are combined.
  5. Peel the pumpkin piece, cut it into medium cubes and add it to the slow cooker.
  6. Cut the chicken into large cubes and add it also.
  7. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.
  8. Prior to serving, add the lime juice and stir in thoroughly.
  9. Serve with rice.

* If you prefer to prepare your own ingredients, you can instead use one tsp freshly grated ginger and 1 tab chopped lemongrass. I find that I have less waste when using the pastes, and it also cuts down the prep time. I use the Gourmet Garden brand which they sell at most grocery stores.

** The chili adds heat to this dish. To reduce the heat you can remove the seeds before chopping it, or you can increase the heat by adding more chili.

Cheesy Vegemite scrolls

Keep these cheesy Vegemite scrolls on hand as a great addition to any lunchbox, handy afternoon snack or tasty grab-and-go breakfast when you’re short on time.

Cheesy Vegemite scrolls

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • 2 tabs Vegemite
  • 200g grated tasty cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/8 tsp table salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  2. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Rub the butter into flour mixture until consistent in texture.
  3. Add enough milk to make a soft dough. Knead the dough gently on a lightly floured surface, and then roll it out to rectangle (25cm x 40cm in size).
  4. Spread the Vegemite over the dough, then sprinkle evenly with cheese.
  5. From the long side, roll the dough to enclose the cheese. Cut the rolled dough into 10 sections place close together on a greased baking tray.
  6. Bake in a hot oven 220ºC until golden brown (approx. 15-20 minutes).

Note:  You can make a variety of scrolls by replacing the filling. E.g. to make pizza scrolls, fill with tomato paste spread, sliced mushrooms and chopped ham. To make dessert scrolls, fill with Nutella spread and cinnamon sugar (replace the salt in the dough 1 tsp sugar also).

(photo credit: stratman² (2 many pix!) via photopin cc)

Quick and easy exterior light makeover

Since buying our home I wanted to replace the gaudy exterior sconce lights that came with it, but I didn’t want to spend $200 on new lights. Thanks to some inspiration found on Pinterest, I decided to revamp the existing lights, and I’m so happy with how they turned out! This makeover only required soap, water, spray paint and privacy screen film, and cost less than $30.

Light before Light before Light before

One of the exterior lights before its makeover – tarnished and cheap looking

I started the project by unscrewing and disassembling as much of the light fixture as I could. These porch sconces are generally easy to take apart. Simply unscrew the top and bottom points, and the little nubs, to remove the brackets that hold the glass in place. If you have trouble, use pliers to loosen any rusted parts. Once you have removed all the unfixed components, you will need to deal with the part of the sconce that is hard-wired to the wall. You have two options here:

Option 1
Disconnect the power (very important!) before handling any electrical wires. Once you are sure the power is off, remove the light fully (seek help if needed). Before removing the sconce from the wall, make note of which wire connected to what (use labels if you need to) so you can reconnect it later without any trouble.

Option 2
I didn’t feel comfortable with handling the wiring, so instead I sprayed the wired part of the sconce while it was still attached to the wall. Remove the sconce from the wall and leave the wiring as is (your sconce can dangle from the wires). Remove the light bulb. Thoroughly clean the sconce with warm soapy water and a toothbrush. Once it has dried, completely cover the surface area (all around and behind the sconce) with newspaper. Make sure you use enough newspaper to protect your wall from any paint splatters!

Newspaper to protect the wall
Adding newspaper behind and around the sconce to protect the wall

Once the light has been carefully disassembled, clean all the parts and glass panes with warm soapy water. After you’ve carefully taken the porch sconce apart, get some soapy warm water and just clean up the pieces to get off all the dust and residue. If it’s rusty or tarnished, lightly sand or scour the surface before painting.

Once your pieces are clean and dry, take them outside and lay them out on an old dropcloth or cardboard. Time to paint! I used Rust-Oleum 2X Ultra Cover Paint + Primer in Gloss Black, which is a primer and paint in one. Rust-Oleum have a lot of different finishes like hammered copper and brushed nickel (great for matching with other hardware). If you use general paint I highly recommend you apply primer first to ensure the end result has a nice finish and is durable. Make sure the paint you select is the right kind for the material you are painting.

Do several light coats and spray your light in a continuous movement, otherwise the paint may drip or show splatters. My lights required about 3 fine coats.

Apply spray paint

Let it dry completely for a few hours before you put it back together. While you’re waiting, you can frost the glass pieces. I bought some adhesive privacy frost window film from my local hardware store. It came on a roll and was very easy to cut and apply.

Adhesive privacy frost

Once all parts are dry and complete, carefully put the sconce back together. If you completely removed the fixture, remember to make sure the power is off before reattaching the sconce to the electrical panel. And there you have it — a quick and easy exterior light makeover!

Before and after

Slow cooked Thai red curry beef

When I first started hosting dinner parties, I would spend the majority of the night in the kitchen instead of mingling with my friends. Now, whenever possible, I’ll use my slow cooker instead – prepping the meal in the morning and leaving it to simmer all day. Come sunset I can eat, drink and party with my friends… much more fun!

Sadly, the photos in this post were taken the following day, using what little was left over, so it’s mostly sauce with a few chunks of meat in it. I promise it looks much more appetising when first served!

Slow cooked Thai red curry beef

Serves 5-6

Ingredients:

  • 1kg beef skirt steak (or similar stewing meat)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 tab brown sugar
  • 3 tabs red curry paste
  • 2 tabs fish sauce
  • 2 tabs fresh lime juice
  • 1 x 398ml can light coconut milk
  • 1 tab sriracha sauce, or to taste
  • 2 tabs all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves

Method:

  1. Dice the beef into large cubes.
  2. Bring a large non-stick skillet to medium-high heat. Cook the beef, stirring occasionally, until just browned (roughly 8-10 minutes).
    Skirt steak browning in skillet
  3. Drain the beef and place it in a 4L electric slow cooker; sprinkle with salt.
  4. Return pan to medium-high heat, then add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes or until tender; spoon onion mixture over beef.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine beef stock, sugar, curry paste, fish sauce, lime juice, coconut milk and sriracha. Pour mixture over the beef and onion; cover and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours.
  6. Spoon 2 tabs of the liquid from the slow cooker into a cup, and whisk in flour until smooth; return mixture to slower cooker and stir in.
  7. Add baby spinach and stir; cover and cook on LOW for 15 minutes or until sauce thickens.
%d bloggers like this: