April 29, 2013

Slow Cooked Lamb and Mushroom Pasta

I mentioned not long ago that I jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon, and I am yet to look back.  It's such a great place for me to 'pin' ideas that I can refer back to professionally and for fun.  On food side of things, there are so many sweets and desserts getting pinned, which is great (not for my ass), but I'm really looking for some clean healthy recipes.  You see, you may have noticed, I'm not that big on processed and fatty/sugary ingredients.  On this blog you find the obvious sugar and butter, but I have these have little 'rules' about what I cook.  They are generally, if a recipe has corn syrup, condensed milk, abnormal amounts of sugar, etc, I avoid making it.  I don't do deep fried.  I will only cook with olive, grape seed and coconut oil.  I don't like ingredients that are considered a 'packet-food' (excluding pasta of course). So things like cheesecake are mostly a no.  It might seem a bit silly, but I just can't bring myself to make them. 

What do I make, well, you probably already know.  But I like fresh ingredients. I like ingredients that have no additives.  When I buy tinned tomatoes, I only buy the ones that are 100% tomatoes, no added salt or preservatives.  There are some things you can't avoid with this, such as Chinese sauces, like oyster sauce etc.  But that's ok.  It's life I guess, and as much as I'd love to only use 100% natural ingredients, well, I can't afford it.  And I don't have the time to make everything.  It's a battle a lot of people go through, but at the end of the day you have to go with what suits you.

Dishes like this lamb and mushroom pasta, they bring out the best in my love for natural ingredients.  Fresh ingredients cooked for a long time, that create the most amazing deep and warming flavours.

I'll let you in on a secret - I didn't actually make this - Colin did.  I advised him on what to add and the quantities, but he did the rest.  So ladies, this is a dish for the boys to cook!

Update - apparently my mention of Colin cooking this dish wasn't enough, and seeing as I'm trying to encourage him to cook more often, I would like to add that he did an amazing job and is actually a pretty good cook.  Is that better Colin?  :)

Recipe adapted from The Living Room
Olive oil
500g lamb shoulder or leg, cut into cubes
1 brown onion, diced
1 leek, white/pale green part diced
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 field mushrooms, diced
Handful of porcini mushrooms
Bunch of thyme
500ml beef stock
Sea salt
Black pepper
Fresh chopped parsley
400g pasta (tagliatelle or a thick ribbon pasta works well)
Parmesan, to serve

In a large pot over a medium heat, add a good slug of olive oil, then add the onion, leek and garlic.  Cook until translucent and slightly caramelised.  Remove from the pot and set aside.

Add a bit more oil, then add the lamb in batches until they are a little brown and sealed.  Add the onion mix back into the pot, then add the field and porcini mushroom, the thyme and stock, then bring to boil.  If the stock doesn't cover all the meat, add a little water.  Turn to a simmer then leave to cook for two hours (lid on half the time) or until the sauce has thickened and the lamb is tender.  Add a handful or chopped parsley and stir through.

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.  Drain, then add the sauce and mix well.  Serve with grated parmesan, and a nice glass of red (cos they are perfect together).

Fresh pasta would also work amazing with this.  Recipe here.

April 25, 2013

Anzac Biscuits

Today in Australia it's Anzac Day, a day where we remember those who have served and died in war, in particular, Australians and New Zealanders who fought in Gallipoli during World War 1.  It's always been a public holiday I haven't known much about, and I can probably bring that down to two things - pretty poor schooling systems that didn't seem to teach kids too much about history, and the fact I was never interested in history growing up.  Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't want to know, I hate not knowing world history, I sometimes feel left out.  Art history, on the other hand, that I know lots about, and others generally don't.  So it comes down to me doing my own research, reading books and such, which for me is a mission seeing I have a low attention span.  Currently I've been trying to read graphic design books to learn more, something I love, but even that's proving difficult.

Anyway, I went off track.  When I was in school Anzac Day was always about Anzac biscuits.  We would make them at the school or bring them to school. I have never known the link between the two - actually, I'm just going to google it...

... so the link is the biscuits were apparently made by the wives and transported to the soldiers because the biscuits could keep for a long time without going off.  Well, there you have it.  

I love these biscuits because, yes, the do keep for ages, but because they also such a strong chilhood memory.  Plus they are delicious!

1 cup plain flour
1 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup caster sugar
125g butter
3 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon bicarbonate baking soda

Preheat your oven to 160C.  Line two baking trays with baking paper.

Place the flour, oats, coconut and suagr in a large bowl. 

Melt the butter, and add the golden syrup and bicarb.  Mix well, then pour into the oat mix.  Mix the wet and dry ingredients together, then using a tablespoon, scoop up the mixture and using your hands, mould into a ball.  Place on the tray and press slightly with the back of the tablespoon.  Continue until you have them all done.

Place the tray into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden.  The biscuits will harden slightly when cooling.

Makes around 22.
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