Loading…

Cooking From The Heart

Healthy Eating & Living Guide

How to Eat Less Meat

Studies have been showing us for some time now that eating red meat can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Meat might be delicious, pair beautifully with a glass of wine, and work with a multitude of recipes, but it’s not the best food product for our health.

What’s more, those who eat less meat or none at all often benefit from a lower risk of heart disease and a healthier body weight. Whether you want to decrease your meat intake or cut it out of your diet altogether, the following information might help.

Become a Bean Lover

Almost any meat dish can become a bean dish with one ingredient swap. Even your favourite tacos, soups, and stews can be equally as delicious with beans as they are with meat. Start small by replacing the meat with beans in your favourite recipes. Play around with different beans like chickpeas, cannellini, and lentils.

You will even grow to love the depth of flavour from a bean-based chilli dish that you may have previously loaded full of beef mince.

(more…)

Light Summer Meals Your Family Will Love

The outside temperature can be a deciding factor in the recipes you look for, the food you eat, and even the wine you drink. The warmer it is, the more you seek out light summer meals your family will love.

As the mercury rises, it’s time to get creative in the kitchen. Here are some standout dishes that are light, delicious, and affordable.

Rice Paper Rolls

You often find that many summer recipes are salads. Not everyone wants to eat a salad every day of the week, which means that rice paper rolls can be a refreshing change. You can add all manner of salad ingredients and sauces, not to mention delectable prawns. Prepare them fresh for lunch or dinner, and enjoy how easy they are to make for everyone in the family.

Corn Fritters

Corn fritters, with delicious cheese, like feta, can be a light and tasty meal option for busy families. You can pair them with a side salad and dressing or eat them on their own as a snack with dipping sauce. Corn fritters are also easy to prepare and affordable.

(more…)

Sauvignon Blanc

What to Serve with Sauvignon Blanc

Finding wine, either in a restaurant, a bottle store, or online wine provider that you can pair with almost anything is a challenge. Even if you “know” your wines and consider yourself a connoisseur, there is going to be that one time where you made the wrong choice of wine to go with that fish, steak, or a cheeseboard.

Given that Sauvignon Blanc is an exceptionally versatile, far-reaching white wine that’s quite lean in flavour, it becomes most people’s “go to” beverage for a natural pairing. We’ve included a few of the many things you can eat with it below.

Cheese

If you’ve gathered the girls for a night out, a staple of that night out is undoubtedly wine and cheese. However, if you’re not usually one to dabble in cheeseboards, you may have trouble deciding which wine to pair with it. Even if you have help from a shop assistant, or descriptions on an online wine website, it’s not easy. Sauvignon Blanc is the best answer. Because of its crispness, it matches beautifully with all manner of cheese, making it a great option to serve to your guests. Goats cheese is also one of the best options, as are cheese balls of different varieties.

Green Vegetables

If summer has arrived and you’re at your local restaurant for a meal, or you’re whipping up something at home, you will find salads are a big hit on the menu. Bitter greens, fresh peas, and all manner of salad ingredients work beautifully with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. What’s more, it may have you reaching for that second glass as well…

(more…)

Tips For Entering A Regional Show Cooking Competition

As the Newcastle Show Cookery & Jams Competition draws closer (March 16-18) I’ve had a number of friends mention they would like to have a crack at entering. Their reasoning is that if Dean can win Best Chocolate Cake then surely it can’t be too hard. And they would be right. With a little preparation everyone has equal standing for a first prize medal. There’s nothing sweeter than victory in a cooking competition, especially if it’s your first time. Of course, Dean and I will both be back defending our titles in 2012.

To help the novices, I’ve drawn up a list of do’s and don’ts. Some of these I learnt as a result of the live judging that took place at the Newcastle Show last year, and some gleaned from speaking with Cookery Steward and medal-winning competitor, Ellice Schrader.

I’d also recommend purchasing The Country Show Cookbook if you intend on entering any classes that don’t provide recipes. These are recipes from successful entrants at Country Shows all around Australia. This is the book from which my award-winning scones came from. I also would never have realised chocolate chip biscuits are different to chocolate chip cookies without the help from this book.

(more…)

Peach Jam

The Magic of Preserves

For many preserving is classed as one of the dark arts of the kitchen. A mystifying process reserved for those with a supernatural ability to calculate a fruit’s pectin potential by just looking at it. These are people who have the innate ability to mix measured quantities of fruit and sugar in large pots and make the mix miraculously gel. They know the rules, they cast the spells. They collect the resulting concoction in recycled jars with homemade labels to adorn their pantry shelves while they await the inevitable apocalypse, or gift-giving season, whichever comes first.

The truth is, preserving will cast a spell on you. But only once you realize just how easy it is to do. The only magic going on is the simple pleasure of spreading a taste of summer on a piece of toast on a cold, wintery morning. And if you aren’t the kind of family that gets through jar after jar of jam, the feeling of goodwill  as you hand a friend a jar is heartwarming. Homemade always means something more.

Always the pedant, here’s a low-down of the different preserving definitions, just so we are all on the same page. All use the same process which is to heat fruit and sugar which releases pectin, the natural setting agent in fruit.

(more…)

The Great Decider

My first experience with cider is one that will most likely be shared by many others. It involves being underage, overzealous and out of my depth. ‘Tis the reason I avoided it at all costs…until recently when a friend of mine was diagnosed with coeliac disease. Unable to imbibe his preferred tipple of beer (coeliacs are intolerant to gluten, a protein found in some components of beer such as barley malt and wheat starch), he turned to cider to keep his whistle wet. Any time he joins us for a bbq I case out bottle shops for less lackluster offerings than the one I’d had the misfortune of overindulging in all those years ago. And yes, I’d end up partaking in a glass or two as an act of comraderie for my friend who would otherwise be the only one drinking cider. And I have been enjoying it immensely.

It’s quite apparent that cider has undergone a revival of sorts over the last few years, with growing numbers of cider labels popping up in bottleshops and cideries opening in many regions of Australia. Particularly in the Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills and south of Perth. While the varieties of cider apples grown in Australia is considerably less than in the UK and Europe, this hasn’t stopped cider being made from more widely available eating varieties such as Granny Smiths, Pink Ladies and Galas.

(more…)

Chilli Trepidations

Chilli Trepidations

Brrrr! The chill factor is extreme for this time of the year don’t you think? I don’t know about you, but autumn seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. I’m into winter comfort food in a big way already, with lots of recipes popping into my head that involve slow cooking on the stove top or a bit of spice to heat us up from the inside out.

Out of pure ignorance, I was once completely terrified of all foods hot. If there was the slightest hint of chilli I’d got for another item on the menu. Heat in food is just something I didn’t grow up with and with only movie references to practical jokes involving chilli as my reference; I came to the conclusion that it was to be avoided at all costs. Worse, I equated anything with spice or pepper to be ‘hot’ and as such any foods including such items were blacklisted.

Over time, I started to get an inkling that I was missing out. There were just so many delicious-smelling meals I’d refuse all because of an unsubstantiated fear. With the encouragement of friends, I started on working on overcoming my trepidation by introducing some not-so-hot foods, one of which was a mild laksa. It was love at first slurp.

(more…)

Tasty Brownies

Brownies

I had a little trouble deciding whether to include Rocky Road or Brownies in The Design Files chocolate story so I asked Twitter and the responses came back with Rocky Road winning by a narrow margin of just one vote. So I thought it best to include this great little Brownie recipe here so no one misses out.

My allegiance to Rocky Road is high having grown up eating Darrel Lea’s version and Brownies are a relative new-comer having only been exposed to it in its physical form after many visual reference on The Brady Bunch and other American TV shows in the 70s & 80s. There’s a million different Brownie recipes out there. I’m not much of a fan of those that include nuts so when I came across this recipe from Alice Hart’s Alice’s Cook Book gave it a try with stunning results.

(more…)

Mushroom

Mushroom

Have you experienced a mushroom explosion in your backyard recently? It’s as if a village of Smurfs decided to set up camp on our lawn, at the base of the old fig tree and beside the lettuce, seemingly overnight. It’s a pity identifying them is next to impossible because the white ones in the lawn look quite delicious. Having them around has me thinking my favourite way to eat mushrooms; large flat field mushrooms stuffed with lemon, chilli and oregano, flavoured ricotta and baked in the oven.

There’s quite a diverse range of mushrooms available at the farmer’s market and at supermarkets these days. I’ll have to see to it that I start marking up some more mushroom recipes beyond the flatties. Here are some I’ve bookmarked:
(more…)

Breakfast

The Design Files

Hello! I’ve been a busy bee these last couple of weeks preparing for a spot as a guest blogger at The Design Files this week. I nearly fell of my chair when Lucy asked me if I’d like to offer up some food-as-gift ideas. The Design Files is only one of my favourite blogs of all time. I’ll still be posting up a couple of treats here this week, but do be sure to head over to the guest blog each morning this week to check out some tasty gift ideas and nose around the rest of the blog. It’s a treasure trove of Australian interior and design goodness. Thanks Lucy & Jenny!