Author Archives: Katie

Christmas Dinner Sides (aka What We Would Have Blogged About in December If We Weren’t So Busy Eating)

Table Spread

Warm Beetroot and Feta Salad
1 kg baby beetroots (fresh from the garden if you are lucky to have green thumbs around!)
100g feta, crumbled
olive oil
4 -5 stalks of thyme
S+P

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Cut the tops off the beetroots and then wash them thoroughly. Quarter them and pop them in a baking tray. Pour on some olive oil and add the thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper and chuck it in the oven until the beetroots are nice and soft. This took about half an hour for us but there was a lot of stuff in our oven. Keep an eye on them.

When they are ready, put them in a serving dish and sprinkle feta over the top. DELICIOUS.

Potato Salad
Serves an army – which is good because it is excellent with cold ham the next day (and any day!)
From Guest Blogger (and S-J’s ladyfriend/babymama), Esther!

12 – 15 small potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 fistful of continental parsley, chopped
1 small jar of good quality whole-egg mayonnaise
1/2 a small jar of baby dill pickles, roughly chopped
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 small spanish (red) onion
1/3 cup of salt (don’t worry! it doesn’t all end up in the salad!)

method

Slice the onion as finely as you can and place it in a bowl.
Add all but a few pinches of the salt, and toss so that the onion is thoroughly coated.
Set aside for at least 15 – 20 mins.

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, and cover with cold water. Add the remaining salt to the water. Bring to boil.

When the potatoes are tender, remove them from the heat, drain them in a colander, and then run cold water over them to cool them somewhat. Transfer them to a serving bowl.

You will notice that your onions look like they have sweated and gotten all wet. The salt has drawn out all the really strong ‘onioniness’ out of them, and left the nice sweet peppery flavour, making them much more pleasurable to eat!
Rinse the salt off them (i find the easiest way to do this is to toss them in a sieve under cold running water), and add them to the potatoes.

Add the parsley, pickles, mayonnaise, and mustard, and gently toss until all ingredients are combined.

You can eat this warm, or chilled – either way is delicious.

If you’re not vegetarian, it’s also nice with some fried bacon tossed through.

Candied Sweet Potatoes
Serves 6 – 8 as a side dish
From Guest Blogger, Josie!

Cook 5(ish) sweet potatoes and mash with butter (your choice of butteryness). Add 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup brown sugar and mix well. Spoon into a baking dish and bake at 180C for 30 minutes. Cover with minimarshmallows and bake until they are melty and brown (approx. 5-10 minutes).

Zucchini with Garlic and Parmesan
Serves 8 as a side dish

Zucchini!

3 VERY large zucchini (or 5 regular sized if you don’t have a crazy veggie patch)
3 cloves of garlic
4 -5 stalks of thyme
Olive oil
30g Parmesan
S+P

Wash zucchini. Marvel at it’s ginormousness! Dice into about 1 inch pieces. Heat olive oil in a large fry pan. Mince garlic into pan. Turn on heat, crank to high. Once the garlic starts bubbling, throw in all the zucchini. Season well with S+P, add the thyme stalks. Resist turning until the edges start to brown. Gently toss occassionally until all delicious pieces are lightly browned and tender. Remove from heat and heap onto your serving dish, removing the thyme stalks as you go. Finely grate parmesan over the top, and serve.

Green Bean Supreme
Serves 6 – 8 as a side dish

1 kg beans
2 – 3 slices of bread
6 cloves garlic (2 crushed, 4 whole in skins)
5 tbsps olive oil
2 large leeks
2/3 cup white wine
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsps pomegranate molasses
S+P

This dish is an amalgamation of a few of my favourite things. That seemed right for a Christmas dinner that involved a few of my favourite people. I find that the tartness of the molasses and the leeks with the beans makes this an excellent side for a rich meat like ham, or with a creamy chicken dish.

Preheat oven to 180C.

Cook beans
Fill a large pot with water and heat over high flame. While the water is coming to a boil, wash the beans and remove the ends – leaving the beans whole (or chopping into 1 inch pieces if you prefer). Add beans to the boiling water and allow to cook for 3 – 4 minutes.

The beans should still have a nice crunch to them as you will be heating them again when ready to serve. Drain the beans into a colander, fill the pot with cold water and blanch them in the water, replacing the warm water with cold water until the beans are cool. Drain and set aside.

Make croutons
Remove the crusts from the bread and slice into 1 cm cubes.

Into an oven tray, drizzle 3 tbsps of olive oil, the whole garlic cloves, loads of salt and pepper, and cubes of bread. Toss to coat. Bake in oven until golden brown, approximately 5 – 10 minutes.

Caramelise leeks
Remove the tops and bottom of the leek. and outer layer, then wash well under cold water to remove any dirt trapped in the layers. Slice in half lengthways and then slice into thin half-moons.

In a medium frying pan, add 2 tbsps olive oil, the remaining garlic cloves,  and the sliced leeks. Saute over a medium heat until the leeks are softened. Raise heat and add the white wine. Cook until wine is reduced and syrupy. Add honey, stir together and remove from heat.

To serve
In a heat proof serving dish add the beans, cover with the leeks, then the croutons, drizzle the pomegranate molasses over the top. Set aside until ready to serve, reheat 5 – 10 minutes in the oven.

*** We will never stop to clean drips and spills off a serving dish just to take a photo, clearly. Just keeping it real here at NFL.

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Summer Tipples

To me, there is nothing that says summery get-together more than a jug of something cool and delicious.

There are endless combinations to be tried and tested, everyone has a favourite flavour and level of sweetness, and I hope at least one of these combinations tickles your fancy.

I like to work with the basic equation of fruity+sparkling+/-booze+ice+/-bitstoeatwithyourfingers = punchy perfection.

All measurements below work for jugs that hold 1.5 – 2L of deliciousness.

Jug O' Pimms

Jug o’ Pimms

Pretty Borage Ice Cubes (or regular ice if you aren’t fancy)
200 – 400 mls Pimms (choose your booze level)
1/2 cucumber sliced (seeds removed if it is a particularly seedy one)
Mint (optional)
1L Ginger Ale (or Lemonade if that’s your jam)

Fill your jug with as many icecubes as you can because it is 41C outside and your aircon is broken. Use the very pretty icecubes you have been making with borage and watch as the pretty flowers float about in your drink and taste like cucumber.

Slice up your cucumber in whatever way you like. I am partial to long thin strips but do what feels best and chuck that in the jug. If you have some mint, add that in there too.

Pour in the Pimms. I’m not going to lie to you – I have no idea how much we usually use – enough so that it tastes like Pimms? We probably had a good inch and a half to two inches in our 2 litre jug (then we added more after tasting). Top with ginger ale (lemonade if you must) and drink. Sit back and reflect on a job well done.

Pomegranate Punch

1 Pomegranate (refridgerated)
300 mls sparkling mineral water
300 mls ginger ale
50 mls Chambord
50 mls Absolut Vodka (use a different kind if you like, but this is my favourite)
40 mls Ribena cordial or POM Cherry and Pomegranate juice if you can get it
Ice to fill jug

Cut pomegranate in half, over a bowl (or straight into your jug) tip the pomegranate cut side down and WHACK the outside repeatedly with the back of a wooden spoon until 95% of the tiny jewel-like seeds have popped out. Tear the pomegranate apart to remove the remaining seeds. Repeat with other half. Remove any pith.

Into the jug pour the pomegranate seeds, alcohols and cordial. Mix gently and allow to sit in the fridge for up to 2 hours to chill/infuse.

Just before serving, add ginger ale and sparkling mineral water and mix gently. Top with ice.

Drink! Enjoy getting sticky red fingers while trying to fish the seeds out of the bottom of your glass. This was our Christmas Punch this year and it made us all quite jolly!

Eternal Sunshine Punch

400mls pineapple juice
200 mls pink grapefruit juice or orange juice
2 limes
1-3 tablespoons brown sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
750mls Omni Citrus (or any fruity sparkling)
Ice to fill jug

Start dreaming of an island holiday after you see a pineapple on the bench and tin of juice in your pantry (so fancy). Find umbrellas from hilarious party your housemate held 4 years ago. Get idea!

Peel zest from one lime, muddle with the brown sugar in the bottom of the jug. Add juice from this lime to jug.

Slice remaining lime into thin slices (try not to cut your finger at this point, citrus juice is not your friend if you do). Add slices to jug. Pour in all remaining liquid ingredients, stir gently. Top with ice. Sit outside with a giant fan, sunscreen and hat, sipping this out of some kind of ridiculous glass with an umbrella and oversized garnish of pineapple and cherry.

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Review: Punch Lane Wine Bar

Sometimes my boss and I like to go to fancy places to celebrate things. Yes, I am spoilt. No, I don’t mind!

Our clinic recently reached a milestone and so we decided to celebrate at a wine bar/restaurant chosen by my boss’s husband. He does most of our restaurant picking as he works in the city and hears about places we might like. He was not wrong with this pick. Nestled up at the Spring St end of Lt Bourke St, Punch Lane Wine Bar was a deliciously delightful find. We met my friend there (who was already enjoying the delightful waitstaff) and the four of us decided on the tasting menu (5 courses for $69, a fancy-food bargain!) and a delicious bottle of bubbly to celebrate.

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Devil’s Food Cake (Or: a birthday must always equal cake)

This here blog might be a little quiet over the coming weeks as half the New Fat Ladies team is off on an adventure.

In S-J’s absence I will do my best (even though she might join us from parts unknown if she has the time/internet) to entertain you for the interim!

A 30th birthday has occurred and this means cake, that is one thing I know is true in my universe. I sadly missed the cake on the party day (I went to Perth and ate wedding cake instead – which was very excellent!) so I made a little cake for the birthday lady for the day of her birth!

She likes chocolate, because she’s pretty smart. I didn’t have any of my cookbooks with me as I wasn’t in my own kitchen, but luckily I had NFL supplies on hand. So, I pulled out a book of S-J’s for this recipe, the CWA one that I am holding in our “promo shots” in fact. This recipe was for a Devil’s Food Cake but honestly I have changed it so much that it is not even close to recognisable anymore. But inspiration is important, so it gets a shout out!

You can make it more simple by using storebought jam for the filling or subbing out the frosting for your favourite go-to icing. I leave that up to you. But just make cake, and then eat it. It’s the best plan.

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Apple Strudel (Or: I really like apples)

In a lovely coincidence, I happened to make Apple Strudel the same week that the lovely lads and ladies on the Great British Bake Off had a strudel challenge. It’s like it was meant to be. It probably had more to do with the 1kg of apples I had picked up at the market the week before that were judging me from their fancy fruitbowl. Whatever the reason, strudel was made and I carted it off to a dinner party/games night at a lovely friend’s home and it was a tasty to ending to a deliciously autumnal meal (yes, spring is here, no, I don’t accept it, AUTUMN FOR PRESIDENT).

Disclaimer: We are a cooking blog, but we are people too. I find that I have things in my life that I prefer to do that don’t involve the multi-hour process to create butter puff pastry, so I tend to buy the fanciest brand I can afford from the frozen section and call it a day. If you can actually tell the difference, you impress me, because I’ve made many kinds and I really can’t. It is just not worth it to me for a casual meal, and if you can play with store-bought and get it to do what you want, I say take that extra time you have to drink a cider, eat some good cheese and pat yourself on the back for your excellent time management choices.

One day we’ll probably do puff pastry and I’ll be all “IT’S SO WONDERFUL I DON’T KNOW WHY I DON’T MAKE IT ALL THE TIME”, and you can point me back to this post and heckle me if you like, I won’t care though, because no matter what, in the end, I’ll have a belly full of pastry!

So, back to the strudel. I have a fear of runny liquid insides ruining my strudel, so these apples are cooked twice before they are rolled inside pastry for the final filling. This means that it is a very soft filling once cooked for the second time. All the apples collapse into the raisins and disappear into your tummy in seconds.

I made two, and the four of us ate it all.

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Goats Cheese Pastries (Or: cheese makes everything better, so three cheeses must mean excellence)

Cheese is delicious, and pastry makes everything better. I don’t need to convince you of this. So without further ado, recipe time!

Goats Cheese Pastries

Time: 10 minutes prep, 20 minutes cooking

Yield: nibbles for 10 as part of a spread

4 sheets puff pastry (store bought, or knock yourself out and make your own)
150 gms goats cheese
50 gms parmesan (grated)
50 gms cheddar (grated)
4 teaspoons of honey
2 tbsp chives (chopped in short lengths)
1 tbsp thyme (finely chopped, woody stalks removed)
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 egg

Line two baking trays with baking paper. Preheat oven to 220C.

Prepping the pastry

Lay your four squares of pastry out on the bench while you prep the filling. Spread 1 tsp of honey onto each sheet, spread to the edge.

Cheese filling

In a small bowl, break the goats cheese up into smaller chunks, add parmesan and cheddar and pop in the microwave for 10 – 20 seconds.

Remove from microwave and add paprika, garlic, salt and pepper, chives and thyme. Mix really well, making sure the herbs are evenly through the mixture.

Assemble

Divide the cheese mixture between two of the sheets of pastry. Spread out to 1 cm before the edge.

Take each of the two sheets of pastry with only honey on them, and place one on top of each cheese covered sheet. Push down firmly and evenly to make a kind of pastry sandwich. Pop in the fridge for 10 minutes or so if you have time.

Egg wash

In a small bowl (I used the cheese mixture bowl, and I didn’t even wash it out – REBEL), whisk the egg with a little salt and pepper until the yolk and white are all combined.

For straws

Using one of the pastry “sandwiches”, take a sharp knife and cut long strips about 1 cm wide. hold firmly at the top and bottom of the strip and twist, being careful to keep the mixture between the sheets of pastry as you twist.

Lay twisted pastry onto baking sheet pressing each end down onto the tray slightly (to stop them from untwisting). Leave at least 1 cm between each stick and using a pastry brush, cover with egg wash. Repeat until the tray is full, bake in 220C oven for 15 – 20 minutes, keeping an eye on them. When they are golden brown and crisp, remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool.

For scrolls

With the other pastry sandwich, cover the top with egg wash using your pastry brush. Starting with the side closest to you, roll away from yourself, gently keeping the roll quite tight. press the end down firmly. Place roll in fridge for 15 minutes to firm up if you have time, or live life on the edge and cut it into 1 cm thick slices and lay flat on the other baking tray. Leave about 2 cms between each round to allow for puffing. Repeat until the tray is full, bake in 220C oven for 15 – 20 minutes, keeping an eye on them. When they are golden brown and crisp, remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool.

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