Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Shrove Tuesday

February 11, 2013

Possum is 6 years 9 months

Bandicoot is 4 years 7 months

Little Princess is 2 years 1 month


Did you know that Shrovetide is actually the two days before Ash Wednesday?  It is the end of the Carnival season that started at Easter (from Latin carnelevare, indicating abstaining from meat during Lent)?  No, neither did I.  You can read more about it here: 

I just wanted to remember what “shrove” meant.  It comes from the archaic verb to shrive or to confess, recalling the old custom of confessing sins prior to Lent.

What I do know that we eat all those pancakes to try and use up all the goodies that we used to have to fast from for Lent.  Dietary requirements are not so strict these days, but the spirit is the same.

And so I make pancakes.  And pancakes.

I made so many pancakes that we ended up with leftovers.  And tummy aches.  I was looking forward to Ash Wednesday by Tuesday evening!

So what did our menu look like?

This year it was necessary for me to forgo our usual blinis.  DH and I fell in love with Russian blinis back in 2004.  I find them so much work to make, so I tend to only do them once a year.  But by the time I have made all the milky crepes, filled them, folded and rolled them, fried them in butter… well I wasn’t getting up that early this year.  (How do those Mamushkas make them every morning??)

Instead we had American-style, apple pancakes for breakfast.  Well, not DH.  Even they were a bit slow making it to the table for him before work (besides, fighting the vultures children off to get one, was a bit gruesome.)

I thought about a German pancake for lunch, but with the dinner plans I just knew that I needed something else to eat instead.

Dessert first.  I made two different kinds of English-style pancakes (you know, like a crepe only a bit thicker and cooked on both sides).  The first were the plain ones that were brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with sugar prior to rolling.  These were ready for toppings of choice: maple syrup, lemon and sugar, cinnamon sugar…  The second were my classic chocolate pancakes – made with a cocoa batter.  I normally serve these rolled and filled with lingonberries and whipped cream, but had to substitute blackberry jam for the lingonberries and really it wasn’t the same.

But now…. drum roll… my piece de la resistance… (drum roll)  Peking Chicken!!

Yes, it is a dish of my own invention, if inspired by another, slightly more famous dish.

I started with a bbq chicken from the supermarket (needs must, and it wouldn’t have happened any other way),  I brought it home and made a quick marinade of (approximately):

  • ~ teaspoon raw castor sugar
  • ~ 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ~ 1/8 teaspoon ground star anise
  • ~ 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Good, healthy slurp of sherry ~ 1/4 to 1/3 cup (let’s hope it was the cooking sherry – I can never remember which one is mine for cooking and which one is DH’s posh drinking sherry.  It tasted good either way!)

I slopped this all over the chicken and whacked it back in the oven to crisp up.  (After a little I pulled all the skin off and put the skin back in so that it could go really crispy without drying out the meat too much.)

Then there were the mandarin pancakes.  I am not sure how I would manage these next time.  I ended up needing to use a LOT of flour to roll them out and they had a floury taste because of it.  Perhaps practice would help with this!

Manadrin Pancakes:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • sesame oil (a whole lot more than you would think!)
  • flour to stop it sticking to the bench in a gluey mess
  • So, really tricky here, mix the flour and water into a dough and knead it a little.
  • IMG_7330
  • Roll it out to about 5-7mm thick.
  • IMG_7332
  • Cut in circles with a scone cutter (about 10cm across)IMG_7333
  • Brush one side of the circles with sesame oil and put 2 circles together – oily sides together.
  • Now roll them again, nice and thin.
  • Dry fry the pancakes (in a non-stick pan if possible).  It is about 2 minutes on the first side and 1 on the second.
  • IMG_7334IMG_7335
  • When they are done, you can peel the two pancakes apart.
  • IMG_7337



Now, roll these up with chopped shallots, hoisin sauce, chicken meat and a bit of crunchy skin.  In our case we added in a bit of lettuce, too.

Super yum.

In fact, so yummy that I forgot to take photos of the finished item before we gobbled them all up!  Oops.


They ALL asked for more!!!

March 22, 2012

Possum is 5 years and 10 months old

Bandicoot is 3 years and 8 months old

Little Princess is 1 year and 2 months old (14 months)


I had a very surprising experience at dinner tonight.  As I was preparing the meal, I sent a text message to a buddy of mine along the lines of, “Off to prepare a meal that noone will like.”

What had inspired this optimism?  My desire for a creamy chicken curry.

Curry is always a loaded dish in this family.  DH loves curry.  Especially if it is so hot that your skin peels off.  And it must be Indian curry.  I know that “Indian curry” is a very broad description, but he pretty much loves them all.  South East Asian curries, for example, are much further down the list (although quite acceptable for filling that gnawing hole in his tummy.)

Possum will not eat anything “spicy”.  By “spicy” he actually means anything hot – chilli, pepper etc.  (I have in the past, tried to convince him that he doesn’t like cinnamon doughnuts as cinnamon is a spice and they are, thus, spicy food, and he should therefore give them all to his mother, but have not been successful.)

Bandicoot doesn’t mind a tiny bit of heat – unless Possum reminds him that he doesn’t eat anything hot, in which case he will mimic his big brother.

Little Princess doesn’t eat.

And me?  Well, I used to like hot food.  Not as hot as DH likes it, but I quite enjoyed a kick.  Until I completely trained my self as food tester, taster and preparer for the kids.  Now I notice the tiniest strains of chilli before even the kids would notice.  I still love the flavour of chilli, but the heat not so much.

And generally I am not into “Indian curries”.  Again, I used to be.  Unfortunately, I think I ate way to many of them and I just can’t face them anymore.  Pair this with the difficulty of getting them prepared and served without fresh coriander (ie leaves, stems, roots but not the seed – aka cilantro in the US) and it is a bit of a minefield.  (I am allergic to cilantro.  No really.  Yeah, I know.  Weird to be allergic to a non-protein food, but I am.  And so is one of my sisters and, I recently found out, another person I know.  There.  There are three of us.)

I do, however, prefer them to Thai style.  Or maybe, again, there are just so many Thai restaurants around that over time I had my fill.  (No, actually, I have never really been a fan of the Thai style ones, overly.)

Anyway, I digress.

I wanted a nice creamy chicken curry.  Comfort food, not hot curry.  Unfortunately, my much loved Keen’s Curry Powder seems a lot hotter than it used to be.  This means either burning little heads off, or not getting the same amount of flavour.  I also have jars of various curry pastes in the fridge (or should I say, half jars).

What to do?

Well, I was in a bit of a grouchy-pants mood anyway, so I figured I would just use the curry paste and not care if I didn’t like it either.

I found some Mussaman Curry Paste.  Years ago – before kids, before Selwyn – I used to love this stuff.  I would stir fry beef, red capsicum and onion in it and serve it on rice.  These days – meh – take it or leave it.  (Definitely leave a traditional Mussaman Curry.)

This is what I did:

Fried off ~ 5 generous Tbsp of curry paste- this was how much I had left – in oil.  (For reference the recipe on the jar advised 4Tbsp of curry paste to 300g meat.)

Chopped up 2 chicken breasts (about 600g worth) into largish, bite-size pieces.  Tossed them through to sort of brown them a bit, not that you can with the curry paste in there, but you get the idea.

Tossed in 2 onions, chopped into large pieces (my “curry size” pieces.)  Softened them.

Added in 3 small-medium diced potatoes, 4 chopped carrots, a chopped eggplant (next time peel it first so Possum doesn’t notice it in the dish), a similar amount of peanut butter to curry paste, a 375mL tin of condensed milk and 3 Tbsp fish sauce.  I then layered 2 sliced zucchini on top (Possum doesn’t eat zucchini).  I stuck the lid on and let it simmer away for about 1/2 to 1 hour (when we were ready to eat.)

Note:  I used sweetened peanut butter ~aah bliss~  one of those things that I should be against, but I really love.  Otherwise I would have added the spoon of sugar suggested on the jar.  (Or maybe if I thought of it, I would have done so, too.)

Note 2:  I didn’t like the taste of the fish sauce as I was trying to go more for a creamy curry than a SE Asian one.  Not sure what I would use instead, ‘though.

That was it.  Serve with rice.

Possum looked at it and said nervously, “I have had this before and I don’t like it because it is spicy.”

By this time, we were all like little piggies with not just our snouts in the trough, but our trotters, too.  “*snuffle*snuffle* But it isn’t spicy!  Try it!  It looks like it should be, but it isn’t!”

He cautiously took a nibble then proceeded to inhale his entire meal.  Even Little Princess finished her dinner, pointed at her bowl and said, “More, more.”  Wow!

Seconds all round.

Definitely a win.

Purim 2012

March 8, 2012

Possum is 5 years 10 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 8 months

Little Princess is 1 year 2 months (14 months)


Today is the Biblical Feast of Purim.  It is the celebration of the deliverance of God’s People from the hands of the evil Haman.

I love this feast.  I find the story fascinating and inspiring.  Really, they could make a modern book or movie of it and it would get audiences in.  Of course, no need for that.  It is right there in the Book of Esther.

This year I read the story from “the oral tradition handed down through the sages” on – it has details not recorded on the Megillah/in the Bible Book.  It is a really fascinating story – so full of intrigue, with so many twists and turns.  I really enjoyed the read.

I will read it again from the Bible tonight.

We also have a few other ways to experience the story around here.  Of course, we have this gem:

imageNothing like the threat of being sent to the Island of Perpetual Tickling!

We also have this little book that Little Princess was given at her Baptism:

imageIt is really beautiful.  It is a word book – a concept book about the story of Esther!


And finally, this year I found this one:

imageI thought with a learning-to-reader in the house and two more to follow, we might get some use out of it.


One of the mitzvahs of Purim is to feast.  However, this is the middle of Lent, and I have enough trouble engaging DH in festivals he knows about, let alone new ones.  It the past I have made hamantashen and I fully intended to do so again today (pity they are only for Purim, because they really are SO good).  It was, however, one of those days, so there are none for tonight.  I also decided to cook up a Persian dinner.  It went a bit pear-shaped when I discovered that the ingredients I thought I had, I didn’t have, and, worse still, forgot Bandicoot had a swimming lesson tonight.  I have made this

~~tantalising link to yummy Persian chicken dish~~

but whether or not it gets eaten will be an entirely different matter.

Either way, it is a feast worth remembering.  Each year I add a little more to our celebrations of the Feast.  Each year the kids understand a little more.


Happy Purim!!

First Week of Lent – Pretzels

February 28, 2012

Possum is 5 years 9 months

Bandicoot is 3 years and 7 months

Little Princess is 1 year and 1 month (13 months)


Recently I stumbled across some interesting information.  Apparently pretzels are traditionally Lenten food.  The shape is meant to imitate arms crossed in prayer and traditionally there isn’t too much exciting in the recipe, so they made good fasting food (not sure about the stick of butter used to glaze them, ‘though!)

So I decided in lieu of some of the goodies my team of scavengers devour in the afternoons, I would bake pretzels.

I have two recipes that I would like to try, but I went for this one first:

~tantalizing link to pretzel recipe~

I did go for the half and half flour option and I used instant yeast.

They were actually very easy to make.  (But then, I am rarely intimidated by baking.)  As always, the hardest thing was finding the time – after the dough had proved and I started rolling and shaping Little Princess decided she needed a feed NOW.  *sigh*

I also sort of followed the instructions on the second recipe for the shaping.

~tantalizing link to second pretzel recipe~

And the result?

Well, I was slightly alarmed at the day-glow orangey-brown colour they turned in the oven.  I can only assume that is something to do with the soda.  However, post glazing and salting:


And truly, YUMMO!  If this is fasting I wish Lent went all year round!  (Actually, the biggest problem is that it is still Lent and I want to eat them all.)

Oh, and just a tip that you may not need, but remember if you melt the butter in the microwave the container will probably get hot:


Pancake Day

February 21, 2012

Possum is 5 years 9 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 7 months

Little Princess is 1 year 1 month (13 months)


Lent is fast approaching, but what do we need first?  Pancake Day!  And if you are around these parts, you will know why the French call it Fat Tuesday.

We started the day with blinis.  Yes, “blinis” not “blintzes”.  They are  similar but they are not the same.

A couple of years ago, DH and I backpacked through Russia (amongst some other wonderful places.)  Oh, alright, maybe not a couple of years ago, but we like to think that the years aren’t going that fast.  On that trip we stayed in homestay accommodation (quite a mixed bag of experiences, there!) and we got to taste quite a variety of blinis for breakfast.

The best blinis in the whole world were for the Homestay Wife in Krasnoyask (I have since forgotten her name, but I have not forgotten her blinis.  I also have not forgotten her husband telling us that she cooked them for him every single morning.  Wowsers!)

Well, this recipe tastes a lot like hers: ~tantalising link to blini recipe~

It is worth reading the comments and actually paying attention to the description of when to turn the blini (I forget to do that every time and about the first three end up in the bin until I remember those instructions are there…)

The wonderful Krasnoyask Blinis (needs capitalisation) were filled with smetna and rolled somewhat like a burrito.  She then fried them to re-warm and seal them.

I decided to make them like that this time, but to put them in a casserole dish and reheat them that way.

Now, these little fellows are fiddly to make, and knowing how crazy life can get around here, I decided to make the blinis the day before.  What a brilliant idea.  EXCEPT – well, as I explained to Sam-O, blinis purpose in life really seems to be the vehicle ferrying the melted butter to ones mouth.  Oops.

This is the second batch:


I would have to say that they were quite a success.

I even managed to keep a couple aside to use for the boys’ lunch the next day.  These ones I spread with nutella (I warmed it up so that it spread thinly and easily).  Then I folded it in halves and in halves again so that it was a quarter of a circle shape.  Win!!  (This idea is not my own.  We had some super yummy ones done just this way at the Peter and Paul Monument in St Petersberg.  MmmHmm.)


(Yes, alright, this isn’t one of our pics, but that’s where the blini man was.  This pic is from


For lunch we had a German Pancake (more carbs…):

6 eggs / 1 cup flour / 1 cup milk / 1/2 cup sugar

Pop a hot dish in the oven with butter in it.  When the butter is all melted, pour in the batter and bake away until fluffy-ish.  Brush with a little butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  (Thank you to the Aldi Australian Cookbook for this one…)


Afternoon tea involved store bought pikelets.  Pikelets are not my forte and Possum had his first date over from big school, so I didn’t want to stuff up. (And let’s be honest, just how many hours can you stand over the stove flipping pancakes?)


And for dinner – well a nice chicken curry packed with veges really seemed to the anecdote required.

Halloween Part 1 – The Food

October 30, 2011

Possum is 5 years 5 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 3 months

Little Princess is 9 months

Halloween is not a big deal here, but as I have said before, I like to mark the passage of the year with various festivals and events, even if only in a small way. 

This year, as well as our tiny pumpkin pots we hang in the window, and the big pumpkin bowl of lollies on the table we also bought a really cute purple windsock with bats on it.

Of course, there were books to read, too, but here are some the of the goodies that we baked, first.


Whoopie Pies

The recipe is inspired from here.


Or how about a cobwebby chocolate-pumpkin cheescake?  (I ran out of time to make the crunchy chocolate spiders.) Adapted from here

Oooo!  What’s that peeping in the oven?  Eeek!  They are ghostly meringues!


(Inspiration here)

Of course, we did have some books to go along with all the food.  The first one is this:

Five Little Pumpkins

I really enjoyed this.  It is the American rhyme about the Five Little Pumpkins.  DH had never heard of it before, so he thought the book was a little silly – looking for the story – until we got to the end.  He then re-read it to the kids and it was lots more fun.

I managed to pick this book up in a $5- sale, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have bothered with a Halloween book otherwise, but I do like it.

Night Animals: Level 1

We read this book again, too.  (I haven’t been able to find it available at any of my usual sources.  I bought it second hand on a home-schooling swap site.)

This book is more Northern Hemisphere oriented (aren’t they all?) but we included discussion about some of our local nocturnal animals (we have two different kinds of possums, a bandicoot, bats etc that visit our yard in the night time.  Not bad for a city, eh?)  Halloween always seems like a good time to talk about these critters.

However, I think that our absolute favourite is this one:

The Pumpkin Patch Parable: The Parable Series

This was one of those books that I had read about other families using, but I had never actually seen it myself.  I wasn’t sure what it would be like, but when it arrived via the postman, I was pleasantly surprised.

Like the previous book, it is not a Halloween book, but it fits nicely with the season, even if pumpkins aren’t really in season here!  It is a lovely story, and each double page spread includes a Bible quotation.  I will definitely be looking at the other books in this series.