Tuesday, 5 June 2012

My new blogging home

Just thought I would pop up a little post and let you all know that I am now officially over on tumblr at http://thecerealdiner.tumblr.com/. I am oh so happy with my new site and have launched it with a super awesome new recipe.

If you are all up on the social media scene you can also find me on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram @thecerealdiner

Come visit me as I would love to say hi!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

teacup cottage pie

So this will definitely be my last post on Blogger. Currently working on the layout over at my new Tumblr page to make it as pretty as possible before launching it along with a Twitter account for the cereal diner. Excitement plus!

Well I have previously expressed my love of eating things from mugs but now I have added to my love of eating from drinking vessels and have started making things in teacups. I must admit that my teacup is a rather large teacup but little ones work just as well.

I say teacups and mugs should be celebrated and embraced and everything should be enjoyed from them, not just tea and coffee and sometimes wine.

1 medium potato, peel & quarter
150 grams of lean beef mince

1 teaspoon of olive oil
1/2 small brown onion, finely diced
1 small carrot, diced
2 button mushrooms, diced
1/4 cup of peas
2 tablespoons of tomato sauce
1/2 a teaspoon of Vegemite (trust me)
1 teaspoon of stock powder
1/4 cup of cold water
2 tablespoons of parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons of milk
1 tablespoon of grated cheese
Small handful of salad leaves
1 teaspoon of additional olive oil
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Grease your teacup.
Put the potato in a small pot of water and put on a high heat to cook whilst you prepare the mince mixture.

Heat the teaspoon of olive oil in a pot on a medium heat and sauté the onion until soft, add the beef mince and stir until starting to brown whilst trying to smoosh out any lumps. Add carrot, mushrooms, peas, sauce, Vegemite, stock powder, cold water and a good pinch of S&P. Stir together and then add the water. Cook until the carrots soften and the liquid reduces - but don't let it become too dry. Take off the heat and stir through the parsley.

Fill your greased up teacup 3/4 full with the mince mixture.

Check the potato and once cooked, strain and mash with the milk and then spoon on top of the mince mixture in the teacup. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the potato and pop in to the oven until the cheese has melted and become golden brown. Remove the pie from the oven remembering that the teacup will be mega hot. Let the teacup cool down before serving.

Dress the salad leaves with the additional olive oil and the balsamic vinegar and serve on the side with your teacup cottage pie. I used baby spinach and radicchio leaves, which I am totes digging at the moment.

Friday, 4 May 2012

spiced (but not spicy) pumpkin soup

So, with the help of my housemates I am in the midst of making some improvements to the cereal diner. Hopefully with the improvements and changes will come better formatting and layout which I am currently having a number of issues with when using Blogger. By the next post the changes will be in place and things will be looking better!

This pumpkin soup is kind of like the chai tea of soups, it is warming, slightly spiced and super comforting. I am rather fond of it. And even better is that it literally takes under 30 minutes to make. It is the perfect cold winter mid week or lazy Sunday treat.

I would like like to say it is a recipe past down from generation to generation but it isn't. It was kind of passed down to me by my Dad, Barry. Dad's pumpkin soup was one of the first things I ever learnt to cook and I remember being super proud that I could make something as simple as pumpkin soup taste super rad. I have made a few changes to the recipe since Dad gave it to me all those years ago but I am pretty happy with the way it is now.

2 cups of pumpkin, cubed
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1/2 a small onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of thyme leaves
1 spring onion, finely sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon of natural yoghurt (optional)
1/2 a cup of cooked brown rice (optional)
Heat the oil in a medium sized pot and sauté the onion, garlic and ginger. Once the onion starts to become opaque add in the cinnamon, allspice and ground cumin seeds and continuously stir until a paste like consistency. Add the cubed pumpkin and stir until the pumpkin is coated in the spice mix. Pour in the stock and turn the heat down to a medium heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in the thyme leaves and continue to cook until the pumpkin has broken down and your soup is now a thickish consistency.

I don't know why but I really like to eat my pumpkin soup with some brown rice in the bottom of the bowl, this is totes optional but I find it adds a bit of body to it. I also LOVE to eat my soup with a dollop of yoghurt on top and top it off with the sliced spring onions to add some texture.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

herb crumbed lamb cutlets with creamy polenta & kale

This week I thought I would try out some ingredients that I haven't cooked with before and gee whiz I am rather happy that I did. So on Saturday morning I packed up my new housemates and took them for a little excursion to the local farmer markets at Eveleigh. Whilst strolling around and viewing all the amazing produce on offer I came across some kale which I have been on the hunt for but unable to obtain at the local supermarkets. I read many recipes for this "super food" but I want to experience it for its self so just fried it quickly with a bit of salt and pepper and it is awesome. If you can't get a hold of any kale I think that using silverbeet or the original kind of spinach (not baby spinach) would achieve a similiar result.

Polenta was next on my list of things I have been wanting to cook but haven't gotten around to so this week I just did it. And am happy I did it because it is tasty and beyond easy. It literally takes 5 minutes! Now after using it once I think that there are so many possibilities to utilise this corny treat.

This dish is super quick and super impressive. Would be great to cook if you have people over as you just multiple everything below by the number of people you are serving.

So, the moral of today's story is that you should always try and step out of your comfort zone and try new things because sometimes you might surprise yourself and be quite delighted by the end result and if things don't work out then at least you can say you tried. I say YAY to new stuff and things.

2 lamb cutlets
1/4 a cup of breadcrumbs
10 mint leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 egg
1 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of vegetable stock
1/4 cup of polenta
1 tablespoon of parmesan, finely grated
1/2 a teaspoon of butter
1/2 a bunch of kale

Remove the thyme leaves from the sprigs and finely chop them with the mint and lemon zest. Mix the herbs and zest with the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl lightly beat the egg. Take the cutlets and slightly flatten them out by bashing them with the palm of your hand or a meat mallet. Dip the cutlets in to the beaten egg first and then place in them in the crumbs and completely cover them with the crumb mixture. If you like you can do a second egg dip and crumb coating but I just did the one.
Heat a fry pan to a medium low heat. I sprayed the cutlets directly with spray oil rather than spraying the pan to try and keep my oil usage to a minimum. Once the pan is heated start cooking the cutlets. Make sure that you monitor them as they can burn easily. I cooked mine for about 3-4 minutes on each side as I don't like me lamb overcooked.

Whilst the lamb is cooking bring the water and stock to the boil in a small pot. Once the liquid is boiling, slowly pour in the polenta and continously stir. You need to continously stir to ensure that there are no lumps and your polenta is smooth. The polenta will absorb all of the water and become a thick gluggy consistency. Remove from the heat after 5 minutes and stir through the butter and parmesan.

By now the lamb should be cooked, remove the cutlets from the pan and set them aside for 5 minutes to rest.
Whilst the lamb is resting, heat the same fry pan up to a medium high heat, no need to clean the pan as the crumbs and juices will add to the flavour of the kale. With the kale, remove the ends of the stems and slice the leaves in to large shreds. Throw in to the fry pan with a spray of oil and a good crack of salt and pepper. Stir the leaves for about a minute and then add about 2 tablespoons of water to the pan to help soften the kale leaves. Once the leaves are softened you can serve up.

Give the polenta a good stir, you made need to pop it back on the the heat for about a minute to soften it up again. Spoon the polenta on to the bottom of your plate, place the kale on to the polenta followed by the lamb cutlets on top of the kale. Eat whilst hot as the polenta will become rather gloopy when cold.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

chicken noodle soup or as i like to call it: an edible hug

Apologies for the recent blogging hiatus but the last couple of weeks I have been overwhelmed with a disgusting, putrid, viral bug of some form so haven't had the energy to focus on much other than getting well. When you're single being sick really is the pits. This was honestly the first time that I really missed being in a relationship and having someone around to be able to do pharmacy trips and make me chicken noodle soup, which is the only thing I felt like eating during my days being bedridden but I just didn't have the energy to go shopping let alone cook.

But now that I am better I am able to make it for myself and feel happy about being single again. It also coincides perfectly with this shitty change of weather in Sydney. Brrrrrrrrr and Grrrrrrrrrr.

So when I originally went shopping for this I was on the hunt for Alphabet Noodles - what the heck happened to Alphabet Noodles??? Why would people stop making them? Nothing beats getting a bowl of soup and slopping it everywhere whilst trying to spell out your name on the table. It is a travesty I tells you! I think I will write a letter of complaint, gosh dang! So I got the next best thing - Dinosaur Noodles.

1 chicken Maryland
1/2 an onion
1 stick of celery
1/2 a large carrot
2 cups of salt reduced chicken stock
2 cups of water
4 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of parsley

Chicken from the Maryland for the stock
1/2 a large carrot, finely diced
1/2 a cob of corn, sliced from the cob
1 stick of celery, finely sliced
2 sprigs of parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of Dinosaur Noodles

Pre-warning: I recommend cooking the stock the night before you want to make the soup so that the night you actually cook the soup it doesn't take hours to create.

Take all of the stock ingredients and place them in a pot, cover and place on the lowest possible heat. I put my stock on for about 2 hours whilst I went grocery shopping and cooked dinner for the evening.

After 2 hours let the stock cool, transfer to a contain and place in the fridge overnight. By cooling in the fridge it will separate the fat from the stock. When you go to cook your soup remove the stock from the fridge and skim and discard the fat off the top of the stock using a teaspoon. The stock will now have solidified so will be like jelly, this is a sign of a good stock. Remove the Maryland from the jelly, place the jelly and stock veges in to a pot with 2 cups of water and place on a low heat for about 15 minutes so that the jelly completely dissolves.

Whilst the stock is on the heat, remove the skin from the Maryland and remove the meat from the bones, the meat may look discoloured but it should only be due to the cooking process and then being cooled overnight, if your chicken was fresh there won't be any issue. Tear the chicken meat in to small pieces for the soup. Once the stock is heated take a sieve and strain the stock in to a bowl, separating all of the vegetables and other ingredients which can now be thrown out.

Take your separated stock and place in the pot again and add the torn chicken pieces, carrot, corn, celery and 1/2 a cup of water. Put on a medium heat and cook for 20 minutes.

When the soup is cooking bring a pot of water to the boil and cook the Dinosaur Noodles. I like to cook my noodles separately so that it doesn't make the soup too starchy and I can ensure that the noodles aren't overcooked. Once the noodles are done strain them and add them to the soup and remove the soup from the heat. Add the chopped parsley and a good crack of salt and pepper.

Whilst the soup cools a little, pop a bit of toast in to the toaster and cut yourself up some cute little soldiers for dunking in the broth and you're ready to go.

I don't own any soup bowls at the moment so I just ate straight from the pot - why you ask - because it doesn't even matter when I am the only one eating it.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

a single's Sunday roast

Back in the day when I was a non-single, Sunday roasts were a fairly regular occurrence and the other day I realised that I don't think I have had a Sunday roast since starting my solo journey, so I thought "Gosh dang, on Sunday I will cook myself a Sunday roast". And what a perfect Sunday it was for a roast, it started to rain just as I started to cook and a dreary kind of day is the best kind of day for a comforting roast.

I now think that Sunday roasts will again be a regular occurrence in my life.

1 chicken Maryland, skin on

1 small potato, peeled
1 carrot (I used purple carrot cause I love it)

1/2 brown onion, cut in to wedges
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 a cup of peas
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
Olive oil
1 cup of salt reduced chicken stock
1 mushroom, diced
Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees. Cut your carrot in to quarters and lay on a small baking tray along with the wedged onion and a about 3 sprigs of thyme. Place your chicken Maryland on top of the carrot and onion, drizzle some oil over the top of the chicken, some leaves of thyme removed from the sprigs and a good crack of salt and pepper. Take the peeled potato, cut in half and then make lots of thin slices across the top but don't go all the way through as you want the half to stay intact, place on another tray lined with some baking paper and drizzle a little bit of oil over the top. Place both the chicken and the potato trays in the oven, have the chicken tray on a higher rack than the potato. Cook for around 30 minutes.

Once the chicken is done, put the peas on to cook. Turn the oven off and remove the chicken and potatoes plate them along with the carrots. Take a fry pan, put it on a high heat and place all of the chicken juices, onion, garlic, oil and thyme from the baking tray in to the pan. As this starts to cook add the diced mushroom. Cook this off for a couple of minutes and then tip in the cup of salt reduced stock. Bring this to the boil so that the gravy starts to reduce. When you use stock in an instance where it will be reduced I always recommend using salt reduced stock because as the stock reduces it becomes stronger in flavour and if you don't use the salt reduced kind than your sauce will be very salty. Whilst cooking the gravy mash up the garlic cloves if they are still whole and remove any twigs from the thyme. De leaf another 2 thyme sprigs and add the leaves just before the gravy is finished. Once you are happy with the consistency of the gravy remove it from the heat. Now drain your peas and plate them and then tip the gravy over the chicken and vegetables and serve.

Monday, 12 March 2012

chorizo & tomato stew with cous cous & poached egg

My favourite thing about this dish is the fact that it has cous cous in it - only because whenever I use cous cous I have an excuse to say "cous cous, so nice they named it twice". I have no idea where I heard this but it is one of my favourite food related sayings, it is right up there with "lentil as anything". Aahhh, small things amuse small minds but funny little sayings like this really make me happy.

This is one of those dishes where you can just use whatevs - if you don't have ground cumin then use curry powder - if you don't have cous cous then use rice. It is a great dish for those slap together meals when you don't feel like doing the supermarket mission.

1/2 chorizo, cut into small pieces
1/2 small brown onion, diced
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon of stock powder (any flavour)
1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon of paprika
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 a 400g can of tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
1/2 a cup of cold water

1/2 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of basil leaves, roughly shredded
1 tablespoon of natural unsweetened yoghurt
1 free range egg
1 tablespoon of vinegar
1/4 cup of cous cous
1/4 cup of boiling water

Start cooking the chorizo in a pot on a medium heat, if you are using a non-stick pot you won't need any oil but if it is a normal pot just use a tiny drizzle to stop the chorizo from sticking. Once the chorizo is starting to brown add the onion and garlic and continue stirring until the onion starts to turn opaque. Add the stock powder and spices, the mixture will become quite dry so keep stirring for about 30 seconds and then add 2 tablespoons of water to deglaze the pot. Now add the 1/2 can of tomatoes, cold water and the sugar, turn the heat down so that the mix is gently simmering and cook for about 15 minutes or until you reach the desired consistency for your stew.

Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the vinegar. Once boiling reduce so that the water is simmering. Crack the egg on to a small place, spin your the simmering water and slowly slide the egg into the water. Cook the egg for around 2 minutes or until it is cooked to your liking. Once cooked, remove from the water with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain.

In a bowl place the cous cous and the boiling water, cover with a lid, plastic wrap or plate and set aside for 5 minutes. Cous cous is so easy, all you have to remember is equal parts cous cous to equal parts boiling water.

Remove the stew from the heat and stir through half of the shredded basil and the tablespoon of yoghurt. Serve the stew straight on top of the cous cous that should now be ready, place the poached egg on top of the stew and sprinkle the remaining basil leaves over the top. Add a good crack of salt and pepper and you are done.