Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saganaki sandwich

It's cheese and its fried - there really is nothing further to say.

This sandwich grew from a saganaki burger I had at 1000 £ Bend (Melbourne). I was a bit pissy at the time, but that burger changed saganaki for me. It came with bacon, beer and was handed to me by a total babe.

Crusty bread
Chunky dip - I use the spicy capsicum cashew one
Saganaki cheese -  I prefer kefalograviera, but any salty hard table cheese will do.
Bacon (optional)


  1. Prepare salad items, and if the cheese is thick cut it to be between half and one cm thick. If you are adding bacon, cook this first. Simply wipe bacon fat out of pan with paper town when done.
  2. Fry the cheese dry in a pan over medium heat, both sides, fliping once. Meanwhile assemble sandwich in order shown, but reserve avocado for top layer.
  3. Cheese is done when it is soft and has a darkened crusted covering.
  4. Add cheese to sandwich and top with the avocado.
Brilliant with a pale ale.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chocolate brownie cheesecakes

1/3* of the Chocolate brownie mix
Cream cheese base mix
Raspberries, fresh or frozen

* You don't need the full brownie mix for these cupcakes, but I just make the full mix and bake the left over mix plain.

  1. Preheat oven to 180 *C. Prepare brownie and cream cheese mixes as instructed.
  2. Fill half the cupcake tin with brownie mix, then gently top with the cream cheese mix. Depending on how soft your cheese mix is, you may have to put a few dollops on and join the up with a knife. Spreading a large dollop may stir up the underlying brownie mix.
  3. Crush and break up some raspberries, and spoon a small amount onto the cream cheese topping. Mix it around the cheese a little with a toothpick, then place raspberries on top. I cut the raspberries in half and use both halves cut side down - it makes it look like there are two!

  4. Bake for ~20 minutes. The brownie bottoms will cook faster than the cream cheese tops, but you want both to cook the right amount. I pick a cupcake to pick on (I'll eat one anyway), give it a regular stab after 20 minutes so you can take them out the instant the cream cheese is cooked enough. It should brown on the edges. Cool on a rack and store in the fridge, but serve at room temperature for the full creamy effect.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Chickpea and roast vegetable winter salad

I wanted to do something chickpea, in a salad, and after looking around and getting some ideas, I threw this together. I think the flavours work well. This tastes a little middle eastern - I find anything savoury becomes middle eastern when sultanas are added. The lemon and sultanas cut through the heaviness of the roast vegies a bit, but you still get a solid winter meal that you need in the cold. This recipe is perfect for left over roasted vegies, or with pre-preparation - the use a frozen portion of roast vegies. 

I have not put in exact quantities for many of the ingredients because I find you need to make adjustments depending on your vegies. Just use amounts you think appropriate based on smell (of spices) and number of serves.

1 tbl sp Olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced.
Spices (nutmeg, cumin and ground coriander, just a pinch or so of each)
Salt and ground pepper to taste
1 can chickpeas
Roast vegies (see link, I use roast potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, red onion and whole garlic)
Rocket (~1 packet)
Lemon juice (about a quarter to half a lemon)
Fresh parsley and coriander, roughly chopped.

  1. Put oil in a pan with the sliced garlic, and heat till frying gently - any browned garlic will go bitter, we don't want this. Put in spices and pepper. Surf around the pan until aromatic, then add the sultanas and chickpeas, and coat in the spicy oil.
  2. Add your roast vegies (straight from the oven, or if they are leftovers, heat them in the microwave a bit), and combine with chickpeas.
  3. Working quickly, remove pan from the heat and add your rocket, parsley, coriander and lemon juice, and toss till just combine. Don't let the greens spend too much time in the pan (I'm talking less than 10 sec), or they will go wilted and stringy, we don't want this either. Also, not too much lemon juice, just enough to be a dressing.
  4. Serve immediately.
  • If you don't need the whole can of chickpeas, use a slotted spoon to remove the amount you need, then transfer remaining chickpeas and brine to a plastic container to store in fridge for next time.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hot cross buns

I think hot cross buns should be eaten all autumn through winter - I have not yet had a hot cross bun free day since Easter. I have given these buns a spice boost, but only when toasted do you get the full effect. Toasting is obligatory, as is serving with real (not salt reduced!) butter.

This recipe is optimised for the Sunbeam Quantum SmartBake, and based on the recipe included with said machine.

Ingredients need to be placed into the bread tin in the order below for best results.
330 ml water
2 1/2 tblsp butter or marg
1 egg
2 tsp nutmeg
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp garam masala (trust me)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
520 g plain flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast
Saltanas (I find its best to knead the saltanas in at the end, just before you make them into buns. If added at the start, I feel the sultanas suck moisture from the dough, and the the dough doesn't rise as well, perhaps from the additional sugar?)

Mix together some extra water and flour with a tablespoon of icing sugar until you get a thick consistancy that will squeeze easily from your piping bag without running everywhere (I use a ziplock bag, fill it up and snip the tip off one corner. Start with a too smaller snip, you can always go bigger. If the mix is too elastic, add some more icing sugar to relax it a bit. Lumps will be stretched out when mix is at its thickest. Only add more water when lumps are gone.

You can glaze with whatever you want (apricot jam has been suggested too). I put some sugar and hot water in a small bowl till it disolves, then a good squeeze of golden syrup, and microwave until its brush-able - keep an eye on it as it turns molten quickly. This glass stays shiny and sticky.

  1. Place ingredients into bread pan in order, and run on setting 12 ('pizza dough'), or whatever setting your machine has that does not include baking.
  2. Sunbeam Settings: Knead (1) 3 min, Rise (1) 30 *C, 37 min, Knockdown , Knead (2) 20 min, Rise(2) 30 *C 50 min, Knockdown. You could do by hand- combine all the dry ingredients, then add water, butter, and egg, then mix. Start with spoon then use hands to knead on a floured surface. Knead till very elastic, >10 min each time. When rising (both times), use the size of the dough to determine when it has risen enough. It should double in size- depending on the temperature it is in, this could take over an hour. Keep moist by covering with a damp towel.
  3. When machine has finished, remove dough and knead a little by hand on a floured surface until springy and elastic. Add sultanas now by flattening out the dough, putti large handfuls in, then folding over and repeating. I put in heaps! Divide into even sized balls, and place snugly on a lined baking tray. I shape the dough long and thin-ish, then use a sharp knife to cut away measured portions. It you put your index and thumb around the diameter of the ball, and push gently from the bottom, is creates a smooth top by stretching the dough slightly. Pipe over crosses (or any other shape for that matter)
  4. Bake for about 30 min at 180 *C until golden. When they are close to completion, prepare the glaze.
  5. Remove buns from oven and brush with glaze whilst still hot. Give them a few min to cool and allow glaze to settle before eating.
  • I store them in the freezer, but have noticed they can be a little dry. Microwaving a little can fix this, but let me be clear - hot cross buns should be eaten toasted, with real natural butter - I can't stress this enough. Toasting brings out the spices, and nothing compares. Have with earl grey tea, no milk.
  • Consider your bun size whilst cutting portions - I can get 20 reasonably sized buns (shop equivalent), or 12 big ones. I divide the dough into two to help portion it out.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fudgy Flourless chocolate cake

Modified, The Age - Epicure, March 29, 2011.
Jenny Papazi’s winning chocolate cake recipe.

One look at the quantities and I knew I had to try this cake – what a brute! The cupcakes I made with surplus mix are shown below because, simply, I did not have time to photograph it before my workmates demanded a slice.

400 g unsalted butter
250 g caster sugar
8 eggs, separated – whites into a separate large bowl.
400 g 70 % cocoa chocolate
250 g almond meal

Nigella’s Chocolate frosting (optional, see point below)
85 ml water
10 g brown sugar
115 g unsalted butter
200 g dark chocolate (~40 %) 

  1. Set oven to 180 *C, and grease and line the base of a large cake tin. Start melting the chocolate now on a double boiler.
  2. Melt the butter in a large bowl (microwave is easiest), then whisk in sugar until combined. When chocolate is melted, remove from the double boiler and allow it to cool a bit.
  3. Lightly whisk egg yolks with a fork, add to the butter mix and combine, add melted chocolate, and then incorporate almond meal well.
  4. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, and lighten the chocolate mix with about a quarter of the egg whites. Gently fold remaining egg white in a third at a time – don’t over fold!
  5. Pour into tin and bake for about 50-60 min. Keep an eye on it – you might need to cover the cake with foil to prevent the top burning while it cooks through.
  6. Test the cake with a skewer – the middle should be very moist, but the skewer should have solid crumbs on withdrawal.
  • I must have used too small a tin, as I had about a quarter of the mix left over. I therefore used this for muffins – ~20 min at 180 *C worked well. Just like a very moist chocolate friand. 
  • Optional Frosting: I used one-third quantities of Nigella’s chocolate frosting recipe to frost the cake. Simply put water butter and sugar into a pan over low heat until bubbly, then add chocolate. Let it melt a bit, then whisk. Allow it to cool for about an hour in a cool place, whisking every so often, and it will thicken up enough to be spread and hold shape.

Monday, April 11, 2011

White chocolate scones

I remember people telling me how difficult scones are to make. I don't know what they're talking about. These are easy, based on a simple recipe by Bill Granger (seriously though, how hard could a scone be? (No pun intended)).

Ingredients (makes nine)
1.5 cup flour
1 tbl sp caster sugar
1 tbl sp baking powder
20 g melted butter
140 ml milk
100 g white chocolate

  1. Preheat oven to 200 *C
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a bowl and combine.
  3. Add melted butter and milk, then mix together until it becomes silly to continue with a spoon, then finish the job with your hands.
  4. It is important not to over mix, so when just combined, add the white chocolate and gently knead in - 3-4 kneads, no more.
  5. Turn out onto a floured board, flatten dough to 3 cm thick ensuring it is pretty even across the surface.
  6. Cut rounds from the dough and arrange on a tray on bake paper. I use a small circular cookie cutter to slice through any chocolate chunks you may encounter. Pool remaining dough and repeat.
  7. Brush the pre-scones with a little milk, and bake for around 10 minutes until golden brown on top.
  8. Transfer to a rack and dust lightly with plain flour; serve warm. They are great on their own (I had three in quick succession), but you could serve with berries and cream if you so wish.
ps. Omit chocolate for classic scones.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

An introduction

The Kitchen is where the heart actually is.

I was to call this cook blog: “Poor Diabetic Student” as that title covers the three primary influences (which share an intimate relationship) to my choice of meal. And though a different name appears, I will still show cheep food can be good and healthy (nb. I consider food that is healthy for the soul just as important as food that is healthy for the body, albeit sometimes mutually exclusive – it’s all about moderation).

While poorness can be confidently assumed with a student lifestyle, this lifestyle is also hectic, often full, and does not leave much time for the kitchen. For me, I seek refuge from study (life) in food and music. Ironically, the lab is much like the kitchen; same but different - there is much more success in the kitchen. The precious time I aside for food preparation is a break for the mind, and the food – a reward.

I understand this does not work for everybody. Food prep to many is, to paraphrase very good friend of mine1, intimidating and daunting – a means to an end. I do not share this view. Cooking is a developmental process – each step changes and directs a multi-potential beginning. One can get amongst all the elements, and appreciate the contribution of each. It can also be as much a preparation of oneself for the meal as it is the food. To perhaps take it too far (though not a unique notion), food preparation is somewhat akin to foreplay (pre-heating, if you will), and the meal a climax of your efforts, or anticlimax as the case may be. Indeed, I have at times had more satisfying meals.

But I digress. My point is: your feelings and attitude are absorbed by the food you are preparing, so it is in everyone’s interest that the experience is an enjoyable one. The worse thing is to sit down to a meal with a head that’s stressed and still in the kitchen.

Now, not just for the poor diabetic student, I have (am currently, actually) collated my kitchen ideals that:
·      Save me money and allowed me to mostly eat with quality and freshness, (though I must admit food remains what I spend the majority of my money on. Cheese, oh cheese).
·      Save time, get the most out of my time, and enjoy my time
·      If not already, make cooking an enjoyable experience rather than a chore.
1(1) Nigella Lawson