Monday, 27 June 2011

Quick and Dirty – Pasta Carbonara to the Rescue!

I’m driving home from my uni class.  It’s almost 8pm.  I’m hungry.  I’m tired.  What the heck am I going to cook for dinner? 
I walk in the front door.  My partner Mr D is laid out on the couch.  “Hi Sweetie!  How was your day?”.  (I’m glad you’re home.  What’s for dinner?). For all you indignant readers, Mr D has cooked the last two nights in a row and we have an understanding that it’s my turn to cook.  Damn, I knew I should have negotiated smarter!
I have no idea what’s in the fridge.  I open it with trepidation.  What’s this? A packet of prosciutto.  Yes, I’m saved!  The rest is easy – parmesan cheese, eggs, frozen peas, garlic, spaghetti. 
I take my booty and lay it out on the bench.  Right, let’s go! I put a large pan of water on the boil, chop the garlic, tear the prosciutto into little bits.  A pinch of salt into the boiling water, then in goes the spaghetti.  Next, I heat a large frypan and cook the garlic and prosciutto for a minute.  Then the peas go in for two minutes, until they are frost-free and warmed right through.  Then it’s off the heat.
It doesn’t take long to grate the parmesan cheese and put it in a cup with the eggs.  By the time I mix it all together, the pasta is cooked (about 10 minutes all up).  Next is the fast and furious bit, and it’s important to be quick.  I drain the water from the pasta and return it to the pan.  I tip the prosciutto mixture onto the pasta.  Then I speedily stir the egg and cheese mixture through the pasta to make sure the egg doesn’t set.  A quick grind of black pepper and it’s all done! 
Into two deep bowls, and voila!  Dinner is served – in about 20 minutes.
So that’s the quick bit.  The dirty bit is all the dishes (sigh!).
Dried spaghetti pasta – 200g (about one large handful)
Garlic – 3 cloves
Prosciutto – 100g vacuum sealed packet
Frozen peas – 1 cup
Parmesan cheese – ½ cup
Eggs – 2 large ones
Ground black pepper
Serves 2 hungry people.

What's your favourite quick meal?

Saturday, 25 June 2011

My Friend the Chocolate Cake

Almost everyone has a favourite chocolate cake recipe.  Mine is beautiful simplicity.  I found this recipe many years ago in Good Taste magazine (see the recipe).  This recipe is special to me.  It was one of the first cakes I managed to master. When I bake it, I remember when I first discovered my love of cooking. 

Cocoa is the flavour base instead of dark chocolate, delivering that deliciously melt-in-the mouth chocolately taste without the sickly richness.  Over the years, I've played around with the recipe and made it my own, which represents what cooking is all about to me. For example, canola oil works fabulously instead of butter, while a splash of Cointreau in the chocolate icing makes for a lush adult version.

What's your favourite chocolate cake recipe?

Monday, 20 June 2011

Pizza - To Bake or Buy? That is the Question!

Mmmm pizza!   That delicious melted cheese seems to get a life of its own as it stretches all the way from the slice of pie in your hand to the big greedy mouthful you've just bitten off.

One of the best kitchen investments I've bought is a $15 pizza stone.  It's amazing how it puffs up the pizza base to beautiful crispy perfection.   A great recipe for pizza dough is from MasterChef Australia series 2 (one of Gary and George's classic masterclass episodes) (see the recipe).

But why go to all the bother of kneading and proving and kneading again?  Especially when some of the best pizza in Canberra is just down the road. At Debacle, the Bombay Chicken pizza (complete with a papadam and raita) is the standout for me. However, for a really authentic Italian gourmet pizza, the ultra-hip Italian and Sons wins hands down in my view.

Do you like to bake or buy pizza?

What's your favourite Canberra pizza joint?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Cupcakes - What's Your Pleasure?

I love cupcakes!  I tried out this recipe for lemon yoghurt cupcakes, which is perfect for this time of year when fresh lemons are just coming into season (see the recipe).

Instead of the butter in the recipe, I substituted the same amount of canola oil to make the cupcakes a little bit healthier.  I forgot to separate the eggs, so the cupcakes were a little heavier than they were supposed to be, but still good. The natural yoghurt gave the little beauties a lovely tang.  Because the cupcakes weren't too sweet, a bit of simple lemon icing (literally lemon juice and icing sugar) really set them off.

Nigella Lawson is the undisputed queen of cupcakes in my mind.  I love watching her bring out her food processer to whip up a quick batch.  She makes it look so easy!  Visit Nigella's website  to check it out for yourself.

New York, of course, is the home of cupcakes. Check out how a clever chick made a motza baking 'bad ass' adult cupcakes in the Big Apple (read the article).

What's your favourite cupcake recipe?

Where do you think is the best place to buy cupcakes in Canberra?