Mushroom, onion and mustard gravy

mushroom-gravy

A great gravy transforms the classic meat and three veg into a simple yet delicious meal. This little winner is especially scrumptious on top of a good medium rare steak with sweet potato mash  – the English mustard just gives the gravy a real pop! This recipe is as easy as pie (actually easier) and you’ll probably have all of the ingredients in your fridge.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • olive oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 tbl English mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • basil leaves, torn

Method

Fry the onion, garlic and mushrooms in olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the mushrooms are tender add the stock, mustard, salt and pepper and turn the heat down to low. Keep the gravy on low heat for about half an hour, stirring occasionally. Add the basil just before serving.

Happy cooking, love Jem x

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Oregano knotted rolls

bread

I’ll admit I am a little excited as my first time baking bread tasted pretty damn delicious! Bread in my opinion is one of the few baked foods that many people steer clear of – I mean why would an average home cook like myself master bread when I can just go down to the local bakery?  It was surprisingly simple to make, beautifully soft on the inside, very tasty and the perfect accompaniment to my hot winters soup. Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread wafting out of the oven! Besides who doesn’t love food that is acceptable to eat at any time of the day…

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 11g dried yeast
  • 1 tbl oregano
  • 3 tbl brown sugar
  • 3 pinches salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tbl olive oil

Makes 4 rolls

Method

Sift the flour and mix in with the other dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then stir in the water, milk and egg. Mix until a soft dough is formed and then rest in an oiled bowl with a tea towel covering for an hour.

Once the dough has rested break it evenly into eight balls. Roll out each ball of dough to form long sausage like shapes. Hold two dough pieces at the top and wrap one around the other, then join the ends to tie into a knot.

Place the dough on a baking tray in a preheated oven at 200 degrees, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked.

Happy baking, love Jem x

Homemade ricotta cheese

cheese 8 cheese 5 cheese 7 cheese 3

I absolutely adore cheese, let’s be honest though who doesn’t? I recently received an ‘Italian cheese kit’ and oh my gosh I was excited to venture into the art of cheese making. I started off with a fairly simple cheese – ricotta. Traditionally ricotta is made from the left over whey which is acidified and then “re-cooked”. Cheese is made of the milk solids, which form at the top of the pot – kind of gross, I know. Thankfully the process did not turn me off in the slightest! This ricotta cheese is perfect crumbled over salads, used in desserts such as a cheesecake, or used as filling for pasta. Being a carb kind of girl and a pasta lover I’m going to make some pappardelle and crumble this delicious cheese on top. Ricotta can be stored for up to a week in the fridge, but I’ll be honest it didn’t last that long in my household…

Ingredients

  • 2 L full fat milk
  • 1 tsp citric acid dissolved in ¼ cup of cool water
  • 1 tsp of salt

Method

Pour the milk into a large pot and add the salt. Heat the milk to 95 degrees whilst stirring constantly.

Once you have reached 95 degrees take the pot off the heat and stir in the citric acid solution – the ricotta should start to curdle immediately.

Leave the ricotta to cool for about 30 minutes. The cheese should start to firm up a bit. If it’s too soft leave to cool for another 30 minutes.

With a draining spoon, carefully layer the ricotta curds on top of each other in the ricotta basket or alternatively a colander with a container underneath.

Leave the basket to drain in the ricotta container until desired consistency is contained – it can be eaten either dry and crumbly, or moist and creamy. Enjoy!!

Happy cooking, love Jem x

Spicy sweet potato fries

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Sweet potato fries are amazing. Need I say more? They seriously are though! These spicy little fries of deliciousness are my new favourite snack for entertaining and even for dinner… The paprika just adds an extra zing and with the accompaniment of guacamole it is the perfect flavour combination. This meal is super simple and always a crowd pleaser – I mean who doesn’t love fries or avo?

Ingredients

Fries

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into strips
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados, halved and peeled
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime/lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Serves 4

Method

Preheat oven to 220 degrees fan forced.

Line a baking tray with baking paper then place the sweet potato – making sure not to overcrowd. Drizzle oil evenly over and sprinkle the paprika and salt on top.

Bake until sweet potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes.

Whilst the fries are cooking place the avocado in a medium bowl and use a fork to mash until almost smooth.

Add the onion, tomato, chilli and lime juice and use a spoon to mix well. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Serve sweet potato fries hot with a dollop of guacamole on top!

Happy cooking, love Jem x

Three cheese stuffed zucchini

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I absolutely adore zucchini – the vegetable is so versatile and most ways you cook it, it’s delicious! Stuffed vegetables are such a great way of mixing different food groups and great combinations together for a side, or even a main meal. Last night I made three cheese stuffed zucchini boats and they were a hit! I made my own passata and that just added a freshness of flavour that made the dish. These are the perfect entree for a dinner party as they’re easy to make and you can just whack them in the oven whilst entertaining. Eggplant and capsicum would also work perfectly as the ‘boat’.

Ingredients

Zucchini boats

  • zucchinis, halved
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs/stuffing mix
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 5 tbl fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sprinkle of parmesan cheese

Passata

  • 5 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 5 tbl fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Serves 8

Method

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add zucchini and cook until tender, about 15 minutes then drain. Once cooled down scoop out the flesh of the zucchini, making a ‘boat’.

In a medium bowl combine zucchini flesh, bread crumbs, cheeses, parsley and egg then salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Fill zucchini’s with mixture, then sprinkle parmesan on each boat. Place in the oven on a baking tray and cook for 30 minutes or until golden.

To make the passata cook the tomatoes in a small saucepan on low heat. Add the parsley and salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for about 30 minutes with the lid on, stirring every five minutes.

Serve zucchini boats hot with the passata drizzled on top and enjoy!

Healthy fact

Zucchini is one of the lowest calorie vegetables; it’s only 17 calories per 100g. It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol. Its peel is a good source of dietary fibre and offers protection against colon cancers.

Happy cooking, love Jem x

Sweet tomato chutney

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There’s no better accompaniment for steak, grilled cheese sandwiches or chicken then a sweet tomato chutney. These three simple dishes are transformed in terms of flavour when a dollop of chutney is added. I never use to be a chutney fan until I tried homemade and it changed my life (well my steak)… This recipe is very simple and absolutely delish! This sweet tomato chutney is a great little christmas present too, store it in a nice glass jar and even make your own label.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 heaped tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tsp red wine vinegar (alternatively white wine vinegar)
  • salt and pepper

Serves 4

Method

Put onion and tomatoes in a non-stick pan on low heat and stir. Add the vinegar, sugar, chilli and stir well to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer for 30–40 mins or until jammy looking.

Serve hot or cold on your favourite bbq’d meat or spread on a grilled cheese sandwich.

This chutney will keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

Happy cooking, love Jem x