inmyownkitchen

Chocolate Swiss Roll

Prep Time: 10 mins     Cook Time:  15 minutes   Yield: 8 serves

Ingredients

3 eggs

½ cup caster sugar

½ cup plain flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

1 tbsp boiling water

Chocolate cream

300ml thickened cream

1 tbsp icing mixture

1 ½ tbsp. cocoa powder

Method

  1. Grease and line large baking tray with baking paper
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until mixture is thick and pale and doubled in size
  3. Sift flour and cocoa powder over the egg mixture, pour the boiling water down the side of the bowl. Use a metal spoon or balloon whisk to gently fold until just combined
  4. Pour into prepared pan, gently smooth the surface
  5. Bake in oven at 180 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the surface is dry to the touch
  6. Sprinkle a large sheet of baking paper with caster sugar. Turn the hot sponge onto the sugared paper. Remove the baking paper
  7. Roll the sponge from the short end into a log and set aside to cool completely
  8. To make the chocolate cream whisk the cream, sugar and cocoa powder together until firm peaks form
  9. Unroll the sponge and spread cream over the entire surface leaving a 2cm border at the ends. Roll sponge off the paper and onto itself to enclose filling
  10. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving  

Zucchini Brownies

Ingredients

  •         2 cups zucchini, grated
  •         1/2 cup melted and cooled coconut oil (or canola oil)
  •         1/2 cup rice malt syrup
  •         2 large eggs, at room temperature
  •         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •         1 3/4 cup plain flour
  •         1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •         1/2 teaspoon salt
  •         1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  •         1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  •         1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/3 cups dark chocolate buttons

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees

2. Grease and line a slice pan (20cm x 15cm) with paper

3. Grate the zucchini and set aside

4. In a mixing bowl combine the coconut oil, eggs, syrup and vanilla.

5. Mix until well combined.

6. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Stir to combine.

7. Add dry mixture to the wet/zucchini mixture. Stir to combine. Add chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.

8. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean

9. Allow to cool in pan then cut into squares and enjoy

Mexican Style Slow Cooker Chicken and Beans

Mexican Style Slow Cooker Chicken and Beans

  • 1.6 kilogram whole chicken
  • 800 gram canned kidney beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 medium brown onion (150g), sliced thinly
  • 3 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium red capsicum (bell pepper) (200g), chopped coarsely
  • 1 medium green capsicum (bell pepper) (200g), chopped coarsely
  • 1 corn cob (250g), trimmed, kernels removed
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 400 gram canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh coriander

Method

  1. Rinse chicken under cold water; pat dry, inside and out, with paper towel.
  2. Trim excess fat from chicken.
  3. Combine beans, onion, garlic, capsicums, corn, paste, tomatoes, stock and spices in a 5-litre (20-cup) slow cooker.
  4. Place chicken in cooker, push down into bean mixture. Cook, covered, on low, about 8 hours.
  5. Remove chicken from cooker; when cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones. Shred chicken meat coarsely.
  6. Return meat to cooker; cook, covered, on low, for 20 minutes or until hot. Season to taste.
  7. Meanwhile, make avocado salsa: Combine ingredients in a small bowl; season to taste.
  8. Sprinkle chicken mixture with coriander; serve with avocado salsa and tortillas. Accompany with sour cream, if you like.
A bowl of shredded chicken cooked with beans and corn, topped with sour cream and coriander in a mexican sauce

Bar Snacks – Spiced Nuts

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp Coriander, ground
  • 2 tsp Rosemary
  • 1/4 cup Maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp All spice
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Cumin, ground
  • 2 1/2 cups Nuts, Mixed
  • 2 tbsp Butter

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180°C.
  • If nuts are not already roasted, place on lined baking tray and spray with oil – bake for 5 minutes until golden. If already roasted, skip this step
  • While the nuts are roasting in the oven, prepare the spice mixture by adding butter, syrup and spice mix together in a heat proof bowl and microwaving for 45 sec to 1 min
  • Once the nuts are toasted, remove from the oven and coat with warm spice mixture – mix well to ensure even coating
  • Return the nuts to the oven for approx 10 more minutes or until golden, stirring once after 5 minutes
  • Remove tray from oven and cool on baking tray
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week

Overnight Oats – Peanut Butter and Banana

Ingredients

  • ½ cup rolled old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup milk of choice (cows, soy, nut milks)
  • ¼ cup yoghurt of choice (dairy or non dairy)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Method

  • Place all ingredients into a large glass container and mix until combined.
  • Cover the glass container with a lid or plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Toppings can be added the night before or immediately before serving.
  • Uncover and enjoy from the glass container the next day. Thin with a little more milk or water, if desired.

Bar Snacks – Cheesy Zucchini Chips

Ingredients

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 teasp garlic powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated cheese blend – Parmesan and mozzarella

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper

Slice the zucchini into thin rounds

In a medium shallow dish, whisk together the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper

Process the breadcrumbs, cheeses and garlic powder lightly together

Dip each zucchini into the egg mix and then into the breadcrumb mix, pressing it on all sides of the zucchini

Arrange the zucchini on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer

Bake the zucchini chips for 20 to 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through, until they are golden brown and crispy.

Remove the zucchini chips from the oven and serve warm – tomato salsa would be a wonderful dip to accompany these!

Moroccan Filo Rolls with Fattoush Salad – Dinner sorted

Moroccan lamb filo 

Prep Time:  30 minutes    Cook Time:  40 minutes   

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 brown onion finely chopped

500g lamb mince

3 garlic cloves crushed

1 carrot grated

6 dates chopped

1 tbsp Moroccan spice mix

200g baby spinach leaves

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup plain yoghurt

1/8 cup bread crumbs

2 tbsp parsley chopped

2tbp mint chopped

1 box filo pastry

Method

  1. Heat oil in a frying pan over high heat
  2. Add onion to pan and cook until softened and golden, add garlic to pan and cook
  3. Add mince and brown
  4. Add spices and cook, add vegetables and cook until softened
  5. Stir through yoghurt, bread crumbs and herbs
  6. Place into a bowl and allow to cool
  7. Preheat oven to 180 degrees – line a baking tray with baking paper
  8. Place one sheet filo onto paper, brush with butter, Top with another sheet and repeat with five more sheets to create a stack
  9. Spoon mince mixture along the long side, roll up to enclose the mince mix
  10. Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds
  11. Repeat with remaining sheets and mince mix until finished
  12. Cut each roll into four. Back for 20-25 minutes until golden

Lebanese Fattoush Salad

Ingredients

Salad

1 large pita bread cut into triangles

3 tablespoon olive oil

 salt to taste

Freshly cracked pepper to taste

1 large head of cos lettuce chopped

1 large vine-ripe tomato diced

1 cucumber quartered and chopped

1/2 a large green capsicum diced

5 radishes diced

2 green onions chopped

1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

Dressing

3 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoon lemon juice

2 garlic cloves pressed or grated

1 teaspoon sumac – substitute grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses substitute balsamic glaze

1/2 teaspoon mint fresh or dried

1/2 teaspoon salt

Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions

In a large pan, heat 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on medium heat. Add the pita bread and season with salt and freshly cracker pepper

Fry the pita for 5-7 minutes until the pieces are crispy and golden in colour. (Alternatively, bake the pita bread at 200° for 5-10 minutes.) Set the fried bread aside.

In a large bowl, add the salad dressing ingredients: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sumac, pomegranate molasses, mint, salt and pepper. Whisk together until the dressing is emulsified and well blended.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss.

Add the fried pita bread to the salad immediately before serving and gently toss again.

Serve chilled or at room temperature

AMERICAN STYLE APPLE PIE

A classic recipe for dessert delicousness

INGREDIENTS

  • 400 g butter (cold, divided)
  • 520 g all-purpose flour (divided)
  • 1 egg yolk ½ tsp salt
  • 170 g sugar
  •  60 ml water
  • 8 apples
  •  ½ lemon
  •  ½ tsp cinnamon
  •  ¼ tsp nutmeg
  •  100 g brown sugar
  •  1 egg white

Utensils: stand mixer, plastic wrap, oven, rolling pin, pie dish, pie weights, parchment paper, cutting board, knife, large bowl, cooking spoon, pastry brush

METHOD:     

360 g butter – 500 g flour – 1 egg yolk – ½ tsp salt – 120 g sugar – 60 ml water

Cut butter into large pieces and add to a stand mixer with most of flour, egg yolk, salt, and sugar.

Beat for approx. 2 – 3 min. until crumbly. Then, slowly add water, reserving a small amount for the final step, and continue to beat for another 1 – 2 min. until dough is smooth and uniform in consistency.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator. Allow to set for approx. 1 h. 40 min.

 Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Cut dough into two even rounds. Then, flour work surface, place dough on top, and roll out, one at a time, using a rolling pin until rounds are larger than your pie dish.

Flour both sides of dough and transfer to pie dish. Press evenly into all edges of dish and then remove excess dough. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of dish and fill with pie weights.

Place in preheated oven at 180°C/350°F and blind bake for approx. 10 min.

Peel, core, and quarter apples. Then, cut crosswise into medallion-sized pieces.

 In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together apple, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, sugar, and brown sugar.

Transfer apple slices to pie dish and spread out evenly. Cut remainder of butter into pieces and place on top of apples. Cover pie with rest of dough. Make a small hole in the middle, so air can escape.

Mix together egg white and water and brush on top. Return to oven and bake at 180°C/350°F for approx. 50 – 55 min. until golden brown. Enjoy

Cooking with kids – knife safety

   

Seven Tips for Knife Safety with Kids

Cooking with kids is such a fun and memorable experience. Safety is one of the top priorities in any kitchen and using a knife safely is essential. Kids can learn kitchen confidence and become a willing helper in the kitchen with these safe tips to get them chopping, slicing and dicing with ease. Feel free to print my info graphic for easy reference when cooking with kids!

Tip One – Keep it sharp

I can’t stress enough how much safer a sharp knife is. I know it can seem counterintuitive but a sharp knife does the job properly – accidents can happen when blunt knives need too much pressure to slice or chop through your ingredients. Small hands already grapple with a knife, adding pressure to their chop can create an unstable technique.

Tip Two – The right knife does the right job

Knives come in all shapes and sizes and each knife has a specific job and adds to the ease in which a task is completed. A small knife is easy for small hands to handle in the initial stages of learning how to cut. That being said ensure the small knife is used for small tasks – topping and tailing beans, cutting up soft meats like chicken, slicing herbs and cutting smaller sized potatoes. When your kid/s becomes more confident and able to complete harder cutting techniques a cooks knife is recommended for chopping, slicing and dicing. These larger knives are made to complete specific tasks – the front for precision slicing and the heel or back for rocking chopping and cutting hard vegetables.

Tip Three – Practice with plastic

To get your kid/s used to  chopping use a plastic or lettuce knife and practice with soft foods such as bananas, grapes and hard boiled eggs. Even play-dough or salt dough can work a treat to create knife confidence.

Tip Four – Secure the board

On some surfaces a chopping board can slip and slide creating an unstable surface and accidents to follow. To secure your board just dampen a dishcloth or paper towel placing it underneath the chopping board then checking for any wobble. 

Tip Five – Get a grip

Securely gripping the knife can make a difference in technique confidence – try and mirror the following pictures to get a grip and become confident

Tip Six – Use the claw

Wayward fingers are like targets for a slipping knife. Tucking fingers away prevents dangerous slips cutting into fleshy fingers. The claw can feel uncomfortable at first but it is the best way to control the item you are cutting and keep fingers cut free. To get little hands used to the claw, teach them to cut smaller items they can grip easily. I halve large onions for them to practice on, cut down large carrots into more manageable pieces and halve potatoes. They still get to practice but in a more manageable manner.

Tip Seven – Keep it cool

Watching anyone learn to cut with a sharp knife be they kid or adult can be stressful. Accidents do happen and cuts are distressing but hovering anxiously adds to the pressure to get it right. I always keep a watchful eye on the chopping but with enough distance they feel they are in charge of their skill. Speaking calmly and reminding them to hold their knife properly and use the claw will keep them on track and cuts out of the picture. In the learning stages the technique is more important than the outcome. So some of the onion is a little chunky or the dices a little wonky. These outcomes are arbitrary when cooking at home. Even as an apprentice my cutting technique needed constant revision and honing. I was taught to cut on items that were either going into a soup or stock or being blended so the final outcome was reliant on my technique. As my confidence grew and technique refined I was able to complete more precision cuts. For now, just keep it cool and allow your kid/s to hone their technique one chop at a time.

 

The road to becoming a chef – part two

    

Becoming an apprentice chef – the list of working conditions doesn’t exactly read like a career you would want to pursue – hot, busy, high pressure, antisocial long hours, standing all day, minimal pay. You must be crazy to go ahead on this path. My Dad certainly thought so – for him education was currency, himself having not had the chance to be educated beyond primary school in rural Italy.

I couldn’t be convinced otherwise though. I had completed some work experience both through school and on school holidays and something about being a chef just felt right. So post school, 2002 I started to look for my first place of employment.

I had a few misses from job trials, my confidence waning as I heard nothing from yet another employer. I did start to question if this career path was perhaps the best choice for me. The tables turned though in my new approach of sending out resumes to city restaurants and just seeing what happened. They didn’t have jobs advertised but I figured it couldn’t hurt.

(work experience)

So began the job offer that shaped who I am as a chef. I still remember my interview – I wasn’t sure if this chef game was for me just yet and I spoke of possibly giving it a year and then looking into study again if it didn’t work out. Here I am over fifteen years later and yes I have done further study but not in the pathway I had envisaged.

The head chef offered me a trial – Monday to Friday 9-5. He was also going to pay me. This was certainly a different trial to the others I had been on. I didn’t realise he was hedging his bets and not signing me up straight away but also giving me the chance to see if I liked it as well. After the first week I was offered an apprenticeship at Il Centro Restaurant and Bar – an Italian restaurant that sat 120 guests and served fine dining Italian cuisine.

At the time my head chef was a formidable French man. Equal parts passionate, talented and intimidating he introduced me to life in professional kitchens. I don’t remember too much of my very early days, I dare say I was too scared to do anything but focus on what I was told!

Stepping into this world was like a baptism of fire. Professional kitchens are hot, busy, exhausting and exhilarating. You are constantly pushed to deliver right now. Time is measured in seconds and minutes not hours and days. You need that eye fillet? Two minutes chef. Risotto? Yours in thirty seconds.

At the beginning I couldn’t imagine getting the hang of any of it let alone being as confident as the older apprentices and chefs. I was lucky though in that my Head Chef saw something in me. He nurtured my interest and guided me to the shortcuts to success. I say shortcuts in that my notebook became my best friend. Garnishes for the plates? Write it down. How many portions I need? Write it down. Running out of an item? Write it down. So all of a sudden it began to make sense. I could do this. I don’t know if it was protocol but I asked him for feedback. How did service go? What did I do wrong? What mistakes did I make? How could I make it better? I don’t know if he knew what to think but he took it in his stride and helped develop my training and skills guiding me – sometimes via a stern word (yelling) and sometimes just with patience and care.

(TAFE days)

I’m not going to lie, there were moments when I cried. There were moments when I wondered what on earth I was doing becoming a chef. Learning how to cook cuts of meat that customers are paying $35+ for is intimidating. We had three different steaks, three different types of fish and usually 2-3 other meats cook on the menu and they all had to be delivered at the same time for the docket at the right amount of cooking. I never thought I would succeed. Sometimes my chef would swap around what I had put down on his board and ask me to tell him again what was what to test me. You had to be confident in your food. You had to not hesitate in what you were capable of.

My skills though started to flourish. I learnt how to back myself and trust my instincts. There we times though I stumbled and put up items I knew weren’t the best but I was in a hurry, time was ticking and the tables were waiting. Those were the times when I was inevitably pulled up in spectacular fashion. It was nothing to have your meal thrown in the bin told to start again. If I wouldn’t pay for it or wouldn’t be impressed with it why was I putting in front of a customer?

Harsh though these lessons were they taught me so much about myself and what I was capable of. If I could handle this level of pressure everything from here would surely be just another moment in my life. This is not to say it didn’t take its toll. It was hard work; many times I wondered what the hell I was doing. But being a chef is a funny roll of the dice – you almost hate that you love how much you thrive in this environment.

Learning how to transform raw ingredients into beautiful dishes was my passion realised. Service in a busy city restaurant pumps your adrenalin. The docket machines sound indicates another set of dishes is required despite the full docket rack in front of you. Waiters come and collect dishes almost as fast as you can present them. Working in a large team meant communicating in direct, short sharp instructions. Yes Chef is out of your mouth more often than any other sentence during the day.

In kitchens you start your career peeling the potatoes and vegetables, washing lettuces and oysters, portioning pastas and packing away sauces. After three to four years you’re cooking the prime cuts of meat and fish, you’re finishing the sauces, you’re guiding others with your knowledge. You have graduated from the simplest skills to cooking some of the most delicious meals you have ever tried.

(Proud to be a Chef Competition Sydney)

Then there are the culinary competitions. My head chef was a part of the competition scene and took great pride in entering us into these and testing our skills against other establishments. Days off and mornings or afternoons before out shifts became dedicated to perfecting our dishes. Imagine cooking two courses, four plates of each, in an allocated time, by yourself, with the public able to walk past and look and comment. It is intimidating enough being in the kitchen you work in let alone on a public stage. Time and again though I entered competitions and improved my results. I zoned out those looking at me and focused on the dishes I was making. It taught me how to stay calm despite the pressures and how to believe in what I was doing.

The culmination of these experiences was realised in two large competitions. One was a national competition for a chance at a spot in the international competition Bocuse D’Or. The other was a three course, 12 portion competition completed in a pair with a waiter to serve and a table set and decorated. Both had high stakes as the other entrants were from well-established restaurants. Both had different skills at stake. For Bocuse we had to make two dishes – one fish and one meat. The fish required three traditional garnishes for a mirror platter as with the meat. The fish and meats were my Sous Chefs part I was the garnishes. I was fortunate enough to learn how to work with sea urchin and abalone, to be able to cut delicate shapes and learn how to progressively set a jelly. Hours and hours of time went into perfecting these dishes. It was intense, creative and amazing. We didn’t make it past the national level but we certainly did our best.

(Bocuse D’or practice)

The second competition marked the end of my apprenticeship. Newly qualified and only 20 I entered this last competition with another newly qualified chef and we created a delicious three course meal. Our upper hand was that we thought we had three hours to complete the courses so had been training on this time frame. On the competition day we discovered it was actually four. We could breathe. We made sure not to become complacent in this new time frame and used it to execute the dishes with more finesse and attention to detail. Our efforts paid off as we took the trophy and the prize money. What better way to herald the end of my training as an apprentice and transition to qualified chef than to hold that trophy with pride.

(Jimmy Sawyer Trophy Competition)

When I started as a chef I knew how to cook at home. I used to make family meals and it was nothing to bake and create. Becoming an apprentice took me back to the basics and building blocks of cooking. For four years I tested my knowledge, honing the basic cuts to neat perfection, learning how to balance and season dishes, becoming addicted to seeing the glossy shine of a well made sauce. My hands started to produce all manner of dishes and items as if they always knew what to do. Soon it became second nature to cut, whisk, fry and grill. I had done my time. I was truly a chef no longer an apprentice.

Following my nearly four years at Il Centro it was time for a break. I wanted to see the world and relax for a little bit. I was nearly 21 and had spent the last few years working, working and more working. So I packed my backpack and embarked on a Contiki tour which evolved into side countries and a month in Italy with my Dad. In this time I could reflect of all I had achieved, embrace international cuisines and enjoy the fruits of my labour. Life as a chef was just beginning.