Saturday, February 26, 2011

Muesli Florentines

I awoke this morning to the sound of rain on my roof - my plans for going to the local Air Show melted like icecream on a hot day.   A basket of ironing sat in the corner begging for attention.   Meh!  Instead I decided to make a tempting treat to take to the hospital for my Mum who has totally lost her appetite.   After years of experience enticing small children to eat all kinds of healthy foods I'm back to that stage with an elderly parent.  Mum was always fond of Muesli for breakfast and I found a delicious and nutritious recipe on our favourite bircher muesli packet.    I deviated a little from the original in that I made individual florentines and kept them a little healthier by only using a small amount of chocolate on top rather than a whole layer.   Yes, you still get that little choc-a-holic 'high' but without the zillion kilojoules.

The bircher museli we eat is full of wholegrain oats with 40% mixed fruit, seeds and nuts (and only 5g of fat per 100g).  I'm sure there are similar products in your supermarket.  I love the mix of sultanas, dates, currants, apple, papaya, apricots and hazlenuts.   They add colour to the Florentines too.

Muesli Florentines

1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
3 tbs Golden Syrup
3 tbs Margarine
1 tsp Baking Powder
3 Cups Swiss Bircher Muesli
Cooking Chocolate

1.  Preheat oven to 160 degrees (fan forced oven).  Grease and line a baking tray.
2.  Place brown sugar, eggs, golden syrup and margarine into a mixing bowl and using a wooden spoon, mix all ingredients until combined.
3. Add baking powder and muesli and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
4. Place tablespoons of florentine mixture onto baking tray.   Shape into rounds and slightly flatten. 
Florentines can be as small or large as you prefer.
5.  Cook for 20-25 minutes - watch closely as ovens vary.  Cool
6.  Put choc pieces into a microwaveable bowl and microwave until melted. (Check every 30 seconds to see if chocolate is the right consistency).  
Florentines with just a hint of chocolate...mmmmmmm!
7.  Using a piping bag (I used a small syringe) pipe chocolate across Florentines.

With a name like 'Florentines' you'd expect them to have been invented in Florence however legend has it that they originated in Paris.  Wherever doesn't matter...these delicious treats are so easy to prepare and so delicious to devour - I guarantee they won't last long.

Keep smiling...

Annie xxx

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Recipe: Asian Chickpea Rice Salad - The Cookbook Challenge Week 3

It's been one of those tough weeks with my dear old Mum really ill in hospital.    Not a lot of time for browsing the cookbooks.   Food this week had to be stress-free, fast and healthy!

I'd picked up a promotional cookbook in the supermarket sometime last year called 'Food Heart Life' produced by the Unilever company.   It actually contains some delicious (and healthy) recipes.
I decided to try a rice salad with a difference for this fortnight's challenge:   Rice or Noodles.   I'm going to prepare it in the future.   A lovely combination of stir-fried onion, red capsicum, mushrooms and ginger added to rice, chickpeas and coriander.    A delicate sauce of lime, sweet chilli and mint stirred through gives it a beautiful Asian flavour.


1/2 cup white long grain rice
400g can chickpeas
40g (2 tablespoons) margarine (or oil)
1 large brown onion, sliced
1 large red capsicum, chopped
4 flat mushrooms, sliced at the last minute
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 cup chopped coriander

3 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup finely shredded mint

Lime wedges to serve
Cook rice according to packet.  Drain well.
Drain and rinse chickpeas.   Heat marg/oil in a non-stick wok over a high heat and stir-fry onion and capsicum for 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and stir-fry for a further 2 minutes.  Add ginger and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are cooked.  Remove from the heat and stir in the coriander.
To create dressing, combine sweet chilli sauce, lime juice and mint.
To serve, mix together the rice, chickpeas, vegetables and dressing before you serve, garnish with lime wedges.
PS.  You can make half the quantity of dressing if preferred, it still tastes great!

Hope you all had a beautiful Valentines Day.

Until next time,

Happy cooking!

Annie x

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Recipe: Orange Sweet Potato and Ditalini Patties


With temps soaring here in Australia, especially in the kitchen, Fast Food (Murdoch Books) - Quick and easy everyday ideas for cooks in a hurry seemed like a good source for a quick meal on a hot day.  This book is described as:

'Tailored to help the home cook find a little breathing space in a hectic day, each of the 175 recipes in Fast Food is designed to create a mouthwatering meal with minimum time in the kitchen, leaving you more time to spend on the important things in life. This chunky, comprehensive recipe book features a wealth of simple, clearly-explained and illustrated recipes from around the world.'
The recipe calls for Ditalini pasta - a small Italian tubular pasta cut so the diameter is roughly the same as the width.  I substituted a small macaroni I had in the pantry and it worked well although Ditalini would be more aesthetically pleasing. The pasta should be cooked 'al dente' or 'to the tooth' which means that it is not so hard that the pasta is raw inside, nor so soft that it lacks firmness when eaten.   I remember an Australian chef defining 'al dente' as "Just don't cook the crap out of it".   I think that just about covers it.

I served this to 3 vegetarians and 2 meat-eaters - everyone was satisfied and happy.   One I'll be doing again!
Orange Sweet Potato and Ditalini Patties 
2 orange sweet potatoes (about 800g)
1/2 cup ditalini (I used tiny macaroni)
30g toasted pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup (50g) grated parmesan
1/3 cup (35g dry breadcrumbs
plain flour, for dusting
olive oil, for shallow-frying
Prehead the oven to very hot 250 C (500 F).  Pierce the whole orange sweet potatoes several times with a fork, then place in a roasting tin and roast for 1 hour, or until soft.  Remove and allow to cool.  Meanwhle, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of rapidly boiling salted water until aldente.  Drain and rinse under running water.
Peel the sweet potato and mash the flesh with a potato masher or fork, then add the pine nuts, garlic, basil, Parmesan, breadcrumbs and the pasta and combine.  Season.
Shape the mixture into eight even patties (about 1.5cm thick) with floured hands, then lightly dust the patties with flour.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the patties in batches over medium heat for 2 minutes each side, or until golden and heated through.  Drain on crumpled paper towels, sprinkle with salt and serve immediately with a fresh green salad.
Serve 4
Note:  Roasting the pumpkin is the most time-consuming part of this recipe and you don't need to be in the kitchen the whole time they are cooking.  The rest is easy!

Until next time,

Annie x 

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