Familymass Day!

Familymass Day!

  

  Christmas (Familymas Day)

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Oh it’s such an important eating day, however it really does not need to be a 72 hour prep and cook – a – thon. Really it can be made much simpler.

Yes I love to cook and yes there has to be a little effort, but lets enjoy it more and sit back and have fun.

My hot tips for dealing with ‘Familymass day’/ Christmas lunch/ dinner gatherings…..

 

  1. Think seasonal food. I always choose the foods that are ‘in’ and abundant. They are cheaper, have so much more flavour … it simply makes more sense!

2. Plan recipes you can prepare earlier. Every recipe will have something you can do earlier!!

3.  List down the recipes and a good to do list. Plan your menu and see what you can start before hand:  Such as make the stuffing for the chicken, prepare the dressing for the salads,    Make the ice cream Bake the Pavlova shell Bake the shortbreads Roll the rum balls.

So much can be made and stored, covering well, refrigerating in tight fitting containers up to 5 days in advance, if not more (the trick in my house is to NOT let the teenagers know there isn’t home made ice cream in the freezer)!! It simply will not last until Chrissie day.

3. Write a schedule for your self and the family. Begin at least the weekend before.  Get all the family involved, they can all have a job! So many bits & pieces that can be done, which makes the big day so much easier.

  1. Set the table Chrissie days in advance and cover with clean sheets!! This saves so much time the night before.

5. Order in the festive drinks -  bubbly, your favourite whites or reds. Do this at least 3 days before. I placed my order with a local bottle shop – they are delivering to me, which means I also don’t need to fight with crowds, parking etc. The teenagers will be stacking the fridge and then making the place cards!!

  1. Use the BBQ!: The best thing I ever did was master cooking the pork and chicken etc in the hooded BBQ: The result is delicious, there is less mess in the kitchen (and heat too) and the food is ready to take straight to the table.  Or cooked and sat aside (in a cool spot) until required. But in hot weather remember the protein rule: keep refrigerated at all times.

 

Merry Chistmas to all my KitchenAid cooks, lovers and wonderful KA fanatics!

I hope Santa brings you a couple of extra ‘Attachments for your mixer’.

What’s my favourite recipes for this Christmas…..

Everything on the www.kitchenaid.com.au recipe site – take a peek

 

JO xxx

Getting ready

Getting ready

 

Jo Portraits 04

 

It’s here, time for summer festive eating, picnics, BBQ’s, foodie gift giving  and lots of entertaining with family and friends.

November for me  means ….. start planning menus….getting a little preparation planned and  filling up the freezer.

Great things to make and pop into the freezer are…. batches of shortcrust pastry, crispy pizza bases, buttery shortbread (then back frozen straight from the freezer), petite scones (bake straight from the freezer), coconut slices, choc chip cookies  (bake straight from the freezer) and varieties of spiced meatballs, (chicken, lamb and pork, etc),  home made sausage rolls, marinated chicken wings, spiced satay and koftas – goodness I could go on.    I’m also making some flavour  packed jam as berries are around in such beautiful abundance.  This jam is the perfect gift or topping for scones, shortbread or my crusty loaves.

 

d48ed900e79fa9547169c26138b4cd8d_L              184b7cb84d7b456c96a0bdfbbeaa5f14_L           Strawberry Shortcake Stacks

 

I’m also making some flavour packed jam as berries are around in such beautiful abundance.  This jam is the perfect gift or topping for scones, shortbread or my crusty loaves.

These bits and pieces ready to go make entertaining or a quick meal a breeze.  If you looking for recipe inspiration pop onto   www.kitchenaid.com.au  and I vouch for every single recipe.  I’ve triple tested them and created with success in  mind. – each and every recipe will delight.  You can also grab a copy of one of my cook books. These are available from all book stores – just ask for Mastering the Basics – The Kitchen Therapist and my latest …..For the Love Of Chicken.  (Both are New Holland Publications).  I’m proud of the recipes, the great info and beautiful photography.

Summer entertaining is simple, with the right appliance (of course), fresh ingredients and a little recipe or advice and some help from the freezer!  Oh I  should mention the importance of wrapping and sealing your food correctly and be sure to label it.

How to freeze, how to defrost and reheat, how to adjust the servings or what went wrong!! …Well  pop onto Ask Jo and ask!!

I’m always here to help.

JO  :)

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Hi All,

 

Ask Jo is here for you – just about  24/7!  Yes you can ask me 101 food questions and I’m here to help and advise.

As a home economist I always take the common sense approach, but with a little twist of personally added.

Mostly I hope your query is about ‘our’ favourite appliances and that’s KitchenAid of course.

The KitchenAid recipes are  all triple tested by me and guaranteed to delight.  However, I’m here to help you with all food related queries.

You’ll also find a great selection of posts about all my favourite topics  … so pop a topic into the search bar or see below and send me a query.

I’ll be back to you in a jiffy.

JO

 

 

 

Chicken Soup – the elixir of life!

Chicken Soup – the elixir of life!

MLCknJF_Jewish Ckn Soup_01We all love it. It’s the soup that fixes everything and comforts all. Such is the reputation of Chicken Soup it also is the title of a series of wonderful sharing short stories, about life – not food!!

I indeed have my method for my chicken soup. Loved so much it’s featured in my new book. (For the Love of Chicken from New Holland Publishing) Here is a sneak peak of the beautiful photography by Joe Filshie!

Many tell me it’s amazing and so delicious they want more. So to satisfy many a request here is my method for a glorious big pot of great chicken soup

Start with a huge fresh free range chicken, add a couple of additional carcasses and a handful of vegies such as carrot, onion and celery.

The beginning:
The chicken used from years gone by was a ‘boiler’. This was the term used for an older, tougher chicken that was only good for soup. Now a days you’ll have a little difficulty finding boilers unless you try a old fashioned poultry supplier. These boilers were not at all suitable for roasting or braising – they were far too stringy and dry. They did have a lot of flavour and yes, if simmered slowly, for a long time, developed a great broth. Today a nice free range chicken does a great job and gives you tender succulent meat that can be chopped into chunks or torn into strips to add to the soup.

The pot:
The larger the better! You need lots of water around the chicken for it to bubble away.

Vegies:
The flavoursome ones to enrich the broth are onions, carrots and celery. These form the first part of a great soup.
So start with a nice fresh chook, rinse it well and pop into a big pot with the extra carcasses (or necks or giblets). Add a couple of the vegies, roughly chopped, and cover with water. Bring this to the boil and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. All you need to do is skim off the white foamy stuff that collects on the top. Don’t leave it on as it adds a gritty texture to the broth. Do this skimming regularly with a nice fine sieve… skim it off and discard.

Cool the large pot of chicken and water for about 1 hour, then drain into a large colander over a large clean bowl or another pot – be sure to keep every last drop of the beautiful broth. I do have to confess I have tragically tipped the contents of a simmer pot into a colander without anything undernealth – eek! It’s a complete disaster. Discard the wings and giblets (if using). Remove the whole chicken using tongs or rubber gloves from the colander and gently remove the skin.

If the chicken is still hot, be sure to use rubber gloves. I then tear the chicken or cut into lovely tender pieces and set it aside.

Next, give the pot a rinse out and return the reserved ‘sacred’ broth to it. REFRIGERATE to allow the fat to rise to the top. There will be a good 2 cm of firm fat and this needs to be removed and discarded otherwise the soup will taste oily. Once the fat is removed return the soup to the heat and add the vegies. I mostly like to use carrot, celery, parsnip, green beans, fresh corn and herbs. I add the vegies to suit the amount of cooking time required as I do like the carrots tender yet the green beans bright green and a little crisp. I season and add a little lemon rind and fresh herbs to finish…. mmm its delicious and I feel better before I even finish the bowl.

For those of you who like a complete recipe here it is!

Chicken Soup – like grandma made

Equipment: Chopping board, cooks knife, veggie peeler, 2 large saucepans, measuring cups and spoons, wooden spoon, spatula, colander, slotted spoon, tongs, large mixing bowl

For the stock:
2 sticks celery
2 large carrots, peeled, ends trimmed
1 large onion, peeled
2 bay leaves
4 peppercorns
1 free range, size 16 (1.6 kg) chicken, well rinsed

For the soup:
2 tbsps olive oil
2 leeks, ends and green section trimmed, well washed and thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled
2 sticks celery
1 clove garlic, peeled, finely chopped
½ cup risoni (small rice shaped pasta) or long grain rice
100g green beans, topped and tailed, cut into 4 cm pieces
2 cobs corn, husks & silks removed, kernels trimmed from the cob
Finely grated rind & juice 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ small bunch parsley, stalks removed, leaves finely chopped

Place the celery, carrots, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns and chicken into the large saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Use a slotted spoon to skim off any scum that rises to the surface.

Using tongs, carefully remove the chicken from the stock (tipping out any stock from inside the cavity) and set aside to cool. Return the stock to the boil and simmer 30 minutes. Place a colander over a large bowl and drain the stock.
Discard the vegetables and keep the precious broth. If desired the broth can be placed into the fridge and cooled. The fat will rise to the surface and can be skimmed off.

Using gloves (if the chicken is still too warm to comfortably touch), remove the skin and discard. Slice the flesh (from the breast, legs, etc) and shred into long thin pieces. Set aside.

Heat the oil in the clean saucepan. Add the leeks, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook over a medium heat stirring occasionally for 8 minutes or until softened and glossy (do not burn this mixture).

Add the reserved chicken broth and bring to the boil. Add the risoni pasta or rice and cook 10 minutes, or until tender. Add the corn and beans and cook 5 minutes. Finally stir in the shredded chicken, lemon rind and juice and parsley. Season well with salt and pepper.

Blast away the winter blues with my favourite soup. Now if you’re not a chicken soup fan, I don’t understand this at all but here are some other delicious soups from the KitchenAid .

Blast away the winter blues with my favourite soup. Now if your not a chicken soup fan, I don’t understand this at all but here are some other delicious soups from the KitchenAid Australia & New Zealand recipe website. Simply click the gorgeous image and you will see the recipe on the website.

Don’t forget if you have any cooking questions feel free to ask on the Questions page and I will be happy to chat to you!

.potato_and_leek_soup thai_style_chicken_and_coconut_soup

old_fashioned_barley_veg_soup

 

Photography by Blackwood Studios.

My Red Velvet Cake…A Show Stopper!

My Red Velvet Cake…A Show Stopper!

When it comes to the origins of this cake there are a few different theories. I like to think that you can pick the one that feels right for you!

images-6Is it a ‘Southern bell’? Is it the famous red cake from New Yorks Waldorf Astoria? I personally think there was a brown cake which was soft and velvety in texture pre the Civil war and this found its way to the Astoria Hotel. The date of this famous cake being served in New York was 1959. Since this day it constantly pops up and is re invented into cup cakes, cake pops, brownies and whopee cakes.

A number of famous bakeries and diners throughout NY and many of the upstate cities declare they have the best red velvet cake – it’s definitely an important claim to fame. I was rather excited visiting the renowned Magnolia Bakery, it was a special little food moment that I was able to enjoy and tick off my never ending list of “must do’s”.

Am I a big fan of Red Velvet cake? Not overly if made with lashings of artificial colouring, so good old beetroot is my preferred way to achieve the famous red hue.

The colour can range from a pale brown to a dull red brown to a bright pinky red. The difference is from the acid reaction and the dreaded red food colouring. Buttermilk forms the base of the cake and this produces the soft texture. Vinegar and bicarb soda then react with the cocoa and you have an even softer texture. The ‘frosting’ can be a cream cheese or a butter cream or even a meringue style.

images-5So here is MY layered red velvet cake. Many of you have asked and asked, so I’m delighted to share. Made with all the classic ingredients then beetroot water and pureed beetroot. My favourite frosting is a maple butter cream and if you like then coat the whole thing in shredded coconut.

You can make my recipe as a standard 22 cm or double or even triple it, depending on the size of your standmixer. The new very glorious KitchenAid Pro Line standmixer will happily mix 4 kg or cake mix – so you can indeed make a biggie. Recently on TVSN I made a triple quantity and a single quantity – so it’s a cake you have vary easily for a small treat or a huge crowd pleaser.

The tips and important to do’s:

* Use unsalted butter, nice big free range eggs and butter milk is a must. For derprete times use milk and osur it with a tbsp of vinegar. All ingredients at room temperature – on chilly days warm them gently, even the butter milk. (adding cold ingredients will not help the mixture texture)

*cream the butter and sugar very well, then beat in the eggs one at a time.

* add the combined dry ingredients, butter milk, vinegar and red colouring (beetroot or artificial colouring) and mix until satin smooth.

While the cake is baking, cream up the frosting until light and fluffy. Slice the cooled cake into layers and spread with the frosting. Cover in coconut and your ready to serve.

The cake can be sliced and individually wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen… perfect lunch box treat.

The Recipe:

2 ¾ cups self raising flour
3 tbsp cocoa dark
1 tsp bicarb soda
185g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups castor sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
250ml butter milk and 1 tsp white vinegar
2 tbsp beetroot water and 2 tbsp beetroot puree OR 2-3 tbsp artificial red colouring
 

Frosting: (can also be doubled or tripled)
180g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups lump free pure icing sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
3 cups shredded coconut for coating (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC. (160oC fan forced). Grease and line the base of a 22 cm cake pan with baking paper.
  2. Attach the whisk onto the standmixer. Place the flour, cocoa and bicarb soda into the mixing bowl. Turn to speed 1 and whisk until combined. Set aside (note – I have a couple of mixing bowls, this makes easy work if you have more than 1) 

    combine the dry ingredients
  3. Attach the flex edge beater or the flat beater. Add the butter to the bowl. Beat on speed 2 for 20 seconds, Add the sugar and beat on speed 6 for 7 minutes or until wonderfully fluffy. (wipe down the sides of the bowl as required).
  4. Reduce to speed 4 and add the eggs beating in well one at a time.beat in the eggs one at a time until very light and fluffy
  5. Turn off mixer, add the buttermilk, beetroot water/puree or colouring and mix on speed 2 until combined.add in the beetroot puree
  6. Pour into the prepared pan and bake 40 minutes or until cooked. Allow to cool completely before cutting into layers. Spread each layer with frosting and ice as desired. Coat with coconut and serve.

For the frosting: Using the flex edge beater or flat beater. On speed 4, beat the butter until softened. Add the all the remaining ingredients and beat on speed 4 until light and fluffy

Here are some other classic American favourites from the KitchenAid Australia & New Zealand website. Just click on the one (or all) that takes your fancy to see the recipe on the website.

lite_chocolate_brownies coconut_whoopie_cakes  old_fashioned_chocolate_cake

If you have any recipe questions or queries I would love to help you! Just click onto the Recipe Q’s page and ask away, I am here to help you get the best results every time you step into the kitchen!

Happy Baking

JO

It’s All In The Creaming….secrets to beautiful baking!

It’s All In The Creaming….secrets to beautiful baking!

Creaming butter and sugar is the making of a good cake. So often I am asked about this vital step.  I have chatted before about this back to basics topic, but often when the cooler months roll in we bake more. Many questions have recently been asked about creaming on my Recipe Q’s section of this blog, so here is a little explanation to help demystify the secret to beautiful baking.

The creaming is combining air into the fat (normally butter). Remember, for best results, ALWAYS use a good unsalted butter. The sugar is added in one go or batches (depending on the recipe) and creamed into the butter. The result is a light and fluffy wonderful mixture which then eggs are beaten into.

cream the butter and caster sugar well

I have previously shared with you my “Family Favourite Chocolate Cake” on AskJo and it’s well worth a revisit once you get your creaming knowledge up to date! You can also try my Perfect Cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Icing!

Family Favourite Chocolate Cake perfect_cup_cakes_with_fluffy_vanilla_icing

The KitchenAid standmixer is naturally my very first choice for creaming butter and sugar. The planetary action with its thorough mixing whips the butter and sugar into a fluffy frenzy.   The beating pattern can actually be seen in the bowl, the butter will look a little like a flower as the pattern works its way through the bottom of the bowl.

There are a few tips I can share. The most important things to consider in short order are the temperature of your bowl, the temperature of your butter and using the correct attachment. Read on to explore these in a little more depth!

My Golden Tips:

Use the flat beater only. This is the “wooden spoon” for the mixer. During the creaming, be sure to occasionally wipe down the sides of the bowl with a silicon spatula. Whilst the flat beater is your go to there is also another little gem that can be used. The ‘flex edge beater’ is a wonderful culinary tool. As the attachment whips around the bowl, the silicon strip on the outside of the attachment then wipes the bowl.  I simply love this attachment. The Platinum standmixer comes with the flex edge beater as a standard attachment but never fear….you can also purchase one separately for 150/160 models. (from all KitchenAid retailers)

Make sure the butter is always at soft room temperature (not chilled) – this means you can lightly squash it between your fingers if you touch it. To achieve this you can either gently warm it in the microwave – using short bursts on defrost (30% power) or pop it into a bowl over hot water and allow to warm a little being careful not to melt it.  Melted butter will not beat up in the same manner.

In cold weather the stainless steel bowl can be quite cold (touch the outside of the bowl with your hands and you will feel this). Just before you begin the actually mixing, fill the bowl with hot water, or rinse in a sink of hot water then quickly and thoroughly dry. Stainless steel quickly returns to a cool temperature so work quickly.

Place the soft room temperature butter into the warmed bowl and beat (with the flat or flex edge beater) starting on speed 1 then moving up to speed 6 and beat for about 20 seconds before you start to add the sugar. Whipping up the butter just a little first lightens it and allows the butter to easily incorporate with the sugar. Add the sugar in two additions, a little then the remainder or follow any of my KitchenAid Australia & New Zealand recipes from the website. (Many pastry chefs believe adding the sugar in one go, causes the butter to choke and therefore you stop the mixture aerating)

Caster sugar (not A1 or “standard” sugar). A1 sugar is very course in texture and is very difficult to ‘cream’ or dissolve in the butter (or in egg whites or cream). Treasured family and “old” recipes may have sugar listed as an ingredient because in years gone by only one type of sugar was available. In the past 20 years ‘caster’ sugar was created and A1 sugar has become much ‘courser’ in texture’ than it used to be, making it now not suitable to use. Always use caster when creaming!

The mixing is initially begun on speed 1, and then quickly moved through the speeds to 4, and 6 during the mixing. It is best to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. The mixing time is generally around 3-5 minutes. This depends on the recipe. In some traditional recipes creaming could be up to 10! The mixture should be very pale and fluffy and the sugar well dissolved into the butter.

Quantity being mixed: A normal domestic standard is around 125g butter & ½ – ¾ cup sugar.  However, the mixer easily beats more than triple these quantities. Very small quantities can be creamed very successfully (75g butter to 1/4 cup caster sugar) as well.  You will usually have a recipe to follow and with baking it is important to weigh and measure correctly. Remember that any of the recipes on the KitchenAid Australia & New Zealand website have been triple tested by me so you can be guaranteed of the correct quantities and a lovely result if you follow them correctly.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat well between each. Remember to wipe the sides of the bowl down as needed. Reduce the speed to 1 if mixing in the flour, milk etc and beat very lightly and quickly once the flour has been added. Do not over mix or the air will be beaten out. Many remove the bowl and hand mix / fold in the flour. YES you can mix in the flour using the mixer but this must be mixed quickly – a few turns of the beater only.

So enjoy some Autumn and Winter baking and feel comfortable knowing that you have all the little secrets to creaming in the pocket of your pinnie (or apron!). If you ever need an extra little helping hand, remember you can always ask me on the Recipe Q’s page. I’m here to help!

To keep you inspired, here are a few more of my favourites from the triple tested recipes, that begin with ‘creaming’ on the KitchenAid Australia & New Zealand website. Just click on the image and you’ll be taken straight to the recipe!

blueberry_sponge whole_poached_pear_cake KitchenAid Chocolate On Chocolate Cupcakes

 

Finally, on Sunday 1st June I will popping down to the Mornington Peninsula, in Victoria, to do a live demonstration at the Taste of Sorrento event. I would love to see some of you down there at the Marquee.

In the meantime, happy creaming!

Jo.

Autumn….in all it’s wonderful foodie glory!

Autumn….in all it’s wonderful foodie glory!

Oh I love Autumn – not only the look of it (vibrant orange and red leaves), but the chill it starts to bring. This wonderful chill in turn brings us to food and recipes that have a little more oomph.  We start to want richer, fuller  flavours and textures…..A few more slow simmers, more roasts, your favourite cakes, biscuits, breads and we start thinking homemade pasta, maybe risotto – oh my list is endless.

Summer spoils us with vibrant fruits and 101 salads, BBQs and tropical feasts, but for me it’s the richness of the autumn produce that makes me linger in the kitchen. It is definitely the time I start to turn on my oven more… I look for an excuse to whip up a cake or pie!

April in particular is often known as pork month. The pork is particularly beautiful at this time of year and yes, the crackle seems perfect.  Buy Australian Pork and don’t be afraid to chat to your butcher or meat supplier about where it comes from and whether it is farmed “free range” etc. You should always buy female pork because it’s  super sweet,  juicy and tender.

Here are a few of my favourite pork recipes from the KitchenAid website to whet your appetite.

roasted lemon pork  http://www.petermcinnes.com.au/recipes_details.php?recipeID=65 35b3ab2a19f46ac3056fff8ccff085c4_L

But it’s the new seasonal produce appearing I wanted to chat about in more detail. A little wander around my favourite market last weekend was a Autumn wonderland and here’s what I found that really got me smiling from ear to ear.

Vegies:

  • Australian garlic
  • Peas
  • Beans (long green)
  • Amazing onions
  • Parsnips
  • Pumpkin
  • Turnips
  • Sweet potato
  • Eggplant
  • Corn
  • Leeks (baby ones too)
  • Ginger
  • Cauliflower (just beginning)
  • Barlotti beans
  • Okra
  • Witlof

Fruits:

  • Mandarins (just beginning)
  • Figs (in abundance)
  • Limes (at there best)
  • Oranges (Valencia)
  • Avocados
  • Berries (loads)
  • Honeydew melon
  • Passionfruit
  • Pears (Josephine)
  • Plumbs (just coming)

Root Veg

Buying Seasonal:

The best thing about seasonal produce is the flavour and the crisp texture. If you eat seasonally it’s so very exciting when the her fruits and veggies are here and abundant. The price helps too. When food is seasonal, often the price is cheaper because they are in larger supply. Many fruits and vegies are available all year round – in some ways this might suit many – but I’m a bit of a stickler and love to stick to my seasons!

Storage:

Once home a little bit of extra care can make all the difference. The extra 30 minutes and your week’s worth of produce will be ‘as fresh as a daisy’.  Throwing the whole lot straight into the fridge willy nilly is not the way. Within a day your beautiful produce is limp and ordinary.   How nice it is to open the bag of beans and they ‘snap’ with freshness, 5 days after you have brought them. The secret lies in the ‘covering’.

Each and every vegetable and fruit needs a little cover. You can do this with snap lock bags or purpose made special containers. There are a few on the market. The container do keep your fridge looking orderly!

The point is to seal out the cold air. You may have a fabulous refrigerator with a special veggie keeper, but it still doesn’t allow you to keep all separate.

The carrots don’t want to be with the beans, the corn doesn’t want to be with the cauliflower and on it goes.

Once home:

Wash and dry well.  Don’t leave moisture on the veggies, unless we are talking herbs (that section is below, so keep reading).

Then package (as you like with sealed bags or special ‘fancy’ containers!. I often wash and dry and then break into the florets – so for my cauliflower and broccoli – you’ll find a sealed bag of each – ready to go. I myself find this easier than cutting when I need the vegetable.

Herbs2home-11

Herbs:

This goes way back to my formal Home Economics training. It was trouble if the herbs died!   You can keep herbs for several days – you really can. The steps are easy.

Wash and dry well (remove all the gritty bits)

Wrap in damp paper towel or a clean damp cloth.

Pop into a snap lock bag or a sealed container. Keep them separate….  The chives don’t want to be with the parsley! Nor does the coriander wish to be with the sage. Keep everything separate.

The only herbs that are not so keen on the fridge in anyway is basil –  ‘hot house’ grown basil is around through the cooler months, but for me I move onto other herbs… basil in my house means summer!

Presto, that’s it. Keep all the herbs damp and seal out the cold air. You won’t believe how fresh and amazing your herbs keep this way.

Enjoy Autumn and start simmering, braising, roasting and baking – Oh yipee!

Explore and enjoy all that autumn has to offer with some of my gorgeous recipes from the KitchenAid Australia website.  Some beautiful ideas are:

traditional_deep_dish_apple_pie whole_poached_pear_cake roasted_pumpkin_ricotta_ravioli potato_and_leek_flan creamy_barley_leek_and_bacon_risotto

Remember that if you have any questions about cooking drop me a line through the “Recipe Q’s” page and I will be more than happy to help.

Happy Autumn cooking,

Jo.

The Big Red Fruit of Summer!

The Big Red Fruit of Summer!
The Big Red Fruit of Summer!

Summer brings us the joys of divine tropical fruits, the sweetest melons, juicy stone fruits, sensational fresh herbs and of course, THE BEST TOMATOES OF THE YEAR!

Ripe red, glorious green, deep ruby and the brightest of yellows – from tiny weeny cherry, petit yellow tear drops, little ones on a vine, big ones on the vine, cute baby Roma, shiny full size Roma (egg), glorious Russian and South Australian beauties – they are everywhere!

images-6For a lot of the year tomatoes can tend to be disappointing, but not in the middle of summer –  they are plump, fragrant, sweet and simply delicious. You’ll actually think they taste ‘like they used to’…..

The tomato, which is actually a fruit (as it has seeds), has quite a history ……. dating back to 500 BC.

A member of the nightshade family, the tomato can be eaten raw, semi dried and cooked. Fresh sliced tomato with good salt and freshly ground black pepper on sour dough bread is the simplest joy however there are so many way to enjoy them.

Some flavour matches:

Garlic, basil, oregano, chives, onions, full flavoured cheese (cows, goats and sheep), potatoes, cauliflower, beef, lamb, chicken, fish, all crustaceans,  pork, chicken, tofu , just about all veggies but especially eggplant, zucchini, onions, beans, all lentils and legumes… oh goodness it’s quite endless.

The thing about the tomato is that it is acidic, but it ripens to a wonderful sweetness.

From tomato juice to fresh tomato and tomato puree or paste to semi sundried the tomato is possibly the most versatile vegetable (oops sorry fruit!). With that being said one of the most useful way to get the very most of the bold ripe reds around at this time of year is to puree and bottle for when the season and abundance has passed.

Making your own puree, sauce or sumo is brilliant. You are best to remove the skin and seeds. This can be done by hand or with a wonderful attachment that sits onto your KitchenAid Standmixer. It magically does all the hard work for you, removing the skin, seeds, core and even the caylex from the roasted or very ripe (the fruit must be very soft) tomatoes.

Here is a great recipe for Roasted Italian Tomato Sauce using the KitchenAid stand mixer strainer attachment.

245effadf41c6129f4fe7accc564ef86_L

Or otherwise you can do it by hand – here are the steps to peel a tomato.

  • Take a ripe tomato, remove the stem / caylex. Cut a small cross in the bottom of the fruit and place in a saucepan (or bowl) of boiling water.  Wait 3-5 minutes….
  • The cut cross edges will start to lift.  Remove each tomato using tongs or a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice cold water.
  • Wait about 3 minutes (you’ll see the edges of the cross start to lift). Lift out the tomato and peel off the skin. Cut the tomato in half, using a soup or tea spoon scoop out the seeds and membrane.
  • Wipe any moisture with paper towel.

What to do with the fresh peeled tomato: Use in pasta, braises, soups, salads, chutneys  or puree for your own sauces.

Sterilising: If you want to bottle your own sauces, chutneys etc, you absolutely must sterilise the jars and bottles to prevent bacteria forming in the food.

Steps (to sterilise jars, lids and or bottles).

Begin with nice clean jars – not a skerrick of food.

The dishwasher technique:

  • Take your favourite jar. Recycled from the vegemite or the fancy beautiful ‘bottling’ jars.
  • Line the jars up (upside down), so the water washes up and runs out…. Pop the lids up on the shelf. (no plastic ones here , all metal), Choose the hottest cycle the dishwasher has.
  • Towards the end of the drying cycle, have the tomato sauce, puree or chutney nice and warm, simmering away.
  • Once the dish washer has finished, pop on your rubber gloves (as the jars/bottles will be boiling hot). Remove and place on a clean tea towel
  • Take a nice big funnel, (again spotlessly clean), or a ladle and pour, the hot sauce into the clean jar/ bottles.
  • Allow to cool a little then pop the lid on or screw top

 The Oven Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 110oc.   Set a large baking dish on the bench, line it with a clean tea towel.
  • Wash your jars / bottles (proper bottling ones or the recycled) in hot soapy water and rinse well.
  • Place the jars into a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Using tongs and a pair of rubber gloves, remove each jar from the water and place into the baking dish, upside down.
  • Heat in the oven for 15 minutes.

My delicious Tomato Chilli Chutney:

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1 tbsp oil

2 tsp mustard seeds (brown or yellow)

2 large onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1-3 red chillies, chopped (remove the seeds for a milder flavour)

1.2 kg rip red tomatoes, chopped

2 cups (500mls) malt vinegar or red wine vinegar

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup caster sugar

½ cup brown sugar

Method:  Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan. Cook the mustard seeds until they pop. Add the onions and chilli and cook until softened and glossy. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered for 1 ½ hours. Stirring occasionally. (don’t let the chutney burn on the bottom). Bottle while still hot into sterilised jars.

And just to finish off here are a few simple and delicious tomato recipes. Mmmmmmmm….enjoy the ‘fruit of summer’!

Click the image to view the recipe on the KitchenAid Australia & New Zealand website.


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And of course, remember you can always ask me any questions via the Recipes Questions - AskJo page about anything cooking. I love to help you!

Happy cooking,

Jo.

Red Hot BBQ Mama

Red Hot BBQ Mama

Summer is here and so it’s BBQ time!

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A BBQ is a household item… not a luxury, not a kitchen gadget but the best outside ‘oven’ you could wish for.  I simply couldn’t do without one and the hot tip… yes if at all possible you need a lid!

The BBQ will char grill, roast and even bake. From succulent steaks, seared salmon fillets, whole roasted fish and crispy crackle covered legs of pork to char grilled corn cobs, potatoes in their jackets andgolden bottomed crusty pizza – the BBQ is my summer saviour. And best of all there’s no heat in my kitchen, keeping my house (and myself!) much cooler.  You’ll find me most nights, racing out my back door onto the deck with a plate of marinated something… heading straight for the pre heated BBQ.

The basics of cooking this way, I think, are learnt at a are very young age. Aussies love a sausage, chop and a bit of steak… but the recipes and foods you can cook on the BBQ are almost endless – it’s not just about meat. Better still what we serve on the side of a BBQ meal is fresh and healthy – glorious fresh salads and or veggies.  

Here are MY 10 best tips and tricks for BBQ success.

  • Like everything else in life… if it’s cheap it tastes cheap or looks cheap – you get what you pay for! Steak is not magically better just because it’s been cooked on the BBQ – please buy good quality meat, chicken and fish or yes it can be awful!
  • Remove from the fridge…. allow your chosen bbq protein (meat, chicken or fish) to sit out of the fridge for a little while (this just takes the chill off). Yep it will absolutely make a difference! Cooking protein foods when they’re chilled to the bone usually causes shrinkage and can also mean it will not cook evenly.  Now, in the middle of summer I’m not saying leave the meat out for hours on the bench… but remove it from the fridge and pop it onto a clean plate or clean board. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes just to get rid of the fridge chill.  This really will make all the difference to the end result, giving better flavour and texture.
  • Seasoning: Yes absolutely – a little smear of olive oil, coconut oil or your preferred veggie oil is a must. Season away with sea salt flakes, freshly ground black pepper and yes if you love a spice (and I do!) – add it! The simplest of chicken fillets becomes something else when oiled, seasoned and spiced!
  • Equipment at the ready: Yes you need tongs, a decent metal flipping tool and a pastry brush for brushing on extra marinades etc. Have a clean plate (for the cooked food to be placed onto), a sheet of foil or a cover and you’re ready. I love my barbie as it has ‘wings’, small tables on the side that fold out… it’s brilliant as that’s where all the stuff goes. No wings – easy fix, pull over a little table or something to pop it all onto. Having it right beside me makes the difference for me. It pays to be organised! You don’t want to be flapping around trying to sort it all out once the food is on the bbq….time is of the essence here.

Cooking skills:

  • Oil the plate? generally speaking for me it’s a NO! I do, however, like to oil the food. It can be sirloin, chicken pieces, salmon steaks, homemade burgers etc, but I smear them with the oil. I don’t smear the grill or hotplate. Oiling the plate or gill can cause flare ups. 
  • Turning: Yes you do need to do this!  But the main rule is to limit the dreaded poking – stop jabbing and turning those sausages, sirloins or pork chops over and over and you’ll be amazed how succulent the result is.
  • Cooking time:  There are rules of thumb that apply. Most roasts (for all meats and chicken) work well with the 25 minutes per 500g rule.  A meat thermometer is also an excellent way to know if ‘its’ cooked! You can buy these inexpensively at homeware stores. Pop the point of the thermometer into the centre of the thickest part of the meat without touching any bones for an accurate reading. You can find a chart that will give you internal meat temperatures for cooking easily, using an internet search engine like good ole Google!
  • The lid:  I always like to lower the lid and trap the heat, letting the BBQ cook this way gives you succulence in every mouthful.  So, it’s preheat (with lid down), open to add the food and again lower the lid…..then cook away to your liking!
  • Standing Time: All protein foods need some ‘standing’ or ‘resting’ time.  Always allow for this. This is normally speaking about 5 – 7 minutes for a piece of steak , 20 minutes for a roast of any kind. Don’t panic about the food going cold… you can cover it with a sheet or foil. The internal temperature stays warm for quite a while.
  • The clean up:  Now this is the secret. While your food is standing. Turn the BBQ off – grab some paper towel or a strong scrubbing tool (sold at the shops you brought your barbie from) and give it a good wipe. It’s amazing how quickly the hot plate cleans up when still hot.
  • The manual: all BBQ’s will have one and often this is teamed with a selection of great hints and tips. I always recommend you have a read of all the instructions you are given.  Then of course, if you get stuck, you can pop onto Ask Jo and simply ask!! As you know I’m here to help!

For more of my bqq hints and recipes you can check out my first cookbook, “The Kitchen Therapist”. You’ll find recipes for The Pefect Steak, Sensational Sausages, Spice Crusted Chicken and Barbecue Salmon Steaks along with information about how to avoid common pitfalls to get ensure you get it just right. It is currently available via the TVSN website.

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Of course, once you have cooked your meat, chicken or fish to perfection on your bbq you will also need something on the side and afterwards.  Here are some of my favourites, created especially by me for KitchenAid Australia and New Zealand, that might inspire you! As far as dessert goes….it’s nothing but pavlova for me! Try these to get you started and you’ll be a red hot bbq’er before you know it! Just click the image and you’ll be whisked over to the fabulous KitchenAid Australia and New Zealand website to see the full recipe.

Apple & Radish Salad  potato_and_egg_salad  Garlic Onion Flat Bread

 Summer Coleslaw KitchenAid Vanilla Snow Pavlova

Happy BBQ’ing and enjoy your summer cooking!

Jo.

Recipes You Can Trust (for the festive season & beyond!)

Recipes You Can Trust (for the festive season & beyond!)

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December is here which means divine food craziness. It’s like no other month really!  We all have weeks and weeks of crazy festive fun.  Gatherings of all kinds….breakfasts, lunches, dinners, picnics, BBQ’s or maybe it’s ‘simply’ (HA!) Christmas Day is at ‘yours’ this year.  Perhaps you’ve decided you’d like to make some home made gifts as a special touch to thank the kids’ favourite teacher, your hairdresser, neighbour or work colleagues. In all of these instances there are two questions that usually spring to mind. First – What will I make? And second – Where do I find a good recipe? Well here are some ideas to help you decide what to make and, rest assured, my recipes are always good and certainly ones that you can trust.

Can I make that?  Technically if you can read a recipe, have the required culinary tools, have an oven or a refrigerator (depending on what the recipes says you need) …. then yes, you can do it!  But, how do you know if you can trust a recipe? Hmmmm …… the first question to ponder is “what is the recipe source?” Is it real? Whose is it? There are millions of recipes on the internet, cookbooks absolutely everywhere we look and magazines on tap. But does that mean the recipe works?  Sadly NO, not always.

Choosing the source. The best bet is a legitimate, respected cook book, a great magazine, an official recipe website (like KitchenAid Australia & NZ of course!) or family favourite recipe you have made before.

There is nothing worse than lovingly attempting some shortbreads, truffles, rum balls or homemade jam for the perfect ‘thank you’ or gift, and the result is something that looks (and tastes!) nothing like you thought it would! You may end up with a mess of crumbs that simply will not come together, a dense and heavy truffle or a dry as a bone shortbread (I thought the recipe said buttery crumb??). How disappointing, heartbreaking and simply annoying.

The Christmas Day Family Feast: There is planning, preparation, shopping and actual hands on cooking. So much effort is involved. You prepared your recipe and yes, you did what it said, following the steps to the letter, but the mousse won’t set, the glaze has fallen off or the vegetables are dry and hard. The sauce is too thin or tastes floury, the stuffing is bland, the pudding is heavy and stodgy, the ice cream is icy and the shortbreads are just not buttery. The list of possible disasters goes on and it leaves you with such a sense of disappointment.

The golden rule here is …..  triple testing and a run through beforehand.  Being an ‘old fashioned’ Home Economist – each and every recipe I produce and supply is always tested at least three times.  That stamp is proudly part of the deal.  Any issue is ironed out and simply will not be there to trip you up. So when you use my recipes you know that I have checked, rechecked and then checked some more! Therefore the triple testing has been done for you!

So why not try some of these favourites? Rem balls, Salty Choc Chilli Meringues, Mince Tarts, Lemon Curd or Shortbread. Just click the image and you’ll be whisked off to the recipe in flash!

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While we are at it, here are a few more golden rules to help you succeed each and every time!

  •  Read the recipe at least twice before you begin (and by begin I mean before you start anything – even the shopping).  It is so important to understand what you are making and how it is going to come together.
  • Adapting: Often yes you can, but if it’s a baked food, or a balance of textures, a recipe with liquid, flour or sugar – be careful.  Too much sugar in the sorbet will affect the setting, too little sugar or too little fat in the ice cream will make it icy, or using a smaller chicken for the roast than the recipe states may mean the cooking time needs to be reduced or it will be dry! It’s usually best to stick to the recipe to avoid the many possible pitfalls but if you do want to adapt I’m here to help! Just Ask Jo!
  •  Measuring:  Take so much care here. An additional 2 tbsp flour will dry out those shortbread, an extra splash of cream will change the consistency of the mousse, the wrong sugar and the toffee will not set, too much or too little butter and the shortbread are a disaster. As a rule measure ALL your ingredients before you start mixing, sifting or stirring!
  • Trial:  If you can, ‘trial’ a recipe before the event. Is this always possible? Sometimes NO… but if it’s a special occasion, oh I would.  35 to Christmas lunch and I’ve never made pate before has potential problem written all over it! I would definitely make it beforehand – maybe halve the recipe even and have a go to make sure it’s the one you want to serve!

The KitchenAid deal:  KitchenAid are the most beautiful, robust, easy to use range of appliances.We all know and love them because that extra ‘set of hands’ in the kitchen is essential and their quality is exceptional. A Standmixer, Food Processor, Blender together with the various attachments make such simple sense and will always help with the success and ease of preparation of your recipes.

The KitchenAid recipe website:  Hundreds and hundreds of triple tested recipes (with more coming each and every month). And then of course there’s me! Yes, I’m here. I’m always available to answer your questions, help you solve a problem or fix what went wrong. Just click Ask JO… I’ll help you at every twist and turn! I’ve even been known to cook with our KitchenAid home cooks over the phone! Just ask!

So for festive recipe success, use my recipes on www.kitchenaid.com.au and ask me if you get stuck! There! Success is assured!

Now what’s on my list and table this December? Here are a few more ideas!!

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