Oh Hellooo!!!

Thai Spiced Corn Patties

Yes, I’ve been missing from the blogosphere for quite a while.

Yes, I’ve missed my blogger homies.

Blame it on my star sign…I always do…

Gemini: They are very flighty and will disappear for a long time as they meet new friends and explore new places. But when they come back, they will have new thoughts, opinions and interesting things to share and ideas to teach…

Some things, however remain a constant – good food, wine and great Vodka.

I’ve been eating meat free for a week now…I was also going to go alcohol free but I had to be realistic – I can only cope with one mad idea at a time. There’s no religious or medical reason for going meat free just thought I would see how many vegetarian dishes I could come up with. Turns out, quite a few actually.

This does mean however I have been over compensating for the lack of meat in my diet with lots of alcohol – don’t judge – I’m on school holidays and I can do what I want…I’m the teacher…so there…!!!

A friend of mine popped around my place today and I made us a pretty simple but tasty lunch. I had made a Thai spiced paste last week and used that in these delish little corn patties (patties…not panties…that would be just wrong) or fritters or corn cakes or whatever…

I’m coming to you from my phone tonight so to list all the ingredients and recipes would kill me. I’m using one thumb to type…fuckin hell…!!!

So I cooked, and we ate thus, and there was lots of witty banter and merriment – probably due to the Pinot Grigio and then I seriously needed a nap…and so I did napeth…

Happy to be back 🙂

Recipes to come when I can get off my couch and get my laptop from the dining table…

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Sunday Night Pork In My Belly.

Orange, Garlic and Soy Pork Belly with White Bean Mash.

You would think that having a daughter who will turn 20yrs old this year,  I would have a lot of time up my sleeve to do my own thing…you would think, wouldn’t you?

Well, that’s not how it works around here. My daughter, you see, actually likes spending time at home with me. She teases and jokes about sticking me in a nursing home and hiding my Vodka but I think she really actually likes me! She must – she said so in her Mother’s Day card to me…

So, when she told me she was going to spend a whole 3 days at her dad’s, I did a little secret dance in my bedroom and felt all giddy inside. Finally, 3 days to myself…what would I do?

Well as it turned out, I didn’t do much at all. Which was wonderful. When I say I didn’t do much, I actually meant I didn’t leave the house much. I went out for drinks with the girls after work on Friday as there was no need to rush home to cook. I knew what I was having anyway, thanks to ‘foodisthebestshitever’ – WTF Nachos – for sure!

Those nachos were the bizz…

bubbly cheesy goodness with a lava of spicy beans underneath...

bubbly cheesy goodness with a lava of spicy beans underneath…

Thanks Graz for the best after drinks Friday night, absolutely no sharing dinner idea...

Thanks Graz for the best after drinks Friday night, absolutely no sharing dinner idea…

The pantry and fridge were already full in anticipation of this free weekend – so it was washing clothes, sitting outside with a Cosmo (it was a beautiful day) and flicking through cooking magazines and whiling away time on FB.

Back to reality today (after a great sleep in followed by an afternoon nap) and in went the pork belly with an orange, garlic and soy glaze for a slow roasting. Served with white bean mash – so yummy!

Yep, she walked in, slapped me on the arm, called me something and then we sat down and enjoyed a yummy Sunday night dinner – although, she said she didn’t like the mash.

Hmmm, I had moved out of home at her age…think I’m making it a bit too comfortable around here…

I managed to get one dodgy photo and then my phone died…sorry about that.

 

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Once a Month

Cheese, Creamy Goodness!

I’ve already mentioned that I have changed my diet somewhat over the last few months. It hasn’t been anything revolutionary or for any medical reasons – it basically came about out of sheer laziness – did not want to think much about cooking anything too involved, did not want to peel things, or mash things, or watch over sauces after work – simple chopping,  sautéing or chucking in a baking dish and forgetting about it for a while was about all I could handle for a long time.

Kale has become my best friend – don’t even have to cook it – I love it finely chopped and chucked in a salad. The trick with anything is to have your pantry and fridge stocked with great condiments and pickled stuff (see foodisthebestshitever about this stuff – they know what they are talking about)…I have eaten a hell of a lot of kale with quinoa and pickled everything type salads over the last 6 months.

So, every now and then my body and taste buds crave something delish, creamy and cheesy. If I’m going to eat mash potatoes, I’m going to fill that sucker with cream and real butter and all the good  stuff. If I’m going to have pasta, I’m going to do the same – cream, butter, mushrooms, bacon and a near heart attack…

These are now my once a month foods – I don’t count down the days. It just seems to be about a month or so when I’m like “Oh, I feel like mashed potatoes” or “Linguine with cream, bacon and mushrooms sounds good” – then I’m out shopping as I have to be honest, I don’t keep any pasta, rice or potatoes in the house anymore and if I feel like bread with breakfast then I go out for a big breakfast (I think I bought some pumpkin bread just before Easter). I don’t even mean I have all of them once a month. I mean that it might be potatoes one month and pasta the next etc – my eating patterns have changed dramatically and my main meal is now usually lunchtime because after work cooking is still freaking me out too much.

So, another once a month food is a really creamy risotto – last night it was with asparagus and leek as well as some wine, cream, cheese and butter – served with chicken on the side – I love something good on the side…ahem…Chicken was browned and then placed in the oven with a handful of parsley, a good dollop of cream and more cheese and browned some more…If these are now going to be my ‘sometime’ food, they are going to go all the way with fat and flavour but stop short of killing me dead.

Thank goodness for Winter weather – Sundays of slow cooking and left overs for the next two days…and thank goodness for all the wonderful condiments and pickled stuff in the fridge to go with it.

Asparagus and Leek are my favorite things...

Asparagus and Leek are my favorite things…

 

Feeling French on ANZAC Day!

Croque Monsieur – Not ANZAC Biscuits – I’m so sorry!

I have written before about the best year of my life – 2004 – took off with my then 9 yr old daughter and travelled around Europe for 4 months and then settled in a small Greek village on the Island of Lefkas for the next 8 months (in the house in which my father was born) – can’t believe it’s been ten years!

It also occurred to me yesterday that this time ten years ago I was in Paris. We ate lots of mussels in a tomato and garlic sauce for lunch and the best croissants and Pain au Chocolat for breakfast- the most amazing butter and leeks and cheese and bread and eclairs and I could go on and on and on…but I won’t…

I don’t care what anyone thinks of France and the French – it will always be, along with Florence in Italy, the highlight of my my year away from Australia. I love Melbourne (it truly is beautiful, especially now in Autumn),  but I am so far away from the rest of the world and that has always been a sticking point for me and where I was born. I have a love/hate relationship with Australia.

So, yesterday was ANZAC Day here. Here’s a little history for those who don’t know:

What does ANZAC stand for?

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as Anzacs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day.

Why is this day special to Australians?

When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only 13 years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.

The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.

Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as the “Anzac legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future.

What does it mean today?

Australians recognise 25 April as an occasion of national remembrance, which takes two forms. Commemorative services are held at dawn – the time of the original landing – across the nation. Later in the day, ex-servicemen and women meet to take part in marches through the major cities and in many smaller centres. Commemorative ceremonies are more formal and are held at war memorials around the country. In these ways, Anzac Day is a time when Australians reflect on the many different meanings of war.

The day ends, in Melbourne at least, with a football match at the MCG – Collingwood v Essendon (my team Collingwood won yesterday) – always nice to beat The Dons…

This, of corse has nothing to do with my lunch yesterday. I do make ANZAC biscuits early on ANZAC Day and watch the footy and have a pie with sauce at half time – every year – except this year!

I was most certainly torn this year as it was the 10th anniversary of us being in France. I feel that I have paid homage to The ANZACS by posting some history for you but now I need to pay homage to the glorified toasted ham and cheese sanga I had in Paris from the most incredible Patisserie I have ever been into.

Croque Monsieur – friggin ham and cheese and mustard and I was in love.

I’m sorry ANZACS – call me Un Australian but there were no ANZAC biscuits or meat pies yesterday, nor did I watch the game (even though I love it) – I just went French!

I invited my girlie friends over and we indulged in everything French, think cheese, butter, croissants, pain au chocolat – Hell, we even drank French Vodka! In fact, I only ever drink French Vodka now – ban on everything Russian – thanks for that little Putin!

Very unattractive Vicor! – hahahaha! (inside Aussie joke – sorry – no time to explain)

Here it is – in all its amazing glory:

Croque Monsieur (Ham and Cheese Sandwich)

 

INGREDIENTS
2 – 3 Tbsp butter (I used French butter but you don’t have to – please DON’T use margarine – EVER!)
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups milk
A pinch each of salt, freshly ground pepper, nutmeg, or more to taste
1 and a 1/2 cups Gruyère cheese, grated (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (packed)
8 slices of French or Italian loaf bread (we have a local French Patisserie so I used French)
loads of the best ham you can get your hands on, sliced
Dijon mustard ( mine was quite tangy and spicy – lovely)
METHOD
1. Preheat oven to 200 C.

2. Make the béchamel sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium/low heat until it just starts to bubble. Add the flour and cook, stirring until smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking continuously, cooking until thick. Remove from heat. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the Parmesan and 1/4 cup of the grated Gruyère. Set aside.

3. Lay out the bread slices on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven, a few minutes each side, until lightly toasted. For extra flavor you can spread some butter on the bread slices before you toast them if you want.

4. Brush half of the toasted slices with mustard. Add the ham slices and about 1 cup of the remaining Gruyère cheese. Top with the other toasted bread slices.

5. Spoon on the béchamel sauce to the tops of the sandwiches. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère cheese. Place on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, then turn on the griller (broiler?) for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned.

In all its amazing bubbly glory.

In all its amazing bubbly glory.

Just incredible - French dryly bread, French butter, cheese and the most amazing ham - did I mention how much I love béchamel sauce with nutmeg - too die for!

Just incredible – French style bread, French butter, cheese and the most amazing ham – did I mention how much I love béchamel sauce with nutmeg – too die for!

 

 

Easter – A Let Down!

We usually have the traditional Greek lamb on the spit at Easter but my dad is getting too old and tired to do it so we had roast lamb and roast chicken instead – in the oven with veg – just not the same – nice, but not thrilling!

Dad and I were not the cooks this year and it just didn’t feel like Easter.

I did do the baking of Greek Easter biscuits, breads and shortbreads though so I will post these photos. Mum and I always do a cracker job with the sweets…modest…I know…

The recipes for these are already up on previous Easter posts so I won’t bore you with them again.

Didn’t even have a glass of frikin wine – such a let down this year – Oh woe is me!

On the plus side, we had a cranking’ dinner tonight. Rain and thunder all day – it was the absolute best!

Comfort food in the way of gnocchi with béchamel, kale and parsley – too bloody good people!

Make gnocchi as normal – sauté kale and parsley – make béchamel sauce – add cheese – drain gnocchi – mix everything together in a baking dish – top with cheese and brown in the oven – almost passed out on the couch after this – so comforting, sitting here in my polka dot onesie with a glass of vino -too much information? Bad bloody luck! Ready to take on the fucking world…!

Feeling full and feisty…

Lots of orange zest added this year - nice flavor!

Lots of orange zest added this year – nice flavor!

I like them thin and crunchy not thick and cakey...

I like them thin and crunchy not thick and cakey…

Finished product - koulourakia!

Finished product – koulourakia!

My favourites - crushed walnut shortbreads with a hint of ouzo - ok - more than a hint :)

My favourites – crushed walnut shortbreads with a hint of ouzo – ok – more than a hint 🙂

Dust those suckers with heaps of icing sugar - frickin' awesome...

Dust those suckers with heaps of icing sugar – frickin’ awesome…

Tonights' dinner in the baking dish - just out of the oven...

Tonights’ dinner in the baking dish – just out of the oven…

A close up...

A close up…

An even better close up!

An even better close up!

2014 – A Snapshot

I’ve lost my writing mojo – again!

Can’t promise I will be back on a regular basis but will attempt to do a post a week and go from there.

Just finished stage one of Easter baking yesterday – Greek traditional stuff – stage two chocolate stuff tomorrow.

I can promise you that I will do an Easter post after the lunch spread on Sunday and include the baked goods – that is, if I’m not too baked myself…!!!

I tend to post on my Facebook page ‘Hel’s Kitchen’ a lot more but I don’t always include recipes, because I’m lazy like that.

Here’s what’s been happening in my kitchen over the last few months.

Of course there was Vodka…Lots of it…!!!

The 2014 face of Hel's Kitchen on FB - Hello there!

The 2014 face of Hel’s Kitchen on FB – Hello there!

Vodka, grape juice, dry ginger and lime - looks murky - tastes sensational...

Vodka, grape juice, dry ginger and lime – looks murky – tastes sensational…

Thanks to Laura from 'Laura's Mess' and 'foodisthebestshitever'I'm addicted to quinoa and have added a healthy addiction to kale and persian feta...

Thanks to Laura from ‘Laura’s Mess’ and ‘foodisthebestshitever’I’m addicted to quinoa and have added a healthy addiction to kale and persian feta…

Kale, coriander, boiled eggs and smoked salmon - I have been living on this for lunch :)

Kale, coriander, boiled eggs and smoked salmon – I have been living on this for lunch 🙂

Meat was lacking in my diet so a Middle Eastern spiced meatloaf was just the thing! Lovely take on the old meatloaf.

Meat was lacking in my diet so a Middle Eastern spiced meatloaf was just the thing! Lovely take on the old meatloaf.

My favorite breakfast - fresh berries, yoghurt and muesli - new addiction - breakfast...

My favorite breakfast – fresh berries, yoghurt and muesli – new addiction – breakfast…

Sometimes the berries sit on buttermilk or ricotta pancakes with maple syrup.

Sometimes the berries sit on buttermilk or ricotta pancakes with maple syrup.

There were hangover breakfasts too - homemade asparagus potato rosti with bacon and a fried egg - fixes everything!

There were hangover breakfasts too – homemade asparagus potato rosti with bacon and a fried egg – fixes everything!

Can't live without pork - pork with char sui sauce - died and went to heaven with this one...

Can’t live without pork – pork with char sui sauce – died and went to heaven with this one…

Haven't made many sweet things lately but on this day I had a craving for cinnamon donuts - they were damn good!

Haven’t made many sweet things lately but on this day I had a craving for cinnamon donuts – they were damn good!

My daughter insists on this on a regular basis - duck in spice plum sauce, coriander with rice and quinoa.

My daughter insists on this on a regular basis – duck in spice plum sauce, coriander with rice and quinoa.

Pulled Pork - I love saying that...Pulled Pork! hehehe! Love this so much!

Pulled Pork – I love saying that…Pulled Pork! hehehe! Love this so much!

Risotto with asparagus - I think - it was so long ago now - Oh Hell - doesn't matter - it was lurvly...

Risotto with asparagus – I think – it was so long ago now – Oh Hell – doesn’t matter – it was lurvly…

When I'm home alone it's spicy lentils with lime and coriander and yoghurt - I simply adore this dish.

When I’m home alone it’s spicy lentils with lime and coriander and yoghurt – I simply adore this dish.

HELP!!!!!

Calling all bloggers!

So, on Wednesday I am going to a BBQ and have been asked to bring dessert.

I can follow a recipe but lack imagination when it comes to desserts. Cooking is more my thing but I have to concentrate really hard whilst making desserts, which hurts my head and then I need a drink and a lie down and then it’s all over!

I have these 3 wonderful products at home right now and want to make something pretty special – any suggestions folks?

OK – I know, it’s just butter, sugar and cocoa but it’s French butter, Dark Muscovado Sugar and Premium Dutch Cocoa damn you so it has to be a damn fine dessert but not something I’m going to have an anxiety attack over.

Can anybody help..?…Anyone…?…Hello…?

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Not Quite Summer Food!

Gnocchi with Beef Ragu

I did not care that it was hot yesterday, I wanted this for dinner.

A few months ago at one of our winery trips I ordered this for lunch and I just couldn’t wait to eat. It was cold outside and I love this dish. The view from the window was awesome, the wine was just lovely and the company was what it always is with these girls – loud, funny and wonderful…and the food…well…the food was the worst thing I have ever had in my life!

It was basically very chunky bits of meat with carrots (both undercooked) swimming around in a dirty dishwater like gravy and I’m not sure if it was gnocchi it was floating on…I couldn’t understand how this could happen in such a pretty looking place…and then I saw the “chef!” – I think she was about 13 yrs old – hopefully this means that she still has time to go to cooking school and learn a few things or do something different with her life – poor girl – the food was awful but somehow I figured that this was not what she did for a living!

So very disamappointed…yes, that’s right…disamappointed…!!!

What?!?!

I can get the word wrong if I want to! I mean they got this dish wrong and still charged me almost $30 for it so I can get any word wrong and it won’t cost you a thing!

I have been obsessed with this ever since that day and I finally got around to making it. Yes, it was a very warm 31C outside and a bbq would’ve been better but the bbq went to the ex after our split late last year (it’s ok, I got the car and the 50 inch Plasma TV!) so I was more than happy to part with the bbq!

Anyhoo – it was delish!

nom nom…mmmm

nom nom…mmmm

Ingredients

  • 1kg chuck steak or gravy beef, diced and dusted in plain flour
  • 2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, left whole
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • parsley
  • 2 bay leaves (fresh if possible)
  • 250ml (1 cup) red wine
  • 500ml beef stock
  • salt & pepper to taste

Method

  • Sauté the beef in batches, add onions, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, spices,  and salt & pepper. Add the wine & stock and cover.
  • Place in the oven or stove top and cook for at least 1 -2 hrs or until the meat is really tender and the sauce is thick but not sticking to the pan.
  • Boil water in a deep saucepan for the gnocchi – I buy ready made gnocchi in a vac sealed pac from my favorite deli but you can use whichever gnocchi you like – or – you could make your own (I don’t have the time).
  • Once the water has come to the boil add the gnocchi. Once all the gnocchi has risen to the top of the boiling water it is ready. Drain the gnocchi.
  • I usually add a tablespoon of butter to the saucepan and slightly burn the butter – until the butter is nutty and not black, then add the gnocchi and toss in the butter.
  • Add the ragu to the gnocchi and toss until well combined.
  • Top with Parmesan Cheese and serve with garlic bread (if you like).

Better Late than Never…Right?!?!

Snapshots of Christmas

I know – Christmas was last year! I haven’t posted my Chrissy stuff, so I’m doing it now.

It seems like ages ago that it was Christmas and lots of Vodka and Cointreau has gone down since so in this rare moment of clarity I shall post this…before I forget again…

I was so happy to do Christmas for the fam – it was an evening meal so the tree was lit up and candles were burning – had a great time!

Loads of pictures coming your way…!!!

My daughter and I - selfies...

My daughter and I – selfies…

I do love my tree - it's black! frickn awesome black Chrissy Tree!

I do love my tree – it’s black! frickn awesome black Chrissy Tree!

Cute table centre piece!

Cute table centre piece!

My glazed ham - proud of this beauty!

My glazed ham – proud of this beauty!

Slice that baby...

Slice that baby…

Prawns, Salad, Duck, Turkey and Ham...

Prawns, Salad, Duck, Turkey and Ham…

Duck with spicy plum sauce with rice and quinoa - soooo good!

Duck with spicy plum sauce with rice and quinoa – soooo good!

Duck - a close up!

Duck – a close up!

The spread!

The spread!

The turkey was so good and the stuffing was awesome - that's what I'm talking about...

The turkey was so good and the stuffing was awesome – that’s what I’m talking about…

Nigella Lawson's Christmas cake with Tia Maria, cocoa, prunes, currants, raisins and dark muscovado sugar - I topped it with gold dusted chocolate praline balls - this was awesome!

Nigella Lawson’s Christmas cake with Tia Maria, cocoa, prunes, currants, raisins and dark muscovado sugar – I topped it with gold dusted chocolate praline balls – this was awesome!

Fresh fruit and custard flan - I didn't get any - gone in a flash!

Fresh fruit and custard flan – I didn’t get any – gone in a flash!

Alcohol soaked panatone and my chrissy cake nicely cut up...

Alcohol soaked panatone and my chrissy cake nicely cut up…

Ending the snapshots with another one of me and Alex…bye bye!

Ending the snapshots with another one of me and Alex…bye bye!

Welcome Home!

Good Food for Good People.

My daughter Alex is home! Yay! and double Yay…!

Three months in Europe and now she’s back. I’m so happy to have her home. She had an awesome time and I finally got to wear the chef’s hat she bought me from Paris – I wear it every time I cook…It’s awesome!!!

She did however come home to the news that my beautiful mum, who taught me to cook, had suffered a heart attack the week before. Mum will be fine but it has taken a lot out of her. She is one tough cookie so I have no doubt that she will be up and doing her thing soon enough but for now she needs rest…and apparently, Salmon Mornay. She asked me to make her Salmon Mornay for lunch the day after she got home from the hospital – she’s a funny woman!

Alex also came home to the house having been totally rearranged and one less person living with us…15,000 less DVDs,  no more major hi fi equipment or horror movie figurines everywhere.

Our place has a very relaxed vibe. It’s bright, airy and spacious. We love it…

To celebrate her homecoming and our new space we all got together and enjoyed some tasty treats and some very nice wine.

Here’s what we had:

Hoisin and Soy Pork Meatballs

Lime and Coriander Chicken

Sweet  Chilli Prawns

Vietnamese Coleslaw

Steamed Jasmine Rice

Lima and Coriander - always a favourite on chicken...

Lima and Coriander – always a favourite on chicken…

 

Could've made hundreds of these and still wouldn't have been enough!

Could’ve made hundreds of these and still wouldn’t have been enough!

 

The Prawns were delicious...

The Prawns were delicious…

 

Some tasty side dishes completed it all - good times!

Some tasty side dishes completed it all – good times!