Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lamb with red curry sauce and thai basil

Recipe number four from quick smart cook, and it was unanimously declared that we had saved the best for last with the recipe for lamb with red curry sauce and thai basil.

Another recipe true to the book's title - quick!
The sauce is simmered up from coconut milk and curry paste whilst the lamb (backstrap) and then beansprouts, eschallots and chilli are pan-fried.
Then the lamb is sliced and served on top of steamed rice, bean spouts piled on top and sauce spooned over.

We changed up a couple of ingredients in this one - brown sugar for palm sugar, lime zest for lime leaves and these big sweet spring onions for red eschallots.

Oh, and we omitted the thai basil altogether - I forgot to pick some up when we were near the asian grocers, and they don't have it at our local supermarket. I thought maybe we could have added something a bit aniseed-y to make up for it a bit, a few thin slices of fennel with the spring onion, or some star anise, but we didn't have anything like that at all.

Also, I added some steamed greens - snow peas, broccoli and bok choy - to fill it out a bit, since we used a bit less lamb than called for (backstrap is expensive!)

Did I mention it was delicious?
And the left-over sauce we had with beef and rice the following evening. YUM.


The hardest thing about cooking from Delicious - quick smart cook this month, was narrowing it down to 4 recipes, so you can expect to see some more popping up around here for a while!
I counted at least 25 other recipes I would like to try, and that's not including fish/seafood, desserts, or things that I thought were a bit adventurous (for me) for a work night (like duck, which I've never cooked at home before).

Some of the recipes that are on my list to make soon include:
- vietnamese chicken salad
- strawberry & brie sandwiches (!!)
- eye fillet with raspberry sauce
- olive-crusted lamb racks with chickpea salad

And now, another difficult decision - which book to cook next?


this month I'm cooking from Delicious - quick smart cook

Friday, January 29, 2010

tomato couscous & salami salad

You know, if there is one thing I can never find in the supermarket it's the couscous (seriously - does it live near the rice? or the pasta? or the other cereals? Actually, speaking of the other cereals, I can never find the polenta either - do they hang out together?).

In any case, not being able to find the couscous is the reason that so much of the month passed before we got around to trying out the quick smart cook's recipe for tomato couscous & salami salad.

I really liked how the recipe uses tomato juice as the 'soaking' liquid for the couscous, to get lots of tomato-ey flavour right in there.
Plus, it features our current favourite cheesey goodness - bocconcini.


But, yep - this one has a but - but I wasn't super impressed.
It was ok - but not as good as it looked in the pictures. I was underwhelmed. Of course, I think the main problem was that it was under seasoned - which was my fault, not the recipe.

I'm pretty keen to make this again, but with a few changes - I really like the flavour from the tomato juice, but would adding some seasoning at this stage, and maybe sub out the salami for some chorizo (mmm chorizo). Ooh, and some extra crunch with some chilli sunflower seeds
mmmm - just the thing for my lunch box, I think! =)


this month I'm cooking from Delicious - quick smart cook

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My creative space 2010:1!

Hurrah! My creative space is back on at Kirsty's!

My creative space this week is full of patterny bits and pieces - paper and pencils, sticky and measuring tape, fabric and of course my trusty rotary cutter (complete with shiny, sharp new blade!)

Click over and check it out - get inspired by some creative peeps!!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

vegetarian chilli in avocado

We're mad for 'mexican' food here - at least once a week we have chilli, fajitas, burritos or tacos.
I have made vegetarian chilli before, just with kidney beans (its such a perfect recipe for cooking from the pantry!), but I have to admit I don't think I have ever cooked anything with lentils before.

In fact, mention lentils and this is what comes to mind:

So, when himself suggested we make vegetarian chilli in avocado - which is very much lentil based - for dinner, I was a teeny bit sceptical. In fact, I even considered substituting out the lentils for extra beans, but decided that wasn't really in the spirit of a challenge, and it's good to try new things.

Now I wish I had remembered that when my neighbour was at my front door with the freshest loveliest looking trout you would ever meet. No, we don't usually eat trout, but by gosh we should have given it a shot!

Unlike the chicken involtini, this recipe had almost zero preparation required - kidney beans, three bean mix and lentils all from tins

Tinned tomatoes too - only the onions and garlic needed chopping. Then everything was simmered up in a pan, and that's it.

This is for sure the kind of recipe I can see us keeping stocked up on the ingredients (perhaps even frozen onions), coming home and putting it straight on, then by the time you've poured yourself a wee glass of vino, it's ready.
See? Taa-daa!

We did have one teeny substitute - it has been impossible to get one's hands on a decent avocado around these parts lately, so much so that a few days earlier we had settled for a jar of guacamole in lieu of real avocado. So we used up the left over guacamole instead of going out on another avocado hunt.
I'm pretty sure it would be much better with a real avocado, but the guacamole did in a pinch.

Plus, I do love a recipe that legitimises corn chips as part of a main meal! =)


this month I'm cooking from Delicious - quick smart cook

Monday, January 25, 2010

something for me

A couple of weeks ago, Bec posted about the 12 month challenge running through 2010 over at My Favourite.

I think following the monthy theme of the challenge will be a great way to help focus on actually getting some sewing done (without a deadline I just find that any potential sewing time passes me by), as well as stepping outside my sewing comfort zone (like in April, when the challenge is to sew something with lining). This month the challenge is to sew something for yourself, and you can see on the blog (and in the flickr group) that some participants have started linking to their finished projects.

Mine is coming along, but I'm telling you - I am positive I would sew a lot more if the cutting out didn't take soooo freaking long!
I mean, this pattern has about 7 pieces. I was planning on cutting it out before dinner, then getting the sewing pretty much over with tonight, but by 10pm I was only just finished with the cutting.

I don't think it helps either that I'm really not very good at the cutting bit - I always have my fabric right-sides out, and mark the right sides, and both my scissors and rotary cutter need some love (well, blade sharpening/ replacement, at least). Oooh, and I can never decide whether to make little notches into the seam allowance or lumps on the outside of the seam allowance where those little triangles are?

Ugh. Anyway, since I've got the scissors going I'm thinking about cutting another dress I'd like to make , then I'll have 2 all cut out and ready to go. And it only has 5 pieces - how long could it possibly take?


Sunday, January 24, 2010

cookies and cream(cheese)

eeep! Where does the week go?!
For me, the past seven days have (literally) melted away with exceptionally busy days at work followed by warm evenings filled with this, this (from the comfort of my own couch, I mean), this and some of this too!

But believe me, although I'm behind on the blogging, I am absolutely not behind on the cooking! In fact, there has been so much cooking going on that you might start to think this is a food blog - so if you are really not interested in what's going on in my kitchen look away now!

I have some more meals/recipes from quick smart cook to show, and some other tasty goodies too.

Like this delicious cookies and cream cheesecake slice. I cut the recipe out of a supermarket catalogue before Christmas, and have just been waiting for the perfect excuse to make it, so when we were having guests for a long lazy late lunch today it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

OooH, AND it also gave me an excuse to use one of my very most favourite Christmas presents - my new Kenwood food processor (that's Woody to you!)

This was a super easy and very delicious recipe (it's available here, FYI).
However, I do have one beef about it. The recipe - which has been released by the company who make both the cream cheese and cookies in question - uses just a bit more than one packet of each (but not quite two). I think that it's really uncool for companies to size the recipe to make people buy extra of their ingredients, and will re-scale the recipe for one packet of cheese next time in protest (that'll teach them ;o))


ps. See that new button there, on the left at the top? One click will transport you right to the Craft Hope for Haiti etsy shop, where anything you buy has been donated and all proceeds will go to Doctors Without Borders in Haiti! I've been eyeing the Allsorts pretty maids patterns for a while now, this Haitian girl is too good to pass up, especially for such a good cause! Check it out! =) xo

Sunday, January 17, 2010

one year!

I can hardly believe it is true, but today is exactly ONE YEAR since we brought home our darling kitties!

Look how they've grown...



And one year on we are still completely thrilled to bits to have them!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chicken involtini

I may have mentioned before that when it comes to a nice home-cooked dinner Chez Kuka, nothing trumps meat stuffed with cheese and wrapped in another meat.
So when we discovered a recipe for chicken involtini with smoked mozzarella in my brand new cookbook, the main course for our New Year's Eve dinner was a no-brainer.

We did have one substitute ingredient - that week between Christmas and New Year was spent as close to home as possible, so we had to make do with what we could get from the local supermarket. That said, the deli at our local is pretty good, so we didn't miss out too much. We couldn't get the lovely long slices of pancetta the recipe call for, just little round ones. This made wrapping a bit trickier, but laying the meat out on some plastic wrap and assembling the chicken on top helped, plus I could then twist the ends of the plastic wrap to make a tight little chicken parcel which I then refrigerated for half an hour or so to help it keep its shape. And it worked a treat.
The only other almost substitute was that we couldn't get smoked mozzarella, so we used bocconcini instead (which is suggested as an option in the recipe).

And the result was delicious! I think it looks a tiny bit pink in the pictures, but it was actually cooked perfectly through - one of the reasons that we so love these recipes that wrap the chicken this way is that it keeps the chicken just so beautifully moist! I also think this is a good recipe for this time of year, since - apart from the assembly - the cooking time is so quick that the oven doesn't have to be on for too long, and it worked really we served with a fresh garden salad. Plus it would be fun to play a bit with the flavours by using different ingredients for the filling - I think brie with strawberries and basil would be tasty mmmm

this month I'm cooking from Delicious - quick smart cook


Friday, January 15, 2010

quick smart cook

I love cook books.
And I have soooo many of them - a shelf-full right by the kitchen, piles on the coffee table, next to the bed and in the study.
I read them over and over, pouring over the pages, drooling over the pictures, picking out recipes and planning to make this and that.
But, somehow, things rarely progress beyond this speculative stage.
And still we seem to find ourselves racking our brains every afternoon for something to have for dinner, inevitably falling back on the same old meals every week (burritos, anyone?).

With that in mind I would like to make a conscious effort to try and get more use from my many cookbooks, and hopefully find some tasty new favourite recipes along the way.
So, the plan is to pick a cookbook each month, from which I'll aim to cook about a recipe a week.

To start off with, in January I'll be cooking from Delicious - quick smart cook.

This was one of my Christmas pressies - and very well chosen too, since I had been eyeing it at the newsie since it first came out!
As the title suggest, it's full of recipes that look impressive from relatively little effort. Whilst some recipes look like they need a some preparation, like the one I'll share tomorrow, there are also lots that are perfect for after work, or (let's face it) when its the weekend but you just can't be stuffed faffing about with dinner!

I've already made my first recipe from here - I'll be back to share over the weekend =)

Ooh, and if you'd like to tackle some of your cookbooks in the same way do let me know - I'd love to hear how the recipes cook up (and I might just discover some must have books too!)


Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Dear weather,
You know, I do my best not to complain about you. I mean, it gets hot in summer. January is summer, and its hot. Duh.
Like today, when it was 39C, I didn't complain. Instead, I had icecream for lunch.

But now? It is 10:55pm, and my friends at the bom are telling me it is still 32.2C outside.

That is seriously uncool


Friday, January 08, 2010

BWOF February!

I've just been looking at the preview for the February issue of Burda World of Fashion, and I think this is quite lovely!

It's hard to tell, but it even looks like it has pockets!


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I never FELT so organised!

haha I love a good (bad) felt pun - even if it is my own!

But, seriously, look at all that lovely felt! mmmmmm

I have really had trouble finding a handy storage solution for all that felty goodness - it was all just stuffed into a box before, but then I came across the perfect solution on the future girl blog.
And I had such a nice time putting the plan into action the other night!

First, one colour in each folder...

Then into the file carry case - colours in rainbow order of course!

The only problem is, do the fleshy colours go with the pinks, the oranges or the 'naturals'?


Monday, January 04, 2010

felt nerdy

mmmm file carry case, folders and felt...

my inner (ha!) nerd is all set for a sweet night out!


Sunday, January 03, 2010


After 2 lovely relaxing weeks, tomorrow it's Back to Work =(

We spent the past week here at home, hardly leaving the house - and it has been so nice to sleep late, drink LOTS of coffee, and muck around with crafty bits like yarn and felt!

Of course, holiday time always flies by too fast, and there are always a thousand more things I would like to have done during my time off - so tomorrow I'd rather be at home finishing my knitting!

Best of luck if you're headed back to work tomorrow too!


Friday, January 01, 2010

... and a tasty New Year!

Welcome to 2010 everyone - here's hoping it's good to us!!!

We stayed in last night and indulged in a totally lush home cooked dinner (mmm meat stuffed with cheese and wrapped in meat is our favourite for New Year's Eve!) and an oh so cheesy movie =)

1. platter, 2. onion tart,
chicken involtini, 4. passion fruit coconut gelato

We're taking it easy again today - hanging out with the kitties and watching the tele. Oh, and some craftiness too!!