SC “Foccacia” Bread

It’s safe to say, my slow cooker is doing my belly no favours.
Having said that, omnomnomnomnom! I know my next adventure was meant to be chicken, but damn you SC. Damn you.

My friend, Laura Flozzles, was telling me about this delicious bread she had made in her SC yesterday – it was simple and sounded delicious and then of course she proceeded to eat it and tell me just how good it was and I thought stuff it. I’m damn well making one of my own.

Using the base recipe that she and so many others have, I added cheese, bacon and garlic powder and crossed my fingers.

Slow Cooked “Foccacia” Bread
Serves many, but maybe only 1 or 2

Ingredients:
3 cups self raising flour
2 cups warm water
1/2 tsp salt

Add whatever else you like – add some to the mix and save some for the top.
This variation:
5 rashers bacon, chopped (fat removed) and pan fried
2 cups (or there abouts) of grated tasty cheese
2 tbs garlic powder

Method:
Line your slow cooker bowl with baking paper – you can spray this if you like (I didn’t).
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and garlic powder together. Add water, stirring with spoon/flat-bladed knife.
Add in 3/4 of the bacon  and 1/2-3/4 of the grated cheese and mix together well.
Pour into lined cooker bowl.
Sprinkle remaining cheese and bacon on top.
Lay a tea towel over the top of your cooker bowl and pop the lid on. Turn cooker onto high and cook for 1 and a 1/2 hours.
Once cooked, slide under the grill on high for as long as it takes to brown and crunchy up the topping.

Stand back and admire the simplicity of your awesomeness.

 

Nutrition: Bacon is the most important food group known to man. Cheese comes from cows, cows eat grass, grass is nature and nature is beautiful?

 

SC chs bcn bread 3

SC chs bcn bread 2

SC chs bcn bread

SC chs bcn bread 4

 

Tips:

– I know I usually say woah, too much salt but no. This needs more salt. Or more bacon, I’m undecided at this point. I suggest using at least a whole teaspoon of salt.
– Crushed garlic may work just as well as garlic powder, I would just use it sparingly..
– 1.5 hours wasn’t long enough. Although my knife was clean when I stabbed it, it was still a little too soft. I would push it up to 1hr 45mins next time, maybe even 2 hours.
– Sift the flour. I’m not a believer of sifting flour but I think I should have, this probably would have created the “foccacia” texture.
– You can do so many variations of this, just put in everything and anything you love. Onions, herbs, pineapple, sun-dried tomatoes…you could also do a sweet version, replacing salt with sugar, etc. Sultanas, raisins (if you’re that way inclined) choc bits, fruit?

Thoughts:

Yep. Pretty amazeballs.
As I mentioned, not being cooked quite as long as it should have, it was a little too soft which I don’t mind in cakes but isn’t right for bread. Having said that, the mix contained cheese, maybe once it’s cooled right down that softness will not be so evident. (Yes, I had to taste it two minutes after it was done, okay.)
Definitely needed more salt. Definitely needed the flour sifted.

Repeat Offender?

Yes please.
My next variation I will fry off some onions (thank you Flozzles), use cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and some herbs..maybe rosemary or thyme. And of course bacon.
This was so easy to make, you need absolutely zero cooking skills. Would go nicely with soups and stuff.
Have you made this before and if so, what variations did you use?
SHARE THEM WITH ME and I will be your friend.

 

Slow Cook FTW

I’m not new to the slow cooking thing, but I must admit that I’ve only ever used my slow cooker for stews and that has been a whole…five times?

My friend is currently on a slow cooking marathon (because she is crazy like that) and introduced me to a group on Facebook, full of people just like her – crazy slow cookers!
I was amazed at the things people are cooking in their crock pots – cakes, pies, quiches, spaghetti, lasagna and the list goes on. I thought damn. I’m clearly limiting myself by just using mine twice a year for stew.

So I pulled it out – it was a smaller cooker, Home Collection brand – and thought I would try making some cinnamon scrolls.
The scrolls were wicked – the slow cooker, not so much.
I don’t know if it’s just the Home Collection brand, but the ceramic bowl seemed to have absorbed some serious stench from previous cooking, my house smelled like I’d like set a bag of dog crap on fire >.>

Thankfully the scrolls didn’t absorb the stench, but needless to say..the cooker is now resting in piece and awaiting its final adventure to the rubbish tip.

I went out and bought another because reasons.
I picked up this 6L Kambrook cooker from Big W, for $58:

 

slow cooker

I was after a Sunbeam, but I didn’t want to wait (or drive a million miles to get one) but this one is doing fine 😀

 

So, first test for my new toy – Pulled Pork.
I’ve always wanted to make this. Every time I’ve eaten it, I’ve never been disappointed.

I took the recipe below from a random Google search which landed me here at 100 Days of Real Food. Seemed like a good a place to start!

 

Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot
SERVES: 6 – 8
INGREDIENTS
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt (if desired, you can cut back on the salt by only using 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if desired, you can cut back on the pepper by only using ½ teaspoon of cayenne)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 3 to 3 ½ pounds pork shoulder, cut in half
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together the first six ingredients (all of the spices) with a fork.
  2. Pour in the honey, vinegar, and olive oil and stir to form a paste.
  3. Place the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top it with the 2 pieces of pork and then pour the honey paste over all sides of the pork pieces. It’s okay if some of it (or a lot of it) just drips down to the bottom.
  4. Turn the slow cooker on to low and cook for 7 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender enough to be easily shredded with a fork.
  5. Serve warm with fixings like homemade cole slaw and cornbread.

 

 Nutrition: If you follow the above to the letter, there’s way too much salt. But pork is nutritious and tasty and it’s made in the same place that bacon is.

Pulled Pork 3Pre-Cooked

 

Pulled Pork 2

 

Pulled Pork

Seriously, how gorgeous does that look?!

Tips:

– Do NOT use 2 tablespoons of salt, don’t even use 1. I recommend no more than half a tablespoon – I used 1 when I made this and it was way too much for my liking.
– Use a full cup of honey.
– Slice the onion into quarters.

Thoughts:

Aside from the salty, this was amazing. The pork fell apart as I tried to take it out of the cooker (the second picture shows just a part of the entire shoulder roast). I definitely recommend a shoulder piece of meat – I removed the string net before cooking. I also left the skin on – I figured the fat would dribble and help keep everything moist. Pretty sure I was right.
The meat was so soft and moist, it fell apart with no effort. It smelled amazing.

Taste? I liked it…but it wasn’t perfect. Maybe I haven’t eaten enough pulled pork? What I was dreaming of was that luscious pork flavour without all the rest, I guess. Sometimes when I cook a pork roast, the end of the roast comes out like pulled pork and melts in your mouth – that’s what I was looking for.
Next time I do this, I plan on doing it without anything – just the roast on its own. Maybe an apple or two for good measure.

Repeat Offender?
Heck yes. I doubt I will ever cook a roast pork in the oven again. I am going to remix this until I find the perfect variation and then keep the recipe all to myself 😉

Next slow cooking adventure will be chicken!

Quinoa – Food of the Health Gods

As mentioned in one of those other posts down there somewhere -waves haphazardly- the health food kick was and has started.

So the second, I suppose if you include Fattoush as being healthy (which I do 90%) recipe Id like to share is a favourite in my household as well, but it’s really good for you. And super tasty. And simple to prepare.

What is Quinoa? Quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wah) is (according to Google)

Noun
  1. A goosefoot (Chenopodium quinoa) found in the Andes, where it was widely cultivated for its edible starchy seeds before the introduction…
  2. The grainlike seeds of this plant, used as food and in the production of alcoholic drinks.

It reminds me of semolina..kind of, in looks when its uncooked. It actually looks like un-coloured hundreds and thousands.

It has a nutty flavour I guess, I’ve honestly never had it on its own so I cant really say. Maybe I will try it..like that…some day >.>
It is gluten-free and very high in protein, fibre, phosphorous, magnesium and iron as well being a source of calcium. This is what it makes it a super food!

I’d love to try out some more quinoa recipes, I will be on a mission to do so in the coming weeks 😀

Poached Chicken, Broccolini & Pesto Quinoa (gluten-free)
(Delicious Magazine, Issue June 2012 Page 94 – recipe by Phoebe Wood)
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup (200gms) quinoa
1 1/2 cups (375ml) gluten-free chicken stock
4 x 170gm chicken breast fillets
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (35gms) pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tbs lemon juice
1/3 cup (90gms) gluten-free pesto
1 bunch broccolini, trimmed, blanched

1. Place quinoa and stock into a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes until tender.
Remove from heat and stand, covered, for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
2. Meanwhile, place chicken in a pan of simmering, salted water. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from heat, cover and stand for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.
Remove from liquid.
3. Heat 1 tbs oil in a small pan over high heat. Add pepitas and season, then cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes until golden.
4. Shred the chicken and toss in a large bowl with lemon juice and remaining 1 tbs oil.
Season, then add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Nutrition: Obviously high in protein and healthy stuff. 

Quinoa & Poached Chicken 1    Quinoa & Poached Chicken 2

Quinoa & Poached Chicken 3
Tips:
– You don’t have to make this according to the gluten-free ingredients – I’ve honestly never made it that way. Just use normal chicken stock (I’m a tight-ass and use stock cubes) and a normal pesto – I recommend Barilla.
– If your supermarket doesn’t have any broccolini in store, just use broccoli – I’ve done this a couple of times.
– When I made this last night, I used beef stock cause I didn’t realise I’d run out of chicken stock – and it tasted NO different!
– When shredding the chicken, use a couple of forks if it’s still hot – it’s a good idea to let it cool down a bit so you can shred it better with your fingers.
– Use your hands to mix it all together, it works the pesto in better that way. You can also use a bit more than the recommended dose, I tend to use at least half a cup. But be mindful, the mixture may be hot.

Thoughts:
I cooked this when I first received that issue of Delicious. Eric LOVES it. You know they love it when they say to you every week, how about that chicken quinoa thingy?
It’s quite filling, so don’t be deceived – left overs can be heated up so don’t be afraid to put it away. This is a great alternative to a pasta dish and it gives you that same mmm satisfied, comfort food feeling without being bad!

Repeat Offender?
Already is. I went through a stage of it being once a week, but it’s better as a fortnightly or even monthly meal because even good things can get a little boring!

Best Banana Cake

This cake is an absolute favourite of mine, and more so my fiances. He is banana cake mad! In a perfect world, I would always have freshly baked banana cake in the fridge just for him.
But this is not a perfect world.

I found this recipe on Taste.com.au, but have since tweaked it over the past couple of years to the point where I think I can safely call it mine? I’m not sure how the rules work with all that.
Let’s just pretend that its totally fine 😀

Of course, as with anything banana, the older and over-ripened the bananas are, the better it will be.

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients
125g butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/4 cups mashed banana (2-3 bananas)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100ml buttermilk
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
(OPTIONAL – 3/4 cup slightly crushed pecans or walnuts)

Cream Cheese Icing
125g cream cheese, softened
50g butter, softened
2 1/2 – 3 cups icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/356°F.
Brush a round or square 20cm cake pan with melted butter to grease (or use whichever method you generally use – I use papertowel and a smidge of soft butter).
Line the base and side of pan with baking paper.
2. Put the butter, sugar, banana, eggs and vanilla into a bowl and using an electric beater/mixer or processor, process together for 2 minutes or until well combined.
Add the buttermilk and process until combined.
3. Add the flour and process until just combined. If you are adding nuts to the mixture, add them in now and with a spoon, give the mixture a gentle mix.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and shake slightly to settle.
Bake in oven for 40-45 minutes (or until a skewer/butter knife inserted into the centre comes out clean).
Let sit in pan until cooled, or for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. To make the cream cheese frosting, use an electric beater/mixer to beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl, till well combined.
Add the icing sugar and beat until well combined. Check the consistency of the mixture, it should be firm enough to not drip off your finger but soft enough to spread. Add more icing sugar if necessary.
Add the buttermilk and beat until the mixture is pale and creamy.
5. When cake is ready, place it on a serving plate to ice (or leave it in the pan like I do). Spread the cream cheese frosting all over the top of the cake.

Nutritional: Bananas are REALLY REALLY good for you. So are nuts. And milk. 


Banana Cake raw mix  Banana Cake raw mix in pan

Whilst it is baking, make sure you have a puppy break. Cause its REALLY HARD WORK watching Mummy cook..

Banana cake puppy break 2  Banana cake puppy break

Banana Cake freshly baked

Banana cake freshly iced

Banana cake freshly iced and sliced

Tips:
– I like to moosh my banana up in my Kenwood super handy Tri-Blade mixer thingy. It gives you a really fluffy, aerated banana mixture and if you do it just for a few seconds, you still get chunks of banana. I over mooshed in this version. I also use this to break up the nuts, if I didn’t buy them pre-broken.
– Don’t over mix the mixture – I am partial to sometimes hand mixing the flour into the mixture just to make sure. Over mixing will result in a firmer cake which, whilst still nice, just wont be the same.
– Forgot to buy Buttermilk? Add a drop or two (depending on the amount of milk) of white vinegar to a 1/4 -1/2 cup of standard milk and mix and let sit for a few minutes until curdled. I think I’ve only EVER remember to buy buttermilk twice in my entire life pffffffft!
– If you want to get all fancy, slice up an additional banana to decorate the icing with.

Thoughts:
Mmm. Took me a few goes to get this the way we liked it. The addition of nuts was at Eric’s request (I actually prefer it without but shhh) and I find walnuts to be the better match to banana. The cream cheese icing is what EVERY banana cake should be dressed with. Its the perfect flavour addition. Remember to always lick the beaters when making this icing, it would simply be wrong not to!

Repeat Offender?
Already in effect! I’m open to other Banana Cake recipes, if anyone wants to send me theirs?