Monday, 21 February 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

I am all about comfort food at the moment. I think it's because I can see signs of Spring-the daffodils are starting to grow and the days are getting longer, so I'm trying to make the most of the last weeks of winter. I hate canned chicken noodle, I was interested to see what I would think of a homemade version. It is seriously amazing. It's so comforting and tasty and even though it takes awhile, it is really easy to make. The recipe is originally from Williams-Sonoma, but I've adapted it to make it a little more tasty.

Chicken Noodle Soup


1 Tbsp canola oil
1 chicken, 3 1/2-4 lb., quartered
2 large yellow onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1/2 cup tinned sweetcorn, drained and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp ground corriander
fine egg noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces


In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the oil. When it's hot, add the chicken pieces, skin side down, and wook until well browned, 4-5min per side. Add the onions, carrots, broth, water, bay leaf, thyme sprigs, and corriander. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently until the meat is nearly falling off the bones, about 1 1/2 hours. Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Transfer the chicken to a colander and let cool to the touch.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain the noodles in a colander and cool under cold, running water, set aside.

Remove the chicken meat from the bones, discarding the skin and bones, and cut the chicken into 1/2-inch pieces. Skim the fat from the broth and return the chicken to the pot along with the pasta. Cook, stirring until the pasta is heated through, 3-4min. Adjust seasonings as needed. Stir in parsley and serve immediately.

Serves 4
Note: If you want to save any of this, I recommend portioning some out to save before adding the noodles.

Source: adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Beef Stew

I have recently started eating beef again after 15 years of not even a bite. Wow....I have really missed it!! So, I am discovering a lot of new things....which types of cut I like, what beef dishes I like, and how to cook beef. This is my first ever attempt at making beef stew. It was super yummy and brought back childhood memories since I guess that was the last time I had this dish. I highly recommend this recipe- it is wonderful comfort food and so tasty!

Beef Stew

2lb beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 in cubes
salt and pepper
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 Tbsp plain flour
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
3 large carrots, peeled, sliced and steamed/boiled
1 cup frozen peas

Preheat oven to 325*F.

Dry beef and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a heavy-based pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat so the pieces are spread in one even layer and cook, not moving, until brown (2-3min). Use tongs to rotate so all sides of the pieces are brwoned (this will take 5-7mins). Tranfer beef to a medium bowl and add another 1 Tbsp oil to the pan, repeating with the remaining beef.

Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1 Tbsp to the empty pan. Add onions and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan for browned bits until softened (about 5 min). Add garlic and cook for a further 30 seconds. Stir in the flour and cook until lightly coloured (1-2 min). Add the wine, scraping the bottom and stirring until thick and flour is dissolved.

Gradually add the beef broth, stirring constantly, scraping up the remaining browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add bay leaves adn thyme and return to simmer. Add beef and simmer.

Transfer to a casserole dish, cover, and place in oven and cook for 3hrs.

When there are 10-15min left of cooking time, add the carrots and peas to the stew and continue to cook for the remainder of the time.

Discard bay leaves and serve.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

Saturday, 19 February 2011


I feel like I have been neglecting my girl friends lately. I have been baking lots of treats for my guy, but sadly not for them. Yesterday I decided to fix that by making them some Madeleines. I thought Madeleines were the perfect choice as they are dainty and lady-like and beautiful. I have made them before using this recipe from Epicurious. This time I made a few adjustments and they turned out wonderfully. They were very light and tasty. Apparently, Madeleines are meant to have a characteristic hump on one side...only a couple of mine got that but they all tasted divine!

Makes about 20

2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/4tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup of cake flour
10 Tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly, plus extra melted butter for greasing
1-1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Powdered sugar


Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and 2/3 cup sugar in a large bowl. Beat for 10min until white and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and salt.

Add flour and beat until blended. Gradually add melted butter in a steady stream, beating until blended.

Refrigerate batter for 30mins. Preheat oven to 375*F. Generously gread a madeleine pan with melted butter and then flour the pan. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Spoon a scant tablespoon of batter into each indentation in the pan. Do not overfill the indentations. Bake unti lpuffed and brown, about 8-10min. Cool for 5min before turning out of pan. Gently remove from pan. Repeat process, buttering and flouring pan before each batch. (Can be made 1 day ahead but they really are best still lukewarm from the oven).

Dust Madeleines with powdered sugar

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Oreo Brownies

This is my ultimate favourite brownie recipe made even more awesome with the addition of oreos. The brownie recipe is from Nigella Lawson's book How to Be a Domestic Goddess. I highly recommend this book. The recipes are very reliable and super yummy. I usually tweek recipes quite a lot......but I have been making this brownie recipe for over 5 years, and the only thing I have changed is the baking time. These brownies are super thick and soft, so if you wanted a more flat, chewy brownie, I would recommend making half the recipe but using the same size pan. I'm sorry the recipe is in metric measurements-I have the metric version of the book!

When my guy first asked me to add Oreos to the brownies, I was very dubious. The thought of a big hard Oreo right in the middle of this chocolate perfection was not appealing! I. was. wrong.

The Oreos softened so that they were the same texture as the brownies, and the slightly different chocolate flavour of the Oreos made the brownies more interesting and unique. Go make these now!!



375g soft butter
375g best-quality dark chocolate
6 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
500g caster sugar
225g all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
300g chopped walnuts
Oreos, slightly crushed but so that large chunks remain


Preheat the oven to 180*C (350*F). Line a 12x9 in. pan with foil or parchment.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy-based saucepan. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla. Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt.

When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the egg mixture, and then the nuts and flour. Beat to combine smoothly and then fold in the Oreo chunks. Scrape out of the saucepan into the lined pan. The Oreos should not be sticking out of the top of the mixture, as they are likely to burn.

Bake for 25min (that is Nigella's advice. I find that these brownies need closer to 50min! But keep a close eye on them.) When they're ready, the top will be pale but the middle will still be dense. A cake tester inserted should have moist crumbs attached. It is important to watch them closely as a few minutes can make the difference between gooey brownies and dry brownies.

Makes a maximum of 48

Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

This Valentine's Day, my boy and I decided to exchange handmade gifts instead of buying each other presents. He doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, but he does love sugar cookies. This adapted recipe from Annie's Eats is wonderful and her tutorial on decorating with royal icing is really helpful. I'm not great at decorating with royal icing, but with practice I am getting better!

White Sugar Cookies


1 c. butter
1 c. powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 vanilla pod
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 c. sifted flour


Cream the butter. Add powdered sugar. Cut the vanilla pod in half and scrap out the inside. Add to the beaten egg with the almond extract, and vanilla extract. Add egg mixture to the butter mixture. Blend in the flour and salt.

Chill dough until firm. Roll to 1/4" thickness on a well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters and place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375*F for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown.

Allow to cool completely before decorating.

Yields approx 2 dozen cookies depending on the size of the cookie cutter.

Royal Icing


4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp meringue powder
5 Tbsp water


Combine all ingredients in the cowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speend until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (7-10min). Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing and not intended to be used for decoration.

Add water a little at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until icing has reaches a piping consistency. The icing should not be difficult to pipe. Transfer icing to separate airtight containers and colour icing as desired.

Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie. Let stand until icing is set. Keep remaining icing covered at all times so that it does not begin to harden.

Once all the cookies are edged, thin the remaining icing until it drips off the spoon easily when lifted and smooths in with that still in the bowl within 5-10 seconds. If the icing becomes too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it.

Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer to a squeeze bottle and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie. Use a toothpick to help spread it to the edges.

Drop dots of the second icing colour into the just-flooded cookie. Drag a toothpick through the centre of the dots. Allow to set completely.