I am borrowing the title of this blog entry from my sister (hope that's OK, JB).
Have you ever seen such a big bunch of whiney little girls as the contestants on this season of MasterChef? Boo hoo, this is for my grandmother. Boo hoo, I've let down my team mates. Stop blubbering and cook.
Having said that, let me say this. GO, ALVIN! You cute little gay scientific officer, you!
Furthermore, this morning I won Julie Goodwin's cookbook in a Fountain Sauce competition. So it's all MasterChef, all the time, around here.
But I actually have something sensible to say about cooking following on from that rambling about all things MC.
Strangely, considering that Big (not so much now) Jay and I have been on a Leptin Green Coffee 800 based loosing weight frenzy these past six weeks or so, I have also been on a bit of a cooking frenzy this week. Because these recipes have come out so well I thought I might share them with you, loyal reader, just in case you're looking for something new to spruce up your winter menu.
1) Chocolate and Almond Brownies
I found these on the Taste.com.au website when I was trying to use up some sour cream I didn't want to throw out. I love brownies but have never found a really good recipe that has excited me.
These are good. The sour cream makes them moist, even after a couple of days. The almonds add a nutty crunch contrast which I love. I don't put in as much sugar as they suggest, I only put in about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup. I also use maple syrup instead of golden syrup. I have also added and/or substituted other types of chocolate including half dark cooking chocolate/half Mars bars (I had a couple of fun size laying about in the back of the fridge). The brownies always turn out just right.
2) 12 hour slow cooked lamb
I found a version of this recipe in a Gourmet Traveller which found it's way into my hands recently (great magazine, I've asked for a subscription for Mother's Day). I didn't use the spice mix in the original recipe because I didn't have the necessary ingredients and I didn't want a middle eastern flavour.
My version involves making a paste of an onion, some garlic (I used quite a lot, maybe 8 or 10 bits), lemon zest and juice and olive oil. I rubbed this paste all over a 2.5 kg leg of lamb and covered in plastic wrap and then foil and left in the fridge for 36 hours (I would probably leave for at least 24 hours). I then took it out of the fridge for an hour and put in the oven at 110 degrees for 10.5 hours (I know, I got impatient at the end). The lamb was absolutely beautiful, not quite fall off the bone, but very moist and tender and wonderful. Next time I might turn up the heat to 120 degrees or just find a little more patience and leave it in there for the full 12 hours.
3) Lamb, lentil and vegetable soup
This recipe is a variation on one I made a lot last winter (mainly because I wound up with a great deal of frozen, left over roast beef and lamb... long story). This recent version involved the left over slow roasted lamb, as above. I trimmed all the meat from the bone and placed in the slow cooker with 6 cups of stock (4 cups chicken, 2 cups vegetable - just what I had available, use what you have). Also a large tin of chopped tomatoes and a cup of dried green lentils (brown or red lentils or barely would work just as well). I diced up a whole lot of onion, garlic and celery and a small sweet potato (because I like them) and fried them gently in some olive oil to caramlise and add some flavour. I then tipped them into the slow cooked with the other ingredients. I would suggest seasoning to your own taste, I tend to cook a little bland because that's how the children like it and because Big Jay pours on salt and pepper onto everything before tasting a mouthful.
I left all this on for about 6 hours on low and then turned it up to high for about 1 1/2 hours at the end. You could probably just cook it on high for about 4 hours for a very similar result.
Hearty and delicious. A big pot lasts for a few days, including work lunches for me. The kids love it. When we have it for dinner I make some croutons out whatever bread or rolls we have laying about.
4) Spicy-ish Pumpkin Soup
This year I've been back shopping at Flemington Markets and the beautiful fresh produce always inspires me. Two weeks ago I bought a gorgeous medium sized Jap pumpkin for $2. After peeling and seeding I got 3.5 kg of pumpkin flesh from it. I put all that in the slow cooked with two chopped up onions, some garlic, ginger (I think it was the young ginger I bought which added an extra zing) and one bit of lemongrass, as well as two teaspoons of korma curry paste and one tin of Carnation Light Evaporated Milk, Coconut Flavour. This cooked for about 6 hours on the low setting. I then left it too cool for about an hour before putting it through the blender in batches (my hand held blender thingy has some awful fungal infection which should lead me to buy a new one but I can't bring myself to do so yet as this one is quite new and barely used, shame!).
Anyway, the result was a beautiful pumpkin soup with so much flavour - Big Jay and I just love it. However, it is just a little too spicy for the kids (next time I will omit the lemongrass and most of the ginger). The freezer is full of soup right now which gives me a satisfying feeling, knowing there is a quick meal only a microwave zap away.
OK, enough domestic goddess bollocks for one day.
We're off to the Swannies... and tomorrow is Will's 11th birthday and a soccer party.