Monthly Archives: May 2012

Polenta, Parmesan & Thyme Crackers

It’s been a while since the last time I had homemade crackers. The problem is whenever I bake crackers, they don’t seem to last past 2 days.

Okay fine, I may have exagerrated. This is not really a problem. ;) I am blessed that my beloved enjoys the stuff I made. It’s always a bad sign when homemade bakegoods are left unattended for more than a week. This could only mean one thing – questionable baking skill ha!

For me baking has to be as simple as possible. I think I am a better cook than a baker. But I like the idea of me being a good baker too. I hope that these crackers will make me look like a semi-decent baker. These crackers are quite easy to make. No food processor is required. Just a humble fork…and a grater if you decide to grate the parmesan cheese yourself.

Polenta, Parmesan & Thyme Crackers

(recipe tweaked from Chocolate and Zucchini)

Makes about 3 baking trays worth of crackers – see the photo below

What you need:-

  • 150g / 5 1/3 ounces plain flour + extra while working on the dough
  • 100g / 3 1/2 ounces polenta
  • 50g / 2 ounces parmesan, finely grated
  • 4 stalks of fresh thyme leaves
  • A tsp of salt *optional*
  • 3 tbsps olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water

*I omitted salt from the recipe as I wanted to pair these crackers with brie which is already salty.

Instead of adding salt in the dough, you can sprinkle the salt after they are done.

Let’s get started:-

(1) Add flour, polenta, parmesan, thyme leaves and salt (if using) into a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil and stir the mixture until resembles fine breadcrumbs with a fork. Slowly stir in water until it is fully incorporated to form a slightly sticky dough. (2) Turn the mixture out on a clean work surface and knead the dough gently to gather into a smooth ball. Add water if the dough feels too dry to form a dough or add more flour while kneading until the dough is smooth, pliable and does not feel sticky. (3) Depending on the size of your work surface, divide the dough according to your liking (I divided the dough into 2 smaller doughs). (4) Use a rolling pin and flatten the dough as thinly as possible. Then use a pasta cutter (or regular knife) to cut into squares or rectangles. (5) Transfer them to a baking paper lined tray and bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until they are golden brown in a preheated oven of 200 degrees C/392 degrees F. (6) Cool on a rack before storing in an airtight container.

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DIY Mouthwash

Hi friends! Today I am excited to share something different with you.

Yes, it will require a little cooking…and yes, it will need edible ingredients you may find in your pantry. But the end result is something you may use in the morning and before bed?

Okay guys, it could be many things but in this instance, it is homemade minty mouthwash! I thought it was pretty cool to DIY a commercial product that I never thought of making at home. Enjoy!

DIY Mouthwash

(adapted from Homemade)

What you need:-

  • 1 cup (250ml/8 fluid ounces) water
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 tsps finely chopped fresh parsley

Let’s get started:-

(1) In a small pot, bring the water to a boil over medium heat (or use recently boiled water from the kettle). The original recipe specifies removing the pan from the stove and stir in the cloves, cinnamon, peppermint extract and parsley and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Alternatively, I prefer to *boil the mixture for 5 minutes. You need to top up more boiling water to make a cup due to the loss of moisture during boiling. Strain off the solids and set aside to cool. (2) Pour the liquid into a clean, tightly covered container.  I love the idea of storing the liquid in traveling size bottles and pretty up the bottles caps with colourful sticky tapes from Typo. (3) Store the mouthwash in the refrigerator, where according to the recipe, it will keep indefinitely. Use as a gargle and mouthwash.

*by boiling the mixture will intensify the aroma and flavour of the cloves and cinnamon into the liquid

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[Recreation - Out & About] All-You-Can-Eat Seafood Night at Nashdale Hall, NSW

As some Orange residents may agree, fresh seafood, and I meant you can still taste the sea kind of fresh, is hard to come by in Orange for being inland and all. So when my Nashdale connection, Mr C, asked me if I would like to go to an all-you-can-eat seafood dinner, and that the organisers actually hired a refridgerated truck to pick up thousand dollars worth of seafood from Sydney market on the same day, it’s difficult to let this opportunity to slip through my fingers. Plus, it’s not often I get to experience a community organised event.

{So, that’s the secret behind cooking whole salmon ….by massaging them tenderly. Lucky Nashdale women!  Alright, alright, I was just kidding. They were just checking if the salmon was cooked by detecting the temperature and the firmness of the flesh.  Thanks to Arthur, Bill and Graeme for cooking the salmon perfectly. It’s not easy to cook so many whole salmon in one night! }

{Bits of Nashdale Hall}

{My first round – sword fish fillet, some salmon and salad made by the organising committee members.}

{Grilled salmon, prawns, marinated octopus and fresh oysters – I was in seafood paradise!}

{I love buffet-style dining. Considering the great turnout, it was really organised and there’s more than enough food for everyone.}

{My first encounter with Balmain Bug. Personally the flesh reminds me of lobster but with a more refined texture. I think I still need to get over its aesthetic. Superficial much?}

{Next time, I need to bring a mortar to break the claw. Before this, I forgot how sweet and lovely fresh crab meat is.}

At the end of the dinner I was totally stuffed…same as everyone else. There were boxes of seafood reserved for raffle tickets after the dinner and …if you wish to burn some of the calories you’ve just consumed, there’s a dance floor where you and your mates can dance to the 80s music.

The next seafood dinner will be held in early November and on a Friday night. The ticket for this dinner costs $55  and you need to make ticket reservation before you go (I didn’t notice the availability of front door ticket sale on the night). The proceeds of the dinner will go towards the maintenance of the Nashdale Hall and funding the local schools and charitable organisations. Should you require the date on the next seafood dinner and  ticket reservation, please contact Arthur Treweek on  63 65 3145 or 0427 65 3389.

I’d like to take the opportunity to thank the Nashdale community for organising such an enjoyable and scrumptious dinner! I will see you next time! :D

Note – This is not a sponsored post and I paid for my own ticket.

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Stove Top Macaroni & Cheese with Kale

Stove top mac & cheese sure resembles the blue boxed instant mac & cheese you can buy from the supermarket. As I could not resist blistering anything with cheese and pasta in the oven, I actually had a hard time not finishing off this dish in the oven. After all, it’s the natural thing to do. ;)

But if I did, it sort of defeats the purpose of being “stove top”. Not to mention, “stove top” the “It” mac & cheese of the moment.  I better keep up and stick with the program! Since I am on the “It” trend, I might as well add the “It” vegetable of the moment which is kale. (Okay some may think I have just ruined their mac & cheese dream with my kale touch, but since when is there no room for vegetables in comfort food?)

Stove Top Macaroni & Cheese with Kale

(tweaked very slightly from Marie’s recipe)

(Serves 3 to 4 people)

Ingredients:-

  • 200g (about 8 ounces) macaroni (I used San Remo brand macaroni)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour (about 60g/ 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt – you may want to omit this if using salted butter
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (8oz)
  • About 8 stalks of kale, finely shredded
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted Panko/normal breadcrumbs *optional*

Let’s get started:

(1) Finely slice kale and chop garlic. Set aside. (2) Cook macaroni according to package directions in a large pot. Drained and set aside in a large bowl. (3) In the same pot (rinsed and dry), heat some olive oil and saute garlic until  it started to be aromatic. Add sliced kale and saute until slightly wilted. Remove the kale from the pot to the same bowl as the cooked macaroni. (4) In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat; stir in flour, salt and pepper; #Slowly add milk. (5) Cook and stir until bubble and no longer feels grainy, over low heat.  Stir in cheese  until smooth and creamy. (6) Add macaroni to cheese sauce. Stir until everything is well mixed. (7) *optional* In a small pan, toast some breadcrumbs until golden brown. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the macaroni and cheese just before serving.

# Slowly add milk – add about 1/2 cup first, stir until the milk is well combine and smooth with the flour-butter mixture and then add another 1/2 cup, stir to combine and add the remaining milk. This is important to avoid lumpiness in the sauce.

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