Susan’s Recipes

Jorrit’s Chocolate Fudge

This is the easiest, most delicious and most versatile recipe. You can use any kind of chocolate. You can swirl in caramel if you like. And you can add anything that you think will taste good. I’m a purist so I always use Whittaker’s 62% Dark Cacao. But I like to play around with what I add in, changing it around each year for the Christmas treats. This year I added dried strawberries and pistachios. Last year was dried cherries and almonds, another time dried cranberries and walnuts. But just about anything will work. And if you come up with some great combos, please share!

INGREDIENTS

500 g chocolate of your choice
1 can sweetened condensed milk
50 g butter (add more if using dark chocolate – I use 65 g with the 65% dark cacao – less if using white chocolate)
Nuts, dried fruits, etc of your choice, chopped – I generally add two items, ¾ – 1 cup of each

1. Melt chocolate slowly in a bain marie (a bowl over a pot of simmering water), stirring until there are no lumps
2. Remove the bowl from the heat, add butter and stir until melted
3. Add the sweetened condensed milk and stir until there are no white streaks
4. Add nuts and/or dried fruit and stir to combine evenly
5. Pour the mixture into a baking pan – I use a 20cm x 20cm x 50 cm deep Pyrex baking dish (*see tip below)
6. Refrigerate and store at least overnight
7. The fudge will be a hard block – remove and cut into serving pieces

Tip: To easily remove the block for cutting, line the dish or pan with baking paper or aluminium foil. If you run the paper or foil up the sides (use two sheets, overlapping on the bottom) you will have “handles” for lifting out. If you line just the bottom of the tray, use a knife repeatedly dipped in hot water to separate the fudge from the sides, then tip upside down to remove the block

By |January 7th, 2013|Susan's Recipes|0 Comments

Christmas Baking in my New Kitchen

I love baking. Well, I love cooking of all kinds, but baking is special. I love the precision required, following a recipe exactly to make sure of the perfect result. And when those beautiful cakes and tarts, breads and scones, come out of the oven looking as perfect as you hoped, what a sense of satisfaction.

I love being organised. I’m definitely a “place for everything and everything in it’s place” kind of gal. It can be so frustrating when you can’t find what you need, especially in the kitchen. Moving quickly to get everything ready, you can’t waste time looking for that garlic press, a pan, a platter, whatever you need must be easily at hand.

And counter space, okay let’s talk benchtops. One of my kitchen design signatures is loads and loads of functional work space. I like long, uninterrupted spans of countertop, with everything at hand, room to spread out and room to really WORK.

This year, for the first time in almost 4 years, I finally had that beautiful triumvirate working for me: baking, organisation and countertops. Add to that great appliances, great tunes and Christmas baking day was a slice of heaven.

All set up for making my mini banana cakes. I make them in a muffin tin (you will see it to the left of the stove, all buttered and ready to go), but they definitely eat like little cakes, not like muffins. Very light, very moist. And this year I added toasted walnuts and chocolate chips. To the right of the stove is the cooling rack where they will go as they come out of my big, beautiful oven.

It was a real treat having all that counter space available when I was really into the thick of it (see more kitchen photos here). The girls got mini muffins this year, along with the most yummy chocolate fudge. The grown ups get banana bread. I made three this year, so it was wonderful having enough space to have everything going at once!

By |January 3rd, 2013|Blog, Susan's Recipes|0 Comments

Even Better Roast Chicken

Last year I posted my favourite, perfect roast chicken recipe here. Since then I have tried a number of recipes, with different cooking methods, each claiming to be the best way to roast a chicken. And I have played around with my own variations on that theme. Of course, the absolute best, most succulent chickens will always be the ones you have brined or marinaded. But for quick and easy, and always perfect, here is my even better version.

All of the instructions from the original recipe remain the same, with a slight variation in cooking times and temperature only, as follows:

  • Heat oven to 220 degrees C
  • Add chicken, oiled and seasoned, back side facing up
  • Cook for 30-35 minutes, watching that the skin does not char
  • Remove chicken from oven (skin should be a rich mahogany colour) and follow original recipe instructions for flipping and adding veggies
  • Return to oven and immediately lower temperature to 200 degrees C
  • Cook for 35-40 minutes until juices run clear and legs bones pull away easily
  • Rest, carve and enjoy!
By |July 16th, 2012|Susan's Recipes|0 Comments

Quick Tomato Sauce for Pasta

This is a quick, and also very easy, recipe with lots of options and modifications available. It is particularly nice with leftover grilled sausages or roast chicken. If you always have the staples on hand, you will always have an easy dinner to fall back on.

1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 med brown onion, chopped
2- 3 med garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 cup zucchini, sliced thin, or other vegetable, cut in bite size pieces to substitute
1 can diced tomatoes
1/4 -1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 tsp capers, drained
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried rosemary (I use the Fresh As brand)
Salt & Pepper
250 grams short pasta, such as Fusilli or Penne, cooked to package directions and drained
grated Parmesan, to taste

1.  Heat olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat until shimmering. Add onions and garlic and saute until soft
2. Add mushrooms (if using), and saute until they begin to soften and most of their moisture has cooked off. (If using a longer cooking vegetable instead of zucchini, add now and saute for 1-2 minutes, combining well with other ingredients)
3.  Add 1/4 cup white wine, bring to boil while scraping the pan, and cook down by half
4. Add seasoning (except salt and pepper), combine well and cook for 1 minute
5. Add tomatoes and capers, cook for 1 minute while stirring to combine all ingredients
6. Add broth and more wine if needed, bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer low, uncovered, for 10 – 12 minutes
7. Add zucchini (if using), cover and cook until done
8. Add salt and pepper to taste
9. Optional:  Add leftover grilled sausage slices, roast chicken pieces or smoked fish, cooked shrimp, etc, for the last few minutes until warm
10. Add cooked pasta to the pan and stir through well to combine with sauce and other ingredients
11. Plate up and grate Parmesan over to taste

Serves 2 – 4

 

 

By |January 16th, 2012|Susan's Recipes|0 Comments

Banana Bread

I have been making, and perfecting, this recipe for close to 15 years. It’s really, really good, everyone says so, and comes out perfect every time. As long as you follow my little tips , and get to know your oven. The basis for my recipe is from Ethan Becker’s 1997 re-issue of his mother’s iconic “Joy of Cooking”. With my tweaks and improvements, it is still the best of over a dozen other recipes I have tried. Although this is called a bread, it is quite sweet, and perfect for breakfast with tea or coffee. Enjoy!

Tip #1 – do not over mix the batter. Where the instructions say “just until combined” be sure to do just that
Tip #2 – use the ripest possible bananas, they can’t be too ripe. The riper the bananas, the sweeter and moister the finished bread. And do not use pre-frozen bananas – they get too watery and will make the finished bread too wet
Tip #3 –  Follow the order of mixing and adding ingredients exactly. It does make a difference to the finished texture
Tip #4 – As simple as the process and the instructions are, the little things do matter. Such as pre-toasting the walnuts, and using the exact quantities of ingredients. Always level the dry ingredients in your measuring cups and spoons, and use dry measure, not wet measure cups (as a rule, glass or clear measuring cups are for liquids, metal or plastic measuring cups are for dry ingredients. Spoons are for either)
Tip #5 – When toasting walnuts, be careful they are not overdone. In a 175 C oven, spread whole walnuts in one layer on a baking tray, then toast until they are fragrant and shiny. As soon as the kitchen begins to fill with the smell, get them out of the oven. Then break, or chop them into small pieces
Tip #6 – If you have the option on your oven, do NOT use the fan/convection setting. Use “Classic Bake” or non fan operated function only

Begin with all ingredients at room temperature.  Position a rack in the center of the oven and set to 175 C. Grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch (215 x 115 mm or close to)  loaf pan with butter and set aside.

1 1/2 cups high grade flour (not self-rising)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

80 g unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar

2 large (#7) eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large, or 3 small, ripe bananas
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, mix together and set aside
2. In a separate bowl, mash bananas until there are no visible lumps, add walnuts on top and set aside
3. In a small bowl, very lightly beat the eggs,  mix in the vanilla and set aside

4.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until lightened in colour and texture (a stand mixer works best, but a hand mixer, or beating by hand will work just as well)
5. Slowly add the dry ingredients and beat until well combined and grainy
6. Gradually beat in the eggs and vanilla until just combined, do not over mix
7. Fold in the bananas and walnuts until just combined, do not over mix

8. Scrape the batter into the pan, spreading the top so that it is flat and even
9. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes. It is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top will rise and split, this is normal

Let cool on a rack, in the pan, for 10 minutes. Then shake out of the pan, turn right side up, and allow to cool completely on the rack. All baked goods are best on the first day, but tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature, this bread will last well for 3 – 4 days.

 

By |December 22nd, 2011|Susan's Recipes|0 Comments

Favorite Food and Recipe Links

I am mostly a cookbook person, with upwards of 125 at last count. I prefer having a solid book in my hand, preferably with gorgeous photos, to searching online for recipes. That said, there are a few that I frequent, along with food blogs that include recipes. Here then, a list of my personal favorites:

Cooks Illustrated  The best website for guaranteed to be perfect recipes! Cooks Illustrated is part of the America’s Test Kitchen family, which started out as cookbooks. Not surprising then that their books also rank among my favorites. This is a subscription website, with a few free recipes, but you will have to sign up to access the huge mother load. Well worth it, for the recipes and so much more available online. Including a truly revolutionary, fool proof pie dough!!

Epicurious  one of the first and still one of the best

Dorie Greenspan  my favorite food blog, including recipes. Dorie is the queen of baking, in fact, her book “Baking” taught me how to do just that and led to a few dozen more books and a minor obsession. Her recipes are foolproof,  her writing is always entertaining, her recommendations to be relied upon, and she even share the occasional savory recipe

Cafe Fernando a food blog like no other. Entertaining, educational and always fascinating, not to mention the name tells you nothing about the content. I won’t tell you more, just check it out

Nick Malgieri Nick is another highly regarded baking master, with down to earth and easily accessible recipes

NOTE: if you come across the ingredient “corn syrup” called for in any of the American recipes, particularly when making cake frosting, DO NOT try substituting! In Auckland, you can find both light and dark corn syrup at Martha’s Backyard on Lunn Avenue in Mt Wellington. She also has Crisco shortening, best for the pie recipes (NZ shortening is different and may alter the results)

Julia Child  because she is incomparable, need I say more? The Baking with Julia series was amazing and produced a wonderful cookbook, co-authored by Dorie Greenspan

Mexican Specialties  probably the best Mexican food in Auckland (though I hear there are some new contenders on the horizon), with recipes coming soon to the website. And their little store will have most of the ingredients needed for any of your Latin American recipes

Chow and Chowhound  all things food and foodie, with an Australia/New Zealand forum that you can sign up for here

Millys Kitchen  the best kitchen store of course, and now they have recipes online too. I prefer the huge Parnell warehouse location, though the Ponsonby store has it’s charm

Foodie  all things food and foodie New Zealand with a great newsletter that you can subscribe to

Foodlovers  a lot like the previous listing, also with a newsletter and loads of recipes and forums

Dineout  not recipes, at least not usually, but an invaluable resource for any foodie. A wealth of great information on restaurants and related topics, love their forums too!

Dish Magazine and last, but certainly not least, if you can buy only one food magazine, this has got to be it! I have tried them all, and still do on occasion but whether Kiwi, Aussie or American, there is no comparing to Dish. The best recipes hands down, always perfect the first time.

I hope you have enjoyed my list and have found some new and enlightening resources.

Happy eating! And Happy Holidays to all!

To comment (until we get all this programming sorted) please go to our facebook page here

 

 

 

 

By |December 21st, 2011|Susan's Recipes|0 Comments

Roast Chicken

Everyone knows how to roast a chicken, right? I have been roasting chickens for as long as I have been cooking. When I was at university, I went on a diet that consisted of eating nothing but roast chicken and tomatoes. Nothing else, breakfast lunch and dinner, just chicken and tomatoes! I would roast chickens three at a time so there was always cold chicken to take with me to work and classes. But this roast chicken recipe is my favorite! The easiest, producing delicious, perfect chicken every time!

 

whole chicken, size 14 or larger*

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and fresh ground pepper

garlic powder and paprika (optional)

potatoes for roasting

vegetables for roasting

1. Heat oven to 190 degrees centrigrade. Wash and dry the chicken, inside and out. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the cavity and rub around. Place chicken into large roasting dish. With breast side up, rub olive oil all over skin. Sprinkle liberally, in this order, with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika (if using).The paprika adds a beautiful red colour to the roasted skin, besides adding flavour.

2. Flip chicken over so the bottom is facing up, and repeat above process with olive oil and seasoning. Leave chicken in this position, with back up, and place in oven for 35 – 45 minutes, until skin is nicely browned.

3. While the chicken is roasting, scrub the potatoes but do not peel. Washed white or red jacket potatoes work best. Cut potatoes into 4 – 5 cm chunks. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, along with garlic powder and paprika if using.

4. Prepare vegetables for roasting. Carrots and parsnips work really nicely here. Peel and cut into chunks, then toss with potatoes. Other vegetables can be added, such as red onions, quartered, or whole courgettes cut in half. But these should be added to the pan last, not tossed.

5. Remove chicken from oven and carefully flip over so that the breast is facing up. Add potatoes and vegetables all around the chicken, then place back in the oven for a further 35 – 45 minutes, or until done. To tell if the chicken is cooked, pierce the dark meat to see if the juices run clear. Or check the temperature – the breast should be 70 degrees C at it’s thickest point, and the thigh should be 82 degrees C.

6. Remove the chicken from the pan, letting the juices from the inside drain out. Rest for 5 – 10 minutes before carving. The potatoes and vegetables should be done at the same time as the chicken. But if it is a small chicken and has cooked quickly, you may need to put the pan back into the oven while the chicken rests.

7. As for those yummy pan juices – I like to drain off the top layer of fat, getting down to the concentrated flavours that have cooked out, dribbling these over the potatoes and veges and around the chicken. Or use as you like to create your own gravy. (I am not very good at gravy, so you are on your own for this part!)

Serves 4

*Cooking times may need to be adjusted for larger or smaller chickens. For smaller than size 12, or baby chickens, roast for the entire time with breast side up, on a rack placed in the pan if you want a crispy bottom

 

By |October 24th, 2011|Susan's Recipes|0 Comments

Garlic and Herb Crusted Lamb

A low cal, low fat lamb recipe from the Cooking Light series. And so yum you won’t even know it’s healthy!

4 whole garlic heads

1 tbls Dijon mustard

1 tbls olive oil

1 tbls thinly sliced fresh chives

1 tbls fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped

3.5 kg leg of lamb

12  fresh garlic slices

1¼  tsp salt, divided

½ tsp freshly ground pepper

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs from French baguette (115 grams)

2 ¼ cups low-salt beef broth

½ cup Merlot or other dry red wine

2 ½  tbls cornstarch

Fresh thyme sprigs (optional)

  1.  Preheat oven to 175 degrees celcius
  2. Remove white papery skin from garlic heads (do not peel or separate the cloves) Cut off top portions of garlic heads. Wrap garlic heads in foil. Bake at 175 degrees for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Squeeze garlic heads to extract pulp. Discard skins. Place garlic pulp, mustard, and oil in a food processor; process until smooth. Stir in chives and thyme leaves.
  3. Increase oven temperature to 220 degrees (celcius)
  4. Trim fat from lamb. Cut 12  ¾-inch slits in lamb; place a fresh garlic slice in each slit. Sprinkle surface of lamb with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper; rub with roasted garlic paste mixture. Press breadcrumbs over surface of lamb. Place lamb on a broiler pan. Insert meat thermometer into thickest part of lamb, making sure not to touch bone.
  5. Bake at 220 degrees for 10 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 160 degrees. Bake an additional 2 hours and 10 minutes or until thermometer registers 60 degrees (celcius) (medium-rare) to 68 degrees (medium). Remove lamb from rack; place on a shallow serving platter. Lightly cover with aluminium foil; let stand 15 minutes.
Gravy:
  1. Drain fat from bottom of pan (do not scrape pan). Place broiler pan on stovetop over medium-high heat. Add broth, and bring to a boil, scraping to loosen browned bits.
  2. Combine red wine and cornstarch, and stir with a whisk. Add to beef broth, and return to boiling. Cook 1 minute or until mixture is slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in ¾ teaspoon salt, and serve immediately with lamb. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired. Yield: 20 servings (serving size: 3 ounces lamb and 2 tablespoons sauce). (884 kj/ 211 cal per serving, 28% from fat).
By |October 23rd, 2011|Susan's Recipes|0 Comments

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (Cook’s Illustrated)

My go-to favorite cookbook series are the Cook’s Illustrated books. Also known as American’s Test Kitchen, as the name implies, these books are all about finding the very best version of every recipe they tackle and every recipe in their many books, is can’t fail and totally delish! 

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS:

For this chocolate chip cookie recipe, we wanted to duplicate, at home, the big, delicious, chewy chocolate chip cookies bought in trendy specialty cookie shops. One key element in developing this chocolate chip cookie recipe was melting the butter, which gave the cookies a chewier texture. After numerous tests varying the type of flour and the proportion of flour to butter, and sifting and not sifting, we decided that the best cookie resulted from unsifted bleached all-purpose flour, which has a lower protein content than unbleached. Also, the problem of the cookies hardening after several hours was eliminated by the addition of a single egg yolk; the added fat acted as a tenderizer. (less)

MAKES 24 (2-INCH) SQUARE COOKIES

You can substitute white, milk chocolate, or peanut butter chips for the semi- or bittersweet chips called for in the recipe. In addition to chips, you can flavor the dough with 1 cup of nuts, raisins, or shredded coconut.

INGREDIENTS

2 1/8

cups bleached all-purpose flour (10 1/2 ounces)

1/2

teaspoon table salt

1/2

teaspoon baking soda

12

tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly

1

cup light brown sugar (7 ounces)

1/2

cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)

1

large egg

1

large egg yolk

2

teaspoons vanilla extract

2

cups chocolate chips or chunks (semi or bittersweet)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position. Cut 18-inch length foil and fold lengthwise to 8-inch width. Fit foil into length of 13 by 9-inch baking pan, pushing it into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. Cut 14-inch length foil and fit into width of baking pan in same manner, perpendicular to first sheet (if using extra-wide foil, fold second sheet lengthwise to 12-inch width). Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. 2. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
  3. 3. Whisk melted butter and sugars in medium large bowl until combined. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Using rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in chips and turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with spatula.
  4. 4. Bake until top is light golden brown, slightly firm to the touch, and edges start pulling away from sides of pan, 27 to 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove bars from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

TECHNIQUE

LINING AND LIFTING

  • 1. Line the baking pan with two sheets of foil placed perpendicular.
    • 2. Use the foil handles to lift the cooked brownies or bar cookies from the pan.

 

 

By |October 23rd, 2011|Susan's Recipes|0 Comments

Chicken and Vegetable Stew

A modified Hungarian dish, though not all that modified. This was always one of my favorites, something so comforting about the mild flavours, my favorite veges in that yummy chicken broth. Yes, I actually loved my vegetables as a child and I still do! The only changes I have made to mom’s original recipe are the addition of a little spice to add some bite. And of course, coriander was not a typical Hungarian ingredient, so that too is new. My mother was beside herself at the sacrilege of my changes, but even she had to agree that, though not traditional, my version is quite delicious!

1-2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil

1-2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 yellow capsicum, seeded and chopped

1 large leek, sliced

1 whole chicken, cut in pieces, with skin and bones

1 cauliflower, cut in large florets

2 large carrots, sliced thick

1 medium parsnip, sliced

1 cup frozen peas

fresh coriander for serving

In a large casserole pan, heat oil and lightly fry garlic. Add capsicum and leeks, cook on medium heat until soft. Add chicken, stir all ingredients together and cook until chicken is white on all sides. Add water to almost cover chicken. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a brisk simmer and cook 15 minutes. Add carrots and parsnip and continue cooking on low heat until carrots begin to soften. Add cauliflower, stir, continue cooking. When cauliflower is soft but still crisp, add peas, stir and continue cooking until cauliflower is completely done. Garnish with fresh coriander, serve in bowls with hot, crunchy french bread.

Serves 4

*For a lighter version, this can be made with chicken skin removed. But keep the bones as they add oodles of flavour.

**This will be more soup than stew. It can be thickened by adding a roux. But I find it more soothing as a soup, especially on a cold night. To prepare this as the milder, original Hungarian recipe, delete the garlic, peppers and leeks, saute the carrots and parsnips in the oil, then sauté the chicken and continue as above. Also delete the cilantro garnish

By |October 23rd, 2011|Susan's Recipes|0 Comments