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Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato

This is another simple yet delicious dish, made even better by doing half potato half sweet potato mash on top.  This was also a ‘make it up as I go’ recipe, but one of the best things about Shepherd’s Pie is that you can just throw whatever you have in and it will usually turn out well.

Ingredients (serves 4):

- 500 g mince meat
- 5 small potatoes, cut in quarters
- ~12 cm x 5cm piece of sweet potato, diced
- 1 brown onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 glove garlic, finely chopped or minced
- 1 tin of mixed peas and carrots
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup passata
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 50 g butter, diced 
- 1 tbsp olive oil

Method:

- Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

- Place potato and sweet potato in a large saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to the boil and boil for ~10 minutes or until potatoes are easily pierced by a fork.

- Meanwhile, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic, sauté for ~3 minutes or until onion turns clear.  Add meat and cook, stirring  for ~5 mins or until brown.  Add Worcestershire sauce, passata, oregano and peas and carrots, then cook for a further 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

- Once the potato and sweet potato are cooked, remove from heat and drain the water.  Add butter and mash until smooth.

- Pour meat mixture into a deep oven or casserole dish and press down to form an even layer.  Carefully distribute the potato/sweet potato mash over the meat and smooth into an even layer.  Using a fork rough up the surface into a series of parallel lines.  Repeat to form another set of lines perpendicular to the first set.

- Place in oven and bake for ~ 25 minutes or until the surface is slightly browned and crispy.  Remove from oven an allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

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Beef Burgers

Nothing says Friday night like a good burger.  These are quick and easy too, so what’s not to love.

Ingredients (makes 6):

- 500 g beef mince
- 1 brown onion, coarsly chopped
- 1 egg, lightly whisked
- 70g (~2/3 cup) breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 bread rolls, cut (I used ciabatta rolls) 
- salad, tomato, cucumber, beetroot, cheese, eggs, bacon, sauce etc. (whatever you like really)

Method:

- Combine mince, onion, egg, breadcrumbs and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl.  Split into 6 even portions and roll into balls.

- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  When hot, place the meat balls in one by one, flattening each with an egg flip (or similar).  Cook for ~3-5 minutes on each side, or until brown on the outside and cooked through.

- Place a burger in each roll and top with desired fillings.  If you are having cheese, it’s best to put this beneath the meat, as the heat from the meat melts the cheese nicely.  

- Serve as is or with some chips.  Enjoy.

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Triple Choc Set Cheesecake

Ok, so I know it has been a while since my last recipe so I have a very decadent one for you now to make up for it.  I present a not single, not double, but TRIPLE chocolate cheesecake to get you salivating.

Ingredients (Serves 8-10):

- 200 g plain chocolate biscuits
- 80 g butter, melted
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- 5 tsp powdered gelatine
- 500 g cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 150 g white chocolate, melted
- 150 g dark chocolate, melted
- 1 1/2 cups thickened cream

Methods:

- Grease and line a 24 cm diameter springform pan.  Process biscuits in a food processor until fine, transfer into a bowl.  Add melted butter and stir until well combined.  Pour into lined pan and press into the base of the pan.  You can use the back of a large spoon or even just your hands.  Place into the fridge for 20 minutes to set

- Place boiling water in a small heat-proof bowl.  Sprinkle over gelatine powder.  Bring a small pan of water to the boil, then remove from heat.  Float the bowl containing the gelatine in the hot water and stir until the gelatine is dissolved.  Set aside to cool slightly for 15 minutes.

- Combine cheese, icing sugar and milk using an electric mixer or food processor until smooth.  Add gelatine and then stir to combine.  Halve the cheese mixture between two bowls.  Add melted white chocolate to one bowl and stir until combined.  Add melted dark chocolate to the remaining bowl and stir until combined.

- Beat the cream in a separate bowl until soft peaks form.  Add 1/2 the cream to each of the chocolate/cheese mixtures and stir until combined.

- Pour dark chocolate mixture onto the previously prepared base and smooth the surface.  Place in the freezer for 10 minutes, or until surface is firm to touch.  Carefully pour the white chocolate mixture over the partially set dark chocolate mixture.  Smooth the surface then cover and place in the fridge overnight to fully set.

- For extra visual appeal, sprinkle grated chocolate over the cake prior to serving.  Enjoy!

(Source: video.taste.com.au)

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Crumbed Eggplant Slices

I was home for lunch on Tuesday and had an eggplant in the fridge that needed to be eaten so I decided to make this for lunch.  It is such an easy, and very yummy, way of using eggplant and it is always a hit with everyone.  You can serve them simply with natural yoghurt as I did, or if you a looking for something a little more epic you could even make eggplant parmas out of them.  YUM!

Ingredients (makes about 6 or 7 slices):

- 1 large eggplant (sliced into ~ 1.5 - 2cm slices)
- plain flour
- bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2 or 3 tbsp oil
- natural yoghurt, to serve

Method:

- Spread some flour out on a large plate and some breadcrumbs out on a separate large plate.  Mix the egg and milk in a wide, shallow bowl and place between the two plates.

- Take an eggplant slice and coat it thoroughly with flour.  Then dip in into the egg mix and coat thoroughly.  Finally, coat thoroughly with  breadcrumbs, pushing down on the slice to help the crumbs stick well.  Place crumbed eggplant slice on a plate and repeat the above for the remaining slices.

- In a frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat until a breadcrumb dropped in immediately sizzles.  Cook the eggplant slices until golden and crispy on one side (~3 mins), then turn and cook till golden and crispy on the other side.

- Serve with some natural yoghurt.  Enjoy!

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Ham and Egg Quiche

I had some mozzarella and shredded ham left over from making pizzas on Anzac day so I wanted to do something to use them up.  Given that I also had heaps of eggs I figured “why not make a quiche”.  This is a nice, quick way to make quiche and could easily be modified to be vegetarian by substituting the ham for some sun-dried tomatoes and maybe some spring onion.  I did them two different ways too, one was just the normal mixture and the other had an egg cracked on top.  The egg on top doesn’t really add anything to the dish and is basically just for wank and presentation.

Ingredients (makes 4 small):

- 2 sheets of thawed shortcrust pastry
- 150g shredded ham
- 2 tablespoons finely-chopped chives (can use freeze dried)
- 1/2 cup cream
- 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese
- 3 eggs (more if you want an egg on top)

Method:

- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Lightly grease 4 small pie dishes.  Cut 4 circles out of the pastry to fit the pie dishes.  Press each circle into one of the pie dishes.  Weight down the pastry and bake in the oven for 10 mins, then remove weight and bake for a further 5 mins until base is golden.  Remove and allow to cool for 5 mins.  The easiest way to weight the pastry down is to use another ceramic dish whose base fits in the base of the pie dish.  Place some baking paper between it and the pastry to stop it sticking.  Another option is to use uncooked rice, once again with a sheet of baking paper between the rice and the pastry.

- Meanwhile, combine the rest of the ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Evenly distribute the mix between the 4 pie dishes.  If desired crack an egg over each quiche, keeping yolks whole.  Bake for 20 minutes or until eggs are set.  Enjoy!

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Pear and Chocolate Crumble

This is an awesome recipe that I got from a friend (well not the exact recipe but the basic idea).  Fruit crumbles are amazing already, but this recipe then throws chocolate into the mix to take it to the next level.  It’s a pretty easy recipe to cook, the hardest/most annoying part is mixing the butter into the flour mix.  I cooked this in my awesome new baking dish that I found for $4 at the opp shop down at Phillip Island.  Everyone was having a go at me about how happy a new baking dish made me, lol (they might have a point).  The following is the recipe I use but I think it had a bit too much crumble, so maybe next time I will reduce the amount of crumble ingredients by about a 1/3.

Ingredients (serves 4):

- 850g can pear slices, drained
- 150g chocolate
- 150g (1 cup) plain flour
- 100g brown sugar
- 50g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
- 100g butter, chilled, diced

Method:

- Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

- Combine flour, sugar, butter and oats in a large bowl.  Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

- Pour pear slices into an ~20cm x 20cm baking dish.  Break the chocolate into individual pieces and evenly distribute them amongst the pear slices.  Cover with the crumble mixture.

- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crumble top is golden and crispy.  Serve with some cream or ice cream.  Enjoy!

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Not a recipe but given how many photos I take of food I thought I had to post this!

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Baked Egg in Avocado

I have been meaning to give this a shot for a while so when I really felt like something different today I decided to cook this up.  They are quick and easy to make which is always a good thing when you are looking for a quick feed.  The end result was suitably epic, definitely going to make these again sometimes.

Ingredients (serves 1):

- 1 large avocado, halved, pit removed
- 2 medium eggs
- diced pancetta or bacon (optional)
- paprika
- salt and pepper

Method: 

- Preheat oven to 220 degrees.

- Cut a small flat section on the underside of the avocado halves so that they will stand up.  If the pit hole is too small you may need to make it a little larger by carving some avocado out.

- Crack an egg into a small bowl.  Transfer, yolk first, into one of the avocado halves.  It is easiest to put the yolk in first then spoon the whites in afterwards to avoid having the egg overflow if it is too big.  Repeat for the second egg and avocado half.

- Sprinkle with diced pancetta or bacon.  Season with paprika, salt and pepper.  Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes depending on how you like your eggs.  I did 20 minutes and they were cooked through so try a little less if you want the yolk to be runny.

- Serve on their own or with some nice toast.  Enjoy!

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Banana Bread

Banana bread has to be one of my favourite cakes, maybe second only to date loaf.  The best thing is that it is also really quick and easy to make.  Once you know what you are doing it can be in the oven within about 10 minutes, what more could you want.  Served with a generous spread of butter it is so good that I could easily eat the whole thing myself.  I would usually make it with nuts, such as diced walnuts or slivered almonds, mixed through the mixture to add a nice bit of contrasting texture and flavour.  I made this one sans nuts because I am taking it to my step-brother house for dessert and he isn’t a big nut fan.  I also used bio-dynamic whole-wheat flour because it is simply the most epic flour ever, but you can use normal white or wholemeal self raising flour and leave out the baking powder.

Ingredients (serves 8):

- 265g (1 3/4 cups) plain biodynamic whole-wheat flour (can be substituted for   self-raising flour)
- 3 1/2 tsp baking powder (leave out if using self-raising flour)
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 140g (2/3 cup) brown sugar
- 125ml milk
- 2 eggs, lightly whisked
- 50g butter, melted, cooled
- 2 overripe large bananas, mashed (you can go nuts with these, I have used up to 4)

Method:

- Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius.  Brush 11 x 21cm loaf tin with butter (or oil spray) and line the base with baking paper.

- Sift flour and cinnamon into a large bowl.  Mix in sugar and baking powder.  Make a well in the centre.

- In a separate bowl mix together the milk, eggs, bananas, and melted butter.  Add this banana mixture to the flour and stir until just combined.  At first it will look like there is not enough liquids but then all of a sudden the batter will become nice and gooey.  Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and tap the tin several times to level the mix and remove any air bubbles.

- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Remove from oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes.  Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

- Serve with a generous spread of butter and a nice cup of tea if desired.  Enjoy!

(Source: taste.com.au)

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Tiramisu

Well it’s been a while but I am finally doing another recipe.  A friend of mine recently went to Europe and came back raving about the tiramisu that she had eaten all over Italy.  Having never really eaten, let alone made, tiramisu I decided that I should give it a shot.  Afterall, it had been way way way too long since I’d had a chance to do a home-made dessert for Wednesday night dinner at the Lyon’s.  I ended up going for an alcohol free recipe for two reasons: 1) because I couldn’t find any marsala, and 2) because my sister-in-law is still breastfeeding.  The final result was amazing, definitely a winner and it held together really well.  If I ever find some marsala though I am going to give it another shot in all it’s boozy glory.

Ingredients (Serves 8):

- 1 1/2 cups of strong coffee (I used 3/4 cup of percolator coffee and 3/4 cup water)
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 250g marscarpone
- 300ml thickened cream, lightly whipped 
- 1 large pack (500g) of sponge fingers (savoiardi or lady fingers)
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- cocoa or chocolate powder, for dusting

Method:

- Pour coffee, water and vanilla essence into a shallow dish and set aside

- Beat egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl with electric beaters until pale and thick.  Add the marscapone and whipped cream.  Mix gently until just combined.

- Beat egg whites (in a clean bowl with clean beaters) until soft peaks form.  Gently fold into the marscapone/cream mixture using a large metal spoon.

- Dip one side of a sponge finger into the coffee mix for ~2 seconds.  Any longer and the tiramisu could end up soggy.  Place wet side up into a deep dish (I used a 20cm square cake tin), repeating with the remaining sponge fingers until a full layer is formed.  Cover with 1/3 of the cream mixture.  Repeat to make 2 more layers, finishing with a layer of cream.  

- Dust generously with cocoa or chocolate powder (you can also do this every layer if desired).  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Enjoy!

(Source: taste.com.au)