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March, 2012

  1. Mushroom butter and red wine sauce

    March 23, 2012 by Lisa

    A very nice steak sauce and a good way to use the butter that a side of mushrooms are cooked in.


    • Sliced or button mushrooms
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 2 tbsp plain flour
    • 1/2 glass red wine
    • 1 beef bullion cube dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water (or 1/2 cup reduced beef stock)
    • Salt
    • A generous amount of freshly ground pepper

    Sauté the mushrooms in the butter over a low heat until browned. Remove the mushrooms and set aside. Add the red wine and cook for 5 minutes until the alcohol is cooked off. Whisk in the flour one tablespoon at a time until smooth. Slowly add the beef stock.

    Enough for two steaks.

  2. Oatmeal Cookies

    March 21, 2012 by Lisa

    This recipe makes nice chunky cookies that won’t go flat when cooked. The additional flour means they are ever so slightly cakey, but still chewy inside and crisp on the outside. I used both self-raising flour, soda and baking powder, which may seem like over-kill, but it works out in this case. An alternative would be plain flour and then double the quantities of soda and powder, but that’s another experiment for a later date.


    • 4 oz butter (1/2 cup / 113g) – room temperature
    • 1/2 cup (110g) firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup (100g) white sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla
    • 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp (2.5ml) baking powder
    • 1/2 (5ml) tsp salt
    • 1 cup (128g) self-raising flour
    • 1 1/2 (128g) cups rolled oats (porridge oats)
    • 1 cup chopped dates, chocolate chips, nuts, raisins or any combination of the same (optional)

    Cream together the sugars and the butter with an electric mixer. You can use a spoon, but it will take a while – the result should be fluffy and well-mixed. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt and mix into the sugar mixture. Add the oats and then the other ingredients if you’re using them. Refrigerate the mixture for an hour or so.

    Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan/350F). This cookie mix will be very stiff, so you’ll need to roll it into loose walnut-sized balls – about 2 inches in diameter – and place on a non-stick cookie sheet. Cook for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.


  3. Homemade “Rice-a-Roni”

    March 10, 2012 by Lisa

    Rice-A-Roni was one of those favourite packaged foods I grew up with.

    There are a lot of Rice-A-Roni recipes out there – most of them identical, but none has really captured that Rice-A-Roni taste for me.  This one is the closest I’ve managed to get.

    The original uses vermicelli, but that’s hard to find and spaghetti is a poor substitute. The important ingredient here is the orzo – a rice-shaped pasta. This seemed to make all the difference.


    • 1 cup long grain rice
    • 1/2 cup orzo
    • 1/4 cup of butter
    • 1/2 a small onion
    • 1-2 cloves garlic
    • 2 1/2 cups water
    • 3 chicken stock cubes
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Disolve the stock cubes in 2 1/2 cups of boiling water. Saute the onion in the butter in a skillet and when softened, add the rice and pasta and cook until the rice is semi-transparent (ish). Crush the garlic into the mixture and add the stock. Cover and simmer over a low heat until the rice is tender (15-20 minutes).


    Disappointingly, I can’t find an original ad as the jingle is inexorably linked with this side dish for me, but here’s the jingle with someone’s vacation photos:


  4. Pear Crumble

    March 7, 2012 by Lisa

    Crumble topping:

    • 100g plain flour
    • Half a block of butter
    • 40g porridge oats
    • 100g brown sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt

    Pear filling:

    • 4 pears, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp caster sugar
    • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 2 tsp cornflour

    Preheat oven to 180°C. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, combine the butter, salt, brown sugar and flour until crumbly. Mix the pears, vanilla, cinnamon, caster sugar and cornflour in a separate bowl. Place a thin layer of crumble on the bottom of a medium baking dish then pour in the pear mixture and cover with the remaining crumble mixture. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden and crunchy.

  5. Mexican Chorizo

    March 2, 2012 by Lisa

    I get confused looks in the UK when I wax lyrical about Mexican Chorizo and its uniquely greasy properties. Unlike Spanish Chorizo, the Mexican sort is a fresh sausage that’s rarely eaten in sauasage form (at least I’ve never eaten that way, though a friend mentioned barbequing them). Of course there’s nothing like it available here, so I have to make it myself.

    Previous versions have had neither the colour, flavour nor requisite greasiness for me and this one isn’t quite right either so check back for improvements. This version uses dried Guajillo chilis, but you can just as easily use Anchos. Try the Cool Chili Company for mail order or you can pop into Taqueria, their little restaurant in Notting Hill.

    You could use pre-ground pork, but I like the way the ingredients grind together when done this way. You also have more control of the quality of the meat and the amount of fat you use. By all means, use less fat, but it won’t be as good!


    • 750g fresh pork, heavy on the fat – about 20%
    • 4 dried Guajillo Chilis
    • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 small onion, chopped finely
    • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
    • 1 tablespoon Habanero Tabasco
    • 2 teaspoons salt

    Make sure all your ingredients, bowls and blades are cold before starting – this will help prevent your grinder from clogging up. Chop the pork into 1 inch cubes and lay on a tray and freeze until very cold, but not rock hard or it’ll never go through the grinder.

    Soak the dried chilis in hot water until soft and remove the seeds and stems. Place them, the vinegar and the other spices in a blender or food processor and combine until they form a thick red paste. Chill the mixture as well.

    Spread the spice mixture on the pork and grind together. Refrigerate for an hour or longer (the longer you leave it, the more intense the flavours.

    Fry with egg and serve wrapped in a flour tortilla. Traditionally accompanied by skillet fried potatoes, but I also like it with Mexican rice.