Not Your Usual Lasagne.

Who doesn’t like lasagne? The layers of rich meat sauce with cheese. Doesn’t just saying that line make you want to sink your teeth into it? It’s one of my source of comforts. Besides garlic mash, mac and cheese. haha okie. the list could go on. I think food, on the whole, is my comfort. hee.

When I was deciding what to cook for dinner, lasagne came straight to my mind. But I was hoping to cook something a bit healthier. so layers of vegetables was the only thing that I could think of! And as colourful as they can get! I think I got it all covered. Swede (yellow), eggplant (purple), zucchini (green) and the meat sauce (red/orange). I couldn’t help myself. (:

of course, I made a little bit of white sauce to combine all the veg together so that they could stay (kinda) in shape! Guilty! but SO GOOD! (:

Tomatoey goodness (: It was a big hit among the boys! They loved it. I know it looks heavy, but i only sprinkled a bit of mozzarella cheese on the top to melt under the grill for the last 5 mins before serving. It’s worth the extra calories, I say. haha

So here’s the recipe, a Food Made With Love original (:

Ingredients :

400g mince (beef or pork)

1 big onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tbs olive oil

1 carrot, grated

1 green capsicum, finely diced

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

3 tbs tomato paste

1 can (400g) tinned chopped tomatoes

3 swedes, sliced thinly

1 large eggplant, sliced thinly

2 zucchini, sliced thinly

100g spinach

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the simple white sauce :

150ml milk

50g butter

3 tbs plain flour

50g parmesan

salt and pepper, to taste

grated mozzarella, to finish

Steps :

1. After slicing the eggplant, salt both sides and allow it to stand on a rack for 30 mins. Pat them dry and set them aside. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celcius.

2. Heat a frying pan with the olive oil, fry the onion and garlic till soft and fragrant. Add the carrot and capsicum and fry for a further 5 minutes.

3. Add the mince and fry till brown. Make sure there are no chunks. Add the tomato paste and dried herbs, stir till well combined. Add the chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, stir and allow the liquid to reduce till almost totally dry.

4. In a baking dish, lay the eggplant at the bottom and top with the meat sauce. Top with a layer of spinach. Then layer the zucchini, another layer of eggplant and swede.

5. The white sauce : Melt the butter in a small pot over low-medium, add the flour and stir, allowing it to cook for 3 mins. Add the milk and using a whisk, make sure it is well combined and there are no lumps. Add the parmesan and stir until sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper. If it is too thick, just add a bit more milk.

6. Pour the white sauce over the baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes. Take the baking dish out and top with mozzarella cheese and put it under a grill for 5 minutes or until golden brown!

SERVE and ENJOY! (:

What is your favourite comfort food of all time ?

Let’s Celebrate!

There are many ways to celebrate but for this household, the way to celebrate is cooking up a good meal and enjoying it together! (:

And the things to celebrate about might be something as small as doing well for a piece of assignment; or as big as getting a job. But tonight, we celebrated 2 things : the start of my school holidays and the mr coming back to melbourne! hehe Actually I think it’s just an excuse for me to get back in the kitchen (my comfort zone) and cook up something yummy for everyone. (: And so I did!

Went to Footscray market this morning, without having a clue about what I wanted to cook for dinner. This often happens to me haha. Getting inspiration by walking up and down the meats and seafood aisle. and I saw these gorgeous osso buccos that I just had to get them.

These gorgeous things are huge! haha So I bought 2 big ones for the boys and 1 small for me! Personally, I love to cook this over a low heat for at least 2 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone. I think any longer than that, you would actually lose the marrow which the mr would be quite disappointed about. So I say, 2 hours tops!

Let’s do this!

Osso Bucco With Pasta (A Food Made With Love Original)

Ingredients :

3 beef/veal osso buccos

2 carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, fine chopped

1 tbs plain flour, and extra to dust

1 tsp chilli powder

2 tbs tomato paste

1 can (400g) of tinned chopped tomatoes

2 cups beef stock

1/2 cup white wine

2 tsp dried mix herbs

4 tbs of olive oil, and extra to coat

salt and pepper, for seasoning and taste

Pasta, cooked according to the directions on the packet and drained

Steps :

1. Season the osso buccos with salt, pepper and chilli powder. Rub a bit of olive oil on the meat and coat with plain flour.

2. Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a deep pan on medium-high heat and sear the meat for 2-3 minutes on each side till nice and brown. Take them off the heat, and set aside.

3. Heat the remaining 2 tbs of oil, and add the onion and garlic and cook till soft and fragrant. Add the carrots and celery and cook for a further 5 mins. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and stir till well combined.

4. Add the flour and the mixed herbs and make sure you stir till there are no lumps. Add the tinned tomatoes and the wine and allow it to reduce by 1/4 before adding the beef stock. Bring to boil and reduce to low heat. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Place the osso buccos back into the pan and cover to allow it to simmer for 1 hour. Remove the cover and continue to cook it over low heat for another hour (uncovered). The meat should be falling off the bone at this point.

6. Remove the osso buccos and place the cooked pasta in the pan and toss it to coat.

7. Plate  it as you like it! I prefer to have my pasta at the bottom and finish the dish with the osso buccos on top! (: of course, don’t forget the thick yummy gravy!

ENJOY!

PS: Remember to cook this with enough time to spare, so that your family or loved ones wouldn’t have to wait too long for dinner!

Bon Appetite! (: My mr. enjoying the marrows. hee

So how do you celebrate with your loved ones and friends? SHARE please! Would love to hear about it!

Crazy About Hazelnut.

Macarons. I just can’t get enough of it. I don’t think my craze about them will diminish anytime soon. This was made a while back but this were the best macarons I’ve made. I made it before heading back to Singapore so I could bring it back for the loves of my life : family (:

And fortunately, they loved it! and these shells were the nicest I’ve made so far with happy feet!So sticking to using the Italian meringue for the shells!

I’ve made a few successful ones before : pb&j and bandung are just 2 of my favourite ones. This macaron was inspired by the sister-in-law-to-be! When she was in Melbourne, the only flavour of macarons she would have is hazelnut! So I promised her that I would try making them and bring them back home if they were successful. And thank goodness they were!

So I packed them nicely and neatly and compactly so that would be able to survive the 7 hour flight home!

Now enough about the shell. As for the beautiful filling, I attempted to make my own nutella! And I was so worried. Cos I LOVE nutella. and trying to make it from scratch was just something I never thought I would even attempt! When I made it, having it on its own (which I always do;digging a spoonful of nutella) didn’t have the “WOW” factor, but having it together – NOMS!

So here’s the recipe that I adapted from Anita from the Dessert First (: definitely a keeper!

Hazelnut Macarons with Homemade Nutella

Ingredients :

Italian Meringue Hazelnut Macaron Shell

200g hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
200g confectioners’ sugar
200g sugar

50g water
150g egg whites, divided into two 75g portions

A bit of cocoa powder, for dusting (optional)

Steps :

1. Stack two baking trays on top of each other. Line with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. (I actually prefer the parchment paper, but that’s just me!)
2. Process hazelnuts with confectioners’ sugar in a food processor. Sieve out any large bits of hazelnut. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan. Heat on medium until all the sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, place 75g of egg whites in a mixer bowl with the whisk attachment. Continue cooking until the sugar syrup reaches 118 C/245 F.
3. While the sugar is cooking, begin whisking the egg whites. They should reach stiff peaks by the time the syrup is at  118 C/ 245 F. If it whips too fast, turn down or turn off the mixer. Turn the mixer speed to low. Carefully pour the sugar syrup in a slow stream into the mixer.
4. Turn the mixer speed to high and let the meringue whip for several minutes until it has cooled (to touch) and appears glossy and firm.
5. In a large bowl, combine the hazelnut mixture with the remaining 75g of egg whites until partially combined. Scoop the meringue on top of the hazelnut mixture. Using a spatula or dough scraper, carefully fold the meringue in, trying not to deflate it.
6. The final batter should be thick and flow slowly like magma. Do not overmix. Scoop the batter into a piping bag fitted with a ½” diameter plain tip.
7. Pipe 1 ½” rounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle some cocoa powder straight after piping. Let the sheets sit for about 30 minutes to let the shells harden. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160 C/320 F.
8. Bake one set of macarons for 15 minutes, rotating once. Let tray cool for a few minutes before removing from the silicone mat. Let finish cooling on wire racks.
Homemade Nutella

1/2 cup (70 g) hazelnuts, toasted and skinned

8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces

2 ounces semisweet/bittersweet chocolate

1 cup (240 g) heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon salt

Steps :

Place hazelnuts in food processor and pulse until nuts are ground into a paste.

Place both chocolates in a metal bowl and place on another saucepan of simmering water. Stir chocolate occasionally until fully melted.

Place cream in a clean saucepan and bring just to a boil on the stove over medium high heat.

Stir cream into chocolate until fully combined.

Add ground hazelnuts and salt and stir until combined.

Pour mixture into a container and chill in refrigerator for 1-2 hours until it has firmed up slightly and can be spread/piped onto the macaron shells.

ENJOY! (:

A Keeper : Beef Stout Stew

Remember the post I did a couple of days ago on Yorkshire pudding? I knew after posting that I had to post the recipe of my favourite stew to have the pud with. I’ve made a few stews but I feel that this one is definitely a keeper.

I don’t know if it’s the stout, but somehow. It does make the stew yummier. Might be in my head. haha (My Mr loves stout!) In saying that, I’m sure it will be fine if you leave the stout out and just use more stock. It’s just one of those stews that you can put all your favourite ingredients in it and it will turn out great! Although it takes a really long time to cook, it is crucial just so the flavours will develop and you will get the thick and lucious gravy! The waiting time is worth it!

There are many things you could have with a stew. Besides the yorkshire pudding, one of my other favourite sides to go with a stew is a good mash. I made parmesan mash with this beef stew. And it was P-E-R-F-E-C-T! (:

So what is the favourite thing you like to go with your stew? SHARE! (:

Beef Stout Stew (Serves 6 or freezes well)

Ingredients :

1.2kg gravy beef, cut into 3cm pieces (can use chuck as well)

1/4 cup plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

2 celery stalks, cut into chunks

3 carrots, cut into chunks

1 big onion, cut into wedges

4 cloves garlic, chopped finely

6 small eschalots

8 mushrooms, cut into quarters

2 tbs tomato paste

2 cups beef stock

1 cup stout

2 bay leaves

Steps :

1. Lightly dust the meat with the flour, shake off and reserve the excess. Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a casserole dish/claypot on medium-high heat and pan dry the beef in batches until browned all over. Remove and set aside.

2. Reduce heat to medium and heat the rest of the oil, adding the onion, garlic, celery and carrot. Cook, stirring for 3-4minutes until tender. Add the tomato paste and the rest of the flour and stir for a further minute.

3. Add the stout, beef stock and bay leaves and stir till well combined. Bring to a simmer, cover and allow it to cook over low heat for 1hr. (Stirring every half hour just to make sure nothing is stuck at the bottom)

4. Add the mushrooms and eschalots and cover and cook for a further 1 1/2hrs or until the meat is soft and tender and the sauce is rich and thick. (Stirring every 30mins)

Serve with a side of your choice! (: ENJOY!

For The Love of Italian Food

Italian food is one of my favourite cuisines. I cannot have enough of it! Whether it comes in big portions at family restaurants or small portions at fine dining places, I love them all! It’s no secret one of my favourite kind of food to cook is italian. Especially pasta!

One of the staples in this household is spaghetti and meatballs. Another is spaghetti bolognese. Especially on days that I have work or uni. Just cause it’s so quick and easy to whip up and it’s always yummy! (: And thoroughly enjoyed by everyone! However, on days that I have time to just be in the kitchen and cook something I really love, one of the few things I end up making is risotto.

One of my all time favourite risotto is without a doubt mushroom risotto. Especially when there is porcini in it. The flavour would just be so intense. I could fall in love. (: and with a mixture of different kinds of mushrooms. Just talking about it puts a smile on my face!

So after weeks of work and a hectic week of rushing an assignment to meet a deadline. I finally got a chance to be in the kitchen and cook something I love without rushing. Having the time to myself just to enjoy the whole process. And gain some arm muscles, I must add, with all the stirring. haha.

Even though it takes a long time to get it to where it should be, and it takes a lot of strength to stir it continuously. And also alot of concentration to make sure it doesn’t dry out. But trust me, it will all be worth the time and effort. Every single spoonful will be worth it! (:

So here is the recipe I came up with on my own! An original! Whoopeedoo! hehe Always exciting to come up with my own recipe. Hope you all will enjoy it!

Seafood Risotto (A Food Made With Love Original)

Ingredients

150g aborio rice

4 cups stock (I used chicken stock)

1/2 cup white wine

550g seafood

1 big onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tomatoes, diced

6 pieces of sundried tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp hot paprika

1 tbs tomato paste

1 tbs yogurt (could use cream)

3 tbs olive oil

2 tbs parmesan cheese, extra to serve

25g butter

salt & pepper, to taste

Steps :

1. For the seafood: Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a frying pan, and add 1 tbs of chopped onion and 1 tsp chopped garlic. Fry till fragrant. Add 1 tsp of chopped sundried tomatoes and fry for a couple more minutes.

2. Add the seafood and allow it to fry for 5 mins. Add the chilli powder and fry for another minute. Set a bit of the seafood aside to garnish.

3. For the risotto: Heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a deep frying pan, add the rest of the chopped onion, garlic and sundried tomatoes and fry till onion becomes translucent and is softened (about 5 mins). Add the rice and make sure the rice gets coated with the oil.

4. Pour the wine into the frying pan and stir until it has reduced to half. Add the chopped tomatoes and two ladles of stock and stir continuously until absorbed. Continue to add the stock (1 ladle at the time), stirring occasionally, until the rice is cooked but still al dente. This should take about 20-25 minutes.

5. Stir in the seafood, paprika, tomato paste and yogurt and stir till well combined (Stir gently, so that the fish will not crumble. You want it to keep its shape!). Add the parmesan and butter into the risotto. Season to taste.

6. Divide into plates, lightly tap it to allow it to spread. Place the seafood that was set aside on top to garnish. Top with parmesan and serve.

ENJOY!

Yorkshire Puddings.

This is no ordinary pudding. Not something sweet, in fact it’s savoury!

The first time I sunk my teeth into these beautiful puff was at Cafe Vue at Melbourne airport and they were a whole plate of deliciousness with waygu beef, mash and a thick and and luscious gravy. O-M-G!

So when I returned back from Singapore, I had to try making it. I was reading one of the older editions of the Delicious magazine and I found a perfect recipe that was as easy as mix-stir-pour-bake-VIOLA! So I couldn’t resist and had to make it. And it’s the cutest thing!

loved how they just pop up and have that beautiful golden brown. You kinda have to eat it as soon as it’s out of the oven (with caution not to burn urself!) cause it’s not as nice cold!

I cooked a stout beef stew to go with it and it was a match-made in heaven! (: And the tummies were happy and very satisfied.I reckon it will go well with any kind of stew that has thick and yummy gravy.

So give this easy treat a go when you’re thinking of making a stew! (: You’ll love it!

Easy Yorkshire Pudding (Adapted from Delicious Magazine)

Ingredients

1/2 cup canola oil

2/3 cup plain flour

Good pinch of salt

1 large egg

1 egg yolk

1 cup milk

Steps :

1. Preheat oven to 200°C fan-forced (220°C conventional). Pour 1 tablespoon of oil in each of 12 holes of a cupcake baking tin. Out in the oven for 5 mins or until oil is hot.

2. Sift flour and salt into a bowl and combine. Add egg and egg yolk and use a balloon whisk to whisk until combined. Gradually add the milk in a thin, stead stream and whisk until smooth.

3. Pour batter into a jug and divide evenly among the cupcake holes, pouring the mixture carefully into the hot oil. Return tin to the oven and bake for 15-20mins or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm!

ENJOY!