You hear about women craving all sorts of weird and wonderful food combinations when they’re pregnant. I didn’t get any strange cravings, which is mildly disappointing, as I feel like I’ve been robbed of a good story! The closest I got to a ‘husband-making-a-mad-dash-to-get-pickles-from-the-shops-at-4am’ situation was a sudden desire for cucumber early one summer’s evening. I made this known to my husband, who assured me he was happy to go and get some cucumber for me, just after some household chore was done. Could I be any healthier??
However, he never went! He forgot, and to this day I don’t let him forget about it!
Saying that, during my pregnancy I did have a strong hankering for all things cold and creamy. I always doubted though how likely it was that this was pregnancy-related. I couldn’t get enough of milkshakes, crème brulee, cheesecake, ice cream, rice pudding, custard… Ah custard.
And this is where today’s recipe fits in. I think I’m still having a love affair with the stuff. This is custard for all times of day, whenever the desire may strike. Enjoy!
Custard and sultana muffins
For the custard:
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 tbs caster sugar
For the muffins:
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 115g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
- ½ cup sultanas
- 225ml milk
- 2 eggs
- 115g (1/2 cup) butter, melted
- To make the custard, combine milk and vanilla in a small saucepan.
- Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk to dissolve the sugar.
- Fill the sink with cold water, and get out a clean bowl, rubber spatula and strainer for when the custard is cooked.
- Bring the saucepan with the milk mixture to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
- Pour the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan over a medium heat and stir constantly until thick. Cook for 2-4 mins. When the custard is cooked you will be able to draw a line on the back of the spoon through the custard.
- As soon as it is ready, pour the custard through the strainer into the clean bowl. Place the bowl in the sink so that the cold water surrounds it. Stir with a rubber spatula until cold. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius. Grease a muffin tray with spray oil.
- To make the muffins, combine flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, sultanas and sugar in a bowl.
- Combine milk, eggs and butter in a separate bowl.
- Mix dry and wet ingredients until combined. Spoon half the mixture into the muffin tray. Then, place a spoonful of custard into each muffin, and fill them up with the rest of the muffin mixture. Cook for 30 mins at 180° Celsius until golden.
With a young baby in the house, early evenings are now very busy times. At 6pm our house is go-go-go! Bath time is happening and bedtime is approaching. So… dinner preparation has had to become super-slick. The less time required in the kitchen, the less multi-tasking for this tired mama!
I wanted to create a dish that would eliminate the crazy from our evenings. Something that involves minimal effort to put together. Something that I can whack into the oven and forget about until my husband and I are ready to eat. Our ‘dinner time’ varies from one night to the next and it is nice to be able to sit down to eat together as soon as bub is asleep.
I LOVE cauliflower. It is seriously one of my favourite vegetables. My all-time favourite dish growing up was a luscious cauliflower cheese to accompany a roast lamb. This, sadly, is one of the few ways I know how to cook this delightful vegetable. Given cauliflower is in season at the moment in Melbourne, I decided to try cooking it a different way. I have also been loving almonds in savoury dishes and thought that they would provide an interesting crunch. The overall effect is one of major scrumptiousness. I love this recipe – not only are we set up for a yummy dinner, but also a peaceful evening, and who can complain about that?
Spiced Chicken Bake with Cauliflower and Almonds
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Juice of half a lemon
- Salt & pepper
- ½ cup almonds, crushed
- ½ tsp of chilli flakes
- 6 chicken drumsticks
- 1 red onion, cut into wedges
- ½ cauliflower, cut into florets
- 6 black olives, pitted and sliced
- ½ bunch coriander, coarsely chopped
- Couscous, to serve
- Lemon wedges, to serve
- Preheat oven to 220° Celsius.
- Combine olive oil, garlic, ground coriander, cumin, lemon juice, salt, pepper, almonds and chilli flakes in a large bowl.
- Add the chicken drumsticks to the marinade and toss to ensure an even coating.
- Place the chicken in a roasting tray with the red onion and cauliflower.
- Bake in oven for 20 mins.
- Reduce heat to 180° C and baste with juices. Bake for a further 40 mins.
- Add olives to the roasting tray 10 mins prior to the end of the cooking time.
- Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with couscous and lemon wedges.
My husband and I found out that we were expecting a baby around this time last year. The week prior I had made a batch of mulled white wine. It was delicious and I think it was the last alcoholic drink I consumed.
I love the warming effect of a glass of mulled wine and I missed it last year. For me, it goes hand in hand with memories of winter folk festivals, roaring fires, good music and terrible weather. Reminiscing about this time last year, I was inspired to create a recipe that hinted of mulled wine, and the feeling of hygge (oh this was such a big thing last year!), without the alcohol.
So here is my creation – an orange crumble. Orange, to me, is a strange fruit to stew. But cooked on a low heat with spices just long enough to infuse the flavours, it works like magic. Oranges are delicious at the moment and, aside from eaten fresh, this is a clever way to use up a few extras lurking in the kitchen.
The crumble topping is so simple to prepare. In fact, next time I make this recipe I am so going to double the quantity and freeze the leftovers, ready to pull out on a random Thursday evening when the weather is freezing and the only thing to do is to snuggle up on the sofa and eat a cosy dessert. Maybe it could replace dinner….
For the stewed oranges:
- 4 oranges, diced with all pith removed
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 2 cloves
- 2 tbs honey
- 1-2 tbs water
- 2 handfuls sultanas
For the crumble:
- 60g butter, softened
- 100g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 30g rolled oats
- Add the diced oranges and spices, honey and water to a small saucepan and stew on a low heat for 5 mins until fragrant and sticky, but before the oranges lose their shape.
- In a separate mixing bowl, use your hands to rub the butter into the flour . Rub until the mixture becomes crumbly.
- Add the baking powder, sugar and oats to the flour & butter mixture and stir to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 200° Celsius.
- Stir the sultanas through the orange mixture. Spoon it into individual sized ramekins. Sprinkle the top with a generous amount of crumble mixture.
- Bake in the oven for 20 mins or until the crumble topping is golden and the orange mixture is bubbling underneath. Serve with cream or Greek-style plain yoghurt.
Growing up, my mother’s specialty dish was a hearty roast lamb. It was by far the family favourite, preferred over pork, beef and chicken. I think my mum started cooking it because my father had grown up eating roast lamb every Sunday, cooked by my grandmother. When my grandmother passed away, my mum, her daughter-in-law, kept up the tradition. And of course, it was served with all the great British trimmings – mint sauce, gravy, potatoes, carrots, peas…
I have for you here a reinvention, if you will. I called on my memories of roast lamb and the flavours that it entailed. My pie has potatoes, carrots, mint and peas! Reminiscent of old fashioned family Sunday dinners. A meal for a winter Sunday lunch, for family gathered around. To share a good bottle of red wine, and to spend the afternoon debating answers to the Sunday quiz.
- 1.5 kg lamb shoulder, bone on
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 red onion, cut into chunks
- 4 rashers bacon, diced
- 1 tbs plain flour
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- ½ tsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 2 carrots, cut into thick rounds
- 500g potatoes, washed, peeled and diced into 2 cm chunks
- 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
- Salt, pepper
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 handful of fresh mint, coarsely chopped
- 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry
- 1 egg, beaten
- Heat oil in slow cooker set to ‘sear’ mode (or use heavy bottomed saucepan on stove). Sear lamb until browned all over. Add red onion and bacon and stir.
- Add flour and stir for 1-2 minutes until juices are thickened.
- Add red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Cook until liquid reduces by half. Transfer lamb to slow cooker.
- Add beef stock, garlic, herbs, tomato paste, carrots, potatoes and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
- Set slow cooker to ‘slow cook’ mode and cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
- Once ready, set slow cooker to ‘sear’ mode again and bubble until liquid thickens. Stir through peas and mint.
- Spray a pie dish with oil and preheat the oven to 180° Celsius.
- Spoon the pie filling into the dish and top with the pastry sheet, using a little oil to seal the edges. Prick several holes in the pastry with a fork and brush with beaten egg.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until pastry is golden and puffed. Serve with fresh mint.