To blog or not to blog? I love to cook at home - for family and friends. Nothing fancy. Just good, tasty, not too fiddly meals, cakes and the occasional dessert. And I love to share recipes. They're not my recipes, they come from cookbooks, chefs, websites, all over the place ... but I always acknowledge where the recipe came from. I started a collection of recipes in the nineties when a friend at work asked for ideas about what to cook for dinner that night. At home, I typed up a recipe and for fun put it on a Natalie's Kitchen Classics letterhead ... and so it began. I'm hoping with this blog to share recipes with friends who are interested, without bugging my Facebook friends who aren't interested! So here we go ...
I'll start with that first recipe that became a Natalie's Kitchen Classic. It was Spaghetti Carbonara from Trattoria Pasta by Loukie Werle - still a weekly favourite in our house. (In fact, it's my 11 year old son's favourite home cooked meal.) The most significant thing about this recipe is that it has no cream - oil, egg and parmesan yes, but no cream. (And don't skimp on the oil!) I must also say that, despite the author's insistence on 'very fresh' eggs and pancetta, it works just as well with eggs and bacon from the supermarket - and I've never used a flame tamer!
No escaping that it's World Cup time! A great excuse in our house to make Churros and Hot Chocolate for breakfast.
A few years ago I read a novel 'The Lost Recipe for Happiness' by Barbara O'Neal, set in a restaurant in Colorado, the main character is the (female) head chef with a Mexican upbringing. I loved this book - and I loved the recipes scattered throughout. This recipe - Tansy's Churros - comes from that book. (Tansy was one of the characters in the book who worked in the restaurant kitchen.) I always thought churros would be far too tricky to make, but, thankfully I was wrong. These churros are beautiful. I've made them for family and friends for a decadent weekend breakfast, served with Mayan Hot Chocolate (another recipe from the book), and I'll make them again for a not-so-healthy early morning treat during the World Cup!
I didn't have some of the authentic ingredients listed in the recipes, but my substitutes worked well.
We all love chocolate cake (most of us anyway), no doubt about it. And there are some fabulous recipes around - rich and delicious mud cakes made with real chocolate chunks - yum scrum. I've made many different chocolate cakes for birthdays and special occasions. But ... sometimes I just want a simple, small chocolate cake that's quick and easy to make, and not too rich - perfect for my son and his friends as an after school treat. And that's when I pull out this recipe - a family hand-me-down.
I remember making this particular cake with my grandmother (my mum's mum) when I was 5 or 6 in her kitchen in Palgarup (WA) - and the recipe has been passed down to my mum, and to my sisters and me. (Nieces - and nephews! - standby, it's your turn next!) Nothing fancy about this cake, the chocolate component is just cocoa powder, and it's super simple to make - just sift the dry ingredients, melt the butter (I use the microwave), add the wet ingredients, mix it with a wooden spoon, and bung it in the oven. Easy. Quick. Delicious.
This is my favourite minestrone recipe. You might think this has been handed down the generations from my nonna's nonna, to my nonna, to my mum to me ... but sadly we never met our Italian grandparents (dad's side of the family). My very un-Italian partner had this Australian Women's Weekly 'Italian Cooking Class' cookbook when we met 20-odd years ago, it's got some great recipes ... and this minestrone is one of them. Lots of chopping, cooking and stirring, but worth it in the end. You can make your own fabulous stock for this recipe if you want to - but I've only ever used stock cubes or liquid stock from a tetra pack, and it always works well. Use vegetable stock if you want to keep it 'vegetarian'. And although the recipe doesn't specify, I always use olive oil (the 'light' stuff). Yummmmm ...
I love cooking cakes. My favourites are made in my square cake tin, not huge, not fancy, but easy to make, easy to cut, and always delicious. Gluten free cakes are popular, and are even welcomed by people who aren't gluten intolerant. I love this carrot and walnut cake, with a cream cheese and lemon icing. It's been around for quite a few years (2005!) but I only found it recently. Moist and delicious. Give it a go.
Another super simple, super quick, super tasty soup - a favourite in our house! Love the slight 'kick' of the spices. Not many ingredients, quick to whip up ... especially when cauliflowers are in abundance. Serve with or without the yoghurt, with or without the naan bread. Use vegetable stock to keep it vegetarian, or chicken stock if it doesn't matter.
We started at the beginning for the first recipe share, so it seems right that the next one should be the latest new recipe I cooked. Last night, something simple for Sunday night, quickly prepared during half time of the footy match (on TV!). I'm going through a fennel and lemon thing at the moment, and I always like chicken, so this one hit the spot. (Son didn't want to go near it, but in his (or my?) defence, he was feeling sick and didn't want any dinner at all.)
I didn't feel like opening a new bottle of white wine (what?!) for this recipe (I was drinking red!) so I used mirin instead and it worked well.
The recipe said it was for 4 people - oops, not much left after we (2) wolfed into it. So, more chicken if you like a decent serve, and next time I might add more fennel.
I served it with rice, but I think it needs something more ... but on Sunday night, I couldn't really be bothered with anything more. Any suggestions for a vege to go with it?
Thanks, Kaz, for sharing this one with me.
Another delicious, simple soup for this wintry weather. This is my favourite 'orange' soup - the chickpeas give it a great texture. The 'orange' is sweet potato and carrot ... but I had not quite enough sweet potato last time I cooked it, so I threw in a bit of pumpkin that was lurking in the vege drawer ... and it was lovely. And of course vegetable stock instead of chicken stock if you're cooking it for vegetarians. I don't usually bother with the croutons, but go for it if you like! Don't forget the squeeze of lemon at the end - yum.
I just loved the photo of this salad and couldn't wait to make it. I've made it a couple of times now and it's easy and delicious. It went well with the Atlantic salmon with fennel & lemon risotto, but the Pollo alla cacciatora was possibly a bit too saucy! Nigella serves it with Indian-rubbed lamb chops, which sound great but I haven't ventured there yet. The spices in the salad are quite mild and not overpowering, so ... serve it with anything you like! Or just on its own. Yum.
It's hard to believe a soup with so few ingredients can taste this good. No oil, no onions, no cream ... just broccoli and a couple of other flavours. Fantastic. This is certainly a great soup when you haven't got much time but you've got lots of broccoli! Don't forget to add the parmesan rind (or just a piece of parmesan or other strong cheese) - it gives the soup a fantastic flavour, and the soy works well too. I sometimes don't add the lemon at the end - still tastes great.