Mrs Smyth... takes the pressure down.

Sort of.
*cue mid 80's music*

No idea what I'm talking about. The mighty John Farnham of course!


Are you back now? Have you rejoiced in that saxophone solo? Good.

I'm talking about my Kambrook Pressure Express Pressure Cooker. When Ros from Sew Delicious had her first Bloggy Birthday giveaway, one of the prizes was said pressure cooker. I entered the competition because there was some SWEET fabric prizes too. And I had no idea what to do with a pressure cooker, because I'm so country and old school that I slow cook most nights with my cast iron pot on the fire. Oh yeah baby, I know how to party.

Then, I won the pressure cooker. OOOOER! How exciting! I waited for it to turn up, and just when I'd figured it had taken a detour around the pristine countryside of the Huon Valley, my local Mitre 10 rang me. Their courier had delivered it to them, so they looked me up in the phone book. Must love the country. MUST.

Millie and I whizzed down the street and they loaded it into the boot for me. Then I brought it home, and put it on the bench.

Tuesday
I took the book out, read about pressure release valves and dangerous things, realised it didn't make any sense in my preggo sleep deprived state and put the book back.

Wednesday

I googled pressure cooker recipes and wondered how it all worked. I rang my mother, and my mother in law and asked them about pressure cookers. I read the book, and put it back.

Thursday

I decided enough was enough. I unpacked it, read the book again, read the website again, washed it all up and sat it on the bench. We were having dinner guests on Friday night and I would pressure cook a meal, even it killed us all.

On Friday, Millie's week of grumpy whinging turned into some sort of tummy bug, which coincided with my needing to clean the entire house at the same time. I found a few recipes online by googling 'Pressure Cooker Beef' but none of them took my fancy. I decided I rather fancied Beef Satay and WE WERE GOING TO DO IT IN THE PRESSURE COOKER AND THAT WAS THAT.

Did I still have any idea how to use the pressure cooker?

No.

I was overjoyed when our dinner guests turned up and I mumbled something about a pressure cooker, and my mate Jonno said 'Oh! Emily's just finished a pressure cooker cooking course!'

Angels sang.

I dragged politely invited Emily to the kitchen, where after she did my dishes for me (bless!) whilst I got ingredients ready, we wrangled the recipe into some sort of pressure cooker format.

Then we realised none of the three of us knew how to cook rice without a a) rice cooker (Emily)  b) microwave (Jonno)  c) Mr Smyth (me). Enter Mr Smyth, and rice was cooking.

We put the satay beef and sauce in the pressure cooker, worked out how to close it all up, and watched the timer count down. We thought we'd released the pressure valve and directed Mr S to open the pressure cooker. I'm growing a human, you know.

When the lid didn't budge with gentle prodding, we deduced that we had not, in fact, released the pressure valve. Mr S tried again, and it turns out when you do release the valve, it makes an almighty hissing sound. Oh.

Mr S demanded first taste as reward for risking his life, and decided that it was indeed worth risking his life for.

There are no pictures of said Beef Satay with Rice, because it did not look particularly appealing, but MY GOODNESS it was delicious.

So... the recipe for you.

Beef Satay with Peanut Sauce
from the Commonsense Cookbook


Satay

300g beef/chicken/pork/lamb
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
pinch of chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon oil

Peanut Sauce

1 crushed clove of garlic (I use two)
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
squeeze lemon juice
pinch of chilli powder (make it good pinch!)
1/4 cup water of coconut milk
*note as the pressure cooker needs more liquid than regular cooking, I had doubled the recipe anyway and used a whole tin of coconut milk.

Method:

Satay

  1. Slice beef into thin strips.
  2. Mix all other ingredients and add meat, mix until each piece is coated.
  3. Marinate for 30 minutes. (piffle! I've never done this!)

Peanut Sauce

  1. Combine ingredients in a medium sized saucepan.
  2. Stir over moderate heat until smooth, then slowly stir in enough water or coconut milk to give a dipping consistency.

Pressure Down!

  1. Heat the pressure cooker on the Saute setting, then seal the Satay mix.
  2. Turn off at the wall, add in the peanut sauce, place and seal the lid.
  3. Set to level '3' and turn the power on.
  4. Watch the dial time down. This is especially riveting.
  5. When dial has finished, do not touch the pressure cooker for a minimum of 10 minutes, to allow the pressure to regulate.
  6. Release the pressure valve.
  7. Tasty tasty nom noms.

My precioussssssss...

Mega thanks to Ros and also to Kambrook, who kindly offered this prize up to Ros. You have made me feel extra confident about having two kiddlywinks under two and still being able to eat.


Meal Planning & Macaroni Cheese

At the beginning of the year I started writing our meal plans down. Sounds basic, doesn't it? Prior to this Mr S would do the shopping and buy for meals. He'd always tell me what there was, but I didn't write it down either so we started being confused about what we were having for dinner that night.
So, the Meal Planning Book. I wrote a list of all the meals we liked to eat at the front of it, then on each page I'd write the week's worth of meals, including what Millie would eat for her meals.

Then I misplaced the book.

Then I found it and we started again.

Then I lost it again.

I started writing my meal plans on the shopping list. Then I'd forget to tear the list off the notepad, and I'd forget what notepad I'd used... you can see where this is going.

Eventually, I bought Nicole Avery's Planning With Kids book and went to her fantastically awesome website  and started planning our meals with more regularity. My sister then bought me her app as well and I suddenly had more ideas for dinners. We weren't eating the same ten meals every ten days.

After a few weeks of mixing Nicole's recipes in with my meal plans, I started looking at the giant wall of cookbooks. I LOVE cookbooks. I actually love all books, but cookbooks hold a special place in my heart. Hard covers, pictures, matt paper, beautiful pictures... I'm there. Baking from a cookbook. Oh yes. But... cooking out of cookbooks? Never really had.

I began to pick a cookbook from the giant wall every fortnight and armed with my Meal Planner printout, I would flick through with my Meal Planner printout and shopping list, and choose a few meals from the cookbooks mixed in with our old favourites.

This past fortnight has been brought to us by an awesome cookbook called The Family Dinner written by Laurie David.


I cooked Mac'N'Cheese Please from The Family Dinner a few weeks ago. And BY GOLLY it was amazing. Creamy, tasty and delicious. I know. Tasty AND delicious. You understand how much I was enjoying eating it. Several people asked me for the recipe, and short of taking a picture of the recipe, I thought I'd share it with you here.

I'll give it to you with my amendments, as I have a gene flaw that does not allow me to get twitchy with recipes and change things if I think it's either a) going to take too long, b) cost too much money for a single use ingredient or c) I have other things in the fridge that need to be used.

Mac'N'Cheese Please
from The Family Dinner by Laurie David.


Ingredients
Crunchy Topping:
1 cup breadcrumbs (I used herb and garlic breadcrumbs)
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

The Rest:
3 eggs
2 12oz cans evaporated milk (I used the 400g tins)
4 cups of any melting cheese (tasty in my house, see above for single use ingredients)
2 tsp dry mustard (I used squeezy American Mustard, again, my single use rule)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound elbow macaroni, shells, or other small pasta (I bought a 500g pack of macaroni)
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1/2 cup grated cheese
My additions: I added 3 rashers of bacon and three big handfuls of spinach.

  1. Preheat oven to 180degrees.
  2. Mix topping ingredients together. Put on a baking tray and bake until golden and crisp, 10-15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, mix eggs, evaporated milk, cheese and mustard in a small bowl. Season and set aside.
  4. Cook macaroni until tender and drain. Set aside.
  5. Heat a heavy based pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, bacon and onions. Saute onions until soft and translucent.
  6. Add drained noodles to the onions, stir, then pour the egg mixture into the pot, reduce the heat to medium low, and keep stirring until thoroughly combined and cheese has melted. Stir in the spinach. The cheese will take about 3 minutes to melt. You do not want the mixture to boil, as the mix will set stiffly, just keep the heat low. Top with the toasted bread crumbs and eat!
So good. Millie loved it and we ate it for dinner that night. There was also at least half the pot left, so that's in the freezer for Baby Time.

The only thing I found difficult about the recipes in this book is that there is no prep time specified, so I feel like it's the kind of recipe book that I really need to study and think hard about before I start cooking. I prefer to know what time I need to start cooking to make dinner for M at a Reasonable Hour.

How do you plan meals for your family? What's your favourite meal for everyone at your dinner table?

Linking up with Jess at Diary of a SAHM for IBOT.


Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding... more childhood comfort food.

As I have mentioned previously, my Mum didn't bake a lot. But as I've also mentioned too, what she did bake is seriously emblazoned in my heart. With a gaudy red loveheart and 'Mum' tattoo through the middle of it.
The Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding was (when I lived at home, Mum is still very much alive and kicking, HI MUM!) Mum's go-to dessert I think. I remember it making semi-regular appearances for Sunday dinners and special occasions.

When I moved out of home I dutifully wrote it up and put it in my recipe display book, and when I made it tonight I was struggling to find it in my recipe binder. When I did eventually locate it, I had to prise the pages apart because they were stuck together with what appeared to a mix of cocoa and brown sugar. Oops.

Ye olde faithful display book, resplendent with stains.

I've adapted the recipe a little bit over time to suit my tastes more. This of course means a bit more sugar and cocoa.

It's a wonderful pudding to put in the oven as you're serving dinner, and it just burbles away merrily with no intervention needed from you until it's allotted time is served in the oven. Then you serve it to your guests, or just yourself. Mr S takes his with ice cream, I take mine with lots and lots of the sauce.

Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding

Mum's Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding

1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa
3/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 tsp vanilla essence
30g melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup extra cocoa... I usually use about 1/2 cup cocoa here...
1 3/4 cups hot water... I use 2 cups.

Method


  1. Preheat your oven to 180oC.
  2. Sift flour and cocoa. Add sugar. (my recipe says sift the sugar. Doesn't work. Just stir it through.)
  3. Make a well in the centre of the mix, stir in milk, vanilla and melted butter.
  4. Beat until smooth.
  5. Pour into a lightly greased dish.
  6. Sift brown sugar and extra cocoa together. (Again with the sugar sifting. Just pat it on top.)
  7. Holding a spoon close to the surface, pour the hot water over the top of the pudding.
  8. Cover and bake for 50 minutes.


Serves 4 or one Amy and one Mr S, twice.

What's your favourite pudding? Tell me! I'm a hungry hungry hippo!

Childhood food aka the Missing Chocolate Coconut Slice Recipe

The Birthday Slice



You know how in all your favourite books as a kid the main character would come home, set down her school bag and tuck into a glass of milk with a freshly baked cookie? Not in my house. My mother worked full or part time since I was quite young, and baking wasn't her thing.

But the things she did bake? Oh man, they are indelibly etched into my taste buds and my brain. My sister and I have been known to call each other to talk about Mum's chocolate coconut slice, or her Golden Slice. Her Anzac biscuits? Divine. Her chocolate self saucing pudding? To die for.

Fast forward twenty or so years and when I asked my mother for her coveted Chocolate Coconut Slice recipe, I expected her to say 'oh yes!' and nip over to her computer and print it out for me. (Mum never really cooked out of recipe books, she types them, prints them out and puts them into a display folder. I suffer the same malady.)

Instead, she went 'oh....um.... Well, I'm not really sure which recipe it is. I've got three here.' (What?!) She sent them to me, I tried one, and my disappointment was so large that I didn't try the other two.

For my birthday in 2011, my friend contacted Mum, who sent her the recipe (the correct recipe, I might add!) and she presented me with a gift of chocolate coconut slice. She wrinkled her nose up and said 'I hope it's okay... It seems a little dry to me.' I was quite heavily pregnant with Millie, so I snarfed delicately ate a few squares on the way to work.
'IT'S PERFECT!' I proclaimed. 
'Oh really? Well okay then... Are you sure it's not a bit dry?'
'Noooooo! CHILDHOOD!'

The Childhood Food Phenomenon

Mr S and I have a theory about Childhood Food.
It doesn't matter how bad it could potentially taste to any other adult, it will always taste perfect to you, the grown adult who when eating a Childhood home baked treat, will always be six years old. Strangely, we have found that this does not apply to confectionery you loved as a child. Except for Redskins.

So without further ado, here is my mother's Chocolate Coconut Slice recipe for you to try, and adore. If you don't adore it, there's clearly something wrong with your baking skills, not the recipe, okay? CHILDHOOD!

UPDATE

I email my mother as I wrote this draft explaining to her what I was doing. I thought we'd nailed down which recipe it was... but alas, here was her reply. And my reply on top. To which I received her reply.

Oh man.

So, without any further ado, here are the two recipes. I would lean towards the first one. 


Moist Chewy Coconut Slice

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons Cadbury Bournville Cocoa
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 185 g butter, melted
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • extra coconut
Chocolate Icing
    • 1 ½ cups icing sugar
    • 2 tablespoons Cadbury Bournville Cocoa
    • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
    • hot water
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Sift the flour and cocoa into a bowl. Add the sugar and coconut and stir well.
  2. Add the butter and egg and mix thoroughly.
  3. Press the mixture evenly into a lined 28 x 18 cm slab pan.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes. Leave in the pan to cool.
  5. When cold, make the icing. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl. Add the butter and enough hot water to make a thick but smooth consistency. After icing, sprinkle with the extra coconut. Cut into pieces and store in an airtight container.


The Classic Chocolate Coconut Slice

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ Cups Plain Flour
  • 1 Cup Brown sugar (or castor sugar)
  • 1/3 Cup cocoa powder
  • 250g Unsalted butter melted, cooled
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ½  cups desiccated coconut

Icing:

  • 2 cups pure icing sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 70g unsalted butter melted
  • 2 tblsp hot water
  • ¼ cup desiccated coconut

Method:

  1. Grease and line slice tray.  Preheat oven to 180c.
  2. In a bowl combine plain flour, sugar, cocoa powder, desiccated coconut and melted butter, mix well to combine.  Pour mixture into slice tray and press evenly to create an even base.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool before icing.
  3. Icing: In a bowl sift together pure icing sugar and cocoa powder.  Pour in melted butter and hot water and mix well to combine.  Spread evenly over the cooked
  4. (cooled) slice base.  Sprinkle with extra desiccated coconut and allow to set completely before cutting.

    I will try these and report back. I have now made myself hungry at 9.50am. Goodness me.