Sunday, 30 April 2017

Simple Seafood Paella

We have a council clean up happening in our area during the coming week.  We culled, sorted and dumped out the front so much 'stuff' it was quite liberating, but also very tiring.  Two old double beds, a few boxes of kitchen implements, more boxes of garage junk and we had quite a large assortment of household objects waiting for collection.  During council clean ups people drive around with their utes and trailers collecting items that other people don't want so it is also a good way of recycling goods within our community before the council comes to collect what is left behind.

What do you cook when you don't feel like cooking?  A lovely simple Seafood Paella (pronounced pay-ee-ya) that is always a family favourite.  I take out a portion of the rice mixture before adding the seafood and place it in small pan and add 2 chopped chicken thighs for my daughter who doesn't like seafood, except for smoked salmon (no I don't understand this choice either) but she has recently become a vegetarian so smoked salmon and chicken are now off the menu.

I was too tired to cook even this so we ordered home delivered pizza thus it was an easy night and the finale of My Kitchen Rules was on and there were no distractions in the kitchen.


Simple Seafood Paella

1 red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small red capsicum, diced
2 chorizo, diced
2 tomatoes, also diced
1 cup peas
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
3 1/2 cups hot chicken stock
Seafood of your choice; I used 700g white fish fillets cut into 2.5cm pieces
                                       1 squid tube cut into rings aprox 1/2cm wide 
                                       400g green prawns, vein removed, tail intact
Serves 6

Fry the onion for 5 minutes at a gentle heat, add garlic, capsicum and chorizo.  Fry for another 5 minutes then add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes have broken down, about 5 minutes.  Add the peas and rice, stir until the rice is well coated.  Add 1/2 cup white wine and cook for 2 minutes before adding the chicken stock.  Stir well and then leave untouched for 15 minutes, adding a little more stock if needed.
Then add the seafood, slightly pushing the pieces into the rice.
Cook for 5 more minutes, check seafood is cooked, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve in the pan in which it was cooked.
Optional;  some people like to shave fresh parmesan over the top or add some dried chilli flakes.


Do you have a free council clean up in your area and do you take advantage of this by spring cleaning?

Buon appetito Enjoy Merryn xx

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Baked Custard Tart - a family tradition

When we were small children we had the occasional holiday at my Nana's (my Mother's Mother) home in Moorland.

There was a big swamp at the back and we would climb trees to try to get over it without walking through it and getting our feet wet. These were fantastic holidays as we had cousins who would come from near and far and my Great Aunt Betty lived across the road from Nana.  Playing hide and seek in the small town was an endless source of fun too, it was only a small group of houses in those days.

In season we would pick blackberries or macadamias and stay out until it was definitely dark.
Great Aunt Betty even had an outdoor toilet, it was so 'country'.  Even though a modern bathroom was installed inside during the 70's inside the house the good old 'thunder box' was quite a novelty.

The garden was filled with fruit trees which backed onto the forest and then the large swamp. My mother told me she had seen small fairies in the swamp when she was young so I was always keeping an eye out just in case I was lucky enough to see a fairy go flying by...

My wonderful Nana would alternate between cooking baked custard and creamed rice pudding for desserts when we visited her and it was always welcomed after a busy day playing outside.  Nana, her name was Doris Belle did not make a pasty case but baked the custard in a glass pie dish and it was amazing.  I think many of us can remember baked custard tarts from way back when we were young.

This is a modern twist on this classic family tradition.

On the left is the pastry case lined with baking paper and baking 'beans' (weights) to keep the pastry from rising during the initial bake.  To the right is the uncovered pastry case after 5 mins more of cooking.


Baked Vanilla Custard


200g plain flour
100g butter, cubed
1/2 tspn salt
50 - 60g iced water


4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1/3 cup castor sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Place flour, butter and salt into a food processor.  Whizz until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Then add the water with the motor running, until it comes together in a ball.
Knead lightly and place in a bowl, covered in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Turn your oven to 180C fan forced and line a pie dish with non stick baking paper.
Roll out pastry until 3mm thick and place in your lined pie dish with the pastry up the sides.
Place baking paper inside and fill with baking beans, then bake for 15 - 20 mins.  Remove paper and weights and cook for another 5 minutes.

While the pastry is baking prepare your custard filling.

Whisk 4 eggs with a 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste and 1/3 cup sugar. 
Slowly pour in 1 1/2 cups milk and keep whisking until combined.

Remove pastry tart from oven and carefully pour in the custard mixture.
Sprinkle with a little grated nutmeg and bake at 180C for 20 minutes or until just set.

Remove from oven and try to wait until it cools before cutting - well at least 10 minutes.


Tell me, do you have fond memories of holidays with your grandparents?

Buon appetito, enjoy Merryn xx