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I LOVE shepherd’s pie! Sometimes in summer I wish it was winter just so that I can make my all time favourite comfort food! This winter I want to eat nothing but shepherds’ pie and cupcakes!

This recipe from Exclusively Food is amazing! When I first came across this recipe, I was impressed by how many great reviews its got! And when I finally tried it, it definitely lives up to its reputation! This is a winter must eat dish! You’ve got to try this hearty pie!

COOKING SUMMARY: Chop veggies, fry them along with mince, pour in crushed tomato and stock, bring to boil and simmer for 15min. Pour meat mixture in an oven dish, topped with mash potatoes and bake for 20min! DONE!

Shepherd’s Pie (Serve 6+)

(adapted from Exclusively Food)

Meat Layer

  • 20ml (1 tablespoon) oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 2-3 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 800g of mix beef and pork mince
  • 3 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 ½  tablespoon plain flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 400g canned crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a large heavy-based pan or saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and garlic to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables have softened.
  2. Increase heat to high and add mince to the vegetables. Cook, stirring and mashing mince, until the mince has changed colour and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Over medium heat, add tomato paste and flour to meat mixture and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.
  4. Add stock, Worcestershire sauce, crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced (about 15 to 20 minutes).
  6. Cook potatoes (see directions below) while the meat mixture is cooking.
  7. Preheat oven to 210 degrees Celsius (190 degrees Celsius fan-forced).
  8. Stir peas into meat mixture and pour a ovenproof dish.
  9. Top filling with mashed potato. Use a fork to create peaks in potato
  10. If the dish you are using is quite full, sit it on a baking tray in case any of the sauce overflows during baking. Bake pie for about 20 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and potato is golden brown.

Mashed Potato Topping

  • 1.5kg potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoon of sour cream
  • ½  cup grated cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Cover saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently until potatoes are soft.
  2. Drain potatoes and mash with butter, sour cream, salt and milk
  3. Stir in cheese until they are completely melted.

Ever since I saw Matt Moran making a frangipane tart on Master Chef, I have been dying to try it!  Master Chef is definitely one of my favourite TV shows, not only I enjoy watching the contestants cook, I also enjoy the drama that comes with it! lol

This tart is incredibly easy to make, well, I cheated, and bought a already made shortcrust pastry case so all I had to do is make the tart filling which is mixing in butter, icing sugar, eggs and almond meal. Yep, that is it! So easy and tastes so good! This tart is not overly sweet, and goes really well with some berries and whipped cream!

Frangipane Tart (Serves 6)

(recipe adapted from Matt Moran, Master Chef Class)

  • 1 Shortcrust pastry case (for sweet)
  • Strawberry jam
  • Berries, to serve
  • Whipped cream, to serve

Frangipane

  • 125g butter, diced
  • 1 ¼ cup icing sugar
  • 2 ½ eggs
  • 125g almond meal
  • 25ml marsala

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Follow the instruction on pastry case. (I had to put mine in for 10mins first, then bring it out and pour frangipane mixture in and back to the oven)

2. For the frangipane: cream the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time until incorporated in the mixture. Fold in the almond meal and marsala.

3. Bring pastry case out from the oven when they are already. Brush some strawberry jam over the bottom of the tart, then spread the frangipane on top. Bake in the oven for 35-40 min until golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and brush lightly with some more strawberry jam. Serve with whipped cream and berries.

When you take the frangipane out of the oven, the tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. A tester should come out clean.

Brush lightly with some more strawberry jam

NOTES:

  1. I used frozen berries to serve with the frangipane as berries are not in season in winter in Melbourne. In the original recipe, Matt put fresh berries into the tart mixture to bake, he does NOT recommend putting frozen berries to the frangipane as there is too much moisture in them and they will make the tart go soaky! So if you do have some fresh strawberries, blue berries or black berries available, DO put them in the tart mixture!
  1. I also mix the frozen berries with some icing sugar to give it a sweeter taste.
  1. Do check out the link to the original recipe, it’s a video recipe and its awesome! (it shows you how to make the pastry as well!)

I found this amazing food stylist Linda Lundgren from Sweden on Toxel, she has this new cool image series of food products arranged in their colours. Pretty cool stuff! I cant keep my eyes off it!

I love the red and the purple ones best, the colours are just amazing!

Pasta is everyone’s best friend, especially when it comes to a quick meal! This is fast and easy dish, perfect for weeknight cooking! Add in some sweet corns, will taste even better!

Serve 6

  • 400g tin tuna, drained
  • 2 medium broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • 1 1/2 cup peas
  • 400g spiral pasta
  • 600ml light cream
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • salt & pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven 180C. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water (following packet instruction), in the last 4 mins, add in broccoli. Drain.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat cream in another saucepan, bring to boil, add in cheese and season with salt and pepper. Stir well until cheese is melted.
  3. Pour pasta mixture to an oven proof dish. Add in tuna and peas, stir well.
  4. Pour cheese sauce onto pasta, mix well. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top. Bake for 15-20min until golden and crisp.

15 mins and dinner is done! That includes preparation time too! This really quick and tasty dish is a good choice for a weekly meal! Serve this with steamed rice or make it into a great salad with some lettuce and cucumber! Yum Yum!

Ingredients: (Serve 4)

  • 600g pork mince
  • 300g green beans, cut into halves
  • 2-3 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • Oil

Marinate Pork with: (for 10minutes, longer if you have more time)

  • 1 ½ tablespoon of shrimp paste
  • 1 ½ tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon of dark soy sauce
  • 1½ teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of corn starch

Method:

  1. Heat oil in wok on medium-high, add in garlic and green beans, stir well, cover for 1-2min until green beans are cooked and have a vibrant green colour. Set aside.
  2. Add a bit more oil to wok on high heat, add in pork mince, break up the mince with wooden spoon and fry until it is completely cooked.
  3. Add beans back to wok and fry for a further minute. DONE!

NOTES:

  1. I love using shrimp paste, it gives a dish a robusting flavour! The paste is widely available in Asian grocery stores and it is rich and salty. Different brands of shrimp paste have different level of saltiness, depending on your brand, you might use more or less amount as my above recipe.

Do you like chocolate?  Do you like coffee?  Well, if you do, then you can’t go pass this cupcake! This cupcake is moist and chocolaty and with a rich coffee frosting, you can even have it for breakfast!

Cupcakes

(adapted it from Food Network magazine)

  • 1 ¼ cup self raising flour
  • 1 cups caster sugar
  • 120g unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • 120g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Method

  1. Place sugar and 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Pour into a large bowl. Add the chocolate and butter and let sit, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture has cooled slightly. Stir in the vanilla.
  2. Sift together flour and cocoa powder in a bowl.
  3. Beat the eggs into the chocolate with a mixer, then stir in the dry ingredients.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans (~1/4 cup batter per cupcake) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.

Coffee Frosting
(From Martha Stewart:Cupcakes)

  • 120 g (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
  • 160 g (1 1/2 cups) icing sugar, sifted
  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) instant coffee
  • 10 ml (2 teaspoons) pure vanilla extract

  1. Beat butter and instant coffee at medium speed about 2 minutes.
  2. Reduce speed and add the icing sugar 60 g (1/2 cup) at a time.
  3. Beating well after each addition.
  4. Add vanilla, beat well.
  5. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in a airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature.

NOTES:

  1. I used 55% dark chocolate in the cupcake mixture, it wasn’t as chocolaty as I wanted so I added in 3-4 tablespoon of cocoa powder and it came out much more chocolaty! If you are already using unsweetness chocolate in the cupcake, you might not need to add extra cocoa powder in.
  2. My instant coffee for the frosting was fairly strong, I probably used about 2-3 tablespoon of instant coffee powder. I think a strong coffee frosting goes really well with a rich chocolate cupcake!
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