Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Unique Mini Pear Trinket Boxes

This mini pear trinket box from Weddingstar is the perfect box for your wedding favours. Place lollies, notes, or a tiny gift inside for your guests to enjoy! Finish with a ribbion tied around in a colour of your choice.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Spring Herbs

Along with new leaves and brilliant blooms, fresh herbs are in abundance in spring. For culinary purposes, a herb is defined as the leaf and tender stem of a plant that’s used to flavour food. In ancient times herbs were associated with witchcraft and their use frowned upon, even for curing or preventing illness.

Over the centuries, herbs have been used extensively for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, but we’ve also come to appreciate their culinary value – their fragrance, colour and flavour can awaken the palate, turning the most humble dish into a deluxe delight.

Varieties & Usage:
Chervil: The most delicately flavoured of all the spring herbs, chervil has lacy, fern-like leaves and a mild taste. Although it is mostly used as a garnish in Australia, chervil is also good with eggs and fish.
Chives: A member of the onion family, chives are available in onion and garlic-flavoured varieties. Particularly good with potatoes and in cream sauces.
Dill: Often associated with Scandinavian dishes, such as gravlax (cured salmon), dill has feathery fronds and a mild aniseed flavour. Also used in Greek and Italian cooking, it goes well with cheese and seafood.
Mint: The most common varieties are round and spearmint, but others including peppermint, apple mint and chocolate mint all have their own distinctive flavour. This herb is widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine, where its fresh, cooling flavour complements the many aromatic spices.
Parsley: Due to its unassertive flavour, parsley is the most universally used of all herbs. While flat-leaf and curly parsley are common, there’s also a triple-curled variety with flat leaves that are frilled at the edges.
Salad burnet: This hardy herb is one of the first to rejuvenate in spring. Its pretty saw-edged leaves become bitter when mature, but young specimens have a tangy flavour that’s ideal in salads.
Tarragon: French tarragon is the best type for cooking as the yellow-flowering Russian variety is tougher and less flavoursome. Tarragon is a good match for white meats, particularly chicken.

- When cutting herbs use a sharp knife or scissors to avoid bruising. You can also tear herbs – the leaves will rip along the veins and release more flavour during cooking.
- For optimum colour and flavour, delicate spring herbs should always be added at the end of cooking.
- When storing fresh herbs, wash and dry thoroughly, then pick the leaves and keep in an airtight container in the fridge. This way, the herbs are ready to go when needed and occupy less fridge space.
- Some herbs, such as parsley, tarragon and mint, can be dried to preserve them. Hang small bunches of herbs upside down in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place, or in a paper bag with ventilation holes in the sides. Chopped chives can be preserved simply by freezing them. Chervil and dill are not suitable for drying as they will lose their flavour.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stir-fried Noodles With Satay Chicken & Mushrooms

Have dinner on the table in 30 minutes with this tasty stir fried noodles with satay chicken and mushrooms.  

Preparation Time 10 minutes
Cooking Time 20 minutes
Ingredients (serves 4)
5 dried shiitake mushrooms
250g wide long-life noodles
2 tbs vegetable oil
500g chicken satay thigh stir-fry
150g snow peas, julienned
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced lengthways
4cm fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
2 tbs kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
Pinch of ground white pepper
1. Place the mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 10 minutes to soften, drain then slice. Set the noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water, set aside for 5 minutes and drain. Rinse the noodles with cold water and leave to drain.
2. Heat 1 tbs of oil in a wok over a high heat and stir-fry the chicken in 2 batches for 3-4 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Rinse the wok and heat over a high heat with the remaining tablespoon of oil.
3. Stir-fry the snow peas for a minute until just tender and transfer to a plate. Add the garlic and ginger to the wok and toss over the heat for a minute until the garlic is golden. Add noodles and mushrooms and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the kecap manis and white pepper to taste. Serve the mushroom noodles topped with the satay chicken and snow peas. 

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Monday, August 22, 2011

A Kiss and We're Off!

Decorate your own wedding cake with this gorgeous A Kiss and We're Off! figurine from Weddingstar. This couple shows all the excitement of a bride and groom about to start off on their first journey together as husband and wife. While perched on a suitcase the Bride steals a precious moment to kiss her Groom. The perfect addition to your perfect wedding cake!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Save The Date

Open this card, and the details literally come spilling out. Cut date from card stock using number punches; pierce tops with a hole punch. Slide onto 1/4-inch ribbon, tying bows before and after each pair. Cut two slits in a note card; thread ribbon through, and tie a bow. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pork & Mushroom Stir-Fry

Heat up the wok and add your favourite mushies to this simple and satisfying pork & mushroom stir-fry.

Ingredients (serves 4)
350g pork stir-fry strips
1 1/2 tbs sunflower oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2cm ginger, finely shredded
400g mixed mushrooms (such as shiitake, oyster and Swiss brown), sliced
100g enoki mushrooms, trimmed
2 bok choy, sliced
1/3 cup (80ml) oyster sauce
1 cup (200g) low-GI rice (such as Doongara see note), cooked
Coriander leaves, to garnish

1. Place pork and 2 teaspoons oil in a bowl and stir well to coat. Heat a wok or large frypan over high heat. Add pork and stir-fry for 2 minutes until browned. Remove pork and set aside.
2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan and stir-fry the onion, garlic and ginger for 1 minute. Add the mixed mushrooms and a splash of water and stir-fry for 2 minutes until golden and starting to soften. Stir in the cooked pork, enoki mushrooms, bok choy, oyster sauce and 2 tablespoons water and cook for a further 1 minute until the bok choy is tender but still has some crunch.
3. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Soup

With the weather outside staying cold, we're spending more time indoors. So why not snuggle up with some heart-warming comfort food? These winter warmers are packed with slowly developed rich flavours.

Preparation Time 20 minutes
Cooking Time 60 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)
1.5kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, cut into 3cm pieces
1 large red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, halved
2 celery stalks, trimmed, chopped
500g lady christl potatoes, peeled, cut into 3cm pieces
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup pure cream

To Serve
Pure cream
Chopped fresh chives
Garlic bread

1. Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan-forced.)
2. Place the pumpkin, onion, garlic, celery, potato and chilli flakes in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with oil and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Roast in pre-heated oven for about 50 to 55 minutes or until the vegetables are golden and tender.
4. Transfer to a large saucepan over high heat.
5. Add the stock. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low.
6. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Using a stick blender, blend soup until just smooth. Stir in the pure cream.
7. Sprinkle chives over soup. Serve with garlic bread.

- Soup will thicken on standing, so if making in advance add a little extra stock when reheating.
- Take care when cutting pumpkins. A serrated knife offers more grip than a flat blade when trying to cut the skin. Or cut into smaller pieces and use a paring knife.

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