Slow roasted tomato soup

Life is certainly a little topsy turvy right now. Truthfully, most days, I don’t know whether I am coming or going. We, like many, are navigating all things pandemic as we settle into our new “normal” of working from home and trying to homeschool at the same time.

Yes 2020 has not been all that wonderful for our little family, thus far. First we had the fires, then the dust storms. Then it was the hail storm that saw the end of our beloved car, and some other truly sad events for our family happened not long after.

So yes, topsy turvy is certainly how we are all feeling at the moment. To put it politely.

But in some respects, life – as chaotic and uncertain as it is right now – has also slowed . No more running from activity to activity after school, and no more weekend sport. Just leisurely walks up to daycare each afternoon to collect the littlest one, and family hikes together on the weekend when Miss M inevitably says “mountain?” as soon as she wakes.

We’ve built forts, done puzzles, watched movies and lots of arts and crafts. We’ve eaten our weight in chocolate too (not good), but also caught up on a few things around the house when the motivation strikes (good).

And now that the weather is starting to turn, slow cooking is inevitably going to make an appearance. Filling our tummies with comforting food (that is not chocolate) and making the house smell amazing. Little effort, generally, but offering a tasty reward at the end of the day.

Take this roasted tomato soup, for instance, that we created a little while ago when a craving for soup struck. Fortunately I had an abundance of tomatoes on hand, and could think of nothing better than to roast them low and slow in the oven.

Halved and drizzled with garlic-infused olive oil, and seasoned, then roasted for 40 minutes.

When the tomatoes were done, we simmered them in a mixture of vegetable stock, basil and Italian herbs. Then pureed until smooth, and topped with a little extra basil.

The result? A fragrant soup that was so very rich in flavour. I think a drizzle of cream would have taken it to even greater heights – although we didn’t have any on hand on this particular occasion.

We even had leftovers, which was perfect for a speedy soup the following day. Eaten at home, of course.

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Slow roasted tomato soup
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  1. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Place the tomatoes cut side up on lined baking trays. Drizzle with olive oil and season.
  3. Roast for 40 minutes, then place into a saucepan with the stock and 2 cups of water. Add the herbs and stir to combine. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, then use a slick blender to blend until smooth.
  4. Divide among serving bowls and top with basil leaves (and cream, if you have it).
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Slow cooked chilli con carne

IMG_4390 I am 100% head over heels in love with our slow cooker. Yes, I know I’m sounding like a broken record when it comes to our newest kitchen addition, but it has seriously been a game-changer these last few busy months. Work has ramped up, our calendar is filling up, and the kids have been sick. Ugh – yes. The dreaded lurgy has hit the two youngest members of our family pretty hard, and although they remain in relatively good spirits (all things considered) there have been a lot of last minute plan changes. So needless to say that not having to worry about dinner on the “slow-cooker nights” has been rather splendid. Take this chilli, for instance. All the ingredients were thrown in around lunchtime, and the cooker set on low. I then had the afternoon free to do what had to be done, and it didn’t even matter that we had to take an unexpected trip to the doctor or that Miss C was dragging her heels when it came to bed time. IMG_4387 For once the kids were all tucked up in bed, we could sit down to a hot meal – that had patiently been waiting for us. All we had to do was add some chopped avocado, sour cream, corn chips and a sprinkling of spring onions. IMG_4389 And dinner was served. Stat. Let me know if you’d like the recipe. IMG_4391 I think I’m almost going to be a little sad to pack up this beauty when Summer arrives (although then, no doubt, I will be singing the praises of the BBQ!) What about you? What is your favourite ‘slow cooker’ meal?

Pork, tomato and barley stew

IMG_3988 Friends, the barley obsession continues, as does my love for slow cooked one-pot meals. And this tasty little stew did not fail to please. Pork shoulder, cooked slowly in a gorgeous tomato sauce, with the addition of  barley to really make it something special. IMG_3981 Finished with  rocket and olives, and some crusty bread on the side for dipping. IMG_3984 Yes our bellies were singing the praises of this tasty little mid-week meal, and it has certainly been added to the repertoire. Pork, tomato and barley stew (adapted from Supergrains) – serves 4-6

  • 1kg diced pork shoulder
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 100g speck, diced
  • 1.5 tbs paprika
  • 1/2 cup sherry
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbs honey

Rocket, green olives, parsley and crusty bread to serve

  1. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a large oven-proof pan over a medium heat. Add the pork, in batches, cooking until brown. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and speck to the pan, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until starting to soften. Add the paprika, and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the sherry and allow to evaporate. Add the tomato, tomato paste, barley and stock, and stir to combine.
  5. Return the pork to the pan, cover, and cook in the oven for 2-2.5 hours (add more stock if the stew is starting to dry out) Stir through honey.
  6. Serve with bread, rocket, sliced green olives and chopped parsley.

One pot meal – Smoky pulled pork

IMG_0327Over the weekend, I sent out a “help me” to my fellow Canberra foodies. For I had pulled pork on the menu – that called for a tin of chipotle chillies, but no idea where to find them. My fellow foodies were ever helpful, and it wasn’t long before I had a tin of these beautiful peppers in my hot little hand. IMG_0309 (FYI – I found them at The Essential Ingredient in Kingston, and am also reliably informed that the Asian Grocer at the Fyshwick Markets stocks them also). My inspiration came in the form of a recent Donna Hay magazine, and with a few adjustments, we soon were on our way to pulled pork heaven. IMG_0310 What I loved about this dish, was that it was really a ‘one pot’ meal. No browning of the meat, no separate cooking of the ingredients required.  Literally it was one of those “throw it all in and walk away” meals – that still impresses on flavour. IMG_0311IMG_0312 Covered, cooked on low, and we were greeted by beautifully tender pork a couple hours later…. IMG_0314IMG_0320IMG_0322 A word of warning – this dish yielded a lot of pulled pork. So much so – that it would easily feed 10 or so if you were to serve it with some side dishes. IMG_0324 As for us – well we put it to a couple uses. First – and perhaps most delicious in its simplicity – the pork was served in toasted Turkish rolls with coleslaw. IMG_0326 The second night – when the heat had intensified even more (yes those chipotle chillies sure do pack a spicy smoky punch), I made some cheese and pickle scones – and also served the pork with a side salad. IMG_0331 The third night…..well you get the picture! Let’s just say this is definitely a dish we will make again – but probably when we have occasion to feed many mouths! Smoky pulled pork (serves 8-10) (adapted from Donna Hay)

  • 2kg boneless pork shoulder, skin removed and cut into 8cm pieces
  • 1 orange – rind grated + juiced
  • 2 cups orange juice – extra
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1 tbs sweet paprika
  • 200g can of chipotle chillies in adobo sauce
  • 400g can tinned tomatoes
  • 2 extra tomatoes, diced
  1. Place the pork in a large saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients.
  2. Bring to the boil, then cover tightly, and simmer on low for 2 hours.
  3. Remove the lid, and continue cooking for a further 30-45minutes – stirring as required.
  4. Remove the pork pieces, and shred using two forks.
  5. Return the pork to the pan, stir well to combine, and reheat gently.

What about you? Are you a fan of pulled pork?

Slow cooked Sunday – beef stew

Now that Winter has arrived, Sunday has become a ‘slow cooking’ day. I put a stew or a casserole on early, and let it cook throughout the afternoon. Not only does it add a little warmth to our open plan kitchen / living room, but it also tantalises our appetites with aromas of things to come. Last Sunday, was no different. I turned to an old favourite recipe (here) and aside from preparing the vegetables, the stew came together with minimal effort. IMG_9749 First – the veggies. Pumpkin, potato, parsnip and carrot. IMG_9750 Second – the only ‘real’ effort – lighting browning some onions and sage leaves in olive oil and butter. IMG_9755 Then – the best bit – all the other ingredients are thrown in as is. That’s right – no browning of the meat (a step that this somewhat impatient cook always finds annoying).  IMG_9759 Flavoured with red wine, beef stock and tomato paste. IMG_9752 Lid on – and into a slow oven for 4 hours or so… at which point I opened the pot and was greeted with this… IMG_9765 Ok – stews may not be the prettiest of meals to photograph. But what they lack in aesthetics, they more than make up for in flavour. IMG_9770 Topped with some chopped rosemary, garlic and lemon zest – and our tastebuds were singing. The meat was tender – fall apart tender – and the broth was super rich and flavoursome. IMG_9772 With the added bonus that we had plenty leftover to have for dinner the next night too! What about you? Do you like to have a ‘slow cooking’ day?

Lamb, lentil and sweet potato curry

It’s safe to say, that the next few months will feature many dishes like this. IMG_9079 Slow-cooked. Rich. Comforting. All those things that I tend to crave when the cooler months arrive. This recipe came courtesy of a recent HFG mag, and it did not disappoint. IMG_9065IMG_9067 A beautiful mixture of vegetables, korma curry paste, tomatoes and lentils – with a big handful of silverbeet thrown in at the end. IMG_9074 Slow cooked for 3 hours, until the lamb was beautifully tender. Then served with a couple pappadums on the side. IMG_9080 A lovely little belly warmer to kick off the chilly season! What about you? Cooked any interesting curries lately?

Slow cooked lamb casserole

Ever so slowly, but perhaps still all too quickly, I can feel the seasonal change in the air. The mornings are darker, the evening light is shorter, and I have favoured pants over shorts for the last week or so. IMG_7477 And while I have no doubt this blog will feature may stews and casseroles over the next 6 months, I couldn’t help but sneak one in early. IMG_7462 For with a bit of hectic work travel recently, we went in search of a meal that would be easy to make – and yield enough for at least a couple meals. Enter this delightful slow cooked lamb casserole. IMG_7464 Which filled my pot to the brim with lamb, crushed tomatoes, onions, carrots, sweet potatoes and celery. Combined with stock, herbs and red wine – and a good amount of seasoning – then left to do its thing in the oven. 4 hours later (or was it 5???) IMG_7474 Served simply with polenta, salad leaves – and a couple slices of olive sourdough…and well this was one hearty meal. IMG_7489 The casserole was, as expected, meltingly tender – and the flavours only improved when we reheated it for dinner again the next night! IMG_7486 An insight into the meals of the upcoming wintery months I suspect! IMG_7490 What about you? Are you a fan of dishes that you can get a few meals out of?

Gigot d’agneau

Another day, another meal from our weekly menu plan. Looking ahead last week, I knew the weather in Canberra was going to turn sour. Cold, rainy and miserable, in fact. So what better way to warm up from the inside out than with a slow cooked roast – simple to prepare, lengthy in cooking time and – hopefully – rewarding in taste at the end. I looked through a ‘slow cooking’ cookbook and came across this recipe – that caught my attention. IMG_4994 Melt in your mouth lamb roast? Don’t mind if we do! With the added bonus of leftovers for Monday – when things are generally a little hectic in the BBB household. On Saturday night, I prepared the marinade – comprising a whole bottle (?) of red wine, brandy, herbs and vegetables. Then let the lamb and the marinade do their thing overnight in the fridge. IMG_4991 And, while I was out most of the day on Sunday (dance rehearsals?!?!?), Mr BBB jumped on board and browned the lamb, and placed it in the oven to start the long, slow cooking time. Actually – confession – we both misread the recipe and realised too late that the lamb was supposed to cook for 5 hours. Not wanting to eat at 9pm, we shortened the cooking time to 4 hours, which may have resulted in slightly less tenderness than we would have liked. IMG_5000 The flavour, however, was particularly wonderful. And we later processed, strained and reduced that lovely cooking liquid to create a sauce. As for a side dish, we threw together a potato bake. Simply – sliced potatoes, simmered in milk, combined with cream and nutmeg. IMG_4992 Topped with a little grated cheese and baked for an hour or so. IMG_5002 Ahhh yes – this was Sunday night comfort food at its finest. IMG_5004 Moist and tender lamb, a flavoursome jus, and a creamy cheesy potato side. Coupled with a glass of Clare Valley Shiraz, and well I was one happy girl! IMG_5006 Truthfully, though, this was not my favourite slow cooked lamb recipe, but it was still a lovely way to end the weekend. Plus we had lots of lamb leftovers for wraps the next night…stay tuned!l What about you? Are you a fan of the Sunday roast?

Slow roasted pork shoulder

Life has been rather wonderful lately. Not because of any one thing in particular – just a general feeling that the craziness of the last 6 months is starting to even itself out. I was able to spend a wonderful weekend away, and have had time to go on adventures with the little one (the zoo being our recent favourite). And I have been spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen. Something that will always bring a sense of calm when the hectic moments strike. One of my favourite meals recently, came courtesy of a recent edition of Good Taste Magazine. A recipe for slow roasted pork shoulder, contributed to the magazine by Tobie Puttock. IMG_3608 Simple to prepare, slow to cook, and simply divine melt-in-your-mouth results. IMG_3591 The pork shoulder, rind on, is covered in a mixture of fennel seeds and salt. IMG_3592 Roasted initially at a high temp for 30 minutes, until the rind had just started to crackle. IMG_3594 Then covered, and in my case, roasted at 160C for 3 hours. IMG_3596 Next up, the veggies, to create those all important pan juices. Celery, garlic, parsnip (my addition), bay leaves and onion. IMG_3597 Placed underneath the pork (that had been slowly cooking for the last 3 hours), with a couple cups of water. IMG_3600 Then, you guessed it, covered and back into the oven for another 2 hours. IMG_3609 To finish off the dish, I removed the pork and allowed it to rest, covered with foil to keep warm. I returned the cooking pain, with all the wonderful veggies and juices to the stovetop, and simmered them for a few extra minutes – before pressing the mixture through a fine sieve and creating the most wonderful sauce. IMG_3614 As for the pork, I removed the rind then shredded the meat – with ease I must add. IMG_3615 Then it was time to serve. IMG_3624 Polenta, pork, greens and that ‘lick your plate’ sauce. IMG_3626 FILLED to the brim with flavour, and both of us left wanting more (but saving the extras for the next night). IMG_3628 Yup life really is pretty good when you have meals like this waiting for you at the end of the day! What about you? Are you a fan of slow cooking?

slow baked, slow cooked

IMG_9718 I was lucky enough to receive a subscription to the Donna Hay magazine at Christmas, and I have wasted no time in flagging a multitude of recipes from the latest edition to try. Then, the weather started to turn chilly and the daylight began to disappear a little earlier each day, meaning that my cravings for hearty, slow cooked meals have returned. And so this dish graced our dinner table the other night. IMG_9685 Lamb and sherry ragu with pearl barley. IMG_9686 Lamb shoulder, cooked with onions, herbs, sherry, tomatoes and stock, finished with a cup of belly-filling pearl barley towards the end of cooking time. The recipe called for a 3 hour cooking time, although I opted to put this on at lunchtime and left it to slowly simmer throughout the entire afternoon. IMG_9706 The result being melt in your mouth lamb, and a rich flavoured broth. The recipe also suggested serving the dish with some fresh bread. Remembering I had a bread-maker in the cupboard, I dusted it off and decided to make a wholemeal loaf. IMG_9687 A little rustic no? IMG_9688 But with a chewy crust, soft insides and a house that now smelled like a bakery……well it doesn’t get much better than that! IMG_9710 All together now! IMG_9714 My oh my. It is dishes like THIS that makes the imminence of Winter just that little bit more bearable. IMG_9715 A gorgeous hearty stew, and chewy bread for dipping. IMG_9717 A word of warning though…. Be careful if you have little ones in the house. For not only will they gobble up a big bowlful of the ragu themselves, they may also get into a little mischief while you take it off the stove. IMG_9701 Case in point. IMG_9705 What about you? How are you feeling about the fact ‘Winter is coming’?