Sunday 27 April 2014

My Family's White Pasta!

 One of the first recipes I learnt to cook from Nonna, was White Pasta. This the name I know it by, I make a similar dish that I call White Rissot, not Rissotto, drop the o. That's how I remember hearing the word. Anyway, that's another recipe..

White Pasta?
This is a very simple, quick & tasty meal. I use fresh ingredients, (not the cheap garlic) fresh rosemary, from the garden. In Ayr Nonna & Nonno  had hedges of rosemary growing, the soil was sandy, which allows good drainage. With the additions of onions & butter, to fry these ingredients until golden brown.

                     4 cloves of good quality garlic
                     1 stem of fresh rosemary
                     1 large onion
                      1/2 cup of  frozen peas ( I have used dried peas)
                      400gr  pasta
                      salt & pepper
                      parmesan cheese, (Romano cheese is great for more flavour)
                      extra ingredients I've added are mushroom & bacon.

Boiling the pasta& frying the onion, garlic,
 rosemary in butter +  more
 Method of Preparation.
  1. Chop or crush garlic, dice onion, break off leaves of the rosemary.
  2. In a large saucepan, boil water &add a teaspoon of salt. Add pasta to the boiling water, stirring until it stays separated. If using dried peas add to the pot when you add the pasta or the frozen peas can be added 5 minutes into boiling. Once the water is boiling furiously, I put on the lid & turn the stove down so the water simmers.
  3. Heat a frying pan & add a good dollop of Butter, add the onion, garlic & rosemary.
  4. When the onions change colour, add bacon, brown, stirring to keep ingredients from burning, you can lower the temp to allow flavours to blend & cook through. Add mushrooms & finish cooking.
  5. At this stage I add a little more butter, some salt & cracked pepper to help spread flavours mix through the pasta.
  6. Drain Pasta, return the pasta to saucepan,
  7. Add the ingredients in the fry pan to pasta.
  8. Add the Parmesan Cheese & mix through the pasta.
This recipe is easily adapted to individual tastes, you can add extra garlic & cheese. My family love this dish. My pantry usually holds all these ingredients, so I find if It doesn't seem like I have anything in the fridge, which is the kids favourite catch phrase, I can whip this up quickly.

Kerry's Fried Rice


This is the recipe I watched my dad cook as a child, he taught me how to cook this many years ago.

 I prepare all my vegetables, depends what I have in the fridge or pantry. A great addition to the pantry is packets of Dried peas. Not the split peas meant  for soups. Dehydrated Peas, though frozen peas are great also. I like to have can of corn in the cupboard as well. I have a supply of stock cubes, rice, soy sauce, salt, pepper & if the family likes the flavour, 5 spices. Dad didn't add stock cubes, I add them sometimes for added flavour.
 Ingredients: In this recipe I used
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 diced onion,
1/2 diced capsicum
1 grated carrot
1 chopped shallot
1 can of corn
2 cups of long grain rice
                                                      soy sauce, 2 stock cubes, salt & pepper to taste.
                                                      some vegetable oil to fry rice & a jug of boiled water.
Step #1. Prepare ingredients

Step #2. Add a little oil to pan, fry the crispier veggies first, onion, capsicum, garlic adding the other veggies in turn. I add the grated carrot & shallots at the end of cooking. Remove the veggies from pan. 

  Step #3. Add some oil to hot pan, then add in rice, stirring until lightly browned. Next step is to add some of the boiled water gradually to pan. Stir & let the rice absorb the water, adding more water as it is absorbed. I add the stock cubes, salt & soy sauce at this stage. As the rice becomes tender, I put the lid on to allow the moisture be absorbed. The rice shouldn't be soggy & have a slightly nutty texture. 

 Step #3. Mix the vegetables into the rice, topping with some of the green shallots leaves. You can also use fried onions for more flavour & texture. 

 Adding 5 spices will give a more authentic Asian Flavour. I've always used long grain rice for Fried Rice.
I find boiling long grain rice & storing for the next day, can  leave the rice very dry & not very edible. It does moisten if I use it to make a fried rice using the method of adding cooked rice into the oil, adding soy sauce, seasoning & vegetables.

I cooked some Honey Soy Chicken Drumstick in the oven to be served with the Rice.

Jaimi's my in-house Critic today!

Fried Rice is a great meal to prepare ahead of time. Great for parties, snacks, lunch boxes & tomorrow nights dinner. Hope you enjoy cooking it, using whatever you have in stock or to the families tastes.

A Fennel Snack!

My mum-in-law, Lena, put me onto this snack.

I trimmed & washed the Fennel Bulb, trimming the root off the base so the stems separate easily. Cutting the stems into strips, I squeezed a lemon, added some Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper, mixed & poured the mixture over the Fennel Strips. 

 This is Delicious & I store this in the fridge until I need a snack.

Fennel has a sweet & very mild aniseed flavour. The Aniseed flavour comes from anethole, an aromatic compound also found in anise & star anise.

Steve makes an Italian Sausage with Pork, Salt, Pepper & Fennel seeds.

Bec reckons it would be nicer with Celery! Maybe it's an acquired taste, but I Love it!

Cheese Please!

30 minutes notice that visitors are arriving or just need a snack?

This is a really easy recipe to make cheese. My daughters responses were Really! Yuk! Delicious! & it was as simple as that.
When there is very little in the fridge or pantry, make sure you always keep some tetra milk & vinegar in the pantry. This recipe is very quick & more economical than bought dips. You can flavour this in so many ways, it'll never be boring. 
4 cups of full cream milk
lemon or vinegar
pinch of salt
spring onion or choice of flavours

Step#1.  I'm going to make some cheese, Bec! "Really"!

Pour 4 cups of milk into a small saucepan, bring to the boil. I used lemon juice (vinegar does the job also) & added it to 1/4 cup of water. When the milk just starts to bubble add the salt & lemon juice, then stir. The milk will separate
straight away.   

Step#2. I rest the sieve on a larger bowl, then start pouring the milk into the sieve. The fermented milk will stay, while the liquid drains away. I used a large spoon scooping the white curd away from the side of the sieve to allow quicker draining. Bec comes over to investigate, " YUK"!

This photo shows the straining steps, just rest the sieve on the bowl while it drains.

Step#3. I carefully folded in spring onions or any flavour you like, chilli, paprika, whatever you have in the pantry that works. I prepared some wide vegetable strips to pick up the cheese & added some rice crackers. Now it was time to taste the cheese. Bec very gingerly tasted the cheese & was pleasantly surprised with the Cheese.

Becs reaction? "Delicious"!

The consistency of this cheese is a cottage cheese. 
Well, I hope you enjoy making your own cheese.

Thursday 24 April 2014

A little more about Monika & my Journey into Social Media!

It was brought to my attention, how my blog could be good exposure for Courtney's Quality Meat

While this is true, it wasn't my 1st motivation. 
Last year my dad passed away as a consequence of Dementia/Alzheimer's, over the last 5 years his mind failed him increasingly. At the very end, when we placed him in a nursing home, 2.5 months before he died, Dad knew where he was. He couldn't look after himself, up until the home we (my sisters) were taking care of dad in his own home. 

At the home, it was a locked up facility, you couldn't fault the staff, but dad knew exactly where he was. He always was very stubborn about entering a home, he couldn't speak very well, but he'd gesture wildly with his hands & utter words to the like 'idiots' & want to go home. Dad was aware of the other patients inabilities, even though he couldn't dress, bath or toilet himself properly. We had to assist him with meals as most of the time he'd lost the ability to use forks & knives. 
So understanding how late a stage of his illness, he was in & yet he was still aware of where he didn't want to be! 
I understood the few words & gestures dad could say & do, but to an outsider, they would only see an old useless man. He was my dad.

Now while it only seemed like his memory had been causing him problems in the last 5-6 yrs, I recognised, now, that when he was in his 50's he would ask me questions about "what we were doing?" Dad had asked my sister the same question & been given details of the event. At the time we thought he was just checking up on us. 
On recognising his behaviour & knowing, my own memory was very vague, I've been trying to learn a little of what the younger generation take for granted. 

 Computers have been mind boggling!  

I have been determined to master the basic skills required to turn on & manoeuvre a computer. As with everything I ever learnt, I need to repeat it over & again to retain the information.
 After being burgled for the 3rd time & losing my laptops twice, the new laptop came with windows 8 & a touch screen, but runs slower.
 So I've learnt to be patient while loading occurs. With a very small budget (NIL) I've endeavoured to start up our web page, thanks to Tash, my daughter in law. I've still got to try & add updates myself.
Next step, I started a FB business page. In the process, I've been following classes, webinars & following groups specific to helping on social media. For me it's been a slow journey, procrastinating & busy with life. I test out the posts,to see which ones work better. I would love to build an interactive audience, that talks cooking, recipes & share viewers meal photos as well.

Hence the next step, Nonna's Apron, my blog!
Thanks to my niece Alissa, who started me off & will help anytime I call. It's time-consuming preparing, uploading my photos, taking more photos when I cook, also cooking more for my photos! BUT I've always wanted to write, so this is my outlet. I'd love to do a workshop on blogging. Maybe my next Goal. I'm also trying to delve into the applications that came with Windows 8, photo apps & learn how to edit my photos.

Marketing with social media is a very broad. I've posted on google & yet don't know what that looks like. I'm tweeting but need to learn more about hash tags etc. I'm a bit of a Twit when it comes to Twitter, knowing my tweets are going out, but not sure Where?

Lena went down
a water-slide the 1st time
 on her 80th birthday!
By the way! If you want to buy something useful for the older Generation, consider a Tablet, yeh not one you swallow, the electronic sort! Does that compute? My mum in law, Lena, turned 80 in  January. Several years ago, we bought her an iPad, there were a few hiccups while learning, but it opened Lena's world up. While we do sit with our heads in our tablets sometimes, we do communicate often. We Skype, we Face Time, we email, & we follow each other on Facebook. :)

My Wonderful Family minus Shayne!
So marketing with social media is my aim, but I've a long way to go!

The blog is also a memoir of recipes for my children & grandchildren.

Ha, Ha, Me a long time ago!

I do have a Wish List, besides the learning.
1. Attend another cooking class with May Issac in the Kenmore Hills.
2. Go on a Tour to Sicilly with Dominique Rizzo.
3. Take my girls & grand-kids to Sydney for a family holiday.
4. Learn to experiment with my cooking.
5. Attend some Art Classes.

Did I mention I'm a Hairstylist & that it's my other Passion?

Now I'm off to the Kitchen to make & photograph, Cheese!
By the way, again, I'm a bit of a joke in the family, always photographing food. " Hold on I need to take a photo"! I'm sure on my headstone, they're going to write, " Hold on, just 1 more photo"!

Wednesday 23 April 2014

The Versatile Burger!

I guess Burgers aren't for you if you don't like mixing your foods! But I Love the layers all folded into one, tasting all the delicious flavours of your salad, sauces & meat. It's definitely not a lady-like meal.

I wrap my burger in plastic wrap for good measure or a napkin. The burger is so versatile, it's got to almost appeal to every member of the family.
Chicken, Steak, Sausages, Fish, Gluten Burgers, though these days most people seem to want gluten free. In the Burdekin, Mrs
Spero made the most delicious Gluten Burgers. They were stacked so high with salad, the gluten patty & bun, you'd be  surprised that you can get your mouth around it. Now you can buy gluten free, vegetarian patties.

 Mince comes in beef, lamb, chicken, pork, veal, turkey, goat, even our National Symbol, The Kangaroo! With all the different international flavours, Burgers become a Gourmet Degustation.

 Degustation is a culinary tasting of several small courses, while a burger is all the flavours wrapped up in a bun.
The only thing we haven't discussed here is the Wine to serve with the Burger or should that be a Beer?

Back to the mince, Lamb becomes Greek when you make a Kofta,
Pork becomes Italian when you season it with garlic, salt, pepper & red wine. One of my Favourite flavours in Pork mince is Honey, Lemongrass, salt & pepper. BUT to make life simpler, buy flavoured snags from your Local Butcher, slit the skin & turn them into a patty. This saves all the preparing ingredients & mixing.

Some mince especially Turkey doesn't need much seasoning as it seems to have a natural saltiness.

Salad is whatever you want it to be, seasonal, anything you have in the fridge, or even a tin. I Love  a piece of pineapple cooked along side of my steak. You either love or hate beetroot, in the mix though it adds a crisp sweet flavour.

Buns, brioche, Turkish, Panini, bread even a wrap, I guess even 2 large lettuce leaves!
All that's left is the Sauce! Mustard, Tomato, BBQ, Sweet Chilli, Aioli, Tartare, What's your choice? Love to hear & see your Creations! Post them on Courtney's Quality Meat fb page. Like & Share while there.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Press Release! The 'Great Australian BBQ' Comp

'A Recipe for Disaster'?

Local Butchers' wife Monika Courtney, from 'Courtney's Quality Meat', teamed up with  a customer Jeff Ram, Photographer, & Justin Pickering, Butcher, to enter "The Great Australian BBQ"  Competition.  

A brainchild of Simon Dell & Emma from Two Cents, the competition was formulated to bring Awareness of Meals on Wheels Activities. 
Meals on Wheels not only provide daily meals to the Elderly,  but recipients include, people with disabilities & returning home from hospital. Their Clients not only receive their nutritious, balanced meal, but a Daily Knock on the Door & a Friendly Smile from a Volunteer, sometimes the ONLY friendly face they'll see. 

When asked why Monika, from Courtney's Quality Meat , got involved, her motivated response was, " we'll there's a movement going round now, 'pay it forward' or when you go to a coffee shop, someone has paid for a coffee to treat a stranger, so I figure if we do the same for ' Meals on Wheels' someone who is struggling this week, will receive the same surprise & feeling that someone cares & I love a challenge". 

How did you come about choosing your team? Well Justin was an obvious choice as he Loves cooking & coming up with new ideas in the shop, ( Justin works as a fully qualified butcher with us), his enthusiasm & excitement, definitely fitted the bill. We have many customers that love cooking & would have been great for the team, so when Jeff walked into the Butcher Shop, I asked if he would be interested in joining our team. 

With a mixture of family cultures & ideas, we came up with our Signature dishes! As the rules changed, the pressure grew! What started out as a BBQ Cookoff at Southbank, with 6 teams & judges, hosts, turned into a television production. 
Reality hit, I planned a schedule, wrote lists, we had some joint practises with a panel of friends for opinions. We chose recipes we thought interesting, local & with a Twist! Using local Queensland produce.

Our Signature dish for Seafood was ' Queensland Bush Tucker with an Asian Twist'.  Alistair McLeod  asked " Why are you cooking something you've only cooked Twice"? My response was, " We wanted to do something different"! 
I'm not giving away our other signature dishes, as you'll need to watch ' The Great Australian BBQ ' airing in May 3rd at 12.30 pm, on 7 Mate. 
What were the judges like?  "  Absolutely Wonderful, Queenslander Billy Moore, complimented our food, critiquing with good honest opinion. Dominique Rizzo, was gorgeous & an amazing lady , epitomising 'The Taste of Sicilly', & the Charming Alistair  McLeod, was full of great tips. The Hosts Mark Goldman & Liz Cantor were very funny, & made the day. The Crew from 'Light & Shade Media' Production Team were extremely professional. 

"And how would you all summarise the day? " It's unanimous, we had a fantastic day on set, it was a long day of filming, but we enjoyed the experience. Now I'm just wondering how we will look on the show, when it airs in May, 
I'm hoping the viewers will get behind our Team, for the Viewers' Choice Awards & support Our Team with donations to help Meals on Wheels!"  for everyday hero

It's Not About the Meat!

The Meat is the Easy Part of the Meal.

It's the thought of preparing dinner for the family or even one person after a busy day of work or pleasure.
It's also the thought of the Clean-up after the Meal.
AND, after all, How often does everyone say Thanks, Mum or Dad. I always thank the Cook of the Meal, so why does almost everyone else take it for granted!
Customers come into the Butcher Shop looking for their meat for the evening meal.
So we discuss the meat the family members prefer, then meals the family have consumed earlier in the week, how many need to be fed & the budget for that meal.
A meal of sausages or mince during the week, allows for a more premium cut. Remember a smaller portion of Quality Meat ( 100-200gr ) is more enjoyable than a big piece of tough meat.
Generally I cook a meal the whole family will enjoy, but I don't mind cooking individual cuts for the acquired tastes. As families grow the families tastes diversify, you may be dealing with a vegetarian, someone who likes chicken & like my hubby, loves his piece of steak.
I usually have several small non-stick fry pans, so this is easy for cleaning up.

So here are a few tips of accompaniments to go with your Protein.

The Humble Spud, smashed spuds can be jazzed up with a little seasoning, chives or bacon. Wedges, Hasselback or boiled, split & covered in coleslaw & sour cream. To stop you cutting right through the spud for the Hasselback, place a knife next to spud.

Then to mix it up with some colour! We like frozen peas, carrots & corn. Yes, I cheat! There's no reason we can't take shortcuts, buy using frozen or prepacked vegetables. I check that they are a product of Oz. Sometimes' besides being easier, I think it's cost effective. 

A quick coleslaw or salad can transform the spud or place your protein on plate of salad.

Next the Sauce or the Gravy, I add some gravy powder & water to the pan after I've cooked the Meat. It can be as simple as that or fry some mushrooms in the pan when you turn your meat, brown them & add some seasoning either add the gravy mix or some sour cream for a Mushroom Sauce.
Pork Cutlet, mash, veggies & mushroom gravy.
Corned silverside, sweet potato
mash, veggies &
Caramelised Onions.
 Caramelised Onions or Capsicums have been a recent addition to the plate. When I turn the meat I add the onions or capsicum to the pan to cook them down until soft, about 10 mins. I use a little vegetable stock powder, verjuice, cook a little longer then I add some balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze. I really impressed the family with this.

Sausages are a great meal to cater to the different tastes in the family. My hubby enjoys the Beef Breakfast Snag, whilst I enjoy an Italian Snag, our son likes a spicy snag & Bec likes trying the different flavours.

Braised Cabbage is a tasty dish, fry up some bacon, onion & cabbage, add some seasoning & soy sauce, stirring, sautéing for about 5 mins. Remember my recipes here are meant for whatever you have in the fridge, Substitute or leave out what you don't like. 

Snags for all the family!
Braised Cabbage.
 Vegetable Rosti"s are Yummy! I've grated zucchini, carrots, onion & potato, squeeze dry in a clean towel, season & pan fry.

Vegetable Rosti"s

Burgers & Fries or Wedges
Burgers are easy, everyone can have the bun that suits there dietary needs, simple salad, Chicken, Rib Fillet, Lamb, Croc or Fish.

Fried Rice.

Look out for other recipes in future blogs
Fried Rice ,  White Pasta & More.
I'm looking forward to your comments & if you have questions concerning How to Cook Meat? Please ask me!

I hope I've given you some ideas to make your life simpler.

White Pasta

Friday 11 April 2014

5 Safety Tips in the Kitchen!

There are lots of opportunities in the kitchen for things to go wrong. I compiled a list of a few of the safety tips I have picked up through the years. Have a look!
Pouring hot oil into a cup!
1. This is something that shocked me, while I was at the outpatients (with Rebecca, see tip #2) at R.B.H Childrens Burns Unit. I always tipped my hot oil into a cup, until I met a child who'd pulled the cup off the counter to have a drink. The little girl had serious burns. Instead use a clean glass jar & keep well out of reach of children. 
2. The photo of Bec was while I had her sitting on a bench top next to the stove. I wasn't using the stove at the time, but Bec turned on an element. I saw it straight away & turned it off. After 5 minutes Bec leaned across the stove resting her hand on the hotplate, I saw it & grabbed her, putting her hand straight under the tap. I grabbed a tea towel & soaked it in water, then wrapped her hand. Getting her into the car, I drove straight down to the local Doctor. He gave her an injection for the pain, then we went into the Burns Unit at the R.B.H. Even though I was watching Bec & wasn't far from her side, being near anything that can burn could be a danger.

Handle out from stove top!
3. The handle of a pan is another danger, that everyone probably knows about. Always keep handles turned in or to the side. As I've gotten older, I have a new rule, Out of the Kitchen! I work better on my own, but I think it's a space thing. So the tip here is, plan when the kids will help you in the kitchen. it avoids chaos, but it's a wonderful passion to pass onto the children.
Plugged in Blender when cleaning!
4. Now this is something I've had a personal experience with but Stick Blenders can be dangerous!. I think at the time I wizzed it in the water to clean it, then I went to dry blender stick & accidentally touched the On button. Thankfully I had the thick tea towel. I know, Why was the blender still plugged in & on? As most accidents happen, in a moment of not thinking. Read here about another family members experience with her stick blender. Next tip: Unplug electrical implements before cleaning.

5. Now my last tip for today is to make a cuppa & go sit outside & watch the kids. While your in the kitchen your probably missing out on all the fun things the kids are doing. Like in this photo, where Bec decided to go adventuring up the embankment. Our pet dog was close behind her everywhere she went. Jordan eventually followed Bec up to make sure she was safe.
This looked like fun!


I hope you find my blogs entertaining & helpful. My recipes are designed to make the thought of cooking a healthy nutritious meal less stressful, more economical (so you can afford a beautiful cut of quality steak) minimal preparation, & just less work for the COOK. Now get out of the Kitchen & Relax.

Wednesday 2 April 2014


Yes I'm a Nonna, but I'm not Italian. The Italian influence comes from my Husband, Stephen's family. The Massotti Brothers emigrated from the North of Italy, Tresivio, a province of Sondrio in about 1921. Two brothers married Italians girls from back home who followed the men to Oz. Nonna and Zia welcomed me into their kitchens' to show me how to make fresh pasta, cooked pasta & risotto meals. The influence of garlic and rosemary will feature in some of my recipes, but I'm on a journey to spread my wings & experiment.
Nonna's Apron developed from the photo above that my grandchildren modeled. Stephen's Nonna, Maria, made and wore these aprons many years ago. Those were the days when an apron was standard issue in the kitchen. Stephen told me the only time you ever saw Nonna without an apron was when she went to church.
The yellow apron was embroidered by Nonna, while she made the small version of the Butcher's apron for Stephen as a lad. Aprons were synonymous with kitchens & draw a little nostalgia from my childhood into my early years of marriage, to the present day of preparing meat in our family butcher shop: Courtney's Quality Meat.