A New Challenge!

While procrastinating from studying for my recent university exams I re-discovered Taste, an Australian recipe website that catalogues recipes from most of my favourite food magazines including Australian Good Taste, Super Food Ideas, Notebook & Delicious amongst others. While looking through the forums I found a new section called Cooks Club and a new obsession has been born! Cooks Club is a fortnightly challenge on the Taste Forums where one member chooses 3 of their favourite recipes (or recipes they have been wanting to try themselves for some time) and challenges the rest of the Cooks Club members to make at least one of them within the fortnight. At the end of the fortnight members vote on which recipe they liked the best and a group favourite is chosen.

As I am not one to turn down a challenge and because I think this club might help to bring back my cooking mojo that has been lacking a bit this year after my horrible start to 2008 I have decided to join the Cooks Club. I am going to go back through the 21 past challenges (The current Challenge is Number 22) and cook at least one thing from each of them as well. In doing so I have found that I have already completed four rounds without even knowing about the club when I made the dishes!

Round 6 involved Anzac Biscuits, which I made earlier this year on Anzac Day using an almost identical recipe.

Round 19 involved Savoury Pizza Wheels, which are remarkably similar to the Pizza Pinwheels I mentioned in my last post that I make for fingerfood at just about every party I cater for. I will be posting about them later in the week when I post about the food I made for Geoffs birthday & our housewarming.

Two recipes from Rounds 1 & 12 are ones that I have made and never got around to posting about on here, so I am going to use this opportunity to share them with you now. The fact that I haven’t blogged about them until so long after I made them (in one case over a year) doesn’t mean they weren’t awesomely delicious – because they were! I have just been really busy and unorganised, in fact I have plenty of delicious recipes that I still haven’t shared on here, but I hope to over the holidays when I have more time.

Bacon & Pumpkin Pesto Pasta (Round 1) Serves 4

Bacon & Pumpkin Pesto Pasta

This one is from the March 2006 issue of Australian Good Taste Magazine. I added more bacon and pesto and a little bit of cream to the original recipe and just used bought pesto instead of making my own because basil wasn’t in season back when I made this. I would like to try it with fresh pesto next time though.

Preheat oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Deseed and peel 1kg kent pumpkin and cut into 2.5cm pieces. Place the pumpkin, in a single layer, on the prepared tray. Spray with olive oil spray and season with salt and pepper. Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, cook 400g penne pasta according to packet directions, drain and return to the pan. Cook 400g chopped bacon in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, stirring, for 5 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Add the 190g pesto & 1/4C light cream to the pasta and toss until coated. Add the roasted pumpkin and crispy bacon and toss until well combined. Divide among serving bowls and sprinkle with parmesan cheese to serve.

Mustard Chicken Bake (Round 12) Serves 6

Mustard Chicken Bake

This was a reader recipe submitted by R. McLean in the July 2003 issue of Australian Good Taste magazine and it has recieved a lot of rave reviews on taste. The changes I made were to increase the oven temperature (a lot of people in the comments mentioned their potatoes didn’t cook properly), to chop up my chicken instead of using whole breast fillets, to use half sweet potato and half regular potato, to reduce the amount of stock (many reviewers complained the sauce was too runny) & to increase the amount of mustard. I also used light cream and salt reduced stock. Absolutely delicious!! I lost the photo for this one a while ago which is why I haven’t posted about it, but I’ve found the magical disappearing photos now so all is good in the world!

Preheat oven to 180C. Thinly slice 300g Sebago potatoes & 300g sweet potatoes and chop 800g chicken breast fillets into large chunks. Place a 75g packet powdered cream of chicken soupmix in a bowl, add the potatoes and chicken and toss to coat. Arrange half the potatoes over the base of a 2L (8-cup) capacity rectangular ceramic or glass ovenproof dish. Top with a layer of the chicken and then a layer of the remaining potatoes.

Combine 300ml light cream, 200ml salt-reduced chicken stock & 3Tbsp wholegrain seeded mustard in a jug and pour over the potatoes. Season with salt & pepper. Cover and bake for 1 1/4 hours or until chicken is just cooked through. Serve with steamed vegetables.

There are so many tempting recipes in the past 21 challenges and the current challenge is no exception. I plan on making the Salami Bread and North African Beef Fillet with Vegetable Tagine, although I will be substituting chicken breast for the beef fillet because we all know I’m not that into large chunks of red meat. So keep an eye out for both of those!

I also plan on returning to the Daring Bakers this month for the first time since July. Of course my lips are sealed on what the challenge is, so you will just have to look out for my post towards the end of this month. I can’t wait to get back into it… I think my cooking mojo is finally returning, must be the new kitchen :) I will post photos soon…

3 thoughts on “A New Challenge!

  1. I love the the CCC. It definately helps to get you back in the kitchen, even when you dont feel like it… but then you do. Of course.

    The Bake Club is good too, loads of things I havent been game enough to try, like souffle, I have not just made, but made well this year.

  2. Frizz – I was going to join the bake club too, but I find it hard enough to keep up with my monthly daring bakers challenges so I thought I would give it a miss for now…

    Davimack – Thanks! I think it is well and truly on its way back now :)

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