Baking with Mrs Bouw: Basic Risotto!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015



This morning when I did a quick grocery run to pick up some fresh produce, I had a real hankering to make risotto... pregnancy craving or not, all I know is that I wanted needed it! It has been a while since I have either made it myself or ordered it in a restaurant as many of you might agree, risotto is one of those dishes that is usually amazing or really disappointing... I don't find there is an in-between. If I do order it when I am dining out, I will only ever order it as an entree as I find most risottos can be quite over powering and a little 'too much' if you know what I mean. That's why I love this recipe... it is a basic but delicious dish that isn't overcomplicated with too many rich ingredients and one for the whole family to enjoy. Having said that, it is also the perfect risotto recipe to act as a base if you do want to build on it by adding extra ingredient such as roasted pumpkin, mushrooms, chicken, seafood etc. So, for those of you who have always been a little hesitant to attempt making a risotto (there is a bit of a stigma attached that it is difficult to make a good one), please do give this one a go as it really isn't difficult at all! It does however require a little love and attention so make sure you have the half hour to dedicate to the process without interrruptions... I simply propped up the iPad whist I was stirring and ladeling caught up on some trashy TV ;)

Mrs Bouw's Basic Risotto

Ingredients

1.2 litres chicken (or vegetable) stock
2 tbs olive oil
60 grams butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 large sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 cups Aborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
Sea salt
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Extra chopped spring onions to garnish

Method

- Heat the stock in a small saucepan.

- In a separate pan (I use a large, deep fry pan), heat the olive oil and half the butter (30g)

- Add the garlic, onions and celery and fry on a very low heat for 10 minutes ensuring the ingredients don't brown.

- Once the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.

- Keep stirring as the rice begins to fry lightly. After a minute or so the rice will begin to look translucent, this is when you should add your wine.

- Once the wine has been absorbed into the rice, add some salt and start ladling in the hot stock (I use my 1 cup measuring scoop).

- Turn down the heat to a simmer and keep adding the stock, a ladelful at a time, stirring slowly but continuously ensuring each ladelful is absorbed before adding the next.

- Stir and ladle until the rice is al dente (soft but still with a bite), this should take 15-20 minutes.

- Remove from the heat and add the remaining butter (30g) and parmesan stirring into the rice until both are melted.

- Spoon the risotto into dishes, season with a little bit of cracked salt (and pepper if you please) and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped spring onions and pinch of freshly grated parmesan.

- Enjoy!

Baking with Mrs Bouw: Homemade Chicken Chilli Con Carne

Thursday, May 28, 2015



I have been meaning to get this recipe down in writing for a long time now so here she is... my version of Chicken Chilli Con Carne. A delicious winter warmer, this recipe has been a favourite of mine for over ten years now and I am happy to say that with a few tweaks here and there, I am now totally happy with it so thought it was time to share! Like most of my recipes, this one is foolproof and a fantastic one to make ahead of time AND the leftovers (if there are any) are sooooo good especially if you throw inside and old school jaffle... yum!!! Oh and for those of you who don't like chilli food, despite the name of this dish, this recipe is not chilli at all... my little Narnie (2.5 years old) just loves it!

Mrs Bouw's Homemade Chicken Chilli Con Carne

Ingredients

2 tbs olive oil
600 grams of chicken mince (or beef, turkey etc.) *Note if you have a little more or a little less don't stress, it won't impact the overall recipe.
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 400g can of kidney beans
2 400g cans of crushed tomato
1 cup water
1 tbs brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs sour cream (the rest is used for serving)
Jasmine rice and fresh coriander to serve

Method

- Heat half the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add mince and using a wooden spoon, break up the mince and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is slightly brown. Transfer to a bowl.

- Heat the remaining oil in the same large pot and add onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until softened and then add garlic. Stir for another minute before returning mince to pot.

- Add cumin and chilli powder and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute until fragrant.

- Add tomato, kidney beans, water and brown sugar.

- Bring to the boil and the reduce heat to low and simmer, with lid on, for 30-40 minutes. Remove lid and simmer for another 10-15 minus or until sauce has thickened.

- Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. I usually let mine sit for a little while as the flavours really come to life.

- Served with steamed jasmine rice, topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of fresh coriander.

- Enjoy! :)

Skincare and Cosmetic Must Haves!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I have always been pretty loyal when it comes to my cosmetics and skin care and had been using some of the same products for years. This was mostly due to the fact that I did, at one point, love what I was using... but since becoming a Mumma (and one who has never even had a facial... is that normal?), it was more a case of not having the time to explore new products. But then one day late last year, I looked in the mirror and was just not happy with what I saw. My skin was looking (and feeling) tired, I had dark circles under my eyes (heck, I didn't even own concealer at that point) and the makeup I had been using for years was just not leaving my skin looking how it used to. This, combined with regular breakouts, forced me to take some 'me time' to look at switching up my staple beauty products. So one morning after I had dropped the girls off at school, instead of doing housework or running errands I headed to my local Sephora on a mission!

When I walked in I'm sure they thought I was shoplifting because I looked so awkward (almost guilty haha) and was clutching onto my bag for dear life... I was so overwhelmed! Yes I wear make up every day but like I said I had been wearing the same products for years so usually just head to the counters I am after, quickly purchase and then leave. After a few minutes I decided to ask for HELP! I explained what I was after (new foundation, new bronzer, some under eye concealer and a crash course in contouring (which scared the crap out of me and seemed like such hard work!) and after narrowing it down to a few products I was good to go. I was then given a quick 15 minute 'how to' on using the contouring kit I had just purchased and I was so surprised at how easy it actually is!

So, after a number of inquiries as to what skincare and cosmetic products I use, I thought I would give a quick run down of what my must have items are right now! I have been using both the Shiseido 'Benefiance' day and night moisturising creams (above) for a year or so now and continue to absolutely love them both! Growing up, my Mum used to use Shiseido so I always associated it with 'older ladies' (sorry Mum haha) so I find it so funny that I am now using it all these years later... does that make me old? Ha! :) I guess there is a reason it has been around for years! But the product that sealed the deal for me is their 'Ultimune' Power Infusing Concentrate... it is absolute heaven! You only need the tiniest amount and it is the first thing I put on my face after washing it in the morning and at night. I then follow with either the day or night moisturiser. Now onto my makeup routine. Once I have applied my Shiseido goodies, I move straight onto my under eye concealer and foundation base. I used to use a primer but don't find that I need it these days. The Givenchy 'Photo Perfexion' foundation is the best I have ever used (I use the colour 'Perfect Gold'). It just glides onto your skin and you only need one small pump to cover your whole face. Next is the fun part, using my Laura Mercier contour kit... yes, I'm slightly obsessed! All the colours are beautiful and creamy which makes blending them in with a contour brush super easy and believe it or not, it's actually pretty hard to stuff it up! It also comes with a hidden booklet that fits into the compact with tips on how to achieve the best contour look for the shape of your face. I love that you can achieve a light, soft look for during the day time and a heavier look of a night time. I have also found that since using the contour kit, I don't wear anywhere near as much bronzer or blush because you simply don't need to! Once I'm done with the contouring, I add a smidgen of blush (my fave at the moment is 'Peaches' by MAC) and then give a very light dusting with my Laura Mercier 'Loose Setting Powder'. This powder is magic! It is practically invisible but sets your foundation and contouring beautifully so nothings moves... and it will keep it that way all day! Last but not least I finsh with a dusting of bronzer. I switch between Bare Minerals 'Faux Tan' and MAC's 'Golden Bronzer'.

I'll save the eye's and lips for another post shall I? ;)

Scroll down for direct links to all the above mentioned products!



Skincare:

Shiseido 'Ultimune' Power Infusing Concentrate here
Shiseido 'Benefinace' Day Cream here
Shiseido 'Benefiance' Night Cream here

Cosmetics:

Givenchy 'Photo Perfexion' here
Laura Mercier 'High Coverage Concealer for under eyes' here
Laura Mercier 'Flawless Contouring Palette' here
'Peaches' blush by MAC Cosmetics here
Laura Mercier 'Loose Setting Powder' here
Bare Minerals 'Faux Tan' bronzer here

Baking with Mrs Bouw: Sweet Potato, Parsnip & Coconut Soup

Thursday, February 26, 2015



My cooking style may be best described as 'winging it' (ha!) but I would to the think it has more to do with following my instincts and my heart because I really do love being in the kitchen! Last weekend, I had my heart set on making a big pot of homemade pumpkin soup but when we got to the supermarket, there were no pumpkins to be found! I think here in the US pumpkins are used either for Halloween or more for sweets (i.e. pumpkin pie) so can easily be found pureed in a can but they don't seem as common outside of pumpkin/halloween season. So, instead I just randomly grabbed a few ingredients as we went along. When I got home I didn't really have any idea what I was going to make but this was the end result and it was bloody delicious if I do say so myself! Mr B gave it the big thumbs up and my little Narnie just LOVES soup and this one was no exception... she had one bowl for lunch and three helpings for din dins so it is definitely one for the kiddies too! Not only was it super easy to make but it's also easy on the pocket and you may even have most of the ingredients in your fridge and pantry already. It certainly hit the spot during this cold, snowy Chicago winter... yum!

Mrs Bouw's Sweet Potato, Parsnip and Coconut Soup

Ingredients

2 medium to large sweet potatoes
1 parsnip
1 large brown onion
1 litre vegetable stock
1/4 cup coconut milk (1 tablespoon extra for serving)
2 tsp fresh, finely grated ginger
2 cups water
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Coriander to garnish (optional)

Method

- Peel your sweet potatoes, parsnip and onion and chop into large chunks.

- Pour stock and water into a large pot, bring to the boil and throw in all of your veggies.

- Reduce heat, place a lid on you pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes until veggies are nice and tender (the longer you simmer, the tastier).

- Separate the veggies from the broth and place to the side.

- Using the same pot, heat your oil and ginger over low heat to release aromas (approx one minute) and then add to the bowl with the veggies.

- Place your veggies and one cup of your broth into a blender or food processor (I did it in two batches and used my Ninja!) and blend until smooth.

- Pour the mixture into a clean pot and add extra broth only if need be to get to the right consistency.

- Stir in coconut milk, season to taste with salt and pepper and place over low heat until soup is heated through.

- Serve with a drizzle of extra coconut milk and fresh coriander.

- Enjoy!
 

Baking with Mrs Bouw: Easy Peasy Fritters!

Monday, February 23, 2015



Gotta love a four ingredient recipe! Last week I whipped up these pea and corn fritters and they were a hit with three out of four in our household. Allegra on the other hand asked if I could never make them again (haha!) but don't let that stop you from believing that there are many kiddies that would love these... you could even make them slightly smaller into bite sized fritters! They are so simple and tasty (even more so if you prepare them ahead, let them sit for a little bit and then reheat) and a great little snack to have in the fridge. I had them for lunch two days in a row with a yummy side salad and if you're feeling naughty you can also serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yoghurt for a healthier option.

Easy Peasy Fritters

Ingredients (makes 15)

3 cups of frozen peas and corn
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 milk Salt and pepper to taste

Method

- Cook the peas and corn in a saucepan of boiling water until tender. Refresh under cool water and drain well.

- Using a potato masher, crush until they are mashed but still coarse (a few while pieces of corn give the fritters a nice texture).

- Using a whisk, beat the eggs in a bowl and gradually add the flour and milk, stirring until all combined.

- Add the flour mixture to the peas and corn, stirring to combine.

- Season to taste.

- Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large, non-stick frypan over medium heat.

- Using a 1/4 cup scoop, pour batter into frypan (I cooked 4-5 at a time).

- Cook for 2-3 minutes until golden underneath, flip and then cook for a further two minutes.

- Cover to keep warm and then repeat with the remaining batter.

- Serve with a mixed salad.

- Enjoy!
 

Get the Look: The Tuxedo Shirt!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

It's no secret that Aussie brand Cartel & Willow has become a favourite of mine. I'm always excited to see what newbies they have in stock so when I saws this 'Tash tux shirt' I knew it had to be mine (in this colour AND white hee hee)! On top of the fact that I am having a little love affair with emerald green at the moment, I am such a huge fan of the tuxedo tailed shirt and Cartel & Willow do it so well! You may remember a previous post which featured my Leopard Print Shirt (which I still wear ALL the time, also by C & W) showcasing the adorable tux tail which I find so flattering... I am a huge fan of the 'half tuck'! To create this look I compiled a few of my absolute favourite items including the divine Missoni turban that was this years Valentines Day gift (thanks Mr B! xxx)... I love love love that it has so many beautiful tones in it making it such a versatile accessory! Perfect for all seasons (in this case teamed with some cosy faux fur for the chilly Chicago winter) I have a feeling I will be wearing this beauty for many years to come...
 

Get the look:

Cartel & Willow 'Tash Tux Shirt' here
Missoni 'Mare' turban here
Valentino 'Rockstud' sunglasses here
Chloe 'Suzanna' studded ankle boots here
AG Adriano Goldschmied distressed skinny ankle jeans here
Zara faux fur coat here

Baking with Mrs Bouw: Fake it til you make it! How to create a showstopper cake!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Last week I shared with you all the details from Anya and Allegra's recent joint Birthday party including the cake I made for them! Well today, I am here to share my big, fat dirty little secret so that you too can create a showstopper cake with little effort! For the last fours years running I have made all of my girls' cakes from scratch (including Allegra's rather dodgy second Birthday cake less than two weeks after I gave birth to Anya... I remember it perfectly because I remember cursing and asking myself 'what on earth were you thinking taking on such a task with a crying, hungry newborn and zero sleep?!' haha!) and this year was no different. The only problem I faced was that we were only having a small gathering (probably a third of the size as previous years) so there was no way I was going to attempt another 2-3 tier cake, slaving in the kitchen for hours, only to have most of it go to waste. So I got to thinking... I can still have my cake and eat it too ;)
Allegra's 1st Birthday cake
Allegra's 2nd Birthday cake
Anya's 1st Birthday and Allegra's 3rd Birthday cake
This years cake for Anya's 2nd Birthday and Allegra's 4th Birthday!

So what is my dirty little secret you ask? The two bottom tiers are fakes! Yep, tasty, yummy polystyrene goodness ha! I really had my heart set on creating a feature cake that would steal the show but like I said above, I couldn't justify so much cake for such a small gathering so it was Cake Dummy to the rescue! I still did all the decorating using fondant and then applied my amazing floral edible icing from Custom Icing made to match my invites (honestly, I couldn't give them a better wrap) but because I didn't have to factor in keeping the cake fresh, I could decorate the two bottom tiers days before the party... winning! I often hear people say that they are terrified to even attempt working with fondant but I can assure you it is so easy! There are loads of online tutorials that demonstrate how to apply fondant, here is just one video as an example. As for the top tier, I can assure you that WAS cake hee hee! I used my delicious White Chocolate Mud Cake recipe (refer below) which I also used for last years cake and baked two small cakes using the one mixture. I then added a layer of my vanilla buttercream frosting before stacking the two cakes on top of each other and then covered completely with the remainder of the vanilla buttercream frosting. Once the icing had set a little I then finished off by once again covering with fondant, the custom made black and white striped icing and then topped with the hand made paper flower I made. Because the cake is designed to be dense and super moist, I was able to make it two days in advance, once again eliminating the stress of baking and decorating like a mad woman in the lead up to the party! So the cake was finished on the Friday and the party was on the Sunday... I was relieved and thrilled with the result! So go on, fake it tip you make it...

  

White Chocolate Mud Cake 

Ingredients


300g white chocolate (use Cadbury Dream white chocolate if you can)
200g butter
1 cup milk
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup self-raising flour
1 cup plain flour

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

125g butter, lightly softened (I usually take it out of the fridge half an hour before I plan on using it)
2 1/4 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

* Note: I doubled this frosting recipe for the purpose of this cake.

Method

- Preheat oven to 160°C degrees Celsius (145°C if your oven is fan-forced).

- Grease and line you tin with baking paper.

- Place chocolate, butter, milk and sugar in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Once chocolate and butter have melted, remove from heat and stir (I use a whisk) until the mixture is completely smooth. Set aside to cool until mixture is at room temperature.

- Once cooled, add vanilla essence and eggs to chocolate mixture and stir until well combined.

- Combine sifted flours together in a large bowl.

- Add the chocolate mixture to the egg and flour mixture in a three batches, stirring until combined after each addition and until mixture is completely smooth. This method will help prevent a lumpy mixture.

- Pour mixture into prepared tin.

- Baking time will vary depending on the size of your cake. If you use the entire mixture to make one cake, bake for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. I made x2 smaller cakes so baked for approximately 50 minutes per cake.

- Important note: This recipe is designed to be super moist so if the skewer comes out clean or with moist crumbs (not gooey batter) attached, the cake is done! If not, return to the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes before testing again. The cake will also set once cooled (I promise!) so be sure not to over bake it as you don't want to dry it out!

- Once cooked through, remove from oven and allow to sit in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing and placing on a cooling rack. I also always cover my baked goods with a clean tea towel to keep them nice and fresh!

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

- Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for roughly six minutes or until light and creamy.

- Add in icing sugar a half cup at a time and add vanilla half way through (food colouring is optional).

- Beat until well combined at piping or spreading consistency (approximately 5 minutes, you should be able to tell when it's done).

- Enjoy!

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