Friday, December 29, 2006

Spaghettini with lemon, prosciutto and chilli

Another quick & tasty pasta combination from Bill Granger that Michael cooked up for me – this one’s from Bill’s Food

Spaghettini with lemon, prosciutto and chilli

60ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
2 small fresh red chillies, seeded & finely chopped
12 slices prosciutto, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
250g rocket leaves, shredded
400g good quality dried thin Spaghettini (or any other pasta really!)

Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, chilli & some salt & pepper in a bowl to blend.

Put the prosciutto, lemon zest and rocket in a bowl & toss to combine.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil & cook pasta to packet directions. Drain & add the prosciutto mix, pour the dressing over & toss to combine.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Raspberry Frangipane Tarts

Raspberries again, today in Frangipane tart form, recipe courtesy of Matthew Moran as featured in an old Delicious edition. The tarts were absolutely scrumptious & apart from the number of steps you need to take, all in all very simple. I have only one complaint with the recipe, it is supposed to make 8 & there was at least half of the pastry left over which is not too much of a problem as I froze it, but then there was also heaps of filling left over too which if I had of known I would have prepared extra shells to start with, as it was I was a bit stuffed by the time I got to that stage & threw the rest out, what a waste! Also take car not to overfill as I did as it all came spilling over the edges & Michael now has a nice mess in the oven to clean out for as in my current state I am not allowed to do much, I am lucky I am still allowed to cook occasionally!

Raspberry Frangipane Tarts

150g Raspberries
Icing sugar, to dust

Shortcrust pastry
90g icing sugar, sifted
2 cups (300g) plain flour
185g chilled unsalted butter
1 extra large egg

180g icing sugar
180g unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 ½ cups (180g) almond meal
1 ½ tablespoons dark rum

Sift the icing sugar onto a cool work surface (or large bowl as I used) & add the plain flour. Chop the chilled butter, then use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour & icing sugar until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Make a deep well in the centre of the dry mixture and add the egg. Gradually bring the dry ingredients into the centre, then combine with your hands to form a smooth ball. (Alternatively, process ingredients in a food processor until well combined). Enclose in plastic wrap & chill for 20 minutes, then divide pastry into 8 portions.

Roll out 1 pastry portion to 2.5mm thick on a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the rolling pin. Drape over the tart case & press into base & sides, the cut off excess. Repeat with remaining pastry & pans. Chill for 30 minutes.

For the frangipane, cream the butter & sugar until pale & thick (don’t over do or it will rise & collapse in the oven). Add the eggs one at a time, mixing continuously and adding some almond meal between additions. Slowly add the rum to the mixture until all ingredients are combined.

Preheat oven to 180c. Divide the frangipane mixture among the tart cases & smooth top. Press 6 raspberries gently into each tart & bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned & cooked through. Cool in pans for 5-6 minutes, serve warm dusted with icing sugar with left over raspberries & vanilla ice cream

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

My contribution for the family Christmas lunch yesterday was Nigella Lawson’s fabulous Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova from Forever Summer. Raspberries are so Christmassy & around for such a short time that I have been trying to make & eat as much as possible with them for now. This pav is a winner, I’m not normally a Pavlova lover but add the chocolate & raspberries & it is sensational & to prove it there was definitely none left over after the day despite the abundance of desserts on offer.

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

For the Meringue base
6 Egg Whites
300g caster sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sieved
1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
50g dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the topping
500ml double cream
500g raspberries
2-3 tablespoons coarsely grated dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 180c & line a baking tray with baking paper.

Beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, then beat in the sugar a spoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff & shiny. Sprinkle over the cocoa & vinegar & the chopped chocolate. Then gently fold everything until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound onto the baking paper in a fat circle approximately 23cm in diameter, smoothing the sides & top. Place in the oven, then immediately turn the oven down to 150c & cook for about 1 – 1 ¼ hours. When it’s ready it should look crisp around the edges & on the sides & be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess beneath your fingers. Turn off the oven & open the door slightly & allow to cool completely.

When ready to serve, invert onto a big flat bottomed plate. Whisk the cream until thick but still soft & pile on top, then scatter over the raspberries & the chocolate shavings on top.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Easy Paella

This delicious ‘Paella’ recipe came from a recent delicious magazine, think from memory it is a Bill Granger recipe from his new book. While not traditional Paella by any means, for a quick meal for Michael & I it was easy to knock out & really yum!

Easy Paella

1 tablespoon olive oil
500g chicken breast fillets (pref with skin on), cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
1 chorizo sausage, chopped
1 cup (200g) basmati rice
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
425g can chopped tomatoes, drained
1 red capsicum, chopped
1 small red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 cups (500ml) chicken stock
250g cooked prawns, peeled
425g can cannelloni beans, rinsed, drained
100g baby green beans, topped, blanched & refreshed in cold water
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
Lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the oil in a large, deep frypan over medium heat. Cook the chicken pieces fro 3-4 minutes, turning until golden & cooked through. Remove & set aside to drain on paper towel.

Add the onion and the chorizo to the pan & cook, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes until the chorizo begins to crisp. Add the rice & turmeric & cook, stirring for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, capsicum, chilli, garlic & stock. Bring to the coil, then reduce heat to medium-low & cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Return the chicken to the pan with the prawns, cannellini beans & green beans. Toss & heat through for 1 minute. Stir in the coriander & serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Butter Cut Out Cookies - Christmas Treats Part 3

Lastly for the Christmas boxes were some iced butter cut out cookies, recipe from Nigella Lawson in both How to be a Domestic Goddess & Feast. To save time I made the dough for these a few days ago & stuck it in the freezer, very good idea because by the end of the gingerbread men & the 60 or so of these I had to cook and ice I was exhausted, nothing was too difficult, it was just a lot to get through. I think they look really cute in my rustic hand made way & make a nice addition to the gift boxes, the tasted nice too. Can’t wait to see if everyone likes their goodies…

Butter Cut Out Biscuits

175g soft unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
400g plain flour, pref Italian 00, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
300g icing sugar, sieved, and food coloring

Biscuit cutters

Preheat oven to 180c. Cream the butter & sugar together until pale & moving towards mousiness, then beat in the eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder & salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and eggs, and mix gently but surely. If you think the finished mixture is too sticky to be rolled out, add more flour but do so sparingly as too much will make the dough tough. Halve the dough, form into fat discs, wrap each half in plastic wrap & rest in the fridge for at least an hour. Sprinkle a suitable surface with flour, place a disc of dough on it (not taking out the other half until finished with the first) and sprinkle a little more flour on top of that. Then roll it out to about ½ cm thickness. Cut into shapes, dipping the cutter into flour as you go, and place the biscuits a little apart on baking trays lined with baking paper.

Bake for 8-2 minutes, by which time they will be lightly golden around the edges. Cool on a rack and continue with the rest of the dough. When they’re all fully cooled, you can get on with the icing. Put a couple of tablespoon of just not boiling water into a large bowl, add the icing sugar & mix together, adding more water as needed to form a thick paste. Color as desired. Makes 50-60.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Gingerbread Men - Christmas treats Part 2

The next item for my goodie boxes was gingerbread men, I didn’t have a recipe so kept my eye out & ended up using the recipe from Not Just Desserts. I found the dough very crumbly but don’t worry be patient & they end up holding together & giving a nice crisp cookie, once again though my decorating skills needs some perfecting!

Traditional Gingerbread recipe

350 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda (or baking powder)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
100 grams unsalted butter
175 grams brown sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons golden syrup
Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Line baking trays with baking paper. Sift flour, bicarb and ginger into a large bowl.Rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs then rub in the sugar. Beat egg and syrup together and stir into flour mixture, mixing lightly to form a smooth dough. Rest in the refridgerator for 30 minutes.
On a floured surface rollout dough to 4-5mm thickness. Cut into shapes and transfer to baking tins. Bake for 12-15 mins or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly on trays. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely then ice.
200 grams of icing sugar
1 egg white
1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Beat the egg white until soft peaks form and gradually beat in the icing sugar followed by the lemon juice. Ice the biscuits and decorate with silver/coloured cashous for buttons.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Mini Chocolate Puddings - Christmas treats Part 1

This year for Christmas I thought for that for the first time I would try & be creative & make some festive treats to pack up in boxes & give out to the family for Christmas. The first thing to go in is these minature chocolate puddings, recipe from the Christmas edition of Donna Hay. This is more of an assembly job than a recipe. Note that I doubled the recipe which is suppsoed to make 30 & only ended up with 42 so I must have made them too big. Also with doubling the chocolate started to harden up a bit towards the end making it a bit messy to roll the balls in. as you can see from the photos I totally got the rustic look happening, my chocolate coating & decorating skills far from perfect. I think they taste great though Michael thinks they're a bit rich, he is not much of a chocolate/sweet lover though. Will have to wait to see what everyone else thinks.

Mini Chocolate Puddings

350g store bought Christmas pudding, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon brandy
200g dark cooking chocolate, melted
1/4 cup cachous, (silver decorating balls)

Place the pudding and brandy in a food processor and process until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls, using a fork dip into the chocolate, place on a baking tray lined with baking paper & decorate with cachous. Allow to set at room temperature for 1 hour.

Lamb Cutlets with Special Basil Sauce

Another quick & easy mid week meal from Jamie's dinners, it doesnt look all that pretty but I guarantee the taste was much better than the looks, the rub complimented the lamb & the basil sauce was yum, I also served it with sweet pototo mash which I think worked very well too.

Best Lamb Cutlets with Special Basil Sauce

12 lamb cutlets
a small handful of fresh thyme leaves, picked
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
400g mushrooms, brushed clean & torn
a small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
1 lemon
2 handfuls of pine nuts
2 large handfuls of fresh basil
3-5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Slap the cutlets with the heel of your hand to flatten them slightly. Bash up the thyme in a mortar & pestle and add a little olive oil. Mix together, then rub the oil over the cutlets & season both sides with salt & pepper, put aside.

Cook the mushrooms dry on the bars of a hot griddle pan, then put in a large bowl. Once the mushies are done, put the lamb on (either the same pan or on the bbq), cook for about 3-4 minutes each side or done to your liking. When cooked put in the bowl with the mushies & drizzle with a little olive oil. tear over the parsley & add a good squuze of lemon juice. Season lightly & toss around. Place to one side to rest.

Meanwhile make the sauce. In a mortar & pestle poud up the pine nuts until you have a mushy pulp. Remove to a bowl then use the mortar & pestle to bash up the basil. Add to the nuts & loosen with olive oil so that the sauce easily drips off the end of a spoon. Add the vinegar to give it a bit of a zing. Serve with the lamb & either a salad or the sweet potoato mash worked well for me too.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Bar Lourinha - Spanish Tapas in Melbourne

Bar Lourinha is a wonderful newish Spanish/Portuguese style bar tucked away in Little Collins street run by Matt McConnell, ex Berardo's Noosa, Diningroom 211, Hairy Canary. The bar is tiny, with a couple of communal tables and a bar surrounded by tall bar stools to sit & while away the night on. There’s also a little couch area at the frnt area which is where we chose to sat, being preggers I didn’t fancy houts on a ba stool this time! The décor worked for me, an odd mix of paintings, a lit up reindeer on the wall, and odd bits & pieces, not overly crowded.

The drinks menu had plenty on offer, though sadly I didn’t get to sample any of the promised delights, no cocktails, no apertifs, etc, just a bottle of wine for us to share, which was very nice indeed though I cant remember what it was as the girls did the choosing tonight assisted by our very friendly & knowledgeable waitress. The food menu consists of maybe 15 or so sharing dishes which all sound mouth watering, very hard to choose really. There were 3 of us gilrs eating last night & the dishes we chose were more than enough to satusify our appetities. While choosing our fare we had a plate of cracked grren olives which were very good. Then we started with the yellowtail kingfish "pancetta", salt cured and dressed with lemon oil, fresh thyme and slivers of red onion, a great melt in your mouth dish with the onions & dressing proving just ther ight amount of flavour for the delicate fish slices. Next was a plate of vine grilled sardines over a fennel salad, followed by a great salad of buffalo mozzarella with crispy jamon – how can you go wrong with these two ingedients – it was superb. This was followed by some delicious roasted mushrroms in a creamy garlic sauce.

To finish off with we had the par-cooked, whole smoked chorizo sausage finished over brandy spirit flamed at the table. A couple of minutes on the flames (which sadly my photo hasn’t picked up very well) and our sausage is done & ready to eat, it was fabulous, nice & spicy & love that flame grilled taste & quite a produciton really!

After all of this we still had a little room for dessert of course, there was no way I was missing out on churros. So we shared the churros (long sugar coated Spanish doughnuts which have to be sampled if you have never tasted these delights before), they were served with a caramel type flavoured dipping sauce rather than the usual chocolate I have normally seen, fantastic & I could have had the whole serve to myself. We also tried a dish of pomegranate crema (? Think this is what it was called) with a pistachio praline, again delightful.

All in all this place highly impressed me & is one to keep card handy for.

Bar Lourinha
37 Little Collins Street
03 9663 7890
Mon-Wed, noon-11pm; Thu and Fri, noon-1am; Sat, 4pm-1am

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Char Sui Pork with Asian vegetables

Another quickie tonight – so quick in fact that Michael whipped it up as I was held up on my way home from work (shopping & late trams as usual). After I marinated the pork last night there wasn’t much left to do except for a bit of chopping & grilling. The recipe comes from Ben O’Donoghue and Curtis Stone, Surfing the Menu. The pork is fantastic, juicy & tender from all the marinating & char sui is such a delicious flavour, with the added extra’s it was even better. The veggies were ok however the sauce was a bit too strong for my liking so wont be making them again.

Char Sui Pork with Asian vegetables


200g char sui paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 garlic clove, bruised
1cm piece ginger, sliced

2 medium pork fillets


½ head of broccoli
1 zucchini
1 carrot
¼ each of red, yellow & green capsicum
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Asian shallot, sliced
1 small clove garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon grated ginger
½ head pak choy, shredded
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a ceramic or glass bowl and add the pork fillets, turning to coat. Cover & refrigerate for 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 180c. Remove the pork from the marinade & seal on both sides in a medium fry pan, 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a roasting dish for 8 minutes in the oven, remove & rest covered with foil for 3-4 minutes.

Cut the broccoli, zucchini, carrot & capsicum into bite sized pieces. Heat oil in wok add the veggies & shallot, garlic, ginger & pak choy. Stir fry for 15-20 seconds. Add soy & oyster sauce & continue to fry until vegges soft, about 20-30 seconds. Stir through sesame oil & serve with the pork carved into 1 cm slices. Drizzle ay juices from the roasting dish over & serve.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Shanghai Ling, East Brunswick - Another great local

I finally got around to trying out Shanghai Ling, one of my local restaurants that I’ve heard many good things about. The place is much like any local Chinese, nothing flash to look at, yet the menu is much more inspiring than just the usual lemon chicken & beef & black bean. They specialise in Shanghai & Si Chuan cuisine & it is recommended that you try the specials rather than sticking to the ordinary menu, do this & you will be highly rewarded.

To start with we had the fried pumpkin cakes, I cant remember what’s in these exactly, though sure as well as pumpkin they contained some sort of sticky rice, any way they sound strange yet absolutely yummy & moorish, we also had the freshly steamed Shanghai-style pork dumplings served with a soy dipping sauce, very fresh & delicate & as you can from the photos the serves were very generous especially considering the price (think about $4.00 & $7.00 respectively). Next we had some Red Hot Chilli Beef which wasn’t red hot at all so the name was a bit deceiving, though the taste was very fresh, the beef melted in your mouth which is a nice change to what I usually seem to get in these type of dishes, that is very chewy meat. Alongside this we had the sweet & sour barramundi fillets in a tomato & pine nut sauce, a huge serving & the fish & batter was nice & light & cooked to perfection, the sauce nice & tangy with out the sickly sweetness you would expect form a dish like this. Unfortunately this is all we could fit in tonight but cant wait to go back & try out some more of there specials. Oh and a tip for you, they do take away but the take away menu is printed with only the standard dishes so would suggest you really try eating in.

Shanghai Ling
180 Lygon Street
East Brunswick
Tel +613 9381 0644
Open Mon-Sat 6.00-10pm
Licensed and BYO (wine only)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Cherry, White Chocolate & Almond Muffins

Today I made these luscious muffins, they are a Bill Granger recipe so how could I go wrong, I believe the recipe is from his new book, Every Day? & they featured in a recent edition of delicious. Cherries are my absolute favourite fruit of all & it is a crying shame that they’re season is so short. So now that they are here I am eating as many as I can, the pitting was great fun, one for the muffins, one for me, & lots of gorgeous cherry red juices to lick off my fingers when it was all done. Add some white chocolate, almond meal & this was definitely a recipe for success to be repeated many times.

Cherry, White Chocolate & Almond Muffins

2 ½ cups (375g) plain flour
1 tbsn baking powder
2/3 cup (150g) caser sugar
½ cup (60g) almond meal
90g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
1 ¼ cups (200g) pitted fresh or frozen cherries, halved
150g white chocolate, chopped
Demerara sugar to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 180c. Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.

Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl, add caster sugar & almond meal & stir in. Whisk together the melted butter, egg & buttermilk, then add to the dry ingredients & stir until just combined. Stir in the cherries and white chocolate.

Divide the mixture among the muffin holes, sprinkle with sugar & bake for 20-25 minutes until firm, golden & a skewer inserted comes out clean. Turn onto wire racks to cool.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Saffron Scented Chicken Pilaf

Apologies if the cooking is a bit light on lately, I am too busy going to Christmas parties & enjoying other peoples efforts so not much time for the home kitchen. It is making a nice change I must say. So last night I did my first bit of cooking for the week. This lovely & simple rice dish from rom Nigella Lawson, Forever Summer , was perfect for a quick mid week fix, the chicken flavours after marinating in yoghurt, lemon & cinamon were spectacular - dont think I have tried this flavouring before & the subtle & exotic flavours in the rice, cardoman, nuts, saffron, etc were beautiful.

Saffron Scented Chicken Pilaf

500g chicken breast, cut into approx 2 x 1cm pieces
1 x 200g tub Greek yoghurt
juice of half a lemon
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon saffron threads
1 litre chicken stock
15g unsalted butter
2-3 tablespoons groundnut oil
500g basmati rice
3-4 cardamom pods, bruised
juice and zest of 1 lemon
50g cashew nuts
50g flaked almonds
25g pine nuts
3-4 tablespoons shelled pistachio nuts
small bunch fresh parsley, chopped

Marinate the chicken in the yoghurt, lemon and cinnamon for about an hour. Soak the saffron threads in the chicken stock.

Over medium heat, in large pan with a lid, melt the butter along with 1 tablespoon oil and add the rice, stirring it to coat gently. Pur in the saffron & chicken stock, add the cardamom pods, lemon juice & zest & bring the pan to the boil, then put on the lid & turn down to very low heat for about 10-15 minutes, by which time the rice should have absorbed & the liquid cooked through.

While the rice is cooking, shake the excess marinade off the chicken using a sieve. Then fry the meat in a hot pan with the remaining spoonful or so of oil, do in batches if necessary.

When the rice is cooked, take it off the heat & fork through the chicken pieces. Toast the nuts except pistachios, by shaking in an oil free frypan until they begin to colour. Add to the pilaf along with chopped parsley & top with chopped pistachios.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Prawn & Chilli Linguine

Tonight’s dinner was a complete no brainer, exactly the type of thing I love to cook up after a hard day in the office when all I want to do is put my feet up. I didn’t really need a recipe however followed Bill’s instructions from Sydney Food, minus the rocket which I really wanted but had mysteriously disappeared from my fridge. Perfect, I’ve been dying for this combination of garlic, chilli, prawns & pasta for a while now & I’m glad I finally got around to satisfying the craving.

Prawn & Chilli Linguine

250g linguine
4 tablespoons olive oil (I dint use half this much)
10 green prawns, peeled & deveined
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 small red chillies, finely chopped
25g butter
50g rocket, washed & dried

Cook linguine in rapidly boiling salted water according to packet instructions. Drain well. Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat, add prawns, season with salt & pepper & cook for 1 minute. Add garlic & chillies & cook fro another minute. Add butter and reduce heat to low. Add the rocket & linguine & toss until pasta is well coated.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Festive Food Fair - Gingerbread Muffins

Anna at Morsels & Musings in Sydney has decided to host a Festive Food Fair event. I think this is a great idea & hopefully the event will provide inspiration for everyone during the holiday season & leading up to all of those glorious Christmas feasts. I have chosen a simple muffin recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Feast under the Christmas section of course. I managed to whip these up in the time it to me steam some rice for dinner – they are that simple. I made a couple of changes due to lack of the correct ingredients - all light muscovado sugar & no dark and all golden syrup failing the discovery of any black treacle down the shops. They were still absolutely lovely & I don’t think these compromised the flavour at all but who knows, maybe they would make them even better. These would be great for xmas brekky or just to have on hand if people are popping over at this time of year. Light & fluffy & ginger & spice just conjure up festive images don’t they?

Gingerbread Muffins

250g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarb of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 egg
50g dark muscovado sugar
50g light muscovado sugar
150ml full-fat milk
¼ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
4 tablespoons golden syrup
4 tablespoons black treacle.

Preheat oven to 200c. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin papers.

Combine the flour, bicarb, baking powder & spices in a large bowl. Whisk the egg in a large measuring jug then add the sugars, breaking up any large lumps. Add the milk and vinegar then measure in the oil with a tablespoon. Use the same oily spoon to add the syrup & treacle so they don’t stick to it. Whisk the mixture to combine and add to the flour mix. Stir until mixed but still fairly lumpy. Spoon into muffin papers & bake for about 20 minutes until the tops are dry.

Pan Fried Lemon Veal with Green Beans

After all the munching at the Age Harvest picnic yesterday a light dinner was called for so being Bill Granger crazy at t the moment, Michael knocked up this dish from Bill’s Food. I didn’t end up doing the beans as mine were in the fridge for longer than I remember & had horrible looking brown marks all over them so in the bin they went. Served with mash, absolutely simple & delish. The lemon & veal is such a fantastic combination of fresh flavour.

Pan Fried Lemon Veal with Green Beans

8 veal escalopes
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
300g baby green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice
50g butter
2 tablespoons finely copped flat leaf Italian parsley
Lemon wedges, to serve

Season the veal with sea salt & black pepper.

Steam the beans in a steamer for 3 minutes. While the beans are steaming, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium to high heat. When the oil is hot, add the veal and cook for about 45 seconds on each side.

Reduce the frying pan heat to low & add the lemon juice, loosening the residue from the base of the pan. When the lemon juice boils, add the butter & mix until the butter melts and the sauce is slightly thickened. Pour over the veal & sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with beans & lemon wedges.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Age Harvest Picnic at Werribee Park

On this gorgeous Melbourne day I headed out to the Age Harvest Picnic at Werribee Park with Michael & my parents. We got there at about 10 so we got a good park & a good spot to set up on the lawn. It’s a beautiful setting & there were heaps of stalls filled with goodies. You can see in my photo how packed it ended up being by about lunch time. Some of the treats I bought to take home were Basil infused olive oil from Barfold Olives, some very refreshing Ginger & green Apple Fruit Soda cordial – made to an ancient tradition with fresh fruit, no preservatives, colours or artificial flavourings, Goldfields ‘Kamarooka’ honey, lot’s of jams from Marcia’s Munchies, hand made with natural ingredients – they were all so good I couldn’t decide so bough them all cherry, raspberry, tangelo marmalade & apricot, Some quince paste & stunning Virtuous Vanilla plum jam from Olive Branch preserves – though I don’t know what was virtuous about it – I thought it was wicked! I also tried lots of great bickies & sweets which I didn’t buy any of as at the moment I’m too busy making my own all the time. I had a small tub of chicken & seafood Paella from The Paella Pan - who do paella party catering – sounds interesting & the dish was yummy, some fantastic ginger ice cream from Irrewarra Natural Ice cream & tried some of Micahel’s Red Duck beer – very refreshing also. I love these events & today was the perfect day fro it, even managed to escape with minimal sun burn.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Strawberry sour cream streusel cake

Today after brunch at my place, Megan & I headed over to visit Rach & her new baby Ethan, so of course it was a good excuse for me to bake & take something along. I tried out this recipe from a recent edition of Delicious, it was scrumptious if I do say so myself & everyone loved it. The strawberry puree inside the cake was intense but not overly sweet & went perfectly with the crumble, who doesn’t love a good crumble? Definitely a winner to be made again

Strawberry sour cream streusel cake

¾ cup (165g) caster sugar
320g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarb soda
240g chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1.5cm cubes
1 cup (240g) sour cream
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2tsp Demerara sugar

Strawberry Puree
2 tsp cornflour
2 tsp vanilla extract
225g strawberries, hulled
3 tbs strawberry jam

For puree, make a paste of cornflour and vanilla, add to blender with berries and jam. Puree until smooth, set aside.

Preheat oven to 170c. Grease a 23cm springform pan.

Combine caster sugar, flour, baking powder and bicarb of soda in a large bowl. Rub in butter with your fingertips until mix resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Remove ½ cup and set aside, then add sour cream, egg & vanilla to the main bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon.

Using a little over half the batter, drop dollops in to pan. Pat batter across bottom of pan & about 2.5cm up sides, mix will be very sticky and somewhat uneven. Add puree, making an even layer across bottom of pan & leaving a rim of dough above it. Cover with remaining cake mixture.

Use a fork to combine reserved flour and butter mix with Demerara sugar. Sprinkle evenly over cake, then bake for 45 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool in pan, then serve.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Chocolate Truffles & Sugar High Friday!

For the latest Sugar High Friday the theme is truffles & the host is The Passionate Cook. Now I love truffles yet have never made them before so I thought I would start at the beginning & make some traditional French style truffles from Green & Black’s Chocolate Cook book. These are predominantly a chocolate ganache, dusted with cocoa powder. Apparently they were first called truffles as they looked like real freshly dug truffles of the fungus type! They are absolutely wickedly delicious, dense & rich in a very adult dark chocolatey way that I love and I feel even more guilty eating these as opposed to bought ones as I know exactly what went into them. Not too time consuming though you do have to start at least 3 hours or so before hand to get the required amount of refrigeration time. Also today in Melbourne it’s quite hot, up there in the 30’s, so I found I had to roll them in batches as the mixture started getting a bit melty after about 10 truffles, so I popped the mix batch in the fridge every now & then. Yum, now I have to try & give some away before I eat them all.

Micah’s Truffles

275g dark chocolate, minimum 60% cocoa solids, broken into pieces
250ml double cream
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
50g cocoa powder

Place the chocolate in a large bowl. Bring the cream to the boil & pur it over the chocolate. Stir gently until the chocolate has melted, trying not to create bubbles. Leave to cool for 2 minutes, then add the butter in 2 stages & stir in gently. Once the butter is incorporated, the ganache should be smooth & glossy with no oil slick on the surface. Set the mix in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight.

Remove from the fridge about 15 minutes before you want to make the truffles, depending on room temperature. Put the cocoa into a bowl. Ensure your hands are cold & dry, then dust them with cocoa. Take teaspoonfuls of the ganache mix & roll the mixture in to a ball in your cocoa dusted hands. Drop each truffle in the bowl of cocoa, roll it around then toss between your palms to remove any excess powder. The truffles can then be returned to the fridge and kept for up to 2 days as long as they are stored in an airtight container. Serve straight from the fridge or at room temperature.

Roast Loin of Pork with Peaches

Seeing that Peaches have finally arrived in our shops I though it was about time I tried out this roast from Jamie Oliver’s Return of the Naked Chef. I know its 30 degrees out but when you have a craving for a roast what can you do? The recipe below is for 7 which I halved for the 2 of us – looking forward to some leftover pork sandwiches. This was a very tasty roast, the meat was very flavoursome & moist though I am a bit dubious about all of that butter & I only used half, think I will cut it in half again next time as don’t think that much is necessary & should still be tender & moist with not so much

Roast Loin of Pork with Peaches

1 x t rib loin of pork
1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked & chopped
200g butter
salt & freshly ground black pepper
8 fresh peaches (or use 2 tins in natural juices if our of season), halved & stoned

Preheat oven to 220c. Score the skin of your pork about 1 cm apart through the fat nearly to the meat. With a knife carefully part the meat from the ribs. Scrunch your chopped thyme into the butter with the seasoning. Rub & distribute a little of the butter into the gap you have made between the ribs & the meat. Push in as many peaches as you can fit & pack the rest of the butter on top. To hug the meat & ribs together & hold the peaches in place, simply fasten some string around the pork loin in 3 or 4 places & tie firmly. Place in a roasting tray with any leftover peaches & other veg you wish to have with your roast. Cook for 50 minutes to an hour, allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Spaghetti Tetrazzini (Chicken & Mushroom Pasta Bake)

I made this dish from Jamie Oliver’s Italy a couple of weeks back & have hesitated in posting it. Frankly it was quite average, a bit on the oily side & not up to the standard that I expect from his recipes. It was still ok but nothing special. I don’t know if I did something wrong or not so would love to hear of anyone else out there who has also tried this one out & what they thought of it. Pretty much the only real difference between mine & the recipe below was that I omitted the porcini having none handy.

Spaghetti Tetrazzini (Chicken & Mushroom Pasta Bake)

20g/a small handful of dried porcini mushrooms
Olive Oil
4 Chicken Thighs, boned, skinned & cut into bite sized pieces (I bought thigh fillets)
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled & finely sliced
350g handfuls mixed mushrooms, cleaned & torn
200ml white wine
455g Spaghetti
500ml double cream
200g parmesan cheese grated
a sprig of fresh basil, leaves picked

Preheat oven to 200c. Put your porcini in a bowl & pur over just enough boiling water to cover them. Put to one side to soak for a few minutes. Heat a saucepan big enough to hold all ingredients, and pour in a splash of olive oil. Season the chicken with salt & pepper & brown gently in the oil. Strain the porcini, reserving the soaking water, and add them to the pan with the garlic & fresh mushrooms. Add the wine, with the strained porcini water & turn the heat down. Simmer gently until the chicken pieces are cooked through and the wine has reduced a little.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water according to packet instructions & drain well. Add the cream to the chicken, then bring to the boil & turn the heat off. Season well with salt & freshly ground black pepper. Add the drained spaghetti to the creamy chicken sauce & toss well. Add ¾ of the parmesan and the basil & stir well. Transfer to an ovenproof baking dish, sprinkle with half the remaining cheese & bake in the oven until golden brown, bubbling & crisp. Divide between your plates & sprinkle with the rest of the cheese before serving.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Buttermilk pancakes with Caramelized fruit.

Sunday morning for brekky to use up my left over buttermilk from last weekend some more pancakes were in order, I found another recipe using buttermilk in Bill Granger Bill’s Food. Buttermilk is low in fat, there is not much sugar in the mix & it is served with fruit so I could even kid myself that I was being healthy once again. As with all of Bill’s breakfasts, these were great, seems l & easy too. The fruit was supposed to be plums which of course aren’t around yet so I used nectarines, these were nice & even gave a bit of a bitter tang for contrast, think sweet juicy plums would work even better. Oh & this week I halved the recipe & was still heaps for the 2 of us.

Buttermilk pancakes with Caramelized fruit.

250g (2 cups) plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
750ml (3 cups) buttermilk
75g unsalted butter, melted
unsalted butter, extra for greasing the pan

To serve

Caramelized fruit
Maple syrup

Stir the flour, baking powder, salt & sugar together in a bowl. Add the eggs, milks & butter & whisk to combine.

Heat a large non-stick frypan over medium heat & brush a small mount of butter over the base. For each pancake, ladle 80ml (1/3 cup) of batter into the pan & cook for about 2 minutes until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip & cook for another minute. Transfer to a plate to keep warm while cooking the rest.

To caramelize fruit, heat a frying pan over high heat, cut the fruit in half, remove stones, sprinkle cut side with sugar & fry cut side down for about a minute.

Serve in stacks with fruit, yoghurt & maple syrup.

Cajun snapper on corn & sun dried tomato risotto

For the main course I made this delicious snapper from A Slice of Port Douglas, starfish restaurant & bar. I’ve made this heaps of times before & it’s really delicious & I love the Mexican take on the risotto. Snapper too would have to be one of my favourite fish & the Cajun spices are not messing with it too much. I used coriander in my sauce as I can never find chervil and it works fine.

Cajun Blackened Snapper fillet on corn and sun dried tomato risotto drizzled with a chervil vin blanc sauce

750g snapper fillets
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon oil

Corn & sun dried risotto

2 corn cobs, kernels removed
4-5 cups fish stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups Arborio rice
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
1 teaspoon tumeric powder

Chervil vin blanc sauce

1 tablespoon butter
1 spring onion, finely chopped
½ cup white wine
½ cup fish stock
2/3 cup cream
drop worchester sauce
1 tablespoon chervil

Cut down the corns with a sharp knife to remove the kernels. Dry fry over medium heat shaking the pan regularly until kernels turn golden brown. Place stock in a large saucepan & bring to the boil, reduce heat & keep at a simmer. Heat oil and butter in a large heavy based saucepan. Add rice and stir for 1-2 minutes or until transparent. Add 1 cup of stock to the pan & stir continuously over medium heat until the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly for 20 minutes. Add kernels, tomatoes & tumeric & mix well to combine. Cook for a further 5 minutes or until rice is cooked.

To make the sauce, heat butter in a saucepan. Add spring onion & sauté for 1 minute. Add wine, stock & cream & simmer until sauce is cream but not thick. Season with salt, pepper & Worchester sauce. Remove from heat & add chervil & mix well to combine. Keep warm.

Coat the snapper fillets with the Cajun seasoning. Pour oil into a very hot pan , place fillets in & cook for 2 minutes one side then turn over, reduce heat & cook for approx 2 minutes n the other side until cooked.

Serve Fish on top of risotto with sauce drizzled over.

Note – Chervil can be substituted with Chinese parsley or fresh coriander in the sauce.

Banana Semi Freddo

Last night I had a couple of friends over for dinner, nothing lavish but a good excuse to try out some new food anyway. I am going to start with dessert just because it looked so good (in my opinion anyway). I have been loving ice cream & chocolate at the moment & had never made a semi freddo before so thought would give this recipe from Ben O’Donoghue and Curtis Stone’s Surfing the Menu a go. I t was pretty simple to make though did take quite a few bowls & in order to freeze you need to start this quite a few hours ahead or even the night before. The upside of this of course is that when you are ready to eat you just whip it out & serve, no fiddling around while the guests are there. Everyone loved the fact that it was full of fresh bananas & all in all it went down pretty well, nice to serve something a bit different for a change too

Banana Semifreddo

10 free range egg yolks
100g warmed honey
3 tablespoons rum or banana liqueur
4 tablespoons caster sugar
3 large ripe bananas
5 egg whites
500ml pouring cream
200g dark chocolate, chopped
55g unsalted roasted peanuts (other nuts may be used), finely chopped

Line a loaf tin or a glass pudding bowl with plastic wrap and place in the freezer to chill.

Place the egg yolks in a bowl with the honey, rum and half the sugar. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the mixture is light & fluffy and doubled in volume.

Mash the bananas with a fork, add to the egg mixture & stir to combine. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the remaining sugar until stiff. Fold into the banana mixture. Whip the cream to soft peaks & fold into the banana mixture. Add half the chopped chocolate. Spoon into the lined mould & freeze until set.

Melt the remaining chocolate by placing it in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Unmould the semifreddo onto a serving plate. Using a spoon, drizzle half the chocolate over the top in a criss cross pattern, then sprinkle with the peanuts. Drizzle the remaining chocolate over the top. Return to the freezer until required.

About 15-20 minutes before serving, transfer to the fridge to soften.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Gingery Hot Duck Salad

Last night for dinner we had one of my favourite Nigella Lawson dishes, Gingery Hot Duck Salad. The recipe comes from Nigella Bites & is under the chapter, temple food – what Nigella describes as ‘soothing, pure, would be restorative food I make for myself after one binge or late night too far. Temple as in ‘my body is a ‘’. Now obviously in my condition I haven’t been binge drinking though I did spend the day snacking on cheese, crackers, dips & bread & the like while watching the races so was definitely in need of something good & light.

I was a bit tired too after all that eating & race watching so Michael was kind enough to make this for me this time which also proves how easy peasy it is! Lovely flavours that work oh so well together & a lovely touch of chilli to add some spice aswell. You must try it

Gingery Hot Duck Salad

1 duck breast
2 tablespoons fish sauce
juice of half lime & juice of half orange
1 chilli, finely chopped
1cm ginger, grated
few drops of sesame oil
Baby spinach, mixed lettuce, etc to serve

Grill or fry the duck breast, fat side down, until cooked the way you like it.

Let it rest while you mix the fish sauce, lime & orange juice, chilli, ginger & sesame oil in a bowl. Pour any juices that the duck has made into a bowl, then carve the meat on the diagonal into thin slices. Toss the duck into the bowl & stir everything well. Serve on top of mixed leaves.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Coconut Bread

This morning for brekky carrying on with my sweet theme I made this recipe from Bill Granger’s Sydney Food. It is described as ‘never to be replaced’ on the menu at Bills. It is a Jamacican bread intended to be served with salt-fish relisg. Lime marmalade goes well too & it keeps well sliced in the freezer. Can be served toasted, buttered & dusted with icing sugar. Sounds very different & was incredibly easy to prepare. The end result was delicious, though to me it is more of a cake then a bread, much in the same way banana bread is really a cake. I had a piece nice & warm from the oven which was perfect & then tried one buttered & dusted with icing sugar, this was good too but to be honest I don’t think it needed the extra’s. I’m yet to try it toasted, sure will be great too.

Coconut Bread

2 eggs
300ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 ½ cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup caster sugar
150g shredded cocnut
75g unsalted butter, melted

To serve
Icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180c. Lightly whisk eggs, milk and vanilla together.

Sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl, add sugar & cocnut and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre and gradually stir in the egg mixture until just combined. Add melted butter and stir until mixture is just smooth, being careful not to overmix.

Pour into greased and floured 21 x 10cm loaf tin & bake for 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Leave in the tin to cool for 5 minutes and remove to cool further on a wire rack. Serve in thick slices, toasted, buttered & dusted withicing sugar. Makes 8-10 thick slices.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Steak & Guiness Pie

For dinner tonight another favorite from Jamie Oliver, this time from Happy Days. The thing I love about this dish is it’s so easy & can be prepared ahead of time ready to just pop into the oven later.

Steak & Guiness Pie

680g stewing beef, diced
sea salt & fresjly ground black pepper
2 heaped tablespoons flour
Olive Oil
1 onion, peeled & roughly chopped
4 sticks celery, washed & roughly chopped
2 parsnips, peeled & roughly chopped
1 handful of fresh mixed herbs (ie rosemary, thyme & bay)
565ml/1 pint Guiness
2 x 400g rins tomatoes
1 x 500g pack puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Season your beef generously with salt & pepper, sprinkle with flour & toss around until coated. Heat 2 or 3 glugs olive oil in a large casserole-type pan & fry your meat until golden brown. Add the onion & fry for another minute, then add the carrot, celery, parsnips & herbs. Fry for a further 4 minutes then pur in your Guiness. Add the tomtoes & rbing to the boil, simmer for around 2 hours or until the meat is really tender, season to taste. At this stage you can move to the fridge until ready to serve, this will also intensify the flavour.

To make the pies, preheat oven to 190c. Put your meat filling into a dishor dishes (if making individual pies). Cut your pastry into circles about 1cm bigger than the top of your dish(s). Brush the rims with beaten egg, place the pastry on top squash the excess down the sides to secure. Lightly score the top of the pstry in a criss cross pattern & brush with the remaining beaten egg. Bake for 45 minutes until golden & Bubbling.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Lemon Souffle Cakes

This morning for brekky I felt like a sweet treat as I do most days now, having gone from a savoury person to a sweet person during my pregancy. It used to be I would always choose a delicious savoury treat before heading anywhere near a sweet yet nowadays all I want is sugar & chocolate, I could seriously eat sweets for dinner these days & I have to sheepishly admit I might have done once or twice too! So for inspiration I looked to Bill Granger who as I have said before seems to have the most mouth watering breakfats rcipes. Today’s recipe was from Sydney Food. The pancakes were light as promised & the citrus tang was fantastic, the only ptoblem was the recipe said it was for 4 though Michael & I ate the whole batch – their really weren’t that many and Bill even claims they are low in fat so cant be all bad to eat that many!

Lemon Souffle Cakes

¾ cup buttermilk
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vamilla essence
25g unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons caster sugar
a pinch of salt
2 egg whites

To serve
200g strawberries, halved
1 tablespoon honey
icing sugar

Place buttermilk, egg yolks, lemon juice & zest & vanilla essence in a bowl & stir until combined. Add in the melted butter & mix well.

Sift flour, baking powder, caster sugar & salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center & gradually stir in the buttermilk mixture until the dry ingredients are just moistened, being careful not to overmix.

Place ht egg whites in a dry, clean bowl & beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, using a large metal spoon.

Melt a small portion of butter in a non-stick frypan over medium heat and drop 2 tablesppons of batter per cake into the pan. Cook iuntil golden brown on the underside & looking dry at the edges, flip & cook the other side.

Toss the fresh strawberries with honey & a light dusting of icing sugar. Dust the cakes with icing sugar & serve with berries.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Retro Brekky on Brunswick Street

Today Michael & I headed out to Bruswick street for a bit of brekky & a wander. We ate at Retro which I have walked past hundreds of times yet never eaten in before, it always looks so inviting, I love the retro outfit of the place.

To start with I was a bit dissapointed in the limited breakfast menu, they had the usual toasts, cerals & various egg combo's, all featuring poached eggs, ie, florentine, benedict, big brekky, no scrambled, omelettes or anything else interesting. With the amount of cafes out there doing good breakfast at the moment I like to see a menu with a bit more creativity thrown in. Having said that I ordered the poached eggs & bacon on toast with hollandaise & a hash brown on the side. Being pregnant I'm not supposed to eat runny eggs so I ordered my poached eggs non runny & they did manage to cook them perfectly, no runniness yet not overdone at the same time. The sauce was nice, hash brown good though I suspect forozen & the bacon was good too. All in all a good breakfast but not outstanding. Great space to catch up with friends in though as it has a great feel & lots of big tables & couches & I noticed they even had high chairs & room for prams so will have to keep in mind for the future.

413 Brunswick street
9419 9103

Malted Milk Cookies with Chunks of Dark Chocolate and Malteser Smashings

Today I needed a chocolate cookie hit so I made this batch from a recipe that I found at from Helen at Grab your fork some time ago, as promised they were delicious, very moorish & I will be trying my best not to eat the entire 25 by tomorrow!

Malted Milk Cookies with Chunks of Dark Chocolate and Malteser Smashings

Based on Donna Hay's double choc cookies from Modern Classics Book

2250g butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup malted milk powder
200g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
100g Maltesers, smashed in the bag

Cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs gradually and beat well. Add flour, baking powder, malted milk powder, chocolate and Maltesers and mix well. Place large tablespoonfuls of mixture onto baking trays lined with baking paper or greaseproof paper. Ensure there is plenty of room between mounds to allow for spreading (I did about five per tray). Bake at 150C for 20-25 minutes (depending on how soft/crispy you like your cookie).

Makes about 25.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Parmesan Crusted Blue-eye and braised potatoes with peas

Last night I cooked up this very tasty dish from Bill Granger’s Bills Food. It was really good & pretty easy to prepare though I would recommend getting the potatoes on to steam while coating the fish. Also don’t salt the potatoes too much as the stock is already salty to begin with. Yum! I’m really loving Bill’s recipes at the moment & will be trying out lots more soon, particularly the brekky ones which I believe he is famous for!

Parmesan Crusted Blue-eye and braised potatoes with peas

75g (I cup) fresh breadcrumbs
45g (1/2) cup finely grated parmesan
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
125g (I cup) plan flour
4 blue-eye or other firm white fish fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil
25g butter

Mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt & pepper in a bowl. Crack the eggs into a bowl & beat lightly together. Place the flour and some salt & pepper in a bowl. Dip a fish fillet in the flour, then in the egg and finally, in the breadcrumb mixture. Continue until all the fish is done this can be done in advance & fish refrigerated for up to 2 hours before cooking),

Heat the oil & butter in a large non stick frying pan over medium to high heat. Add the fish & cook gently for about 2 minutes on each side, turning once, until lightly golden. Serve with the braised potatoes

Braised Potatoes with peas

8 Kipfler potatoes, peeled & steamed until tender
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 white onion, finely sliced into rings
155g (1 cup) green peas
250ml (I cup) chicken stock
15g butter
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Slice the potatoes into discs. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium pan over medium heat and fry until soft, but not brown. Add the peas & toss well. Add the stock, bring to the boil & simmer for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add butter, salt & pepper & stir to combine.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Luscious Cherry Cheesecake

This is a cheesecake that I used to make all the time years back, the recipe comes from The Australian Lifestyle Cookbook, a book my mum gave to me for my 21st birthday, it is a giant of a book & I haven’t pulled it out in years. Now that I have made this old favourite again will take a look & see what else I can try out. Just from reading the ingredients you can probably already taste how beautiful this cake is, lovely & rich & creamy with a nice tang from the cherries on top, way back when it was made all the time everyone adored it. Quick tip, it is best to start this cake a couple of days ahead, ie I made the crust Friday night so it was nice & chilled ready for the filling on Saturday which needs 24 hours before putting on the topping. It may sound like a chore but it actually makes it easier as you just do a bit here & there instead of one big job, just needs some prior planning.

Cherry Cheesecake

180g plain sweet biscuits (I always use butternut snaps), crumbed
pinch cinnamon or nutmeg
60g butter, melted

Combine ingredients and mix well together. Press into a 20cm foil lined pie plate to form a crust. Refrigerate.

250g cream cheese
400g can condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon gelatine dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

Beat cream cheese until soft. Gradually beat in condensed milk, lemon juice & dissolved gelatine and mix well. (Use ripe lemons as green lemons may prevent a firm set). Pour mixture into chilled crust and refrigerate at least 24 hours

450g can cherries, drained, syrup reserved
1 tablespoon brandy
1 ½ tablespoons arrowroot
red food colouring, optional (I never use this)

Arrange drained cherries over top of cake. Bring syrup to the boil. Blend together arrowroot & brandy then add to boiling syrup, stirring continuously until thickened. Add a few drops of red food colouring if desired. Spoon carefully over cherries, chill.

Couscous with grilled summer vegetables & loadsa herbs

The salads for the bbq were a simple green salad, a capri salad with some lovely fresh buffalo mozzarella that I bought from the local deli, personally I was very excited about this as I’ve never been able to find it before to buy & have only tasted it once & it was divine, thank God for the deli at Barkly square, they have promised to keeping selling it & add abt $55.00 per kilo (from what I remember) 2 balls cost me about $12 so not cheap but well worth it I think. I also made this couscous salad from Jamie Oliver’s Return of the Naked Chef. This is a great salad, full of fresh veggies, the roasting & grilling flavours really stand out & the dressing & herbs pull it all together nicely without being overpowering

Couscous with grilled summer vegetables & loadsa herbs

250g couscous
285ml/ ½ pint cold water
3 red capsicum
1 handful asparagus, trimmed
2 or 3 small firm zucchinis, sliced
1 small bunch spring onions, trimmed & finely sliced
3 good handfuls of mixed fresh herbs (basil, coriander, mint, parsley)
2 x olive oil & lemon juice dressing
salt & freshly ground pepper
red wine vinegar

Place the couscous in a bowl with the cold water. Blacken the capsicum either over a naked flame (if you have one on your stove top) or under the grill. When blackened, place in a sandwich bag, wrap in glad wrap or cover in a bowl for 5 mins until cool. Remove the skins & seeds & roughly chop.

On a very hot griddle pan, lightly char the asparagus & zucchini on both sides then toss in the bowl with the couscous & add the capsicum, spring onions, chillies & ripped up herbs. Mix well. Add the dressing & toss well. Season to taste with salt & pepper & a dash of red wine vinegar,

Olive Oil & lemon juice dressing

2 tablespoons lemon juice
5 tablespoons olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Spiced Mazatlan Meatballs

For the main (meat plus!) course of tonight’s bbq, alongside the steaks, chops & various snags I made these from Ainsley’s Ultimate Barbecue Bible, for something different. The are little Middle Eastern flavoured meatballs, they were mega easy to prepare, basically you just chuck everything into the food processor & then roll into balls. We cooked these & served them while the rest of the meat was cooking, great idea to start the main course, they went down very well & not too filling as to spoil your appetite for the rest of the feast

Spiced Mazatlan Meatballs

500g Lean minced lamb
pinch of salt
I onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh coriander

To serve
4 Middle Eastern flatbreads
1 red onion, thinly sliced
200g Greek yoghurt
1 lemon, cur into wedges

Place the lamb, salt, onion. spices & coriander in a food processor and whiz until well blended. Using wet hands, shape the mixture into 20 meatballs & cook over hot coals or in a non stick frypan for 10 minutes, turning frequently until well browned.

Warm the flatbreads for 1-2 minutes on each side until softened & warmed through.

Serve the flatbread with onion scattered over, a dollop of yoghurt, meatballs & roll up.

Griddled Eggplant with fetta, mint & chilli

Today I’m having Michaels family over for a bbq & to start with I thought I would try out these little morsels from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer that I have heard so many good things about.

The recipe calls for a large bunch of fresh mint which luckily I have growing in my courtyard no thanks to me. It initially grew on it’s own & every year I cut it back as it tries to take over the garden & just keep a little patch to use for cooking. I love the fact that I can just pop out the back door to take a cutting whenever I need, and Mint is so versatile, it can be used in sweet, savoury & even drink recipes, you gotta love it. You can see in the picture how it’s growing very heartily amongst my lobelia against the back wall! So this recipe is my entry this weekend for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Pat at Up a Creek without a Patl this round.

I have to say these are absolutely yummy, I could have eaten them all if it wasn't for the fact that I had a mamoth bbq waiting for me. The strong taste of the eggplant went really well with the salty, creamy cheese & the mint & chilli just set the whole thing off, really easy to prepare too. One hint too, I was very cautious with the filling & eneded up hacing some leftover so stuff them full.

Griddled Eggplant with fetta, mint & chilli

2 large eggplants, each cut thinly. Lengthways, into about 10 slices
4 tablespoons olive oil
250g fetta cheese
1 large red chilli, finely chopped, deseeded or not, depending on how much heat you want
Large bunch fresh mint, finely chopped, with some saved for sprinkling over at the end
Juice of 1 lemon
Black pepper

Preheat the barbecue or griddle to a high heat
Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with the oil, and cook them for about 2 minutes each side until golden & tender
Crumble the fetta into a bowl & stir in the chilli, mint & lemon juice and grind in some black pepper. Pile the end third of each slice with a heaped teaspoon of the mixture & roll each slice up as you go to form a soft, stuffed bundle.
Place joint side down on a plate & sprinkle with a little more mint.

Makes 20 rolls

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sweet & Sour Pork

Last week I made this dish from Kylie Kwong’s Simple Chinese Cooking. The sauce was absolutely fantastic, the fresh ingredients work a treat & the flavours were beautiful, fresh & delicate. On the pork however I need some practice, I have no clue how to deep fry! I suspect I didn’t heat my oil high enough before I started so the end result was still tasty but not crisp, golden & luscious as promised. It’s funny you would think that deep frying would be the easiest cooking method of all but because I have always steered away from it, you know, too much fat, etc, I am way behind on this technique. Anyway the flavours were there & lots more recipes to perfect my technique on yet!

Sweet and Sour Pork

1 ½ tablespoons cornflour
1 tablespoon cold water
2 x 300g pork neck fillets, cut in half lengthways and then into bite sized pieces on the diagonal
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
3 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup plain flour
¼ cup cornflour
vegetable oil, for deep frying

Sweet and Sour Sauce

¼ small ripe pineapple, peeled
1 small carrot, peeled
1 small cucumber, peeled
¾ cup malt vinegar
5 tablespoons shao hsing wine or dry sherry
½ cup white sugar
1 teaspoons seal salt, extra
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons ginger, julienne
½ medium sized yellow pepper, julienned
2 small tomatoes, finely sliced
2 tablespoons light soy sauce

Blend cornflour with water in a bowl until dissolved. Add pork, egg yolks, soy sauce, sesame oil & salt and mix well. Cover & leave to marinate in the fridge overnight.

To make the sauce, remove core from pineapple & finely slice into pieces. Using a vegetable peeler, finely slice carrot lengthways into ribbons. Cut cucumber in half, slice on the diagonal & set aside, together with carrot & pineapple.

Place vinegar, wine or sherry, sugar & extra salt in a medium heavy-based saucepan & stir over high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, add garlic, ginger, reduce heat & simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Add pineapple, carrot, cucumber, pepper & tomato & simmer for a further 3 minutes or until pineapple is tender & tomato has broken down slightly. Stir in soy sauce, remove from stove & set aside.

Combine plain flour & extra cornflour. Add the pork & mix well. Heat vegetable oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly. Deep fry pork in batches over high heat for 1 minute, then reduce heat to medium & fry for another 2 minutes, or until pork is almost cooked through. Remove & drain on absorbent paper. Gently reheat sauce. Return all pork to the hot wok & deep fry for a further 3 minutes, or until lightly browned, crispy & cooked through. Remove & drain well on paper. Serve with sauce.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

White Chocolate & Berry Muffins

When I saw these luscious sounding muffins on Exclusively Food, I knew I just had to make them soon. I used strawberries as they were readily available, next time would like to try with either raspberries or blueberries or combinations of all 3. They were absolutlely delicious straight out of the oven. However I must warn you I spooned the batter straight into a greased muffin tin instead of lining with patty cases & when I tried to tip them out there was a bit of a mess, ie breakage. Luckily not all of them fell apart & I quickly prised the rest out carefully with a knife, so I think I would go the cases next time. Absolutely drool worthy as promised.

White Chocolate & Berry Muffins

Fresh or frozen berries can be used. If using frozen berries, add them to the mixture while they are still frozen.

Makes 12 muffins.

320g (2 cups) self-raising flour
148g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
1 cup chopped white chocolate
2 teaspoons lemon juice
250ml (1 cup) milk
125ml (1/2 cup) mild vegetable oil
1 large egg
200g berries

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius (fan forced). Line a muffin tray with 12 muffin cases.Mix self-raising flour, caster sugar and white chocolate together in large bowl.Whisk lemon juice, milk, oil and egg in a medium bowl until combined. Gently stir in berries.Gently stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stop stirring once the ingredients are combined (do not over mix). The batter should be quite wet.Spoon mixture into muffin cases. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. To check whether muffins are cooked, press lightly on the centre of a muffin; if it springs back, it's ready.

Serve muffins warm or at room temperature, dusted with icing sugar. Muffins can be reheated in the microwave. They are best eaten on the day they are baked.