Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bistro Basics Menu

This is a great meal if you're having friends over on a weeknight or whenever you want a no-fuss meal.

Serves 4

Asparagus with Simple Lemon Hollandaise

500g asparagus, trimmed
rocket to serve
cracked black pepper

simple lemon hollandaise
125g butter
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 egg yolks (reserve 2 whites for dessert below!)
sea salt

Steam asparagus until just tender, set aside & keep warm.
To make the hollandaise, place butter & lemon juice in saucepan over low-medium heat until bubbling.
Place egg yolks in blender & with motor running on high, slowly add hot butter mixture & continue to blend until thick.
Stir through salt.
To serve, place asparagus on serving plates, spoon over sauce & serve with rocket & pepper.

Garlic Butter Steaks

This also works well with roo steaks. Make sure you don't overcook if using them, though!

80g butter, softened
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
sea salt & cracked black pepper
4 large flat mushrooms
8 x 75g thin boneless sirloin or fillet steaks, fat removed
2 cups baby spinach leaves, wilted

Combine butter, oil, mustard, salt & pepper in bowl.
Heat large frypan over high heat.
Brush mushrooms with butter mixture & cook for 2 min each side or until cooked.
Remove from pan & keep warm.
Brush steaks with butter mixture & cook for 2 min each side or until cooked too your liking.
Remove from pan & keep warm.
Add remaining butter mixture to pan & heat for 30 sec or until warm.
Place spinach on serving plates & top with steaks & mushrooms & pour over warm butter mixture.

Molten Chocolate Cakes

These cakes can be made ahead of time as centres stay soft for around an hour after baking. Simply heat in microwave for few sec on med-high or place on serving plates in 150°C oven for a few min to soften centres again.

1/4 cup plain flour, sifted
1/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
3/4 cup almond meal
2 egg whites, beaten
80g butter, melted
160g dark chocolate, melted
4 x 10g squares dark chocolate, extra
raspberries to serve

Preheat oven to 150°C.
Place flour, sugar, almond meal, egg whites, butter & chocolate in bowl & mix well to combine.
Spoon half mixture into 4 x 1/2 cup capacity lightly greased ovenproof dishes.
Place chocolate squares on top of mixture & top with remaining mixture.
Bake for 20 min or until cooked but gooey in middle.
Stand in dish for 5 min before turning out.
Serve with raspberries (& cream or ice cream, if you want!).

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Orange & Poppyseed Cake

This cake requires about 6 oranges and is delicious!

Serves 8-10

1/3 cup poppy seeds
3/4 cup milk
200g butter, softened
1 tbsp finley grated orange rind
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 cup sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup shredded orange rind

Preheat oven to 160°C.
Place poppy seeds & milk in bowl & stir to combine.
Set aside.
Place butter, orange rind & sugar in bowl of electric mixer & beat until light & creamy.
Gradually add eggs & beat well.
Sift flour & baking powder over butter mixture & add orange juice & poppy seed & milk mixture.
Stir to combine & spoon into a 20cm round cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper.
Bake for 55-60 min or until cooked when tested with skewer.
While cake is cooking, make syrup.
Place sugar, orange juice & orange rind in saucepan over low heat & stir until sugar is dissolved.
Increase heat & boil for 5-6 min or until syrupy.
Pour half of hot syrup over hot cake.
To serve, cut warm or cold cake into wedges & pour over remaining syrup.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Egg Fried Rice

A tasty snack or light meal.

Serves 4

150g long grain rice
3 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 spring onions, chopped
125g cooked peas
1 tbsp light soy sauce
pinch of salt
shredded spring onions, to garnish

Cook rice as directed on the pack.
Place beaten eggs in small non-stick frypan & cook over gentle heat, stirring until softly scrambled.
Heat oil in preheated wok or large frypan, swirling oil around base of wok until really hot.
Add crushed garlic, spring onions & peas & sauté, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 min.
Stir rice into wok, mixing to combine.
Add eggs, soy sauce & salt to wok & stir to mix in egg thoroughly.
Transfer to serving dishes & garnish with extra spring onions.

Pistachio & Lemon Bites

Like shortbread, with a twist!

Makes ~30

300g butter, softened
3 tbsp caster sugar
150g pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tbsp lemon rind
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place butter & sugar in bowl of electric mixer & beat for 4 min or until light & creamy.
Add pistachios & beat for 2 min.
Fold through flour & lemon rind & mix until well combined.
Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls, place on baking tray lined with baking paper, flatten slightly & bake for 15-20 min.
Cool on wire rack & dust with icing sugar.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Smoked Salmon Pizza

Serves 4

4 pita bread, quartered
olive oil for brushing
1 cup sour cream
400g smoked salmon slices
70g baby rocket
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/4 cup chopped dill
1/4 cup salted capers, rinsed & dried
1 red onion, thinly sliced

Preheat char-grill over high heat.
Brush bread with oil & cook for 1 min each side or until crisp & golden.
Spread bread with sour cream & top with salmon, rocket, chives, dill, capers & onion.
Fresh & tasty!
Chocolate Swirl Cake

I made this for my birthday party last Sat. The chocolate part is very rich, but delicious!

Serves 8-10

250g butter, softened
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
4 eggs
2 1/4 cups plain flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted dark chocolate
1/2 cup cocoa powder

vanilla icing
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 160°C.
To make the vanilla icing, place icing sugar, water & vanilla in bowl & mix to combine, then set aside.
Place butter, sugar & vanilla in bowl of electric mixer & beat until light & creamy.
Gradually add eggs & beat well.
Sift flour & baking powder together over butter mixture & combine.
Fold through milk.
Divide mixture in half.
Add melted chocolate & cocoa to one portion & mix to combine.
Place chocolate mixture into lightly greased 25cm fluted bundt tin.
Drop spoonfuls of vanilla cake mixture into tin & swirl with butter knife to achieve marbled effect.
Bake for 50-55 min or until cooked when tested with skewer.
Cool on wire rack & spoon over vanilla icing.
Pickling Beetroot

This is more for my own reference, as my baby beetroot are finally ready!

Wash the roots being careful not to break the skins. Trim the tops to remove any leaf residue but do not cut back into the flesh. Cut off the root to leave a tiny "tail". Place in sufficient boiling salted water to cover the roots properly. Bring back to the boil and simmer gently for 1 to 1.5 hrs depending on the size. When fully cooked, a knife should sink into the flesh easily. An alternative is to cook at 15lb pressure in a pressure cooker using the manufacturers instructions. Allow to cool, skin and trim. Cut the main root into rounds about 3mm-6mm thick depending on your preference. If the rounds are very large, cut each one into 4 pieces so as to get them into the storage container easily.

If the pickled beetroot is to be used within a week or so (and stored in a fridge during that time), the rounds can simply be packed into a jar and covered with cold malt or pickling vinegar. If they are to be stored for a long time they should be packed (not too tightly) into proper pickling or bottling jars and covered with boiling vinegar and sealed immediately. Modern jam jars that create a vacuum seal can be used but make sure that the lid is clean, the seal is good and that the vacuum has been created (the central dimple should be depressed.)

With all pickling and preserving, cleanliness is important so make sure that the jars are very clean before use. When bulk pickling, we have held our jars at 120°C. in the oven for 30 minutes after washing, just to be sure.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Caramel Slice

Makes 24

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
125g butter, melted

caramel filling
1/3 cup golden syrup
125g butter, melted
2 x 400g cans sweetened condensed milk

chocolate topping
185g dark chocolate
3 tsp vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place flour, coconut, sugar & butter in bowl & mix well.
Press mixture into 20cm x 30cm slice tin lined with non-stick baking paper & bake for 15-18 min or until brown.
To make caramel filling, place golden syrup, butter & condensed milk in saucepan over low heat & stir for 7 min or until caramel has thickened slightly.
Pour over cooked base & bake for 20 min or until caramel is golden.
Refrigerate slice until cold.
To make chocolate topping, place chocolate & oil in saucepan over low heat & stir until melted.
Remove from heat & allow to cool slightly before spreading over slice.
Refrigerate until firm & cut into slices.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lamb Meatball Soup with Vegetables

Serves 4

1L beef stock
1 onion, finely sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 celeriac, finely sliced
75g frozen peas
50g green beans, cut into 2.5cm pieces
3 tomatoes, seeded & chopped
1 red capsicum, seeded & finely diced
1 potato, coarsely diced
2 lemons, sliced
sea salt & ground black pepper
crusty bread to serve

225g lean minced lamb
30ml chopped flat parsley
40g short grain rice
plain flour, for coating
sea salt & ground black pepper

Put stock, all of vegetables, lemon slices & a little seasoning in large saucepan.
Bring to boil, then reduce heat & simmer for 15-20 min.
Meanwhile, to make meatballs, combine minced meat, parsley & rice together in bowl & season well.
Roll mixture in small balls, roughly 2cm diameter, & toss in flour.
Drop meatballs carefully into soup & simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 min.
Adjust seasoning to taste & serve soup accompanied by crusty bread.
Tasty, warming & full of healthy vegies!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Goat's Cheese Wontons with Caramalised Tomato & Fennel Salad

Serves 4

16 square wonton wrappers
8 basil leaves
120g goat's cheese, sliced
40g unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
cracked black pepper
4 x 50g small roma tomatoes, halved
2 x 115g baby fennel, trimmed & sliced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
80g baby rocket leaves

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place half of wonton wrappers on lightly greased baking tray.
Top each wrapper with a basil leaf & goat's cheese.
Brush edges with water & top with remaining wrappers, pressing edges to seal.
Brush tops of wontons with butter & bake for 8-10 min or until golden & crispy.
Place sugar & pepper on large plate & mix to combine.
Press tomatoes & fennel into sugar mixture.
Heat large non-stick frypan over high heat.
Cook tomatoes & fennel, sugar-side down, for 3 min or until caramalised.
Set aside & keep warm.
Add balsamic to pan & simmer for 3-4 min or until mixture is thickened slightly.
Divide fennel & tomatoes between plates, top with rocket & crispy wontons & pour over caramalised vinegar to serve.

Easy Ricotta & Spinach Cannelloni

Serves 4

250g frozen spinach, thawed & excess water removed
225g fresh ricotta
2 egg yolks
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup grated cheese
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch sea salt
1 pkt cannelloni tubes
2 tbsp olive oil
425g can pureed tomatoes
1 tsp basil
sea salt & cracked black pepper
1/2 cup grated cheese, extra

Preheat oven to 200°C.
Combine spinach, ricotta, yolks, garlic, cheese, nutmeg & salt in bowl.
Fill cannelloni with mixture.
In saucepan, cook oil, tomatoes, basil, salt & pepper to taste until boiling.
Remove from heat.
Pour half tomato sauce in baking dish then place filled cannelloni in a single layer.
Pour over remaining sauce & sprinkle with extra cheese.
Bake for 30-35 min or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
Serve with a simple salad.

Passionfruit Soufflé

Serves 4

melted unsalted butter for greasing
caster sugar for dusting
1/3 cup (or one small can) passionfruit pulp
1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cornflour
1 1/2 tsp water
3 eggwhites
2 tbsp caster sugar, extra
icing sugar for dusting
vanilla ice-cream to serve

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Brush four 3/4-cup capacity ramekins (I use teacups) with butter, dust with sugar & place on baking tray.
Place passionfruit, sugar & lemon juice in small saucepan over low heat untill sugar is dissolved.
Increase heat & bring to boil.
Combine cornflour & water in small bowl & mix to form smooth paste.
Remove pan from heat & whisk in cornflour paste.
Return to heat & cook, whisking continuously, for 30 sec or until thickened.
Pour passionfruit mixture into large bowl & refrigerate until cold.
Place eggwhites in bowl of electric mixer & beat until soft peaks form (or just use a hand mixer).
Gradually add extra sugar & beat until glossy.
Gently fold eggwhite mixture through passionfruit mixture.
Spoon into ramekins & bake for 10 min or until risen & golden.
Dust with icing sugar & serve immediately with ice-cream.
Absolutely delicious (& so easy)!


60ml vodka
30ml triple sec
30ml lime juice
30ml cranberry juice

Shake all ingredients with ice.
Strain into cocktail glass & serve.

Sea Breeze

45ml vodka
120ml cranberry juice
30ml pink grapefruit juice
1 lime wedge to serve

Pour all ingredients in highball glass over ice.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lomo Saltado

This traditional & tasty Peruvian dish is one of my favourites.

Serves 6-8

1kg tenderloin or steak of your choice, sliced into strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium red onions, sliced into fine strips
4 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
4 Peruvian chillies (aji amarillo), seeded & thinly sliced lengthwise (optional)
1 red capsicum, seeded & thinly sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp wine vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oregano
flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
vegetable oil, as needed
sea salt & cracked black pepper
chips & rice, cooked to serve

In a large frypan, brown meat in oil over high heat.
Remove meat & juices from pan.
Add more oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes, salt, pepper & oregano, stir-frying for 2 min.
Add chillies, parsley, vinegar & soy sauce & cook for 2 more min.
Add meat juices & stir for a few minutes.
Put meat back in pan to heat & add capsicum.
Remove from heat, sprinkle more parsley on top & serve with chips & rice.
¡Muy rico!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Gooey Chocolate Pavlova

Serves 4

6 eggs, separated
pinch of cream of tartar
1 2/3 cups caster sugar
1 tbsp cocoa
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
300ml thickened cream
2 tsp cocoa, extra, sifted
60g chocolate, finely grated

Preheat oven to 150°C.
Line an oven tray with baking paper & draw a 20cm-diameter circle on the paper.
Put eggwhites & cream of tartar in clean, dry bowl & beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form.
Add sugar to eggwhite mixture, 1 spoonful at a time, beating between each addition.
Beat for 5-10 min or until sugar is dissolved & mixture is smooth, stiff & glossy.
Sift cocoa & cornflour into clean bowl.
Add this sifted mixture, vinegar & vanilla to eggwhite mixture, then use metal spoon to fold in until just combined.
Spoon mixture onto circle on prepared tray, forming into mound.
Smooth pavlova with spatula.
Make decorative grooves around sides, then smooth top again.
Bake for 20 min, then reduce oven to 120°C.
Bake for further 1 hour & 40 min or until shell is pale & crisp.
Turn off oven & cool pavlova in oven with door ajar.
Stand at room temp until cold.
To serve, put pavlova on plate, put thickened cream & extra cocoa in bowl & whisk until sof peaks form, then spoon cream mixture on top of pavlova & sprinkle with grated chocolate.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Melly's Awesome Icing

1 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp rosewater
3 egg whites
2 drops pink food colouring

Place sugar, water & rosewater in medium saucepan over medium heat.
Stir until sugar dissolves then bring to the boil.
Simmer for 3 min then remove from heat.
Place egg whites in bowl & beat with electric mixer until soft peaks form.
While still beating, add sugar liquid slowly.
Add food colouring & continue beating until thick & creamy.
Use to ice cooled cupcakes or whatever you want!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Three tasty recipes for pork ribs (one of Jace's current favourite foods):

Barbecued Ribs

Serves 4-6

1.8-2.3kg (American) pork ribs, cut in serving-size pieces
sea salt & cracked black pepper
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt, extra
1 dash Tabasco sauce

Preheat oven to 220ºC.
Place ribs in shallow roasting pan, meaty side down & season with salt & pepper.
Roast in oven for 35 min.
Drain off excess fat & turn meaty side up.
Top ribs with sliced lemon & onion.
Reduce oven to 175ºC & continue to roast ribs for 30 min longer.
Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in saucepan over medium heat.
Bring to boil & pour over ribs.
Continue roasting ribs, basting occasionally, for 1 hour.
Tip: Add more water if sauce gets too thick.

Oven Barbecued Ribs

Serves 6

2.7kg meaty (American) spareribs, cut into serving-size pieces

1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup (white) vinegar
1/4 cup (American) mustard
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp instant coffee
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce

Preheat oven to 175ºC.
Place ribs in large shallow roasting pan.
Bake for 1 hour.
Combine sauce ingredients & brush onto ribs.
Bake for 1 hour longer, brushing every 10-15 min with sauce mixture.

Barbecued Spareribs

Serves 6

2.7kg (American) pork spareribs, cut into serving-size portions
sea salt
2 1/2 tbsp chilli sauce
2 tbsp chopped onion
1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp salt, extra
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 175ºC.
Sprinkle ribs with salt.
Place ribs on rack in baking pan & bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Mix remaining ingredients together in saucepan over medium heat & bring to boil.
Baste ribs, then grill over hot coals/BBQ/under griller for 15 to 25 min, basting frequently with sauce mixture.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Peppercorn & Horseradish Rub

Serves 4

2 tbsp store-bought horseradish*
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
1 tbsp chopped green peppercorns
1 tbsp crushed pink peppercorns
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil
2x400g rib eye beef cutlets

* Note: If fresh horseradish is available, peel outer skin & finely grate it.

Place all ingredients except beef in non-metallic dish & stir to combine.
Add beef & toss to coat.
Cover & marinate in fridge for 30 min.
Heat char-grill pan over medium heat.
Char-grill beef for 5-6 min each side for medium-rare or until cooked to your liking.
Serve with crisp, green leaves (& a good shiraz).

Coconut Rice with Caramelised Banana

Serves 4

1 cup long- or short-grain rice
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 cup coconut cream
1/3 cup sugar

caramelised banana
4 firm bananas, peeled & halved lenthwise
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Place rice in colander & wash well.
Place rice, water & cinnamon stick in saucepan over medium to high heat & bring to boil.
Cover tightly & reduce heat to low & cook for 10 min or until water has been absorbed.
Add coconut cream & sugar, cover saucepan & place over very low heat for 5 min.
While rice is cooking, sprinkle bananas with sugar & cinnamon.
Preheat non-stick frypan over high heat.
Cook bananas for 2 min each side or until sugar has caramelised.
To serve, place coconut rice on serving plates & top with banana slices.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Honey Cakes

These are really easy and tasty, but should be eaten within a few hours of baking as they seem to get heavier after only 12 hours.

Makes 12

185g butter, softened
2/3 cup caster sugar
3 tbsp honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder

1 cup thick (double) cream
chilled honey

Preheat oven to 160ºC.
Place butter, sugar & honey in bowl & beat until light & creamy.
Add eggs, one at a time, & beat well.
Fold flour & baking powder into butter mixture.
Sppon mixture into 12x 1/2-cup capacity lightly greased non-stick muffin tins.
Bake in oven for 15-20 min or until cooked when tested with skewer.
Cool cakes on wire racks.
Spread cakes with cream.
Just before serving, drizzle with chilled honey.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Summer Pasta

I could eat this all summer long...

Serves 4

400g pasta
250g punnet cherry tomatoes, washed & halved
8 slices pancetta
dash of olive oil
100g rocket
1 chilli, chopped, or chilli flakes to taste (optional)
sea salt & cracked black pepper, to taste
parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)

Preheat oven to 180ºC.
Put pasta to cook.
While pasta is cooking, roast tomatoes on a tray lined with baking paper until soft.
Grill pancetta till slightly crispy, then slice.
Once pasta is cooked, drain & return to saucepan.
Drizzle with olive oil, then stir through roasted tomatoes, pancetta, rocket, chilli, salt & pepper.
Serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese and a nice rosé.

Nectarine (or Peach) Ice Cream

Serves 8

1 1/4 cups (pouring) cream
4 egg yolks
3/4 cups sugar
500g nectarines (or peaches)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar, extra

Heat cream in pan until almost boiling.
Beat or whisk egg yolks & sugar in medium bowl until thick & pale.
Gradually add hot cream, beating constantly.
Return mixture to pan.
Stir over low heat 5 minutes or until mixture thickens; do not boil.
Pour into a bowl, leave to cool, stirring occasionally.
Reserve one nectarine, peel remainder & chop into pieces.
Place in food processor with lemon juice & extra sugar.
Process for 20 sec or until finely puréed.
Stir into custard.
Pour into metal tray (5-cup capacity) & freeze for 3-4 hours or until firm.
Or churn in ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.
Serve scoops garnished with slices of fresh nectarine.