Saturday, December 05, 2009

Some tasty, light meals to get you through these hot days...

Beetroot, Chickpea & Tuna Salad

Serves 4

1x 450g can baby beetroot, drained & halved
2x 400g cans chickpeas, rinsed & drained
8 bocconcini, halved
2 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
1 cup basil leaves
40g baby spinach leaves
1 tbsp lemon zest
2x 185g cans tuna, drained
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp harissa paste or Moroccan spice blend
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp caster sugar

Place beetroot, chickpeas, bocconcini, tomato, basil, spinach, lemon zest & tuna in bowl & mix to combine.
Place oil, paste, juice & sugar in bowl & whisk to combine.
Spoon over salad to serve.

Pan-fried Lemon & Garlic Chicken

Serves 4

4x chicken breast fillets, trimmed
2 tbsp lemon-flavoured olive oil (or 2 tbsp olive oil & 1 tsp lemon juice)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
sea salt & cracked black pepper
2 bunches broccolini, blanched
2x 400g can cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp lemon-flavoured olive oil, extra
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Place chicken in bowl with oil, garlic, salt & pepper & toss to combine.
Heat large non-stick frypan over medium-high heat.
Add chicken & cook for 5 min each side or until cooked through.
Set aside & keep warm.
Add broccolini & beans to pan & cook for 1-2 min or until warmed through.
Place parsley, onion, extra oil & vinegar in bowl & toss to combine.
Arrange chicken, broccolini & beans on plate & top with parsley mixture to serve.

Char-grilled Chilli Jam Steak

Serves 2

2x 180g sirloin steaks, trimmed
1 brown onion, thickly sliced
olive oil, for brushing
sea salt flakes
2 tbsp chilli jam
1/2 cup whole-egg mayonnaise
1 tbsp chilli jam, extra
baby spinach leaves & thick chips, to serve

Heat char-grill pan or BBQ over high heat.
Brush steaks & onion with oil & sprinkle with salt.
Cook for 4 min each side.
Brush steak & onions with chilli jam & cook for further 30 sec for medium or until steak is cooked to your liking & onion is caramelised.
Combine mayonnaise & extra chilli jam & serve with steak, onion, baby spinach & chips.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Spicy Indian Chicken & Mango Curry

A fresh curry perfect for summer.

Serves 4

2 medium mangoes, peeled, sliced
400ml can coconut milk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon hot curry paste*
500g chicken breast fillets, cut into 3cm pieces
4 medium shallots, sliced
1 large cucumber, seeded and sliced

Place half of mango slices into bowl of blender with coconut milk.
Blend until smooth.
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Cook curry paste, stirring, for 2 min or until fragrant.
Add chicken & shallots & cook for 5-7 min or until chicken is just cooked through.
Pour in the mango puree & cook until heated through.
To serve, stir in remaining mango slices & cucumber.

*If you can't get ready-made paste, use the whole recipe below:

Curry Paste

1 tsp cumin seeds
12 red chillies, chopped (or to taste)
6 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp turmeric
2 inches ginger, chopped, or 4 tsp minced ginger

Grind all ingredients in together in a mortar & pestle.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Serves 12

300g butter, chopped
3 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
1 cup hazelnut meal or almond meal
1 cup milk
2 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup cocoa powder
fresh berries to serve
chocolate icing
1 cup (single) cream
1/2 cup cocoa powder, extra, sifted
400g dark chocolate, chopped
150g butter

Preheat oven to 160°C.
Place butter & sugar in bowl of electric mixer & beat until light & creamy.
Add eggs & beat well.
Add hazelnut meal & milk, sift over flour, baking powder & cocoa & mix until combined.
Spoon mixture into 2x 20cm round greased & lined cake tins & bake for 55 min or until cooked when tested with skewer.
Allow cakes to cool.
To make chocolate icing, place the cream & extra cocoa in saucepan over low heat & stir until smooth.
Add chocolate & butter & stir till smooth.
Place mixture in bowl & refrigerate until cold.
Beat icing with electric mixer until light & fluffy.
Spread icing over tops of both cakes & place one cake on top of the other.
Keep cool until serving.
Serve with berries.
Also good for cupcakes - makes about 24; only cook for about 30 min.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A Vegetarian Feast for Four!

Garlic & Sage Marinated Antipasto

6 artichoke hearts, halved & well drained
200g green & black olives
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
4 tbsp fruity olive oil
15 sage leaves
3 cloves garlic, sliced
cracked black pepper
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
150g fetta cheese, sliced
crispbread biscuits or crusty bread, to serve

Combine artichokes, olives & tomatoes.
Place oil & sage in small saucepan over medium heat & cook for 1 min.
Add garlic & pepper & cook for further 2 min or until sage is crisp.
Remove from heat & stir through vinegar.
Pour over artichoke mixture & stand for 5 min before serving with fetta & bread.

Simple Leek & Ricotta Tarts

500g fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs
600g ready-prepared puff pastry
1 leek, trimmmed & finely sliced
45g butter, melted
2 tsp thyme leaves
sea salt & cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place ricotta, parmesan & eggs in bowl & whisk until smooth.
Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface until 3mm thick.
Alternatively, defrost pastry sheets & use lightly beaten egg to "stick" sheets together to get required thickness.
Cut into 4 x 15cm squares & place on baking trays lined with non-stick paper.
Spread ricotta mixture over pastry squares leaving 2cm border.
Place leek on top of ricotta mixture & brush with butter.
Sprinkle with thyme, salt & pepper & bake for 25-30 min or until leek is golden.
Serve with fennel & parsley salad (below).

Fennel & Parsley Salad

4 baby fennel, trimmed & thinly sliced
2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp seeded mustard
sea salt & cracked black pepper

Place fennel & parsley in serving bowl & toss to combine.
Place orange juice, oil, mustard, salt & pepper in another bowl & whisk to combine.
Pour over salad & serve with tarts (above).

Raspberry-Spiked Chocolate Brownies

Makes 16

200g dark chocolate, chopped
250g butter
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa, sifted
1 1/2 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen (no need to defrost)

Preheat oven to 180°C.
Place chocolate & butter in small saucepan over low heat & stir until melted & smooth.
Place in bowl with sugar & eggs.
Sift over flour, baking powder & cocoa & mix to combine.
Pour into 23cm greased square cake tin lined with non-stick baking paper.
Top mixture with raspberries & bake for 30-35 min or until set.
Serve warm or cold with thick cream or vanilla ice cream.

And a good breakfast smoothie...

Raspberry Yoghurt Smoothie

Makes 4

2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups vanilla yoghurt
2 cups frozen raspberries
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp honey

Roughly blend all ingredients together & serve in chilled glasses. Too easy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Potatoes Roasted in Duck Fat

For fluffy roast potatoes use Maris Piper or King Edwards. For firmer fleshed spuds use red-skinned Desiree. You can buy duck fat in a can from the Essential Ingredient or any good deli (or use fat from ducks if already cooking).

1.5-2kg potatoes (depending on appetites)
about 300ml duck fat
2-3 thyme sprigs or 1 large rosemary sprig, stripped & chopped
sea salt & cracked black pepper

Peel potatoes & cut into similar sized chunks, about 4-5cm.
Boil in lightly salted water for about 5 minutes, timing from when the water comes to the boil.
Drain & shake in the colander to rough up the surfaces a bit.
Meanwhile, heat fat in a large roasting pan at 190°C until it has a slight haze coming from it.
Remove the pan & carefully tip in the potatoes, turning them in the hot fat to coat. Season nicely & scatter over the herb leaves.
Roast for 25-30 minutes, turning once when they should be golden & crispy.
Spoon into warm serving dish, but don’t cover or they will go soft.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fresh Tuna & Green Bean Stir-fry

Serves 4

300g green beans, trimmed
2 tbsp oil
600g piece of tuna, cut into small cubes
250g punnet small cherry tomatoes
16 small black olives
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 anchovy fillets, rinsed, dried & finely chopped
sea salt & cracked black pepper
3 tbsp small basil leaves

Blanch beans in small saucepan of boiling water for 2 min.
Drain & refresh under cold water, then set aside.
Heat wok until very hot, add oil & swirl around to coat side.
Stir-fry tuna in batches for about 5 min each batch, or until cooked on the outside but still a little pink on the inside.
Add cherry tomatoes, olives & beans to wok, then gently toss until heated through.
Add lemon juice, garlic, anchovies & tuna & stir well.
Season to taste with salt & pepper.
Serve scattered with basil leaves.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Stewed Rhubarb & Apple with Roasted Chestnuts

Serves 6

1kg (1 bunch) rhubarb, trimmed & coarsely chopped
500g (about 3) golden delicious apples, peeled, cored & coarsely chopped
220g (1 cup) granulated sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
500g chestnuts
20g unsalted butter
1 cup double cream

Place rhubarb, apples, sugar & ¼ cup water in a large saucepan & bring to the boil, cover & cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until tender.
Add cinnamon & cook, uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until well combined.
Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, cut a cross in the end of each chestnut & place in a roasting pan.
Roast at 220°C for 5 minutes or until skin has softened, cool slightly, then carefully peel chestnuts while still warm.
Heat butter in a large frying pan until foamy, add chestnuts & stir over medium-high heat, for 5 minutes or until golden.
Serve stewed rhubarb & apple warm or at room temperature, with warm roasted chestnuts & spoonfuls of cream.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Especially for Linda:

Pumpkin Soup

The flavour of this soup will vary depending on what kind of pumpkin you use - jap, butternut, golden nugget - so try them all!

Serves 4-6

30g unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1/4-1/2 tsp favourite spice, like curry powder, coriander or cumin (optional)
750g peeled pumpkin, seeded
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
sea salt & cracked black pepper
cream (optional)
snipped chives & other herbs to garnish

Melt butter in large saucepan & sauté onion & garlic until soft, without colouring.
If adding spice, add now & fry very gently for 1 min or so.
Add pumpkin, stock & water.
Bring slowly to boil & simmer, covered, for about 15 min until pumpkin is tender.
Cool slightly & purée mixture in several batches using food processor or blender (hand blender works well).
Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Add little more stock or water if necessary to make good consistency, depending on pumpkin.
Swirl in little cream, if liked.
Reheat gently & ladle soup into bowls.
Garnish with chives & chopped parsley or coriander leaves, if liked.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Some winter warmers:

Tomato, Chicken & Bean Soup

Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil
3 rashers bacon, rind removed, chopped
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
400g can chopped tomatoes
100g macaroni or other small pasta
sea salt & cracked black pepper
2 x 400g can cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
250g green beans, trimmed & sliced
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
chicken stock*
1.5kg whole chicken
1 brown onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
4 bay leaves
1 tsp black peppercorns
2.5L water or enough to cover

To make stock, place chicken stock ingredients in large saucepan over high heat.
Bring to boil, cover & reduce heat to low.
Cook for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through.
Use large metal spoon to occasionally skim foam from surface.
Remove chicken & allow to cool slightly.
Remove skin & discard.
Shred chicken meat from bones & set aside.
Strain stock, discarding vegetables.
Heat oil in large saucepan over high heat.
Add bacon & chilli & cook for 2-3 min or until browned.
Add strained stock, tomatoes, pasta, shredded chicken, salt & pepper & cook for 8-10 min or until pasta is al dente.
Add cannellini beans & green beans & cook for 1 min.
Top with parmesan to serve.
*Alternatively, use about 600g chicken breast fillets, poached & shredded, & 2L good quality chicken stock (like Campbell's).

Creamy Chicken & Mushroom Pan Pie

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
6 x 150g chicken thigh fillets, trimmed & chopped
250g Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
1 cup single cream
200g feta, chopped
1 sheet store-bought puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 200°C.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in ovenproof 24cm frypan* over high heat.
Add chicken & cook for 5 min or until browned & cooked through.
Remove from pan.
Add remaining oil, mushrooms, garlic & rosemary & cook fro 5 min or until browned.
Add cream & chicken & cook for 1-2 min or until thickened slightly.
Stir through feta.
Place pastry over pan & trim edges.
Brush with egg & bake for 20 min or until puffed & golden.
*Alternatively, cook in a non-stick frypan & transfer to a pie dish when adding feta.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beef & Haloumi Burgers

Serves 2

200g beef mince
1/2 small brown onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped oregano leaves
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
sea salt & cracked black pepper
olive oil, for shallow frying
100g store-bought roasted & marinated capsicum
100g haloumi cheese, sliced
2 wood-fired bread rolls
2 tbsp store-bought baba ghanoush

Combine mince, oregano, worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper.
Divide mixture into 2 & shape into patties.
Heat non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
Add oil & patties & cook for 6 min each side or until cooked to your liking.
Remove & keep warm.
Add capsicum & haloumi & cook for 1-2 min each side or until cheese is golden/
To assemble, spread rolls with baba ghanoush.
Top with haloumi, capsicum & patties.
Serve with salad &/or chips of your choice.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The proposal dinner:

Beef, Bocconcini & Basil Salad

Serves 2

2 tsp vegetable oil
2 x 150g fillet steaks (or whichever cut you prefer)
4 bocconcini, sliced
1 cup small basil leaves
2 small vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 tbsp chives, cut into 3cm lengths
sea salt & cracked black pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard

To make dressing, whisk vinegar, oil & mustard until combined.
Heat frypan over medium-high heat.
Add oil & steaks & cook for 3 min each side or until cooked to your liking.
Set aside to rest for 5 min.
Slice steaks & place in bowl along with bocconcini, basil, tomatoes, chives, salt & pepper.
Drizzle with dressing & serve warm or at room temperature with a nice red.

And for dessert, a simple dish of blueberries with King Island Honey & Cinnamon Yoghurt served with dessert wine. (We had Brown Brothers Orange Muscat & Flora.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Steak with Café de Paris Butter

This is also great with kangaroo steak because of its strong flavour.

250g butter, softened
1/2 tsp hot English mustard
1/2 tsp tomato paste
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp salted capers, rinsed, drained, finely chopped
2 tsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 tsp paprika
sea salt & cracked black pepper
onglet (skirt) steaks, to serve

Put butter, mustard, tomato paste, garlic, capers, parsley, paprika, salt & pepper in a bowl & stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
Wrap in plastic wrap, roll into cylinder shape & refrigerate until firm.
Cook steaks to your liking.
Slice butter & serve on top of steaks (or any grilled meats) with French fries & green beans.
Leftover butter will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Lime Tart

You can make this tart up to 1 day ahead & store in an airtight container in fridge.

Serves 8

5 eggs, lightly whisked
250ml (1 cup) thin cream
155g (3/4 cup) caster sugar
2 tbs finely grated lime rind
125ml (1/2 cup) fresh lime juice
2-3 drops green food colouring
1 quantity sweet shortcrust pastry
Plain flour, to dust
Fresh or thawed frozen raspberries, to serve
Double cream, to serve

Combine eggs, cream, sugar, lime rind & juice, & food colouring in bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap & place in fridge for 1 hour to develop flavours.
Roll out pastry on lightly floured surface to 3mm-thick disc.
Line round 23cm (base measurement) fluted tart tin, with removable base, with pastry & trim any excess.
Place in fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Cover pastry base with baking paper & fill with pastry weights, rice or dried beans.
Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Remove paper & weights.
Bake for further 8 minutes or until golden.
Remove from oven & reduce oven to 160°C.
Strain lime mixture through fine sieve into jug.
Pour into pastry case.
Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until just set.
Remove from oven & set aside to cool completely.
Place in fridge for 1 hour to chill.
Sprinkle tart with raspberries.
Cut into wedges & serve with cream.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Homemade Instant Pancake Mix with Blueberry Syrup

Makes 15

dry pancake mix
600g plain flour
3 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
40g caster sugar
pancakes (amounts per 150g dry mixture)
1 egg, lightly beaten
250ml milk
1 tbsp melted butter
blueberry syrup
125ml maple syrup
200g blueberries

For dry pancake mix, place all dry ingredients into bowl & mix well.
Transfer to airtight container, seal & store until needed.
To make pancakes, add appropriate quantity of egg, milk & melted butter per 150g (about 1 cup) of dry mixture.
Mix well to form smooth batter.
Heat flat griddle or non-stick frypan without adding oil.
Spoon drops of 1½-2 tablespoons of batter onto hot griddle & when bubbles appear on surface of pancakes, flip over & cook until golden-brown on both sides (about 1 minute per side).
Meanwhile, for blueberry syrup, place maple syrup & blueberries into pan & bring to boil.
Reduce heat & simmer for 2-3 minutes, until blueberries have broken down slightly.
To serve, pour blueberry syrup over pancakes.
If you have any of the syrup left over, you will notice that it sets into a kind of glossy jam.
This will keep for a few days decanted into a jar & put in the fridge, & is good in yoghurt or spread on bread.