Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
For more information on getting tickets, who's taking part and what's on,
Sunday, June 28, 2009
I like my Huevos Rancheros spicy, so I have added plenty of chilli, including some fresh chilli on top to serve, but of course you can leave the chilli out completely if you want to. My version also includes Chorizo - omit it for a lovely vegetarian dish. If you were making this for a few people, you could make it in one large dish, or even do individual ones in small rammekins. As well as being a hearty brunch, this dish is perfect for a fast and easy dinner option.
You will notice that I haven't included a recipe for the tomato based sauce* - use your own basic nepolitana style sauce or even a good quality store bought sauce (my preferred brand is Barilla) if you don't want to make a special batch. My tomato sauce contains capers, anchovies, lots of garlic and chllies, but use whatever you like.
So, here it is - my version of the rustic Mexican classic....
You will need: 1 cup tomato based sauce* per person, 1-2 organic free range eggs per person, Half a cup of roughly chopped Chorizo, 1 tablespoon chopped black olives, A few dashes of tabasco sauce (optional) , 1 tablespoon finely sliced spring onion, flatbread or soft tortillas to serve, 1 teaspoon finely sliced red chilli (optional)
Method: Combine the olives, Chorizo, tomato sauce, tabasco together and pour into an ovenproof dish. Make a small well in the sauce and break the egg gently into the mixture. Repeat for all of the eggs.
Bake in a hot oven for 10-15 mins depending on how much you like your eggs cooked. (I like them a bit runny in the middle, so the yolk mixes with the sauce - yum!)
Top with spring onion and chilli and serve right away with warm flatbread or soft tortillas.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
At the greengrocer, I also picked up some asparagus, prosciutto and mozzerella to add to the mix and did a little side dish of prosciutto wrapped asparagus - simply cooked quickly in a pan with a touch of olive oil and some freshly ground pepper. I drizzled some fruity olive on it to serve. Easy.
The eggplant dish I came up with is very simple to put together, but has a lot of flavour and looks quite pretty I think. You could serve this as a vegetarian main course or starter - I would use a smaller sized eggplant if I was doing it as a starter. You could also put prosciutto into the layers, or even crumble a little fetta into them for a richer taste.
So, here is tonight's offering - It serves two as a main course.
Parmagiania de Melanzane (Eggplant Parmigiana Stack)You will need: 1 medium eggplant, 1 small Mozzerella cheese, 1 cup tomato based Nepolitana sauce (I used my own home made one, which has capers and anchovies, but use whatever you fancy. Even a good quality bought one would be fine if you are pressed for time) 1 tablespoon fresh continental parsley (you could use fresh basil if you prefer) Salt & Pepper, Olive oil.
Method: Cut the eggplant into slices around 1cm thick. You will need 3 slices for each person. Do the same with the Mozzerella. Heat a frypan with a little olive oil, season and cook the eggplant for about 1 minute each side, until slightly browned. It does not have to be cooked right through.
Place the eggplant in a single layer on a baking tray, top each piece with a spoonful of the Nepolitana sauce and then a slice of mozzerella. Bake for around 10 mins in a moderate oven.
To serve, stack three slices on top of each other and finish with some chopped parsley.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
This morning though, I decided to have something sweet for a change. I bought some lovely fresh ricotta and fruit yesterday, so this became the inspiration for this yummy breakfast dish. It could easily become a dessert dish - perhaps use blueberries and banana or mixed berries? Plums or apricots would be nice too. If you are doing it as a dessert, then I would make the hotcakes quite small - pikelet size.
I don't like things too sweet, so I haven't put a lot of sugar in the batter mixture, but if you like it sweeter, then add more sugar. Just remember that more sugar will mean they will brown and caramelise a lot faster, so watch the hotcakes so they don't burn. This recipe will serve 2-4 people, depending on how piggy you want to be!
Banana and Ricotta Hotcakes
You will need: 1 cup self-raising flour, 2 eggs, about half a cup of milk, 1 dessertspoon caster sugar, 1 large ripe banana (or 2 small ones), a few teaspoons butter (or oil ) to grease the frypan, 1 cup fresh ricotta, maple syrup, a few strawberries (optional)
Method: Blend the milk, eggs, sugar and half of the banana in a food processor till smooth.
Sift the flour into a bowl and gradually whisk in the milk to form a batter. You may need to add more milk if the batter is too stiff. The batter should easily coat/stick to, the back of a spoon.
Gently crumble half of the ricotta into the mixture and stir through gently. Let the mixture rest for 10-15 mins.
I like to transfer the mixture into a small jug to make pouring the batter easier and less messy, but you can also use a spoon or measuring cup for the next step. Heat and grease the frypan and cook the hotcakes in batches, with the hotplate on medium heat. Turn the hotcakes when bubbles appear on the surface.
Keep an eye on the heat and turn it down or up if you have to. Remember that the amount of sugar you put in and the ripeness of the banana will affect how fast it will brown/burn.
Serve the hotcakes right away, with sliced banana, strawberry and the extra ricotta, drizzled generously with maple syrup.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Fettuccine with Winter Vegetables and lemony garlic sauce
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I think that those Sunday lunches were really important in instilling a love of cooking in me and also teaching basic kitchen skills. I remember peeling the vegetables, learning basic knife skills, discovering how long things took to bake and being entrusted to stir the gravy. As I got older I learned more involved processes, such as how to make the custard that would accompany baked apples or a steamed pudding. Eventually I would take over the whole process, loving the warmth and sense of responsibility that time in the kitchen gave me. The kitchen gave me focus, comfort and a sense of purpose.
Today's recipe is a very simple roast chicken that is packed with flavour. It does not have all the trimmings of the traditional family roast but uses some techniques for adding taste and keeping the flesh moist and succulent. I have chosen Greek inpired flavours and served it very simply with roasted potatoes and zucchini, drizzled with the galicky/lemony pan juices.
You will need:
1 whole chicken (neck and giblets removed), 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon lemon rind, 4 large cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon salted soft butter, about 1 tablespoon greek oregano (you will find this in deli's or continental stores. It is sold dried in bunches and is long and shrub like. Crumble the leaves off the ends and discard the very tough ends of the stalks), olive oil, Pepper, Salt.
Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water. Gently pat dry.
Combine the butter, lemon rind and 2 of the garlic cloves (minced or chopped very fine) until well mixed. Gently work the skin of the chicken breast away from the flesh (be careful not to tear the skin) and distribute the butter evenly over the breast. The butter will keep the meat lovely and moist.
Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the chicken and rub it in to the flesh. When you are done, put this into the cavity, along with two thirds of the oregano, roughly chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Now rub the chicken all over with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and the rest of the oregano and cook in a hot oven for 20 mins. Reduce to a medium heat and cook for another hour or until the juices run clear and it is cooked through. Be sure to baste the chicken every now and then during the cooking process.
If you are cooking potatoes with the chicken, add them when you have about 30mins left to go with the cooking of the chicken. When the chicken is done, cover in foil and rest it in a warm place for 10-15 mins before carving. Drizzle the juices over the chicken to serve (or use them as a base to make a lemony gravy)
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
There are 3 main forms of tofu that you will see in your Asian market or health food store. Silken tofu, which is very soft (sometimes you will see it in a form that is so soft it is almost a liquid) regular or medium tofu that is soft, but will hold it's shape as long as you are gentle with it (what I used in tonight's dish) and hard tofu, which is very forgiving, can be cut into cubes and survives rougher treatent. There is also sweet tofu - be sure that you don't buy it by mistake if you intend on making a savoury dish. I did that once. Note to self - strawberry flavoured tofu and pork fillet don't mix.
Tonight's tofu dish is chock full of flavour - I made it extra spicy but put as much or as little chilli in it as you like. It is loosely based on the iconic Szechuan dish, Ma Po Tofu. This dish is very quick to cook so it is a perfect midweek dinner. I decided to make a side dish of pineapple rice to go with the tofu (I ate lots of this when I was in Singapore and became addicted to it, so tasty!) The one I made tonight is a super quick, basic version with only a few ingredients but it goes beautifully with the tofu dish.
The only thing about cooking any fried rice dish is that the rice needs to be cooked beforehand and allowed to get cold (overnight in the fridge is best) If you use freshly cooked, hot rice, the rice will just break up and you will end up with a stodgy mess. If you haven't planned ahead for your fried rice, do what I do - make a sneaky trip to the supermarket and buy one of those packs of pre-cooked rice. They work brilliantly for any fried rice dish and one of those packs actually serves 4 people, once you add the other ingredients. The rice holds together perfectly and it is super convenient.
All I did for the rice was to put a touch of vegetable oil in the wok, whisk 3 eggs and throw them in to scramble. When they are cooked, take them out and set aside. Then I added the rice (one of those packs from the supermarket I talked about earlier), a cup of cooked peas, a cup of pineapple (chopped into small bits) and a handful of sliced spring onion. Stir fry the ingredients then add a splash of ligh soy sauce, a teaspoon sesame oil and some cracked pepper. Done!
For the sauce: 1 tablespoon chilli jam (you can use sambal or other chilli sauce if you wish, but chilli jam gives the best flavour), 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 1 cup chicken stock. 2 teaspoons cornflour dissolved in half a cup of cold water.
Method: Mix up all of the sauce ingredients except the cornflour/water mixture and set aside.
In a pan, heat a splash of oil and add the red onion and garlic. Cook till soft, then add the pork mince and cook till lightly browned. Add the tofu, and gently stir through. Add the sauce mixture and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
Add the sprouts, coriander, spring onion and red chilli and stir through. Finally, add the cornflour mixture and stir it through. It should thicken fairly quickly. Serve right away with a sprinkling of the extra chilli and coriander.
Note: You can easily make this a vegetarian dish by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, omitting the pork and using vegetarian oyster sauce that is available in all Asian supermarkets.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
The flavours of Chai really lend themselves to be used in cooking and the following recipe is a super easy but decadent tasting sweet dish, that can be eaten with natural yoghurt for breakfast or served as an exotic dessert with double cream and a sprinkling of pistachios. I used a lovely fragrant organic Chai for this recipe that I recently discovered at the health food store. You can find out more about it here: http://www.chai.com.au/
Balsamic Roasted Beetroot Salad
with Orange and Maple Dressing
You will need: 1 bunch fresh beetroot, 1 large red onion cut into thick slices, 3 cloves garlic, Olive oil, 2 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar (tonight I used a Pomegranate Balsamic but a plain one is still perfect), Juice of 1 orange, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, Sea salt & pepper
For the salad: Mixed greens, Flesh of 1 orange, sliced into segments, 1 or 2 tablespoons walnuts (I toast them in a dry pan for 5mins - gives a better flavour), A few cubes of Fetta cheese (I used an organic sheep milk Fetta tonight)
For the dressing: 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 4 tablespoons orange juice, 1 clove crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, Salt & pepper to taste
Method: Start by cutting the stalks off the beetroot and putting them in a pot of water. You should keep the beetroot whole at this point. Bring them to the boil and then simmer for about 15mins. You are not trying to cook them right through, so don't worry if they are still quite firm after the cooking time is over.
Plunge the whole beetroot into a bowl of cold water and let them sit there for 5 minutes. With your hands, rub the outside skin off the beetroot (treat it rough, it can handle it) You should be left with beautiful smooth, bright purple beetroot. Cut the whole beetroot into into small wedges.
In a baking dish, mix the beetroot, onion, garlic, oil, balsamic, maple syrup, orange juice, salt & pepper and cook in a hot oven for about 45mins (or until the onion and beetroot has caramelised and the liquid has evaporated) Stir the mixture a few times during the cooking process. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Whisk the dressing ingredients. Assemble the salad ingredients and beetroot - topping with the the walnuts and a crumble of Fetta. Drizzle with the dressing and serve right away.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
I picked up a few prawns, a couple of scallops and a small piece of Blue-Eye Cod. I had some of the braised leek/tomato mixture from last night in the fridge, so I added a cup of vegetable stock to it, a handful of black olives and a spoon full of Ben's chilli jam and made a spicy broth. (Full marks on the chilli jam by the way Ben - it had a lot of heat and also a beautiful flavour with just the right acidity. Yum!) For the seafood, I mixed a tablespoon of flour and a teaspoon of paprika together, dusted the seafood lightly in it and then cooked the fish , prawns and scallops in a pan with a touch of olive oil till golden. The whole process literally took 15mins from start to finish and it definitely satisfied my desire for seafood and chilli tonight. The seafood was super fresh and the dish was full of flavour.
So, here it is, Pan fried seafood in leek, olive and tomato broth (featuring Ben's chilli jam) .....
Living my childhood on the coast of Western Australia, I grew up with seafood, and I have not lost my love for it as I have gotten older. I have memories of stiflingly hot nights in the 70's on the banks of The Swan River, waiting expectantly for the return of the prawn nets, hearing them dragged through the dark water full of school prawns that flicked you with their spiky tails and made us squeal and drop them on the sand. If you were lucky, the haul would also include vibrantly coloured Blue Manna, Blue Swimmer Crabs or glossy black river mussels, all of which would later be devoured at the kitchen table, still steaming from the pot, eaten with vinegary fingers, crusty white bread and lashings of butter. It was the simplest but most delicious of feasts.
Sadly, in 2009 we see fish stocks around the world seriously depleted, with many species being threatened or wiped out due to destruction of habitat or overfishing. In recent years I have become very aware of the impact my consumer choices have on this situation and I have consciously been trying to make better choices, avoiding species that are overfished or in danger of being so. The Australian Marine Conservation Society are a great source of information on the subject. For more info, go to http://www.amcs.org.au/default2.asp?active_page_id=137
For quick reference, here is a list to help you choose wisely, but it is by no means a complete list, just a starting point. I have included alternative names for some of the species.
Fish/Seafood to avoid: Blue Warehou, Black Trevally, Sea Bream, Hake, Silver Kingfish, Redfish, Red Snapper, Southern Bluefin Tuna, Bigeye Tuna, Shark, Flake, Silver Trevally, Silver/White Trevally, Sea Perch, Orange Roughy, Swordfish, rainbow Trout, Atlantic Salmon, Rainbow Trout, Brown Tiger Prawn, Rock Lobster, Coral Crayfish, Sea Cucumber, Tasmanian Scallop, King Scallop, Baby Octopus (Thailand)
More sustainable choices: Hoki, Blue Grenadier, Barramundi, Blue Eye Cod, Deep Sea Trevalla, Blue Eye Trevalla, Bream, Yellowfin Tuna, Flathead, King George Whiting (but avoid whiting from Western Australia as the fishery is closed), Trumpeter, Sand Whiting, Mackarel, Mullet, Yellow Eye, Ling, Rock Ling, Snapper, Red Bream,Tailor, Blufish, Skipjack, Coral Trout, Balmain/Moreton Bay Bugs, Western Rock Lobster, Calamari, Cuttlefish, Squid, Octopus, Blue Mussel, Green Mussel, BlueSwimmer Crab.
Monday, June 1, 2009
To make the Arancini, I simply formed the rice mixture into balls, (use wet hands, it makes handling them so much easier) rolled them in seasoned flour, then lightly whisked organic free range eggs and then breadcrumbs. I put the Arancini in the fridge for about 10 mins, while I quickly braised some young leeks in a touch of olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of water. Halfway through, I remembered that I had a couple of Roma tomatoes in the fridge so I chopped them roughly and threw them in too.
I cooked the Arancini in vegetable oil until they were golden (it only took a couple of minutes) and served them on a bed of the braised leeks. And here they are!
This dish was really satisfying and tasty, as well as being a great way to use up leftover risotto. Actually, it would be worth making extra risotto so that you can make these the next day. The other great thing is that it only took me 25mins to make this dish, so it isn't a three act drama and is totally do-able after a long day at work. Think about adding a small square of mozzerella to the centre (which is a more traditional way to serve them) or adding other fresh herbs, some grated zucchini or different cheeses. I'm thinking Romano, Ricotta or Pecorino?
GG Entertaining Hint: Try tiny Arancini as a lovely finger food option. Make them ahead of time up to the cooking stage and keep them in the fridge until they are ready to fry. Serve them immediately with a simple tomato based dipping sauce. Just make sure they are small enough to eat whilst holding a Martini in the other hand!!