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Thursday, 8 December 2011

Wedding Canapes

I helped with some canapes at my sister in laws wedding on the weekend. It was fun but not a habit forming experience. The process was pretty straight forward it just required some prep. Obviously I did this on a much larger scales than what I am adding here but these should be the approximate measurements of the things I made for home use. To add to that, I also made a large batch of Beetroot and Feta Dip but used cottage cheese instead of feta.

Pastrami Bites:
Toasted French stick slices
Sliced pastrami
Horseradish sour cream
Oven roasted capsicum in slices
Basil leaves

Its pretty much just that. Bread, pastrami, 1 tsp horseradish sour cream, slice roasted capsicum, 1 basil leaf. Repeat until you have enough for your needs.

Crab and Corn Bites:
1 container of Phillips Bay Crab Meat
125 gms ricotta
3 tbs sour cream
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 clove garlic minced
1 handful of basil leaves, shredded
Kernels from 1 cob barbecued corn
Salt and pepper
Grilled prosciutto crumbled
Thin slices of spring onion
Melba toasts

This is essentially the filling from my Crab, Blue Cheese and Ricotta Ravioli recipe but on toasts with some tasty garnishes. Easy though. Combine the crab, ricotta, sour cream, 1/2 of the lemon, garlic, basil, corn, some salt and pepper in a large bowl. Check for seasoning and add more of what you think it needs (eg lemon) if necessary. Spoon 1 tsp or so of crab mixture, top with some crumbled prosciutto and a slice of spring onion.

Artichoke Dip:
I saw Guy Grossi do something similar on Italian Food Safari as an entree and I thought it would be brilliant in dip form. The first time I made this I used fresh artichokes - I wouldn't bother again, they are so fibrous. Bottled artichoke gives the same result as far as flavour is concerned and requires heaps less bother. If you do plan on starting from scratch, bake for at least 2 hours as 45mins wasn't even close and I had to push the lot through a sieve.

1 bottle Always Fresh Marinated Artichoke Hearts
250 gms cottage cheese
125 gms sour cream
Few slices Parmesan cheese
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Some liquid from the artichoke jars
Salt and pepper

Blend the drained artichokes with the Parmesan. Combine the artichoke mix in a bowl with the cottage cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper and 1/2 of the lemon juice. Check for seasoning and add more as necessary (salt, pepper, Parmesan, lemon juice). If the mixture is too thick, thin out with some of the liquid from the artichoke jars. Serve with crusty toasted bread.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Sopressa, Bacon, Mushroom, Blue Cheese and Baby Spinach Salad

This was good and dead simple. I boiled some eggs till runny and sauteed some sopressa, bacon and mushrooms, tossed through some blue cheese, white wine and cream. That was it. Sopressa is an Italian smallgood but any decent salami would work. If you don't like blue cheese, use a little brie instead. After I plated this up I added some cracked pepper and chilli flakes which were great. I think also a small squeeze of lemon would cut through the richness. It is rich.

1 packet sopressa (200gms) torn
2 slices bacon diced
2 cloves garlic minced
5 mushrooms in medium dice
3 tbs olive oil
3 or 4 slices of blue cheese
2 tbs cream
Splash white wine
1 packet baby spinach
4 boiled eggs (more if you want)
Cracked pepper
Chilli flakes

Only boil the eggs till runny (place in when boiling, return to the boil for 4 minutes, slightly longer for XL) then place in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Saute the bacon in the olive oil until it has colour, add in 2/3 of the sopressa and all of the garlic and cook for a further 2 or so minutes until quite fragrant. Add in the mushroom and cook until soft and with colour. Add in the blue cheese slices tossing to melt, pour in the white wine and toss, toss through the cream. Remove from the heat. Carefully peel the eggs which allows time for the mushroom mixture to cool slightly. Mix the mushroom mixture through the baby spinach (I used my hands) and divide amongst plates. Top the spinach with some of the uncooked sopressa, an egg or two, some cracked pepper and chilli flakes.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Boned Shoulder of Lamb with Herb Stuffing

I went to a mates place yesterday to speak nonsense and ended up watching him bone out a lamb shoulder and shove cool stuff inside it and roll it for roasting. I swung around today to see if he had scraps left to try, thankfully he did. It was perfect, it was a great combination of flavours. Neither of us had boned out a shoulder before but it was very simple, he just ran a knife carefully around the bone and gently halved a lump at one end to make it flat. It was all over in under 5 minutes. If this scares you, buy one boned or use a different cut or a chicken boob. For the cool stuff, we just went and grabbed some herbs from outside and blended it with some stuff from the fridge. The message here is, experiment and have fun with flavours. When I get around to making this, I will add a photo. I also think that this would work very, very well  unrolled in a barbecue with a lid.

1 boned lamb shoulder
1/2 bunch parsley
1/2 bunch sage
2 sprigs rosemary stripped
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp capers
1 handful grated Parmesan
Extra virgin olive oil
Rind of 1 lime
1 tbs seeded mustard
2 slices prosciutto
Salt and pepper

Blend the herbs, garlic, rind, capers, mustard, Parmesan and enough extra virgin to make it wet. Paint the herb mixture on one entire side of the shoulder. Lay the prosciutto across the stuffing. Roll the meat up and tie with kitchen string in a number of places along the roast. Season the exterior with salt and pepper and rub with oil. Roast in a preheated 220C oven for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to 180C. Roast for 2 hours or to you liking. Good job bro.

Sage, parsley, lime, garlic, pistachio, anchovie

Sunday, 20 November 2011


I love scrambled eggs. They can be as simple or as complicated as you please. Mine change every time I make them. The main tips I have for scrambled eggs are to 1) cook over a gentle heat; 2) serve with avocado on toast or tomato bread and; 3) don't use milk as it splits. In any case the following are some suggestions for making scrambled eggs.

  • Cream
    Feta oil toast, diced bacon, roasted potato,
    salmon, wattle seed mustard, sweet chilli,
    hot sauce
  • Sauteed garlic
  • Sauteed mushroom
  • Oven roasted capsicum
  • Diced cooked potato
  • Smoked salmon
  • Diced bacon
  • Grilled and crumbled prosciutto
  • Tabasco/hot sauce
  • Feta
  • Yoghurt
  • Minced parsley
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Oven roasted cherry tomatoes
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Sweet chilli sauce
  • Chilli Jam
  • Mustard

Fennel and Potato Curry with Beef and Coconut Prawns

A wonderful parent of some triplets I taught this year gave me some great food gear for Christmas. One of the things she gave me was some Afrika Kalahari Curry Powder. To add to that, my wife is away (boo) but that means I therefore am allowed to cook with fennel (hooray). I dig on curry but am far from an expert on cooking it but this did exceeded my expectations. Very little prep and a whole wad of flavour - I had thirds by the end of the night. I forgot to boil rice as I was cooking while on the phone but after I had eaten, I boiled some pearl barley and mixed it through the left overs and it was very gooooood. If you can't get this particular curry powder, make you own or buy something that looks fancy - Keens Curry Powder won't cut it.

300gms prawns shelled
1/2 cup corn flour
1 egg beaten
1 cup shredded coconut
1 small piece rump steak
Lemon wedges
2 medium potatoes peeled and diced
2 bulbs fennel in 16th wedges (stems and fronds reserved)
1 onion sliced
1 clove garlic sliced
1 or 2 cups chicken stock
1 handful coriander chopped
Tomato or some kind of chutney
Boiled rice or pearl barley

Mix 1 heaped tsp of the curry powder through the flour. Dust the prawns in the flour, shake off the excess, pass through the beaten egg and then coat with the shredded coconut, pressing it in. Cover with foil and place in the fridge until you are ready for it. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan that has a lid and toast 2 1/2 tsp of curry powder until fragrant. Toss the onion, potato and fennel through the flavoured oil. Pour in the coconut milk and chicken stock, add the lid and fennel stems and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potato is tender. Remove the fennel stems.
Heat  some olive oil to medium high. Sprinkle 1/2 a tsp of curry powder over the steak then fry in the oil on each side until medium rare. Remove to a clean plate, cover and keep warm to rest. Fry the coconut coated prawns in the same oil until there is nice colour on both sides (or deep fry for a more even result). Sprinkle the cooked prawn with salt and a squeeze of lemon. Thinly slice the steak and pour any resting juice into the curry. Stir through the chopped coriander and half of the fennel fronds.
Add enough rice to each bowl, top with some curry and sauce, add some steak to each bowl and some coconut prawns, garnish with some dill fronds, chutney, some fennel fronds, splotches of yoghurt and poppadoms.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Chicken, Roasted Cherry Tomato, Basil and Blue Cheese Ravioli

Sounds hard but it took me minutes to make the filling. I had some left over Balsamic Thyme Chicken from pizza the night before that I used here but I think that even store bought chicken or diced bacon would work well in its place. As far as the ravioli part is concerned, if you don't have a pasta machine or ravioli maker I have seen lots of recipes that use gow gee wrappers -  you can buy them frozen from Asian goods stores. Alternatively buy fresh pasta sheets and form them yourself or, be even more simplistic (as it will taste exactly the same) just warm it and mix it through cooked pasta. If you are making the pasta, I work on 100gms flour and 1 egg per person. This made enough for three.

150gms Balsamic Thyme Chicken (approx)
1 tbs blue cheese (or more)
3 tbs cottage cheese (or ricotta or sour cream)
1 clove garlic minced
1 handful basil leaves minced
2 tbs oven roasted cherry tomatoes
3 or button mushrooms minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Porcini salt (alternate optional)
1 clove garlic thinly sliced
1/2 handful parsley minced
3 sheets fresh pasta
Squeeze of lemon to serve

Saute the mushroom with the minced garlic in enough extra virgin olive oil. Season the mushroom with pepper and porcini salt and mix through half of the minced basil while still warm. Chop/mince the chicken until relatively fine. Combine the chicken, remaining basil, blue cheese, cottage cheese, cherry tomatoes and mushroom mixture. Cover and allow to cool. Boil some salted water.

Lay half of one sheet over the ravioli tray and push down gently with the dimpled device. Spoon 1 tsp of filling into each pocket, cover with the other half of the pasta sheet and thoroughly roll with a rolling pin. Carefully remove the excess pasta and push out each pillow of ravioli onto a flour dusted tray. Repeat until you run out of pasta of mixture. When the water is boiling drop in the ravioli and cook for 4 or 5 minutes. While the ravioli is cooking heat 2 tbs extra virgin in a small saucepan over a medium heat and saute the sliced garlic until it has a little colour or the ravioli is ready. Remove from the heat and add in the minced parsley. Drain the ravioli, divide amongst bowls and pour over some garlic/parsley oil. Finish with a small squeeze of lemon.

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Kofta sounds so much nicer than skinless sausage but essentially that's what it is. Lean and as tasty as you want it to be. Add in pine nuts, use diced eggplant, add some chilli, serve with yoghurt etc etc.

500gms mince
Parsley minced
Oregano minced
Basil leaves minced
Thyme minced
Rind of 1 lemon
2 tbs marinaded feta
2 cloves garlic minced
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs
2 mushrooms minced
Salt and pepper
Marinated feta
Sour cream
Shredded basil
Juice of half a lemon
Steamed vegetables

Combine the bread crumbs, mince, egg, minced herbs, mushroom, rind, garlic, salt and pepper and feta in a large bowl for 5 minutes. Working the meat makes it bind better. Form the mixture into short sausages. I wet my hands with olive oil as I go so that the mixture doesn't stick to my fingers or each other. Shallow fry over a medium heat turning when they have nice colour. While the kofta are cooking combine the shredded basil, sour cream and lemon juice. Top the kofta with the basil flavoured sour cream and serve with steamed vegetables.

Glazed Carrots and Beetroots

Its been done before I am sure but, I have done this a few times recently and it is tasty as. Essentially, boil/steam some root vegetables until just tender, drain, add butter, heat and flavour. This is a technique I plan to use heaps.

Carrots peeled
Orange peel
Salt and pepper
Minced parsley

Boil the carrots with a couple of slices of orange peel until just tender. Drain the water and allow the carrots to steam out in the pan for a minute or so. Return to the heat, add in some butter and heat until foaming, pour in some honey, salt, pepper and parsley, toss to combine then remove to a serving dish. Heaps easy, heaps tasty.

Beetroot peeled and well washed
Garlic chopped
Balsamic glaze
Chopped thyme
Salt and pepper

Boil the beets until just tender, drain and allow to steam out for a minute or so. Add in the butter, thyme and garlic and return to a medium high heat. When fragrant add in the balsamic glaze and season with salt and pepper.

Beef Cheek Stroganoff with Porcini Sour Cream

Worth the time invested, beef cheeks rule and pearl barley absorbs bucket loads of flavour.

3 beef cheeks
1 tsp paprika
1 cup flour
Olive oil
6 or 7 mushrooms sliced thickly
1 onion sliced
2 handfuls blended cherry tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup red wine
1 tbs balsamic
1 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup minced parsley
2 tbs sour cream
2 tsp small bits of porcini mushrooms

Combine the flour, paprika, porcini salt and pepper. Dust the beef cheeks in the flour. Heat some oil to medium high in the bottom of the pan with a lid you are going to cook with. Sear the beef cheeks on both sides and set aside when they have nice colour. Add in the sliced mushroom and onion and coat in the oil, turning for a few minutes. Add in some of the left over seasoned flour and cook for a further 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour in the chicken stock and the blended tomatoes, stir to combine. Place the beef cheeks in to the pan, pour a little balsamic over each cheek, cover and place into a preheated 140C oven for 2.5 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully remove the cheeks with a large spoon. Stir in the pearl barley and parsley and return the beef cheeks, add the lid. Return to the oven for 30 mins or until the pearl barley is tender. Add more stock if necessary.
Combine the sour cream and porcini bits and place in the fridge for 30 mins.
Remove the cheeks from the oven, spoon some mixture into warmed bowls, add meat to the top and finish with some porcini flavoured sour cream. Serve with glazed carrots.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Roast Beef with Sage and Garlic Incisions

The concept here is the same as studding meat with rosemary sprigs and slivers of garlic as is common particularly with roasted lamb legs. I read about it in an excellent Italian cook book of my sister in laws. I actually prefer this method as I find that the garlic is less likely to burn (which tastes like sin) and you can alter it to suit your needs. For example you could just as easily use this concept with a pork loin and instead of using herbs, slap in some pesto. Any combination of herbs would work well, even some citrus. Be creative.
The use of yoghurt to finish the gravy for this was wicked.

2kg rump roast
Sage leaves
3 or 4 garlic cloves
Porcini salt
Olive oil
2 leeks trimmed, halved length ways
2 carrots halved length ways
3 spring onions trimmed
5 or 6 whole garlic cloves
1 field mushroom
1 tbs sugar
Chicken stock (maybe 2 cups?)
Yoghurt (2 tbs or more)
Minced parsley
Steamed vegetables

Preheat an oven to 230C. Mince the sage and garlic with a knife until quite fine, then mix in enough porcini salt and some cracked pepper. Using a small sharp paring knife, make an incisions at some point in the roast, pull the knife out and push your pointer finger into the hole to make it wider. Repeat the process as many times as you like. Use a tea spoon and your fingers to fill each hole then kind of seal it back over. Salt and pepper the roast and rub some oil all over. Oil enough of the bottom of your roasting tray to fit the roast. Layer the leek, spring onions, carrots, garlic and field mushroom into the roasting tray, pour over a little more oil then top with the meat.

Place into the preheated oven at 230C for 20 minutes then reduce to 180C. To calculate your cooking time go, 20 mins per 450 gms plus an additional 20 minutes. If you are too lazy to work this out, about 30 mins per 500 gms but check it 10 minutes before the cooking time ends. To check, skewer the roast at its thickest part, if blood gushes out, put it back in for 10 minutes, if it dribbles out and feels firm its medium, remove it to a clean plate, cover and allow to rest.

To make the gravy, remove the trivet (veg underneath), remove the garlic skin and blend the lot until it is a paste. Pour out all of the fat from the roasting tray and place on the stove top on a medium heat. Sprinkle in the sugar over where the element would be and cook until it begins to caramelise. Deglaze the pan with the stock and scrape up any bits. Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan over a medium heat, add in the blended vegetables and reduce until you reach your desired consistency. When the sauce is thick enough, pour in any resting juice from the meat, stir in the yoghurt and chopped parsley. Check for seasoning.

Slice the meat across the grain, arrange on plates along with the vegetables and potato wedges. Spoon over some gravy and eat straight away.

Hand Made Potato Wedges

Worked a treat and didn't take long to prepare. The flavours were a very close guess and I would definitely do these specifically for the kids, parties or drinks on the lawn with sour cream and avo gear.

Small potatoes, quartered length ways
1.5 tsp pimenton (paprika)
1/2 bunch of oregano, leaves stripped
Some basil seeds and their leaves
Rind of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Combine the ingredients, turn out onto a baking tray. Roast for 45 mins in a preheated 180C oven or until they have nice colour and are crispy on bits. Drain on absorbent paper and serve immediately.

Eggs Poached in Gravy

Sounds gross, tastes like awesome. This is a family breakfast recipe and is at its best with chicken gravy. Don't freak out, give it a go, you won't be disappointed.

1 or 2 cups left over gravy
Buttered toast
Chopped chives (or similar)

Heat the gravy to medium in a frying pan, crack in the eggs and reduce the heat slightly. Poach until just cooked, adding a lid toward the end will speed up the process. Spoon eggs on to the toast and top with some gravy and chopped herbs.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Lemon Basil Oil

This took about 5 minutes including rinsing the hand blender. I am really annoyed that I haven't discovered this sooner, it was hella tasty, much lighter than pesto, very versatile and like 5 ingredients - none of which I had to chop. This would conceivably work with different herbs too, just use whatever you feel like. As the photo shows, I have drizzled this over some pan fried fish in its first use and it was great. I can see this being useful to make garlic bread, mash, salad dressings, to finish meats, to drizzle over barbecued vegetables and finish soup/pastas etc.

1 handful of basil leaves
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Rind from 1 lemon
2 or 3 garlic cloves

Blend it all. Use it or store in the fridge for up to 1 week (that's a guess...).


Cherry Tomato and Parmesan Vinaigrette

This was a great experiment and seems to be quite flexible. Add herbs, different vinegar, or garlic.

Cherry tomatoes halved
1 or 2 tbs Parmesan grated
A splash of white balsamic
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and cracked pepper

Combine all of the ingredients well, squishing the cherry tomatoes as you go. Store in the fridge until you are ready to dress your salad leaves.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Pistachio, Sage, Basil and Parmesan Crumbed Pork Loin Chops

Very easy and very quick. Crumbing is not something that I do regularly but it is a fantastic method of delivering great texture and real flavour with punch. What makes doing this so much more rewarding is making more than you need and freezing the rest to use another time - with zero prep. Choice.

4 pork loin chops
1/2 bunch of sage
1/2 bunch parsley
1/3 bunch basil
1 cup pistachios
Parmesan slices (4 or more)
Zest of 1 lemon
3 tsp porcini salt
3 or 4 garlic cloves skin removed
1 or 2 cups bread crumbs
2 eggs beaten in a bowl
2 cups flour in a bowl
Olive oil for frying
Balsamic glaze for finishing
Lemon wedges for serving

Finely mince the sage, basil and parsley with a knife. Blitz the pistachio, Parmesan, porcini salt, pepper and garlic until quite fine. Combine the Parmesan/pistachio mixture with the bread crumbs and lemon zest. Check for seasoning. Place half the crumb mix in a zip lock bag - in the freezer (sorry, Cake quote). Dust each loin chop in flour then put through the beaten egg. Crumb each loin chop in the mixture, pressing it in until you have used it all up. Using a frying pan large enough to take all of the chops, fill it about to about 1cm with oil and heat to medium high. Shallow fry the crumbed pork until there is nice colour on the first side, carefully turn and reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook until there is nice colour on the second side. Should only take 7 or 8 minutes. Remove to a clean plate, cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Place each onto a plate, drizzle with balsamic glaze and a squeeze of lemon. Serve with the vegetables of your choice.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Confit Chicken

So so good. Confit meat is not something that you should eat very often (I haven't cooked this for 2 years) as it is meat poached in oil or fat but, it is something that should be eaten. The secondary joy of this (the gift that keeps giving) is the left over fat/oil. This now flavoured gear is wicked for frying meats and roasting vegetables. When I first cooked this I couldn't find a recipe for confit chicken but couldn't think of a reason why it wouldn't work and it does. Usually I cook this with a combination of duck or goose fat and olive oil (this time I had enough fat alone) but don't see why olive oil wouldn't work on its own. Finally, this will keep in the fridge (covered in the fat) for a couple of weeks as long as nothing is exposed - just scrape off the fat, heat gently in the oven then grill.

1 chicken quartered
Thyme sprigs
Sage leaves
Porcini salt
5 or 6 whole garlic cloves
300 gms duck fat
Olive oil (possibly)
Duck fat and sage roasted potatoes
Sauteed mushrooms with ricotta
Steamed beans and asparagus
Balsamic glaze for serving
Chopped parsley

Wipe the chicken down with paper toweling. Place the chicken pieces into a dish just large enough to fit them. Sprinkle over some porcini salt, freshly ground pepper, thyme sprigs, sage leaves and garlic cloves. Spoon the fat over the top and place the dish into a preheated 150C oven. After 5 minutes check to see if the melted fat was enough to cover the chicken, if not, top up with some olive oil. Roast for another 45 mins.
Remove from the oven, remove the chicken pieces from the fat and place under the grill on high heat, on the lowest shelf. Grill until crispy. Serve with the duck fat spuds, steamed greens and mushrooms with parsley and, drizzle with the chicken with some balsamic glaze. I used the garlic from the confit process when sauteing the mushrooms.

Duck Fat and Sage Roasted Potatoes

Not particularly healthy but you know, awesome. Just don't eat them very regularly and your heart and thighs should be fine. The duck fat I used here came from my confit chicken recipe, so they had extra flavour. The real reason I ever make confit chicken is for the fat it leaves behind for these potatoes.

Potatoes cleaned and halved
2 tbs duck fat
Sage leaves (or other robust herb)
Salt and pepper

Par boil the potatoes, coat them in fat, salt, pepper and sage leaves. Roast in a preheated 220C oven, cut side down, for 20 mins. Sprinkle with a little more salt on the cut side. Serve immediately. Serve as an entree, as tapas or with cooked and roasted meats.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Barbecued Pesto and Prosciutto Chicken Thighs

So easy, so excellent.

1 kg chicken thigh fillets
4 or 5 tbs pesto
10 slices prosciutto
Olive oil
Lemon wedges for serving

Halve each chicken thigh. Halve each slice of prosciutto lengthwise to make long strips (alternatively use whole slices, but you'll need to buy more). Add the chicken slices to a mixing bowl and pour over some oil, add in the pesto and combine with your hands, massaging in the pesto. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each and set aside until you are ready for them (mine were overnight). Barbecue over a medium heat so that you don't burn the marinade. Finish with a squeeze of lemon.