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Wednesday, 29 June 2011


I roasted 2 large beetroot and boiled the rest in this recipe but if you don't have the time or couldn't be bothered, just boil all of them. If you want to make this even more simple, substitute white balsamic for normal vinegar, the yoghurt for cream or sour cream and, leave out the horseradish, mushroom goo and prosciutto. The reason I have added mushroom here is, the gear we ate in Poland included mushroom pierogi. Pierogi is like ravioli and I was too lazy to make that.

500gms beetroot peeled (6 medium and 2 large)
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil
2 whole garlic cloves
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 onion diced
1 tbs white balsamic (more may be necessary)
1 tbs horseradish cream
2 cups stock
3 slices grilled and chopped prosciutto (or crispy bacon)
Yoghurt (or cream)
Mushroom goo (I made a very simple version for this)

Peel all of the beetroot. If bothering to roast, wrap the largest 2 beets in foil with a garlic clove, rosemary, some olive oil, salt and pepper in each and roast in a oven for about 40 minutes at 180C or until tender. Cover the remaining beetroot in water in a small-ish pan and bring to the boil then simmer until tender. Reserve the boiling water. Once cooked, allow to cool then dice, with the roasted versions in bite sized pieces.
Saute the remaining garlic and onion in a large saucepan. Once translucent add the chopped boiled beetroot, stock and about half of the reserved cooking water. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add half of the parsley, yoghurt, the garlic from the roasted beets, the horseradish and vinegar. Use a stick blender and puree into a soup. If the soup needs more liquid add some more of the cooking water. Check the soup for seasoning adding more of whatever it needs (salt, pepper, vinegar, yoghurt or horseradish).
Spoon into bowls and finish with a little chopped parsley, mushroom goo, chopped proscuitto and some more yoghurt.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Coq au Vin

Chicken in wine, there's not much else to say. I portioned a chicken myself (here is an example) but it would be just as easy to ask for 1.5kg or so of chicken pieces with the bone in. Meat cooked with the bone in is a bit more of a pain to eat but tastes heaps better. Use different herbs if it suits and substitute water for stock but, wine is a fair constant in the vin part of vin. The left over meat and sauce was enough to go through 2 packets of pasta.

1.5kg of chicken pieces
1 sprig of rosemary stripped
Porcini salt
500gms small button mushrooms
3 bacon rashers diced
2 onions in large dice
3 garlic cloves chopped
2 tbs plain flour
3 or 4 tbs tomato passata
2 cups red wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs cream
1/2 a handful parsley
1/2 cup basil
2 tbs pine nuts
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Parsnip puree
Croutons if you want

Heat the olive oil over a medium high heat, add the chicken pieces and rosemary, brown all over and remove to a clean plate. Add the bacon and fry until its starts taking on some colour then add the onion and mushrooms, giving them some colour. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the flour and stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken, red wine, passata and stock, stir and bring to boil then reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid. Simmer for 45 - 50 mins.
Toast the pine nuts in a small pan until they have a little colour. Blend the pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and basil to make basil oil.
Remove the chicken and the vegetables with a slotted spoon to a clean plate. Add the parsley and cream to the sauce and blend carefully with a stick blender. Return the chicken and stir in. Serve in warmed large bowls with some parsnip puree, topped with some basil oil.

Parsnip Puree

An excellent swap for mash potato. Just like mash, it will take a few flavour well, but the extra flavours will need to be more subtle to get the most from the parsnip.

2 large parsnip peeled and in medium dice
1 tbs cream
Chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Boil the parsnips until tender. Blend with the other ingredients.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Slow Roasted Leg of Lamb with Red Wine and Maple Syrup

This was gooood. I've seen maple used with roasts before but usually its pork but I thought I would give it a go and it was worth experimenting with. As an educated guess I would say that a well flavoured honey would work equally as well. Tonight I used about 1 tbs of maple syrup but I think that 2 or 3 would have been better, the flavour really goes to the background but the result is quite complex. The actual best part  of this (apart from the ridiculously tender meat) was the mushrooms, they really absorbed all of the flavours and intensified them.

1 lamb leg (mine was about 2.5kg)
2 cups red wine
2 or 3tbs maple syrup
1 sprig of rosemary stripped
3 cloves of garlic in thick slices
4 cloves garlic whole, skin on
About 10 button mushrooms
1 or 2 tbs cream
2 or 3 tsp porcini salt
Olive oil
Potato (I used Desiree)
Thyme sprigs
Steamed snow peas

Make small incisions into the lamb with a small sharp knife all over the lamb. Widen each with either your finger or the non-business end of a spoon or knife. Shove the slices of garlic into the newly formed holes in the lamb, pour a little oil over the lamb, season with porcini salt and pepper and massage the rosemary all over the leg. Add the mushroom, whole garlic, wine and maple syrup into a roasting dish or large saucepan, add the lamb on top, add foil (or a lid) and place into a pre-heated 130C oven for 3 hours. After 3 hours remove the lid, increase the temperature to 140C and baste the lamb with the red wine. Place back into the oven for another 2 hours uncovered, basting every 20 - 30 minutes. Slice the potatoes in half length ways and boil until just tender. Remove the lamb from the oven to a clean plate and cover with foil and a tea towel. Squish the garlic out of its skin into the red wine, add the cream and mix in. Place the red wine on the stove top over a medium heat to reduce a little, adding more liquid if required. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the thyme then the potatoes cut side down. Cook until golden. Carve the meat, serve with the potato and steamed snow peas and the red wine and maple sauce.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Pizza Topping Suggestions

Its endless. If you like 4 kinds of cheese do it, if you like swine in 5 varieties do it. The only real key is not to over crowd. Apart from the regulars (mushroom, tomato, semi-dried tomato, onion, bacon etc), these are some of the toppings we use.

Potato and rosemary: Slice potato very thinly (I recommend using a mandolin), pat dry and toss through some garlic oil and finely chopped rosemary with some salt and pepper. Place on top of the pizza in a single layer only overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with some grated parmesan and a little more oil. Cook until it has a golden colour.

Oven roasted capsicum: Rub some oil over a capsicum and stick it on a shelf in a preheated 180C oven with an oven proof dish underneath to catch the escaping juices (discard these they will burn). Roast until the skin has mostly blackened, remove to a clean bowl, cover with cling wrap and allow to cool. Peel the skin off and slice. Add the leftover juice to a marinade or salad dressing.

Oven roasted pumpkin: Cut into bite sized pieces and coat in a mixture of garlic oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes or so until tender and with a little colour.

Dressed Rocket: Wash and pat dry some rocket then dress with an acid (balsamic, wine vinegar, lemon etc) and extra virgin olive oil and shavings of parmesan. Put this on after the pizza has been cooked.

Basil leaves: Put 'em on whole, one layer under the cheese.

Barbecued balsamic thyme chicken: We use it heaps.

Grilled prosciutto: Speaks for itself, great with chicken.

Toasted pine nuts: If you haven't used toasted pine nuts you are missing out. Pour half of a small bag of pine nuts into a small saucepan and dry roast until they have a little colour on most sides. Watch carefully that they don't burn. Sprinkle on your pizza.

Lamb: Slow roasted, barbecued, braised, shank, its pretty good. Great with some drops of yoghurt on after cooking.

Oven roasted cherry tomatoes: Also pour a little of the oil over the top afterwards.

Feta: In all of its wonderful guises. If you are using gear in oil, top the finished pizza with a little of the oil.

Sweet potato: Use the same method (or similar) as for the pumpkin or even more easily, get a potato peeler and slash at one raw, above the pizza.

Chilli flakes: We have to put these on afterwards due to the stinkin kids...

Crab: Spend $15 and buy a tub of crab meat, spread over 2 pizzas. Better still, toss it through roasted capsicum juice first.

Pork fillet: Season it with salt and pepper and some herbs and sear in a pan and finish in a 180C oven for 15 mins. Thinly slice and add to the pizza. It should be pink but remember it will continue to cook on the pizza and, as pork fillet has no fat it will dry out terribly if it is over cooked.

Pear: Sounds poxy but it is great with pork. Slice it thinly and scatter.

Egg: Make sure the base has an edge and crack a couple of whole eggs on, give it some diced bacon and stuff.

Caramelised onion: Rad. Use store bought gear (the Always Fresh Caramelised Onion Relish is excellent) or try this caramelised onion recipe. Great with pork and pear and some dressed rocket.

Balsamic thyme chicken, mushroom and asparagus

Pizza Dough

I bought a really great edition of Donna Hay Magazine a couple of years ago that had a special about pizza and since then, we have enjoyed kick ass pizza once a month or so. Prior to that, we used kebab bread as bases or thin crust pizza bases which out here are hard to find. In any case, it takes less time to make your own base then it does to go down to the shop and buy them, is way cheaper and the result is infinitely better. I have even converted my brother to hand made bases who usually mocks me and tells me that what I cook is ghey. A few things to consider:
  • the first time you make them, it is a pain but it gets easier.
  • make the bases as big or small as you wish.
  • fold the bases over to make calzones.
  • make more dough then you need, roll out, place between sheets of baking paper, cover in cling wrap and freeze on a flat surface.
  • alternatively freeze the dough in balls.
  • don't use too many toppings, less is way better and you get a crunchier result.
  • don't put cheese all the way to the edge, leave a border.
  • save time on making pizza sauce and just use 1 tbs of tomato passatta, (passatta is pureed tomato, its cheap and tasty), if you need more flavour in your pizza, add fresh herbs.
  • alternatively use garlic oil on the base
  • if you do want to make a lot of effort, try something like this Oven Roasted Cherry Tomato Pizza Sauce
1 cup luke warm water
1 small packet of yeast (2 tsp)
1 tsp sugar
1 pinch salt
375gms plain flour 
1 tbs olive oil

Combine the water sugar and yeast in a bowl/container, allow to sit for about 5 minutes until it bubbles/foams. Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the salt, oil and yeast water and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Turn out onto a floured bench top and knead for about 5 minutes or until in is shiny and elastic. Watch here for a demo, it's 7 seconds long. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough inside, cover with a tea towel and allow to prove for 30mins. This amount of dough will make 3 large pizza bases or 6 to 8 little ones. Divide into however many portions you want and roll out one at a time. Do this on a floured bench and is easier if you have flour on the rolling pin. Dust you pizza tray with flour or semolina/polenta, top with whatever you want and bake in a hot oven (230C) for about 20mins.

Garlic oil and tomato passatta

Roasted Chicken With Garlic, Lemon and Porcini Butter

There are many variations and methods of roasting the foul bird. Add wine to the bottom, roast with and then without a lid, pot roast, with stuffing, covered in herbs, covered in spices, stuff under the breast, roast in a barbecue on top of a beer can, and so it goes. This time I have opted for flavoured butter under the breast skin and a skewered lemon in the guts. You could use any flavour that takes your fancy. The only really important point is to cook it properly, uncooked chicken not only sucks its dangerous. Allow 20mins per 450gms with the first 15mins at 220C then the remaining time at 190C ('The Cooks Book'). In any case check it, skewer to the thigh, if it bleeds it needs more lovin, if not take it out and cover it. I would also check it 20mins before the recommended time as sometimes they cook early.

2kg whole chicken
3 tbs butter
2 cloves garlic minced
5 cloves garlic whole, skin on
1 tbs chopped rosemary
2 tsp porcini salt
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 lemon
3 thick slices of peeled sweet potato
1 peeled carrot halved length ways
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
3 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup parsley chopped
Olive oil
Roast potato/pumpkin and steamed greens

Pre-heat the oven to 220C. Combine the butter, lemon zest, porcini salt, balsamic and rosemary in a bowl. Separate the skin from the breast meat from the cavity end of the chicken and with your fingers, push as much butter as you can under the skin trying very carefully not to break the skin. Rub the remaining butter over the rest of the chicken. Jab the lemon a few times with a small knife and insert in the cavity with 2 garlic cloves and secure the legs with kitchen string. The lemon and garlic steam through the chicken flavouring it from the inside out. Rub oil over the sweet potato, carrot and 3 of the garlic cloves and place of the bottom of the roasting tray tightly grouped. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and roast as per above. When cooked remove from the oven, turn the chicken upside-down to allow the resting juices to run back through the breast, cover with foil then a tea towel and allow to rest while you make gravy.

To make the gravy, remove the vegetables and garlic (sans skin) from the roasting tray and puree using a blender. The vegetables and garlic a) have taken on all of the flavour from the chicken and b) will thicken your gravy. Place the roasting tray on the stove top over a medium high heat, sprinkle in the sugar. When the sugar has some colour, deglaze with the wine and remove any crusty bits from the pan. Pour the wine mixture into a saucepan with the chicken stock and stir in the vegetable puree. Reduce over a medium high heat until at your required consistency. Pour in the resting juices from the chicken, reduce the heat to low. Carve the chicken. If you've every wondered how to do this easily, here is an example from YouTube. Add any little bits of meat to the gravy along with the parsley and check for seasoning.

Serve with roasted potatoes and pumpkin and steamed greens.

Any leftover gravy is brilliant to poach eggs in for breakfast the following day. Thin the gravy a little with water and only use a medium to low heat to poach with. It sounds gross but its wicked.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Corn, Roasted Pumpkin and Balsamic Chicken Pasta

Tasty. Could have added pine nuts. The pumpkin by itself was really tasty.

1/4 of a pumpkin diced
1 tbs garlic oil
Balsamic vinegar
4 pieces barbecued balsamic thyme chicken, barbecued
1 onion in small dice
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 cup white wine
3 tbs cream
2 cobs of corn, kernels sliced off
1/2 a handful each of basil and parsley2 tbs grated Parmesan
Chilli flakes
Salt and pepper

Coat the pumpkin pieces in balsamic, garlic oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes, until tender with a little colour. Remove to a clean bowl. Saute the onion and garlic over a medium heat, when translucent add the white wine and simmer for 5 minutes. Boil the pasta. Add the corn, pumpkin and cream and simmer for 5 more minutes. Drain the pasta and pour straight back into the pasta saucepan to catch a little of the cooking water. Pour the pasta and left over pasta water into the pumpkin mix, season with salt and pepper. Roughly chop the parsley and tear the basil, add the Parmesan, toss through the pasta, add a lid and leave for 5 minutes. Serve in warmed bowls and sprinkle with chilli flakes.

Sweet Potato Mash with Oven Roasted Rosemary Garlic

I have already created a post about mash but this was slightly different, very simple and tasty as. Use different herbs, even a little curry paste rubbed on, use more or less potato/sweet potato, use more or less garlic. Whatever. Roasted garlic is much much milder in taste so don't be afraid of it.

2 garlic cloves
A few rosemary leaves
Olive oil
1 medium sweet potato diced
3 medium potatoes diced
1 tbs Greek yoghurt
2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs butter
Salt and pepper
Milk (if necessary)

Coat the garlic in olive oil and rosemary leaves. Place on some baking paper on a tray then roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Boil the potato and sweet potato until tender. Remove the skin from the garlic. Drain the water, allow the steam to escape for a bit, add the butter, garlic, rosemary leaves, cheese and then mash. Add the remaining ingredients and check the seasoning. If the consistency is not quite right, add some milk. Thrashing about in the mash with a fork for a minute or so will give you a fluffier texture.

Risotto with Greek Lamb Sausage and Oven Roasted Mushroom

Any sausage would be fine, this was just what was available at the butchers.

500gms Greek lamb sausages
2 large field mushrooms
2 cups risotto rice
4 cups chicken stock (more may be necessary)
1/2 an onion finely diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 tbs butter
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup white wine
Salt and pepper
1/2 a handful of parsley finely chopped
2 tbs grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the stock in a medium sized saucepan. Line a baking tray with baking paper, place the mushrooms on top, sprinkle them with white wine, garlic, salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil and place into a pre-heated 180C oven for about 20 minutes or until collapsed. Fry the sausages in a large, heavy based frying pan with high sides cover with foil and keep warm. Tip out all except about 1 tbs of sausage fat then saute the onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic over a medium high heat. When translucent add the risotto rice and toss to coat, toasting for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and allow to almost completely absorb. Reduce the heat to medium. From this point add 1 ladle of stock at a time when each previous one is almost absorbed. When the stock is almost all gone, try a few rice grains, if they are still uncooked add more stock to your saucepan and continue until cooked. This should take about 18 - 20 minutes. Chop up half of the sausages and mushroom. When adding the final ladle, add the chopped sausage and mushroom, chopped parsley, the Parmesan, check for seasoning, toss and add the lid and turn off the heat. Allow to sit for 4 or 5 minutes.
Spoon the risotto into warmed bowls, top with slices of the remaining sausage and mushroom and some extra virgin olive oil.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Pork Knuckle in Belgian Beer

Pork knuckle rules. I have wanted to cook it for years but couldn't find a decent recipe, fortunately two chef mates of mine were trading recipes on facebook and I was pointed in the direction of this one at SBS. Cheers Cook Learn Love, Fordonfood and the German guy with the crazy beard on SBS. I have varied the recipe slightly as, the best example I tried in Germany was cooked in beer, glorious glorious beer. For the curious, pork knuckle is the pork hock pre bacon-ing process. 1 pork knuckle should be enough for 2 people.

2 small onion sliced
1 Granny Smith apple sliced
2 garlic cloves (skin on)
1 pork knuckle
1tbs garlic oil
3 tsp caraway seeds
1 tbs salt
2 stubbies Hahn White beer (a Belgian styled beer)
Chicken stock
Braised red cabbage
Rosemary and Garlic Potatoes (substitute the parsley for rosemary)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Toss the onion, garlic cloves and apple together and place in the bottom of a large pot or deep roasting dish, I used a non-stick pan. Rub the garlic oil on the knuckle, followed by the salt and caraway seeds. Stand the pork knuckle up on the onion/apple mixture and place carefully in the oven to roast for 2.5 hours. The knuckle will more than likely topple over, try to lean it against something so that the skin crisps up if it does. Top up the liquid level if it drops too low with chicken stock. Remove the skin from the garlic cloves and mush through the onion/apple mixture. Carve the meat and serve on top of the onion/apple mixture with the braised red cabbage and rosemary potatoes.

Braised Red Cabbage

Tasty, ate it with three meals from the one batch.

1/2 a red cabbage finely shredded
1 Granny Smith apple peeled and grated
1/4 cup vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
3 tbs brown sugar
1 cup red wine
1/2 a lemon

Combine all of the ingredients except the lemon in a large saucepan with a lid. Make a small well in the middle and place the half lemon in, cut side up. Bring to the boil reduce the heat to medium low or lower, add the lid and simmer for 1.5 hours. Remove the lemon and serve with, whatever.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Bacon, Tomato and Persian Feta Pasta

Nothing ground breaking here but it was very tasty. Literally only took as long as filling the water and boiling the pasta. The feta I used I bought from a local deli and it was fantastic, Yarra Valley Persian Fetta. If you get a chance, try it.

2 slices bacon diced
1 clove garlic sliced
5 or so medium shrooms in slices
5 cherry tomatoes quartered
2 tsp chopped thyme
2 tsp chopped rosemary
1/2 a cup of white wine
3 heaped tsp Persian feta
Cracked pepper
1/3 cup grated parmessan
1 handful of basil leaves
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 packet of pasta
Chilli flakes

Fill a large saucepan with water, add some salt and put on the boil. Add the extra virgin to a large frying pan and heat to medium high. When hot add the thyme leaves, allow to crackle then add the mushroom slices. Cook for about five minutes then remove to a clean plate. Add the bacon to the same pan and fry for a couple of minutes, when it has some colour add the mushroom, rosemary and garlic. When aromatic add the wine and reduce the temperature to medium. Put the pasta in the salted water and cook. When the wine has reduced by half, add the feta, tomato and pepper to the mushroom and fold in, reducing the heat to low. When the pasta is cooked tip it into a colander then quickly back into the saucepan to keep a little of the cooking water. Toss the pasta through the sauce with the parmessan and torn basil leaves. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and top with chilli flakes.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Savoury Mince with Pearl Barley

Savoury mince when I grew up was mince, veg and powdered curry, heaps of it, all slapped on toast. At the time I loved it but I have grown tired of curry powder. The concept I have used here is the same, meat and veg, avoided using tomato (and therefore ragu/spag boll) and, used fresh herbs, stock, white wine, pearl barley and a little bit of cream. Pearl barley is very cheap, has a subtle flavour and a great texture. Use any vegetables you have pretty much and if you don't have wine/stock, use water. I served this with a turkish garlic bread from my Garlic Oil recipe.

1 kg beef mince
1 onion in small dice
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 slices bacon diced
1 sprig rosemary stripped and chopped
2 tsp thyme chopped
1 cup pearl barley
1 zucchini grated
1 medium sweet potato peeled and grated
6 or 7 mushrooms chopped
1 cup white wine
500ml chicken stock
2 tbs cream
Chopped parsley
Extra virgin olive oil

Saute the onion, rosemary, thyme, bacon, garlic and mushrooms until the onion is translucent over a medium heat in a large saucepan with a lid. Add the beef and brown at medium high. Add the wine, return to the boil and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes to remove the alcohol. Add the stock and stir in the pearl barley, return to the boil, reduce the heat to medium low and add the lid. Simmer for 20 minutes then add the zucchini and sweet potato, stir and add the lid, simmering for a further ten minutes. Check that the pearl barley is tender, if not add the lid and simmer until ready. Remove the lid, turn off the heat and add the cream and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Make your garlic bread. Check for seasoning, spoon into bowls and top with a little extra virgin and chopped parsley, serving with garlic bread.