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Sunday, 28 August 2011

Avacado and Blue Cheese Dip/Spread

Want to take your sneaky open grilled turkey and bacon on Turkish bread Sunday manwhich up a notch? Yeah me too, this is what I did. This took about 5 minutes and was goooood. A 2 year old and a 3 year lost their minds over it.

1 avocado
2 tbs blue cheese chopped finely
2 tbs mayonnaise (I used Doodles Creek)
Juice from 1/4 of a lemon
Salt and pepper

Halve the avo and remove the seed. Using a dinner knife, dice both halves of the avo while it is still in its shell then turn out into a bowl with a spoon. In the same bowl add the lemon juice, mayo, salt and pepper and chopped cheese. Mix, check for seasoning (more salt, lemon or mayo) and use.

Beef Cheeks Braised with Port and Capsicum

Sounds gross, tastes unreal. I have bought these in different states in the past - as a whole strip that I needed to trim, as a 'fillet' and, this time as medallions. Good gear non the less, its cheap and tasty. You can do a great deal with them, treat them like you would shanks or big cuts of casserole meat if it suits, be simple or be complicated, it doesn't matter. Use whatever herbs you can get your hands on, in this recipe I used thyme, parsley and some basil flower/seeds from a flowering basil plant - the flavour is great and is more robust.

4 beef cheeks
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 handful of chopped herbs
1 capsicum in small dice
2 or 3 cloves of garlic sliced
1 onion in small dice
1 bunch silverbeet washed, deveined and chopped
1 cup port
1/2 cup chicken stock
Minced parsley
Grated Parmesan
1 clove of garlic minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Tomato bread

Preheat an oven to 140C. Heat some oil to medium high in a large heavy based saucepan that has a lid. Oil and season the beef cheeks and sear them in the pan. Remove the cheeks when they have nice colour on both sides, add in the onion, capsicum, garlic, the sliced garlic and chopped herbs then deglaze the pan with the port and stock. Scrape up any sediment while mixing all of the ingredients well. Nestle the beef cheeks into the mixture, add the lid and place in the oven for about 3 hours.

After 3 hours remove the cheeks to a clean plate and cover. Add the silverbeet and minced garlic to the saucepan, mix in and bung back in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour in any resting juice from the meat and check for seasoning, adding more salt/pepper as necessary. Spoon the silverbeet/capsicum mixture into warmed bowls and add a beef cheek to the top of each. Grate on some Parmesan, sprinkle on parsley and drizzle on a little extra virgin. Serve with tomato bread.

Tomato Bread

Super super simple. This is great as an accompaniment to a meal, on its own, as the base for bruschetta or with an antipasto platter or tapas selection. Use the nicest bread you can get your hands on eg, sour dough, ciabatta, bruschetta bread, baguettes. Also, I find that toasting only one side gives a much more interesting result - crunchy on top but soft everywhere else. This is about as simple as a tapas dish gets.

Version 1 (Traditional)
Slices of nice bread
Ripe tomatoes sliced in half
Garlic cloves whole
Extra virgin olive oil

Grill one side of the bread until just toasted. Rub the cooked side first with the garlic followed by the cut side of the ripe tomato. Season with salt and drizzle with a little extra virgin.

Version 2 (my interpretation)
Slices of nice bread
Oven roasted cherry tomatoes and their oil

Works 2 ways.
  1. Smear some oil on each piece of bread, place under a hot grill. When toasted remove and smear 1 roasted tomato on each. Sweet.
  2. Smear some oil and a roasted tomato on each piece of bread and toast under a grill until cooked. Darker flavour.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Port Reduction with Blue Cheese and Mushroom

We had this with steak but I reckon it would be good with most meats. It required very few ingredients and was low maintenance.

5 or 6 button mushrooms sliced
2 cloves garlic chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1/2 cup port (or more)
Chopped parsley
2 tbs roughly chopped blue cheese

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat. When hot add the mushroom and toss to coat, adding more oil if necessary. When the mushroom is soft and has nice colour, add the garlic and stir. Continue cooking until fragrant then deglaze with the port. Reduce the sauce until it is about 1/2 its original volume, stir in the cheese and parsley, check for seasoning. Serve on top of stuff.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Bay Bug and Tarragon Mushroom Bruschetta

Morton Bay Bugs are brilliant and when the price to size is considered (about $5 - $8 each), they aren't really all that expensive. They are also known as Balmain Bugs, or just Bay Bugs. Anyways, follow that hyperlink and you'll get a better idea about them. This required only a small amount of prep, shell the bugs etc, slicing some garlic, toasting some stuff, cooking and building. Easy as. I used 2 bugs and it was enough for 4 pieces of bruschetta.

2 bugs shelled and washed
1 clove garlic thinly sliced
5 mushrooms sliced thickly
1 tbs butter
Olive oil
Porcini salt
2 tsp fresh tarragon leaves
4 pieces of bruschetta bread
Triple cream brie (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan to medium high. Slice the Morton Bay bugs into medallions. Place the mushrooms in, in a single layer and shallow fry until there is colour, turn and cook until there is colour on the second side. Sprinkle in some porcini salt, toss and then remove the mushrooms. Bung the garlic into the pan and fry for about 30 seconds then add in the bug medallions and tarragon. Toss the meat, tarragon and garlic for a minute or so, add pepper then remove to a clean plate. Drizzle olive oil on the bruschetta bread and toast under a grill. Build the bruschetta. If using, begin with the brie then top with mushroom slices followed by the bug meat. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and eat. Good with wine. Really good with wine.

Prawn, Asparagus and Feta Linguine

Pretty straight forward. Apart from the fact that cooked prawns are easier to peel, we don't get fresh, green, Australian prawns here. Fresh, green prawns if you can get them will give a more tender result but the flavour will be the same. After you have prepped all of the ingredients, this should only take as long to cook as it does to fill the pot and boil the pasta.

500g cooked prawns, shelled and deveined
2 cloves garlic sliced
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed
1 shallot in fine dice
1/2 a leek in fine dice
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbs marinated Persian feta and some of its oil
1 chilli, halved length ways and finely sliced
1/2 a handful chopped parsley
3 slices prosciutto grilled
Lemon wedges
1 packet linguine

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente. Once the prosciutto is grilled, leave it sit to firm up and become more crunchy, when hard, chop. Chop the asparagus into bite sized pieces. Saute the shallot, leek and garlic in the olive oil. When onion mixture is soft and fragrant, add the prawns, pepper, some feta oil and asparagus, toss in the flavoured oil for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and feta and mix in until the cheese has melted, check for seasoning. Turn the heat down to very low until the pasta is cooked. When the pasta is ready, drain and toss through the sauce adding in half of the parsley and chopped prosciutto. Spoon into bowls, scoop up any left over chunks and add them to the top. Top with more parsley and prosciutto, the chilli slices and serve with lemon wedges.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Potato and Egg Salad with Prosciutto, Pomegranate and Avocado

About 45 mins from start to finish. I threw some pomegranate seed in as I had some left over from a my Roasted Lamb Rump with Pomegranate Sauce recipe.

300 gms potato
8 eggs
1 tbs Persian feta and some of its oil
1/4 red onion in fine dice
1 capsicum cheek in fine dice
1 garlic clove minced
1 tbs white balsamic vinegar (more may be necessary)
2 tbs sour cream
2 tbs mayonnaise
3 slices prosciutto grilled and chopped
1 handful rocket leaves roughly chopped
1 avocado chopped
3 tbs pomegranate seeds
2 tbs parsley finely chopped
Salt and Pepper
Crusty toasted bread.

Hard boil the eggs and shell them. Boil the potato until just cooked. Chop the potato and egg into even bite sized pieces. While still warm, combine the potato and feta with some of the feta oil. Make the dressing by combining the sour cream and mayonnaise with the garlic, white balsamic, diced onion, capsicum and parsley. Season well with salt and pepper. To the potato add the dressing, 1 tbs parsley, 2 tbs pomegranate seeds, rocket, avocado, 1/2 of the prosciutto and 1/2 of the chopped egg. Mix to combine and check for seasoning.
Spoon the potato salad into your serving dish, add the rest of the parsley, egg,  prosciutto, and top with the remaining pomegranate seeds. Serve with nice bread.

Roasted Lamb Rump With Pomegranate Sauce

Until last night I had not eaten pomegranate. I was on the phone to a mate recently when his lunch of chicken with pomegranate arrived and since then I have ben intrigue, it sounded cool. In any case, this was really enjoyable and was the perfect meal to greet my wife with when she returned home from hospital with a new baby. The only time consuming part was removing the seeds from the fruit but it was worth it.

1 lamb rump
1 sprig rosemary finely chopped
Olive oil
Porcini salt
1 tbs butter
1/2 a leek finely diced
1 shallot finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup red wine
3 tbs pomegranate seeds
1 tbs sugar (more may be necessary)
3 tbs finely chopped parsley
Sweet potato discs
Mash (I went for sour cream and mayonaise)
Sugar snap peas

Season the rump with oil, porcini salt, pepper, rosemary and massage into the meat. Heat a large frying pan with some oil to medium high and sear the lamb rump on all sides then place into a preheated 200C oven. Roast for 20 minutes, checking and turning half way through. When the meat is ready (it should be medium/medium rare), remove to a clean plate and cover with foil and a tea towel to rest for 10 minutes.
While the lamb is cooking and resting make the pomegranate sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. When foaming add the leek, shallot and garlic and saute until translucent, pour in the wine and 1 tbs of pomegranate seed. Reduce over a high heat for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes strain the sauce through a sieve, discard the leek/seed gear, add the liquid back into the saucepan with 2 tbs of parsley, rested meat juice, the remaining seeds and sugar and reduce until it coats the back of a spoon. Check for for seasoning adding more sugar if necessary.
Slice the meat thickly, arrange on plates and spoon over some sauce and top with parsley. Serve with some sweet potato discs, mash and sugar snaps.  

Sweet Potato Discs

This is very similar to my Rosemary Potato Discs recipe but with no herbs, the sweet potato speaks for itself. As with the potato version, these keep very well in an airtight container in the fridge. With this recipe though, I do need to point out that any burnt discs will taste like charcoal. You need to keep a watchful eye on these so that you don't ruin your hard work. Some will end up being unusable however. It is a good idea to turn your tray half way through to ensure even cooking. Using a mandolin makes this heaps easy too.

1 sweet potato peeled and thinly sliced (about 3mm)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat an oven to 180C. Combine the ingredients well in a mixing bowl. Oil a roasting tray and place the discs on in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, remove and flip each disc. Roast for another 10 minutes, keeping an eye on it. When cooked, place on a cooling rack to to become firm. Eat.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Rolled Pork Belly Stuffed With Almond, Date and Parsley

This only took about 5 minutes to make the stuffing and about 5 minutes to roll the belly. The fat rendered almost completely out of the meat , basting itself as it did and, as the scored skin was stretched due to the act of being rolled, it created very even crackling. Any flavour combinations you can think of that should work, will work eg; macadamia and sage, mushroom and bacon, basil and tomato etc etc. I did use some feta oil in this recipe to bind it, if you do not have it though just use another kind eg extra virgin, garlic oil or oven roasted tomato oil.

1 piece of pork belly (about 2kg)
1 handful almonds
1 handful dates, chopped
3 cloves garlic peeled
1/2 bunch parsley
1/2 tbs porcini salt
1 cup breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
1 tbs feta oil
Olive oil
3 tsp sugar
1 cup wine
1 cup stock
Kitchen string
Roasted vegetables
Sugar snaps

Preheat an oven to 150C. Place the almonds, garlic, parsley and dates into a blender and blitz. Combine the almond mix in a bowl with the porcini salt, breadcrumbs, feta oil and pepper.
Pat the pork belly dry with paper toweling on both sides. With a sharp knife, score the skin. Lay the pork belly skin side down, length ways away from you on a cutting board. Spoon the mixture evenly over 1/2 of the meat, starting at the end closest to you. Cut a piece of kitchen string about 70 - 80cm long. Roll the pork belly over the stuffing tightly toward the non-stuffed end. Secure one end of the newly rolled pork belly tightly with a knot the begin to tie the meat. Oil the outside of the rolled pork belly, sprinkle on some salt and massage it in. Push any stuffing that has popped out back in then place in a lightly oiled roasting dish. Bake in the oven for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, crank the heat to 220C and baste the pork belly with some of the rendered fat. After 30 mins remove the pork belly (it should be crispy) to a clean plate and cover with foil. Pour off any excess fat and place the roasting tray on the stove top. Sprinkle the sugar into the tray and turn the heat to high. When the sugar starts to take some colour, deglaze the pan with the wine, scrapping up any cooked bits. Add the stock and any resting juice from the pork and reduce to your desired consistency. 
Serve with roasted vegetables and sugar snap peas. 

A bread knife makes short work of pork crackling

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Mushroom and Basil Stuffed Chicken Wrapped in Proscuitto

Thigh rocks, breast in this case, is not best. Dries out you see. The mushroom goo I used in this was basic (shroom, garlic, white wine, parsley, salt and pepper, sour cream). To make the concept even more appealing, I only had to use 2 large button mushrooms to make enough goo for 4 thighs. If you have some, use some duck fat or chicken fat to cook the mushrooms in for extra depth. Also, in this recipe I have used some garlic oil and some oven roasted tomato oil to coat the chicken, if you don't have this, some minced garlic in oil will work quite well.

4 large, skinless chicken thigh fillets
4 slices prosciutto
3 tbs pine nuts toasted
1 handful of basil leaves
1 heaped tsp garlic oil
Mozzarella (or other)
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil
Roasted beetroot
Steamed asparagus
Spring onion and Parmesan potato bake

Preheat an oven to 180C. Cut a large sheet of cling film and lay on a cutting board. Beat out each chicken thigh until thin but not broken. Use something long and solid like a rolling pin - I use a knife sharpening steel. Season the thigh fillets with salt and pepper, add the garlic oil and oven roasted tomato oil and massage into the meat. Remove to a clean plate to marinade for 10 minutes. Mix the mushroom and pine nuts together.

After 10 minutes lay each fillet on a clean cutting board. Spoon on about 2 tsp (more if you have room) of the mushroom/pine nut gear into one half of each thigh fillet, top with a couple of basil leaves in each and, layer in some mozzarella cheese. Fold over each thigh and wrap a prosciutto slice around each one making an overlap on the side facing you. Heat a little oil in a large non-stick frying pan to medium high and when hot, place each chicken thigh in, overlap side down. After 4 or 5 minutes turn over and place the frying pan in the oven for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes check for doneness, if it needs more time, give it some. When ready, remove from the oven to warmed plates and serve with roasted beetroot, steamed asparagus and spring onion and Parmesan potato bake.

Spring Onion and Parmesan Potato Bake

Everyone has their own version of potato bake they prefer (eg. with sweet potato, with french onion soup, with sour cream etc.) and I just recently found mine. Its not a world beater but it has a solid flavour and is not swimming in cream. I really enjoy potato bake when other people make it with spring onion soup powder mixed in but I consider it for myself as cheating and I have been experimenting for an alternative with punch for a while. I plan on using this recipe or slight variations of it with my meals in future, hence why it is here.

1 kg potato peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup finely grated Parmesan (I use a microplane)
3 spring onions sliced thinly
Salt and pepper
150 - 200 ml cream thinned with a little water

Preheat an oven to 180C. Place to the potato into a large mixing bowl. Add in half of the Parmesan cheese, half of the spring onion and some salt and pepper, give it a bit of a toss and add the rest of the Parmesan, spring onion and some more salt and pepper and combine well. Pour the potato mixture into a suitably sized baking dish, jiggle about then pour the cream over the top. Bake for about 30 mins or until the top has some colour and the potato is tender.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Glazed Sausages

My sister in-law cooked cranberry glazed turkey sausages for Christmas one year and they were wicked.  I have used this idea since to glaze corned meat and, a pork loin. The idea is simple, baste some kind of sweet sauce over the goods you want to be sticky and tasty. Here I have used a date chutney my father makes but something simple like barbecue sauce with herbs and garlic and a little oil would work very well. Another option might be bottled teriyaki marinade with some ginger and/or oyster sauce. I guess you could think of it as poor mans ribs to a certain degree. With thicker substances (like my date chutney), you may need to thin them a little with boiling water. The only other tip I would give here would be to use either a non-stick pan or line a baking tray with baking paper or the clean up will be horrendous.

6  thick pork sausages (or more)
2 tbs date chutney
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tbs boiling water
Smashed carrot and parsnip
Some mashed potato
Blanched sugar snaps

Preheat an oven to 180C. Smear a little oil over the bottom of a large non-stick frying pan. Lay the the sausages tightly next to each other in the frying pan. Add the date chutney, garlic and oil to a bowl. Stir in half of the boiling water to the chutney and combine. Use more water if necessary. Spoon half of the mixture over the sausages, add a lid to the frying pan (or foil if using a lined tray) and cook in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove carefully from the oven, baste with some more gear and place back in the oven (no lid) for a further 10 minutes. Remove, baste again and place back in the oven for a further 5 minutes.
Serve with mash, smash and sugar snaps.

Smashed Carrot and Parsnip

Easy as. This was enough for 4 people as a side dish, add or subtract accordingly for your own needs.

1 large parsnip
2 large carrots
1/2 a handful chopped parsley
1 tbs sour cream
Salt and pepper

Peel the carrot and parsnip and cut into small even sized pieces. Boil in water until tender. Drain the water from the saucepan and allow the vegetables to steam for 60 seconds. Add the sour cream, parsley, salt and pepper to taste and proceed to bash up with a vegetable masher until squished. Serve with, other stuff.