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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.


I love pesto season. To be successful with pesto, you really need to taste it and adjust the ingredient levels until you reach your desired result - it is a tasty but fickle beast. It is also quite versatile too, try using different nuts, add in some rocket, use some chilli, use a different cheese (Mersey Valley Classic would be great) or, as a mate of mine does - add in some sour cream. Throw pesto through pastas, in with sauteed mushrooms, use on sandwiches, add to gravy, use as a marinade, or eat it by the spoon full.
The main tips I have to offer however are; use the best oil you can afford, use heaps of Parmesan, use lots of pine nuts and, if using a few days later it may need some more oil.

1 bunch of basil, leaves stripped
3 cloves garlic
Slices of Parmesan
Porcini salt
Rind of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 or 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 packet of pine nuts toasted

Blend it all. Check for seasoning adding more of what is lacking.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Herbed Bacon and Mushroom Risotto

The least complicated version of a risotto I have created and right up there as one of the tastiest. If you haven't cooked risotto before, try something as simple as this - herbs and bacon and mushrooms and cream and Parmesan.

3 slices bacon diced
5 button mushrooms in chunks
1/2 handful sage minced
1/2 handful thyme minced
1/2 handful rosemary minced
2 shallots in fine dice
2 cloves minced
1/2 a celery stalk
1 clove of garlic bashed
A few slices of dried porcini mushroom
2 tbs cream
3 tbs grated Parmessan
Salt and pepper
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs butter
2 cups risotto rice
1 L chicken stock
1 cup white wine

Heat the chicken stock, celery stalk, bashed garlic clove and some of the porcini mushrooms in a medium sized saucepan until it simmers. Over a medium heat saute the onion and minced garlic with a little bit of the minced herbs in 1 tbs butter and 1 tbs extra virgin. Add in the risotto rice and toss and toast for 2 or 3 minutes. Add in the wine and allow to mostly absorb. Add 2 ladles of the flavoured stock mixture at a time and allow to mostly absorb before adding the next, stir after each ocassionally. Continue until the risotto is mostly cooked (about 18 to 20 minutes).
In the meantime, heat the remaining butter and extra virgin over medium and saute the chunked mushrooms, some porcini mushroom slices, garlic, minced herbs and bacon for as long as it takes to make the risotto.
Stir the mushroom mixture into the risotto with the cream, Parmessan and some salt and pepper with the last ladle full of chicken stock. Add a lid to the risotto pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Cherry Tomato and Capsicum Paste

I generally don't like tomato paste, I find it very 'packety'. It can taste good when used well but usually I just find it way too overpowering. Luckily, I have an over abundance of cherry tomatoes at the moment and this experiment worked pleasingly well. If you have the time (about 2 hours) for about 10 tbs worth of great gear, do this and use it in place of bought tomato paste in things like gravies, pizzas, pastas and sauces. I used this firstly to make a sauce from the pan leftovers from a pork belly to which I added some basil, silverbeet and wine. Rad.

About 500 gms cherry tomatoes
2 medium capsicum deseeded
3 cloves garlic minced
2 shallots (1 small onion) in fine dice
1 stick celery in fine dice
200ml tomato passata
A few thyme sprigs finely chopped
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Blitz the capsicum in a blender, add the cherry tomatoes and blitz again. Do in batches if necessary. Heat the oil over a medium heat and saute the onion, celery, garlic and thyme until soft. Add in the blitzed tomato and capsicum and the tomato passata. Bring to the boil over medium then reduce to medium low and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Toward the end, stir more frequently as it will begin to catch. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. When it has reached a thick consistency, remove from the heat, allow to cool and spoon into storage containers to freeze or use straight away.

Bruschetta of tomato paste, salmon, triple cream brie and basil

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Garlic and Sesame Beef Kebabs

Well easy, well tasty.

400 gms diced rump
3 or 4 cloves garlic chopped
1 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs sesame seeds
1 tbs chopped rosemary
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
10 button mushrooms
2 spring onions in big chunks
4 slices bacon on large dice
Stripped rosemary sprigs (or skewers)

Place the garlic on the chopping board with some salt and pull the knife over it repeatedly to turn it into a paste. Combine the garlic, sesame oil, pepper, chopped rosemary, sesame seeds and olive oil in a large bowl. Toss the diced rump through the sesame/garlic mixture. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and quarter them.
Feed the ingredients onto the rosemary skewers - beef, mushroom, bacon, spring onion - repeat.
Barbecue, top with a little horseradish sour cream and eat.

Quesadillas with Beetroot, Bacon and BBQ Sauce

Very tasty and very child friendly. I would have added guacamole to this but greedily ate it all the night before with some salmon...

3 large soft wraps (or tortillas)
Grated cheese
3 tbs beetroot dip
6 slices shortcut bacon
1 handful chopped coriander
3 eggs
Olive oil
10 button mushrooms sliced
1 clove garlic sliced
Salt and pepper
10 thinly sliced snow peas
1 spring onion thinly sliced
1 cooked chicken breast sliced
3 tbs sour cream
BBQ sauce
3 soft wraps or large tortillas

Cook the bacon in a frying pan and remove. Add a little oil to the same pan and cook the mushrooms with some salt and pepper and the sliced garlic and then remove. Whisk the eggs with some pepper and 1tbs of sour cream. Cook the eggs in the same pan you used for the bacon/mushroom then remove.
Lay some baking paper on a baking tray. Spread the beetroot dip evenly over the first wrap, top with mushroom, sliced chicken, snow peas, BBQ sauce and some cheese. Add another wrap on top. Spread the remaining sour cream on the wrap and top with the bacon, egg, spring onion slices, coriander, BBQ sauce and some more cheese. Add another wrap to the top and top it with some BBQ sauce and some cheese. Place the baking tray into a preheated 180C oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Slice with a serrated knife and dig in.

Salmon with Crispy Sage Skin

Salmon is nothing to be afraid of, awesomely you virtually can't over cook it. Whilst having salmon cooked to medium is preferable, if you do over cook it or baulk at the thought of slightly uncooked fish, well done also works. The main thing to remember if you are trying to achieve crispy skin on a salmon fillet is to cook it over a medium heat as medium high or high could burn the skin and therefore - suck. The same principal can also be applied to any white fleshed fish fillet with the skin on but you will need to cook them all the way through. This recipe shares some of the same characteristics as my Crispy Skin Salmon with Garlic Thyme Kipflers recipe.

1 salmon fillet per person
Sage leaves (or any robust herb)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Horseradish sour cream
Some grilled mushroom

Oil and salt and pepper each fillet. Run the sage leaves through the oil and place on the skin. Heat some olive oil to medium and place the salmon fillets in, skin side down. Cook the fillets until they become white-ish half way up (about 5 minutes). Carefully flip the fillets and cook on the other side for a further 2 minutes. Remove to clean plates, top with horseradish sour cream and serve with the potato, guacamole and mushrooms.

Horseradish Sour Cream

Change any of the ingredients for something similar and you have yourself a simple, quick and pleasing accompaniment to any meal. For example use creme fraiche or natural yoghurt instead, substitute the horseradish for mustard or garlic, use different herbs or use a well flavoured vinegar instead. After your initial mix, taste it and add more of whatever you think it needs. In any case, should only be about 3 minutes work.

3 tbs sour cream
Garlic chives thinly sliced
2 tsp horseradish (or more)
1/2 tbs lemon juice (or more)
Salt and pepper

Mix it all together with a spoon, check for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Tasty with meat, potatoes, through asparagus or barbecued vegetables and on a manwhich.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Guacamole with Barbecued Corn and Spring Onion

This is something that changes every time I make it. The addition of barbecued corn and spring onion gave this version more depth. If you haven't used the lemon/lime combination before, it is definitely worth trying.

1 avocado diced
1/2 a lemon juiced
1 lime juiced
1 clove garlic minced
2 cobs corn barbecued
1 spring onion barbecued
1 tbs blue cheese
2 tbs chopped coriander
Salt and pepper
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Slice the corn off the cob with a sharp knife. Finely slice the spring onion. Combine all of the ingredients with half of the juice. Check for seasoning and add more of whatever is missing and as much of the remaining juice as necessary. Could benefit from some chilli I guess.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Lamb Shanks with an Asparagus and Ricotta Sauce

Easy and lighter tasting than most shank recipes I have made.

1 shank per person
Stripped rosemary
Chopped garlic
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1 cup red wine
4 or 5 tbs ricotta
1 bunch asparagus thinly sliced
Chicken stock
1/2 tbs fresh basil
1/2 tbs fresh parsley
1/2 tbs fresh mint
2 cloves garlic
Steamed cauliflower

Preheat an oven to 130C. Grind the stripped rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper and some olive oil in a pestle and mortar until you have a rough paste. Rub the paste over each shank. Sear the shanks on the stove in the casserole/roasting dish you are going to use until they have nice colour. Pour in the red wine, add a lid and place in the oven for 3 or so hours. Baste the shanks occasionally.
When the shanks are ready, pour off or spoon out all of the rendered fat. Place the cooking dish back on the stove top and heat to medium. Deglaze the pan with about 1 cup of chicken stock. Mince the garlic, basil, parsley and mint. Add the minced herbs, asparagus slices and ricotta to the chicken stock. Reduce slightly and check for seasoning. Place a shank on each plate, top with sauce and serve with the veg.