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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Rolled Turducken with Cranberry and Artichoke

It's made and ready I just gotta cook it now. I am hoping that a) it tastes brilliant and b) that when sliced it looks better than it did when I first rolled it... This is a simple enough process but it does take time to get together (I sectioned the duck and chicken for confit). Initially I was going to use 2 large turkey drumsticks but I found a butterflied whole turkey. While it was more expensive it meant wayyyyy less work and tendons. When I make this again I will roll it out onto overlapping streaky bacon (the prosciutto I used here was a stop gap to contain the filling) - I had tried to acquire caul but was unsuccessful. Alternatively if you don't want to go through the anguish of aesthetic rolling, squish it down in layers in a smallish baking dish with a brick or something. The bones I should say, made the best, best stock.

1 butterflied turkey (2 kg)
2 skin on chicken boobs
2 skin on duck boobs
12+ prosciutto/bacon slices (I had 6)
3/4 bottle cranberry sauce
2 tbs oven roasted cherry tomatoes
1 handful chopped basil
1 tin artichoke hearts
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
4 cloves garlic
1 handful pistachio nuts
1 tbs Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Kitchen string and cling film

Mix the cranberry, oven tomatoes and basil in a bowl and refrigerate until ready. Blend the artichoke, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon and pistachios with some salt and pepper - refrigerate until ready. Slightly overlap two sheets of cling film on a bench, layer down a grid of vertical and horizontal kitchen string. Slightly overlap and layer down enough prosciutto/streaky bacon slices to completely cover your turkey once rolled. Lay down the turkey on the prosciutto area. Paint with the cranberry mixture. Lay down the duck breast at the narrow end with the chick breast above those. Paint with the artichoke gear. With the help of a friend carefully and as tightly as possible roll that bad boy. While someone holds, the other ties. I have frozen mine and will defrost the day prior to Xmas and then bring to room temp when ready .
I will be roasting this for 25 minutes per 450 gms plus 20 minutes at 180C (last 20 at 220C) so it works out at about 3 hours. When done, I will make gravy in the normal manner. Finished product to follow.
God speed and best of luck....

Concept and reality differ greatly sometimes...

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Chicken Vegetable Pesto Bake with Wine and Blue Cheese Sauce

Unreal and simple. All left overs were mixed together and were even more awesome. The roasted lemon smells great but I wouldn't recommend eating it...

6 chicken thighs, bone in
1 or 2 tbs pesto
1 capsicum in chunks
1 medium sweet potato in chunks
5 mushrooms torn
1 lemon quartered
3 rashers bacon in chunks
5 cloves garlic skin on
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs blue cheese
1/2 cup sparkling white wine
Parsley chopped
1 chilli thinly sliced
Natural yoghurt
Cous cous
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper

Combine the vegetables,lemon wedges, garlic cloves, bacon, chicken, pesto, extra virgin, salt and pepper in a roasting dish. Roast for 30 minutes at 180C or until cooked through. Remove the chicken to a clean bowl, remove the veg to a clean bowl and cover the lot. Place the roasting tray onto the stove and bring to a simmer. Stir in the sparkling wine and continue to simmer until the alcohol smell is gone. Stir in the blue cheese until melted and then remove from the heat. Pour in any resting juice from the chicken and veg bowls, skimming off the oil if necessary. Cook the cous cous  by covering with boiling water and leaving for 5 minutes, stir through the lemon juice.
Serve on top of the cous cous, top with parsley, chilli (if having) and dobs of yoghurt on the veg. Spoon some sauce over the chicken bits.

Sage and Garlic Butter Potato Cake

This is essentially a recipe I read in an Italian cookbook of my sister in-laws. I've not seen this approach anywhere else since so therefore I am sharing. It is caring after all. Decadent but unreal.

10 potatoes thinly sliced
3 or 4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
50 gms butter
1/2 bunch sage leaves
200 ml cream
Salt and pepper
1 slice prosciutto
1/2 an onion thinly sliced

Melt the butter with the garlic and sage in a small saucepan until fragrant then remove from the heat. Wet 2 sheets of grease proof paper and line a spring form tin. Layer in the potato, pouring over some butter and sage leaves, topping with parmesan and salt and pepper each time. Should be enough for 3 layers. With the final layer place on some thin strips of prosciutto and the onion, pour over the cream, add some more parmesan and salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake in a 180C oven for 45 minutes. (Its a good idea to place a tray underneath to catch any cream/butter). Remove the foil and bake for another 15 or until golden and tender.

Thai Green Pork Belly with Coconut Cous Cous

Pork belly can do anything. I had some left over curry paste and I thought well, I can only try. As it turns out it works quite well indeed and is in no way overpowering. I didn't take a photograph of the cous cous as, to be honest I wasn't expecting it to be so great. The youngest Henry, absolutely smashed the cous cous. As always with pork belly, its not difficult it just requires some patience and a watchful eye at the end.

1 piece pork belly (skin scored)
1 tbs (or more) Thai green curry paste
1 onion in thin slices
5 or so mushrooms sliced
1 lemon in wedges
1 small tin coconut milk
2 cups chicken stock
Cous cous (1 cup?)
Olive oil

Rub the curry paste and salt into the skin of the pork belly along with enough oil to wet it. Scatter the pieces of onion on the bottom of your roasting tray along with the mushroom and lemon wedges. Place the pork belly on top of the veg. Pour in the coconut milk and enough of the chicken stock to come about half way up the side of the pork. Cover with foil and place in a 140C oven for 2 hours. Remove the foil and continue to roast for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven, carefully remove the pork belly from the sauce, scrape off any veg from underneath then place back in the oven on a rack 2 down from under a high grill. Keep an eye on it and when crispy, remove and rest for 10 minutes or so on a clean plate.  While this happens throw a couple of handfuls of cous cous into the coconut/veg/sauce gear, remove the lemon wedges and cover with a foil. Pour any resting juice into the cous cous. Slice and serve on the cous cous. I dunno, maybe add some chopped parsley.

Lentils Poached in Chicken Stock

Lentils are new to me but I find them brilliant. Largely lentils appear to be cooked in water and flavours added later but I really wanted them to be bursting with flavour. It should be noted though that it appears the addition of salt or acid (like wine, vinegar or lemon juice) will cause them to become a little tough and should be added at the end. I know that chicken stock has salt in it but hey, its my lentils and I want 'em tasty. Also, from what I also understand, they are awesome in soups etc. Whilst this recipe is nice cold, it is at its best warm.

1 cup puy lentils (French)
2 cups chicken stock (or water or combo)
1/2 an onion in small dice
1 clove garlic minced
1 tbs oven roasted cherry tomatoes
1 tbs minced parsley
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

In a small saucepan over a medium heat saute the onion and garlic in a little extra virgin olive oil until transparent. Add in the lentils and stock, bring to the boil and, reduce to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes. Check to see if they are tender, if not keep cooking for a few more minutes. Drain off most of the liquid, stir through the salt and pepper, parsley and tomatoes. Transfer to a serving dish, tuck in.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Green Thai Chicken, Cashew and Bean Sprout Spring Rolls

Not long ago I made a heap of Thai Green Curry paste and almost everything I have cooked since has been with it. I love having a surplus of stuff because it makes you think of ways to use it. We had prawn and avo manwhiches today with Thai green mayo for example. Anywho, this recipe was really easy. Having never made spring rolls I was expecting it to be fiddly but it was really simple. Heaps of room to move in this recipe too. I used 50/50 oil here as I didn't want the peanut flavour to dominate.

500 gms chicken mince
2 tbs Thai green curry paste
1 carrot grated
1/2 a capsicum in halved matchsticks
1 handful bean sprouts
1 handful mint chopped
2 handfuls cashews chopped
Rind of half a lemon
1 tbs kecap manis
1 handful snow peas in matchsticks
10 or water chestnuts chopped
10 or so spring roll sheets
500 ml peanut oil
500 ml light olive oil

Combine all ingredients (except the oils and spring roll sheets) in a large bowl. Lay 1 sheet of spring roll wrapper down with a corner pointing toward you, spoon in 2 tbs of the mixture into the middle and form a log. Roll up the spring roll, folding in the side as you go, sealing with a dab of water at the end. Place on a clean tray and cover. Repeat until finished. (Each time cover the remaining spring roll sheets with some moist kitchen paper to stop it from drying out, refreeze whatever is left over). Place in the fridge covered until ready.
Heat the oils in a medium saucepan until a small piece of bread fries golden in 30 seconds. Place the spring rolls in in batches and cook until golden.
I served this on coconut rice with fried shallots, more kecap manis and some sriracha (a hot chilli sauce). Unreal.

Cardamom, Cumin and Poppy Seed Spiced Lamb Fillet

This took about 5 minutes to prepare, I let it sit for an hour and BBQ'd for like, 10 minutes. Very little work heaps of enjoyment. I love dry spice rubs, they pack buckets of flavour and you can use almost any thing you have in your cupboard - experiment and see what you come up with.

1 lamb fillet (mine was 500gms)
1 tbs ground coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seed ground
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 handful cardamon pods, seeds removed
1 tbs poppy seeds
Salt (I used porcini salt)
Olive oil

Spread the dry ingredients evenly about a plate, sprinkle on some oil, place the lamb fillet in and cover it the spiced goodness. Put on a clean plate and transfer to the fridge to let the flavours hang out until you are ready. Heat a barbecue to very high and cook the lamb for about 5 minutes each side or until medium rare. Transfer to a clean plate and cover with foil and rest for 5 minutes or so. Slice thinly at an angle and divide amongst serving plates. Spoon over a little of the resting juice and some nice extra virgin if you have it. I served this with a garden salad and some lentils.

Chestnut and Shitake Mushroom Steamed Wontons

My wife was recently given a Spirit House cookbook for her birthday. I have heard many good things about this place and judging by the quality of the cook book, it is clearly worthy of the hype. I asked my wife to choose a starter and she chose this. Not having all of the ingredients I altered it sufficiently to consider place it here. They were slightly fiddly but really worth it.

500 gms pork mince
10 water chestnuts chopped
1 tbs fish sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbs chopped coriander
1 tbs chopped basil
1 handful dried shitake mushrooms reconstituted and chopped
1 egg
1 packet wontons

Combine all of the ingredients except for the wontons. Spoon about 1 tsp of pork mixture into the middle of each wonton, wet the edges and seal. Half I sealed in a rectangle, half I sealed on a diagonal and folded like tortellini. Steam for 8-10 minutes. You can separate layers with grease proof paper cut into rounds and holes cut into it. I served this with kecap manis and sriracha - a Thai hot chilli sauce - it is amazing.

Warmed Pesto and Yoghurt Sauce for Chicken Breast

This was brilliant and so so easy. It is a very similar recipe to my Crispy Skinned Chicken Boob with Lemon and Oregano recipe but damn it was good. I will definitely be using this concept whenever I have excess pesto. Thankfully, excess pesto season is just around the corner.

Chicken breast with skin on
Garlic sliced thickly
Fresh Thyme
4 tbs pesto
4 tbs natural Greek yoghurt
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat an oven to 180 C. Salt and pepper the chicken boobs with 1 tbs of the extra virgin olive oil and the garlic slices. Heat the remaining 1 tbs of oil to medium high. When hot, add in the chicken skin side down. Turn after 5 minutes and place in the oven. Turn again after 5 minutes and return to the oven and repeat once more. Remove from the oven and place the chicken on a clean plate. Place the frying pan back onto the stove top at medium high, when hot again, spoon in the pesto and yoghurt and stir for a couple of minutes. Spoon over you chicken boobs. So so nice.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Oysters Brie-Patrick

Super easy, super tasty.

Serrano ham (or prosciutto)
Brie cheese slices
Worcestershire Sauce

Oyster, brie, Worcestershire, Serrano ham, hot grill - crisp/melt - eat.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Mushroom and Prawn Bruschetta

Easy as. I made this taste even more mushroom like by using some porcini oil I made by soaking some porcini mushrooms in some extra virgin olive oil - an inexpensive little trick. I bought my bread from the Dayboro Bakery, they not only make the best pie and peas in the world, they also bake amazing bread - if you get the chance, check them out.

300 gms prawns shelled
Some great bread sliced
4 or 5 big mushrooms sliced
2 cloves garlic sliced
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 handful parsley chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tbs marinated feta

Drizzle some oil over the bread. Heat 2 tbs of the oil to medium high, bung in the garlic and fry until fragrant, throw in the mushroom, some salt and pepper and cook until coloured. Remove and mix through the parsley and feta, set aside. Grill the bread. Heat the remain oil to medium high then flash fry the prawns until tender and just cooked through. Bread, shroom, prawns on top, drink some wine.

Harrisa Lamb Cutlets with a Corriander Tomato Sauce

I can distinctly remember the first time I ate harissa, it has on a sandwich and it was wonderful - that was almost ten years ago and my wife and I still talk about that sandwich. Since then I have bought harissa a heap of times and they have all been disappointing in comparison. I have been toying with the idea of making my own - until I found this gear - it is amazing. All natural, no preservatives and you can literally taste every single ingredient listed on the side of the bottle. I can honestly say that I have never experienced this phenomenon before. Oh, I should say, if you don't like hot stuff, don't eat harissa. That's an important tip...

Lamb cutlets (3 or 4 per person)
2 heaped tsp harissa paste
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic sliced
A slug of red wine
3 tbs chopped coriander
1/2 bottle tomato passata
1 tbs sugar

Mix the harissa paste with the olive oil and 1/2 of the coriander then paint onto the lamb cutlets. Set aside until required. When required, barbecue over a very high heat and cook to medium rare - allow to rest covered for 5 or so minutes.
Heat the extra virgin olive oil to medium high and fry the garlic and shallots until fragrant and slightly coloured. Deglaze with the red wine and simmer for a couple of minutes before pouring in the passsata. Pour in the sugar and a little salt and simmer until required. Add in the coriander to the hot sauce a couple of minutes before using. I served this with some fried potato and sweet potato, a little marinated feta and some lettuce. Very nice indeed.

Asparagus and Prawn Risotto

Two things before I begin. Firstly and again - listen to your mates they know stuff. Secondly - hello stinky wee. A friend of mine told me about his favourite risotto which is an asparagus version - 500 gms blended into the stock, 500 gms added into the risotto at the end. Really good advice, I can see this working with a whole bunch of things eg, bulk garlic, corn, mushroom, lemon, seafood and cream like a bisque and so on. Cheers mate - (sorry I bastardised your simple idea).

1 kg asparagus
300 gms green prawns shelled (shells reserved)
2 shallots finely diced
2 cups aborrio rice
1 tbs butter
2 cloves garlic minced
1 clove garlic bashed
1 L chicken stock
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1 chilli sliced
1 lemon

Simmer the prawn shells in the stock for 5 minutes. While this is happening remove the woody ends from the asparagus and reserve, slice up half of the spears and the other half into big chunks. Strain the prawn stock and discard the shells, return the stock to the heat and place in the chunky asparagus and 1 half of the lemon whole. When the asparagus is becoming tender, remove the lemon then blitz it all with a hand blender. Be careful, it could get messy. You should end should end up with a thin asparagus soup. Place in the woody asparagus ends and the bashed garlic and return to a simmer. Go about making the risotto in the normal manner from this point, omitting the woody ends and bashed garlic. Slice the prawns reserving a few to cook in butter and garlic. When you are adding the last two ladles, thrown in the sliced asparagus, sliced prawns, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and the juice of the remaining lemon half - cover and rest for 5 or ten minutes. Add to bowls, top with more Parmesan, a whole prawn, sliced chilli and more lemon if required.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Cherry Tomato Jam

The end of your tomato bush is bitter sweet - bummer its dying - way cool that there is so much fruit that you have to come up with new ways to deal with it. Soooo anyways, my wife volunteered me to cook tomato relish at Kindy on Friday. Never having made chutney this seemed a challenge and I thought well, if you add enough sugar to something you can turn it into jam. It was stacks of fun and the kids were radical. To add to that I thought I could preserve as much of the harvest as possible while my seedlings grow. Reality is though, after trying it - it won't last past next week - its too damn good.
Heaps easy - do it.

1 kg cherry tomato sliced in half
2 sticks lemon grass bashed and sliced
1 thumb ginger minced up
1 bottle tomato passata
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
500-600 gms raw sugar
2 tsp olive oil
Dill (or other soft herb)

Saute the lemon grass and ginger until fragrant and soft in the oil, pour in the tomatoes, passata, sugar, vinegar and stir. Bring to the boil and reduce temp to medium (otherwise it will blast all over the place), cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Spoon a little onto a small plate then place in the freezer for a minute or so, if after you've run your finger through it it stays parted, your done - turn off the heat, mix through a little soft herbage, a touch of salt and allow to cool enough to handle for bottling. If not, keep going until it is.


Listening to mates is a great idea. They know things; great bands, cool books, sweet movies and sooper nice food. Thanks Helen. This is a bastardized version of the recipe I was told (apparently my local major supermarket food chain don't stock chickpea flour) but it worked anywho. I grabbed a packet of gluten free flour (read here: rice flour) and hoped for the best. Whilst I am sure the texture is different it did the job. This was made for the Kindy kids when I made Cherry Tomato Jam.

500 gms rice flour
An equal portion of water
1 tbs fresh chopped herbs
Salt flakes
Olive oil for frying

Combine flour, herbs, water and a little salt until it forms a thickish batter. Heat some olive oil in a large non stick pan to medium high, ladle in some batter and fry on one side. Carefully flip and sprinkle with some sea salt flakes. Fry some more, flip, sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Repeat once more then remove. Do this until your batter is gone. More oil will be prepared throughout the process. Eat with anything really.

Tomato Bread V 3.0

And here this reason why my Cherry Tomato Jam will not see November... Tomato Bread versions 1 and 2 can be found here.

Some great bread thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Cherry Tomato Jam

Drizzle some olive oil over the bread, smear over 1 tsp of tomato jam and grill until aweeeesoooooome.

Crispy Skinned Chicken Boobs with Lemon and Oregano

Nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom.

Skin on chicken boobs
Lemon rind
1 handful fresh oregano roughly chopped
Porcini salt
2 cloves garlic thickly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil

Pat each chicken boob dry. Generously salt each boob, grind on some pepper, add the lemon rind and some extra virgin olive oil then carefully rub in. Allow to infuse and come up to room temperature. Heat some extra virgin to medium high in a large non-stick pan, take the garlic slices off the skin then add in the chicken, skin side down. Spoon all remaining oil/garlic on top while it cooks. Fry until crispy (about 5 minutes), turn and fry on the other side for about 5 minutes, turn back on the skin again, reduce the meat to medium and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Poke it with your finger to test if it is done, it should feel firm but with a little bit of bounce - if it is really soft, keep going until it is cooked. Allow to rest covered for about five minutes while you finish of whatever veg you are having. I served this some roasted herbed potatoes, steamed greens, topped with Cherry Tomato Jam and Tomato Bread V 3.0

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Turkey Wingettes with Cranberry, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic Oil

About 5 minutes work, 45 - 50 mins roasting, heaps cheap, heaps good.

500gms turkey wingettes
2 tbs garlic oil
2 tbs oven roasted cherry tomatoes
2 tbs dried cranberries
1 handful basil leaves
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper

Chop the cranberries with the oven roasted cherry tomatoes, tear the basil leaves and combine all of the ingredients. Marinade until required. Preheat an oven to 180C, line a baking tray with baking paper (made easier if you wet the tray first), place on the turkey, pour over remaining marinade, roast for 45 mins or until golden. Serve straight away.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Chicken Beer Pies with Chilli Tomato Sauce and Pearl Barley

Mmmmm pie. Nice but its not going to stop me from buying pies from my local by any means. Pies are pretty straight forward really, cook some meat, sauté some veg, make a sauce, stick it under some pastry and bake.

500gms chick thighs
1 tbs garlic oil
1 handful sage leaves roughly chopped
A few sage leaves whole
3 large mushrooms in big chunks
4 spring onion roughly chopped
1 cup good beer (I used Coopers Pale Ale)
1 leek trimmed and thinly sliced
2 handfuls baby spinach
3 tbs chilli tomato sauce
1 cup pearl barley
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 sheets defrosted puff pastry
Egg or milk wash
Sesame seeds

Cut the chicken into bite sized chunks and combine with the sage leaves, garlic oil and some salt and pepper. Fry the chicken in batches a little olive oil until it has nice colour but is not cooked through, removing to a clean plate when ready. Fry the mushroom until well coloured then add in the leek to sauté. When soft add in the chicken, spring onion, pearl barley and when the pan is hot again, pour in the beer, bring to the boil then add in the tomato chilli sauce and stock. Return to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. If it needs more liquid, top up a little at a time with stock. Check for seasoning then mix through the baby spinach. Preheat an oven to 180C. Grease the top of 5 or 6 ramekins with the butter. Spoon in the chicken mixture to about 1cm under the lip of each ramekin. Place over a pastry lid and squish down over the edges. Paint each with an egg or milk wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds, cut small steam holes, and place an oiled sage leaf or two on top. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. Any left over pastry can be pricked with a fork and baked at the same time.
Serve with more chilli tomato sauce.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Corn Chip Crusted Nacho Meat Balls

Do it. I've been thinking about this concept for a while after hearing on a cooking show that you can crumb meat in basically anything. Two thoughts popped into my head 1) crushed up Cruskets for fish or chicken and 2) crushed corn chips to coat chicken or beef meatballs. I believe though that pork would happily work as well. Easy as and full of flavour. The corn chips I went with here were nacho cheese corn chips which are covered in powdered cheese so I cooked them as small balls at a medium temperature to stop them from burning. If they were much larger they definitely would have burnt. I happen to have a decent 'Tex Mex' seasoning at home, taco seasoning would do but if you don't have either - its fair basic, just use a little powdered cumin, paprika, salt and coriander to taste. Want more, make a larger batch.

500 gms minced meat (I used veal and pork)
 2 or 3 tsp Mexican seasoning
1 clove garlic minced
Some chopped coriander
2 or 3 handfuls cheesy corn chips blitzed
1/2 cup flour (or more)
1 egg beaten (or more)
1 cup light olive oil for shallow frying
Simple tomato sauce and guacamole to serve

Combine the mince, seasoning, garlic and coriander well in a bowl. Make small meat balls and dust with the flour. Pass the meatballs through egg and then through the blitzed corn chips, coating very well. Blitz more corn chips if necessary. Shallow fry in the olive over a a medium heat, turning until you have great colour all over. Remove to some paper kitchen towel to drain then serve hot. I served mine with a simple tomato sauce and some guacamole but salsa or bottled tomato sauce would also work well.

Bocconcini Wrapped in Basil and Prosciutto with a Lemon Garlic Oil

I last made this at Christmas time and they literally disappeared faster than I could make them, even with assembly help. This is a very simple yet sophisticated drinks nibble and it takes no skill, few ingredients and, you get to eat with a toothpick. For best results with this though there are a few steps I recommend you take 1) make the lemon oil in advance so that the flavours can infuse properly 2) only prepare this as you are about to eat it or the basil leaves will discolour 3) use the best extra virgin you can be bothered to and, 4) use the best prosciutto/parma ham you can. Great prosciutto is about $70 a kilo but, you only need about 5 slices (<$10) which will cover you needs easily if you tear the meat carefully enough -  you don't need much as it is full of flavour. Finally, other flavours would work (eg chilli oil or a cherry tomato vinaigrette).

1 small bucket bocconcini
Rind of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic finely minced
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 bunch fresh basil
5 slices prosciutto
Cracked pepper (chilli flakes?)

Combine the oil, rind and garlic and allow to infuse. Drain the bocconcini well. Tear the bocconcini into bit sized pieces. Cut the prosciutto in half width ways then carefully pull each piece into thin strips. Wrap the bocconcini in one strip of prosciutto per bit of cheese. Feed one toothpick through one end of a basil leaf, slide on the prosciutto cover cheese ball, feed on the other end of the basil leaf. Place on your serving dish. Repeat with the remaining bocconcini. Once finished, drizzle over as much of the lemon/garlic oil as you think necessary then crack over some pepper. Serve and be quick about eating some yourself.

Sunday, 2 September 2012


A mate of mine told me about this, it tasted great and I wanted to give it a go but haven't gotten around to it until just now. It is as simple as it is tasty and inexpensive. Whilst this doesn't taste exactly like pastrami I have bought in the past it is very very tasty. The kids and I ate at least 500gms in one afternoon, just by itself.

1 piece corned meat (mine was 1.4 kg)
1 litre pineapple juice (may need more)
Fresh cracked pepper - various kinds
Ground coriander
Olive oil

Soak the corned meat in the pineapple juice in a seal-able container over night. Pre heat an oven to 180C. Remove the meat from the juice, pat dry, coat with a little oil then cover in as much pepper corn, salt and coriander as you think necessary. Roast for 20 mins per 450gms plus twenty minutes. It is a good idea to place this on some grease proof paper as the juice will get gnarly and be difficult to clean off. Allow to rest then slice thinly and tuck in.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Osso Bucco with Olive, Fennel and Cherry Tomato

Delicious and cheap. I removed the fennel stalks after the cooking process as they were a little fibrous but they had already done their job. If you wanted to keep it in (which I would next time) I would use a more tender portion of the fennel bulb or slice it more thinly.

4 pieces osso bucco
4 tbs flour
Pepper and salt
2 handfuls chopped fennel (approx)
5 or 6 mushrooms torn or chopped
1 stalk celery sliced
1 onion in wedges
1 handful cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic sliced
Olives (as much or as little)
1 cup red wine
Some chicken stock
Natural yoghurt
Olive oil
Some great mash

Season the flour and dust the meat. Heat some oil to medium high and sear the meat, giving it some nice colour. Remove to a clean plate. Throw in the veg, olives and garlic and toss until fragrant. Tip in the remaining flour and toss through, cooking for a couple of minutes. Deglaze with the red wine, mix, add in the meat and pour in enough chicken stock to just come up to the meat. Add a lid, reduce to the lowest setting and simmer for 2 or 3 hours. When ready remove the meat and stir in a couple of tbs of gremolata. Spoon some mash into bowls, add some sauce, top with some meat and a dollop of yoghurt. My mash was potato, parsnip and cauliflower florets.

Rosemary and Horseradish Tapenade for Studding Roast Beef

Easy, cheap, tasty. Would be nice with most meats.

1 handful olives
1 sprig rosemary
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp horseradish cream
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Smash up real good with a knife. Make incisions in your roast with a sharp knife then jam your finger in there to widen the hole. Roast as normal. If you have any left over, just smear it over the outside. I ran out but already had the holes so I filled them with sliced onion - it was good also.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Pork Fillet Ballontine with Pesto and Fennel

 Looks difficult but it was actually rather simple. A little messing about but a very pleasing result.

1 pork fillet
3 tbs pesto
3 mushrooms
1 chilli
3 slices fennel
8 sheets prosciutto
1 tbs olive oil

Carefully slice pork fillet down the side but not all the way through then fold out the piece of meat. Lay out a piece of cling film, place the meat on and cover with more cling film. Beat the meat out using a meat mallet or a knife sharpening steal until it is about 1/2 cm thick. Halve the piece of meat. Place four pieces of prosciutto on a large-ish sheet of cling film, overlapping slightly. Place each piece of meat on the separate prosciutto sheets. Paint 1/2 the pesto on each piece of meat. Blitz the mushroom, chilli and fennel in a blender. You will need stop a few times and push the gear down to the blades. Lay the mushroom mixture in a sausage form along the top side of each pork fillet. Trim the excess prosciutto from each end. Using the cling film to help you, gently yet firmly roll the pork into a sausage shape then twist round and round until you have an even, firm sausage, tie knots in the end and refrigerate until required.

2/3 fill a medium sized saucepan to simmering then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Gently slide in a bread plate so that it points up then place in your ballontines. It may be necessary to weigh down your ballontine, I used a spatula. Every few minutes, scoop out a little water and add in some fresh water to keep the temperature from becoming too high. Cook for about 35 minutes or so. I cooked mine for 30 and felt as though they could have done with just a touch more. Remove from the pan and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Remove from the plastic wrap and fry in a frying pan until well coloured all over. If you want to, deglaze the pan with some wine and a little stock, reduce then, add a little butter and maybe some herbs or lemon.

Chicken and Brattwurst Risoni with Corn, Fennel and Mushroom

I love slow cooked stuff - its cheap and the kids smash it to bits.

500gms chicken thigh fillets
3 Bratwurst sausages (or pork)
1/2 bulb fennel in small dice
1/2 bunch spring onion in small dice
1/2 a capsicum in small dice
300 gms mushrooms in small dice
1 handful fresh oregano chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1/3 bunch parsley minced
1 cup sparkling white wine
2 cobs corn, kernels sliced off
2/3 cup risoni
Salt and pepper
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Parmesan and chilli flakes to serve

Chop the chicken into chunks. Mix the chicken with salt and pepper, oregano and garlic and extra virgin olive oil. Heat a large non stick pan to medium high. Half cook the sausages, remove to a clean plate. Sear the chicken chunks in batches until they have nice colour then remove the a clean plate. Slice the sausage. Pour any remaining oil from the chicken marinade to the pan and saute the mushroom and fennel. When they have nice colour add in the chicken, capsicum, sausage, spring onion, risoni and wine. Toss about. If you have kept the corn cob and stems from the fennel, add them to the top. Bring to the boil, reduce to the lowest setting, add a lid and braise for an hour.
Remove the lid, remove the corn cob and fennel stalks, add in the corn kernels, Parmesan and mix through and mix. Add the lid and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper or even a squeeze of lemon if it needs it. Spoon into bowls and top with grated Parmesan and chilli flakes.

Stuffed Mushroom Topped with Scallop and Chorizo

Just a few scallops really go a long way, likewise 1 chorizo sausage can span at least 3 meals. This took about 10 minutes to prepare and about 35 minutes to cook. This was enough as a starter for 2 kids and 3 adults.

2 field mushrooms
1/2 handful parsley
2 cloves garlic
4 tbs Panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
1 tbs marinated feta
1 tbs grated Parmesan
1 tbs extra virgin (maybe more)
A little white wine
1 tbs pine nuts
6 fresh sea scallops
10 thin slices of chorizo
Some grated tasty cheese

Pre heat an oven to 180C. Break the stems off the field mushrooms and roughly chop. Roughly chop the parsley and garlic. Mince the mushroom stems, parsley and garlic together until fine and well combined. Mix the Parmesan, parsley mix, marinated feta and half of the olive oil with a spoon. If the mixture is a little dry, add the rest of the oil. Drip a little white wine over each mushroom, divide the bread crumb mix between each, place on a baking paper lined tray, cover with foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to roast for another 10 minutes or until the top is crunchy.
Thinly slice the scallops. Remove mushrooms from the oven.
Arrange the scallops and chorizo on top of each mushroom,top with a few pine nuts, sprinkle over a little grated tasty cheese and return to the oven until the cheese has melted and the scallops are just opaque.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Pork Cheek Braised with Fennel and Chorizo, Finished with Watercress and Feta

This is the very definition of sometimes food. Holy moly, so tender you could have eaten this using a brick, the fat from the crackling scrapped off like soft jelly. The butcher warned me about this. The cheek came as an entire jowl, its not very pretty to look at but it certainly did the job. Very little prep, a few hours cooking, a lot of guilty face stuffing. Oh, and I meant to poach some green prawns in the reducing liquid but forgot, it would have been great though...

2 pork jowls (score the skin)
1/3 chorrizo sausage finely minced
1 stick celery finely diced
1 carrot finely diced
1 onion finely diced
3 cloves garlic sliced
1/2 a fennel finely diced
1/2 a capsicum finely diced
1 cup bubbly white wine
1 bunch watercress
2 cherry tomatoes
1 tbs marinated feta
1 tbs caraway seeds
1 tbs salt (maybe more)
1/4 bottle passata
1 tbs sugar
Olive oil

Heat some olive in a large frying pan to medium high. Half cook the chorizo then remove to a clean plate. Oil the pork skin, pour over the caraway seeds and salt and rub into the skin. Sear the underside of the pork jowl until it has great colour then remove to a clean plate. Throw in the veg and garlic and toss about until fragrant. Pour any resting juice into the veg, add in the chorizo, place the jowls on top and pour in enough wine to cover the veg (not watercress or tomato) and come a little up the sides of the meat. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 2 hours.
Preheat an oven to 140C.
Remove the lid and place the pork in the oven - it reduces the sauce and dries out the skin. Roast for an hour. Remove the dish from the oven. Take the meat from the pan and place back in the oven, under a medium high grill, 2 or 3 shelves down until crispy and awesome. Good idea to place something underneath it. In the meantime reduce the sauce over a low heat on the stove top with half the sugar and all of the passata. Mince the watercress with the feta and cherry tomatoes. Mix through half of the feta, check the cheek sauce for seasoning and sweetness and add more salt/pepper/sugar if required. If you feel as though it is too heavy, squeeze in some lemon - the feta and tomato will freshen it up though. Slice, arrange on a plate, add some sauce, top with more feta gear and serve with some great toasted bread.

Cheese Souffle with Crab and Prosciutto

First ever soufflé. Un-freaking-real. Ahhhh, sounds terrifying but its pretty simple really - white sauce, strained - eggs whites at soft peaks - egg yolks and flavours with some cheese - buttered ramikins - happy Alex, wife and kids. Sooooo making this again. I really think that this would be brilliant in small muffins moulds as a party food. I will have a wild stab in the dark here however - as I used chunks of crab (my brother brought me some he had caught and picked and it was freaking awesome) I am guessing that it would have dragged down the rising process. It was still fluffy though. Also, next time, I plan on flavouring the milk with chilli too.

4 eggs, seperated
1 small onion in small dice
1 clove garlic minced
50 gms butter
3 tbs flour
1 cup milk
1 handful basil
4 tbs parmessan
3 tbs Tasty or other grated cheese
200 gms picked crab (or more)
2 slices prosciutto grilled

Preheat an oven to 180C. Grease 4 ramekins with a little of the butter then place in the oven. Make a white sauce by sautéing the onion and garlic with the remaining butter over a medium low heat until translucent. Add in the flour and cook, stirring for 4 or 5 minutes. Pour in the milk and add in the basil. Continue cooking until thickens like thickened cream. While this happens (it only takes a minute or so) beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Chop the prosciutto. Strain the white sauce through a sieve and discard the solids. Stir the white sauce and cheese together until the cheese melts then mix through the egg yolks, crab and chopped prosciutto. Semi-carefully stir through half of the egg white. Carefully stir though the remaining egg white then spoon into the ramekins until 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top.
I served this with a simple salad of chopped roma tomatoes, balsamic glaze and torn basil. My recommendation is, make a double batch because it is really great.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Thai Braised Fennel

The picture for this features a half eaten portion. I wasn't expecting this to be as amazing as it was - new best ever thing I have cooked. As I just throw these things together, I am guessing about the amount of fish sauce so, the best advice I can give here is adjust as necessary. This was cheap and quick to bung together and I plan on regularly recreating this.

1 bulb fennel in 8th wedges
1 tbs olive oil
2 tsp sesame oil
2 stalks lemon grass bashed
1 thumb ginger sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
1 star anise
1/3 bunch coriander
1 handful basil
1/2 tin coconut milk
2 tbs teriyaki sauce
1 tbs mirrin
1 slice prosciutto 
Juice of half a lemon

Heat the oil to medium high and sear the fennel on as many sides as possible. Add in the garlic and ginger and bashed lemon grass stalks (halve them if necessary) and fry till aromatic. Pour in the teriyaki, mirrin, juice, the stalks from the coriander, the star anise and the coconut milk. Mix about, add a lid and reduce the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 2 hours. Grill the prosciutto until awesome then allow to cool and crisp up. Chop the herbs and prosciutto together. Check the fennel for seasoning. Spoon some fennel and sauce into clean bowls and top with the herbs and prosciutto and maybe a squeeze of lemon.

Sage and Thyme Pork Belly

Only because the crackling was perfect. The crackling was still crispy the next night cold from the fridge.

1 piece pork belly, skin scored
1 handful sage leaves
handful thyme leaves
1 tbs salt
1/2 an onion sliced
4 or 5 mushrooms sliced
1 carrot sliced thin-ish
1 cup sparkling white wine
1 cup stock (or more if desired)
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 lemon in quarters
2 tsp (or more) sugar
Olive oil

Chop the herbs. Spread the onion on the bottom of a roasting tray, top with the sliced mushroom and carrot. Pour over a little oil. Place the pork belly on top, pour on a little oil, add on the salt and chopped herbs and rub into the skin. Pour the wine in, avoid getting any on the skin, add in 3/4 of the lemon quarters and cover with foil. Cook in a preheated 170C oven for 1 hour then remove the foil, roast for a further hour then remove from the oven. Place the veg (pulp of the lemon only) and liquid from the roasting tray in a small saucepan with the stock and garlic. Simmer while the skin crackles then blitz with a stick blender. Check for seasoning, add some sugar and a squeeze of lemon.
To crisp the skin stick the belly under the griller, two shelves down so it doesn't burn, on high, rotating it every few minutes to get an even, super crispy result. 
I served this with blanched asparagus and a sweet potato and potato mash with some marinated feta mixed through.

Cacciatore Risotto Stuffed Sweet Chillis

I bought some long sweet chillis from some farmers markets and some great cacciatore and well, it just made sense. Capsicums work just as well. Easy and full flavoured.

1 cup risotto rice
1/2 an onion finely diced
1 clove garlic thinly sliced
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 stick celery finely diced
1/3 cacciatore sausage finely diced
Splash of wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 or 3 long chillis
1/2 bottle passata
Lemon juice and rind
3 tbs grated parmessan
Some basil
1 tbs butter
Salt and pepper
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Heat the stock in a saucepan to simmering, flavour it some sliced garlic and celery stick ends. Melt the butter over medium high in a medium sized saucepan. Sauté the onion, celery, minced garlic and minced cacciatore. When translucent and fragrant add in the risotto grains and toast, tossing for a minute or two. Splash in the wine and when almost absorbed add in a couple of ladles of stock, stirring occasionally until almost absorbed, then repeat until you are down to the last couple of ladles worth. Should take about 18 minutes. Turn off the heat, ladle in the last of the stock and add in the parmessan, as much lemon rind as you think (maybe 1 tbs), a good squeeze of juice and stir. Check for seasoning and and add more of whatever is missing (salt and pepper or lemon juice). Add the lid, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Heat an oven to 180C.
Remove the top of each chilli or capsicum and carefully remove the seeds with a sharp paring knife. Fill the chillis with as much risotto as you can and secure the lid with tooth picks.
Pour the extra virgin into a small roasting dish, pour in the passatta, sliced garlic and some sliced basil. Stir to combine. Add in the stuffed chillis and rub with a little oil. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the chillis are softening and a little coloured. Remove, slice on an angle, place on plates and top with a little sauce and maybe a squeeze of lemon.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Sage, Lemon, Garlic and Anchovy Butter

Delicious to say the least. Most people turn their noses up at anchovies but as I have said before, once they cook - they do not taste like hairy fish - they taste like awesomeness. I used this to stick under the breast skin of a chicken I was roasting to allow it to self baste and the result was mouth wateringly good. Not only did the butter melt down through the meat and crisp the skin giving it colour and a deep flavour but it also soaked into the vegetables (portabella mushrooms, leek and garlic) I had underneath which I blitzed to form the basis of a gravy. A ridiculously tasty gravy. The remaining butter I rubbed over the outside of the bird. I can see after having made this that rolling it in cling film to form a butter sausage and freezing it would be brilliant for topping cooked steaks, a marinade for prawns/chicken thighs, finishing sauces or as a great way to maybe start a risotto. Less than 5 minutes work and perfect for ingredient experimentation.

3 tbs softened butter (or more if required)
1 handful sage
2 cloves garlic
Rind of 1/2 a lemon
3 anchovy fillets (less if you are scared)
Cracked pepper

Finely mince the garlic, sage and anchovy fillets with a knife. Add in the rind and mix through the butter with a fork. Done.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Individual Beef, Mushroom and Guinness Pies

So cheap, so easy so good.

500 gms gravy/slowcook/stewing beef diced
2/3 tin Guinness
300 or so gms mushrooms in chunks
2 cloves garlic
3 tbs flour
1 onion in small dice
1 sprig rosemary finely minced
2 tbs tomato paste
1 capsicum roasted, skinned, blitzed
Salt and pepper
Chilli tomato sauce
Olive oil
2 sheets frozen puff pastry
6 ramekins
Butter for greasing
1 egg beaten
Sesame seeds

Season the flour with salt and pepper and rosemary and coat the beef. Heat the oil to medium high then sear the meat in batches until they have nice colour then remove to a clean plate. Sear the mushrooms (more oil may be necessary) then remove to a clean plate. Saute the onion until soft and transparent. Add in the tomato paste and stir, mix through the beef and mushrooms then deglaze with the Guinness. Bring to the boil then reduce to the lowest setting, cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours. Stir through the roasted capsicum.

Preheat an oven to 200C. 
Grease the top of each ramekin with butter. 3/4 fill each ramekin with beefy goodness then top with pastry, cutting away excess, make a couple of small cuts in the top of each pie for steam. Place the ramekins on a baking paper lined tray and place any un-used strips of pasty on the tray as well. Prick the strips of pastry with a fork so they rise equally. Egg wash all pastry and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Oven bake for about 15 minutes, keeping an eye on it until golden and crispy. Serve with chilli tomato sauce. Rad.

Smoked Rainbow Trout and Mushroom Pate

This is simply mushroom goo with smoked trout through it. Wow. The piece of fish from the markets cost $11 and made 2 1/2 pots and left enough trout for pasta for 2. Bargain. As you can tell by the photo, this was served with some caramelised onion, beautiful cherry tomatoes from the same markets and some brie. A nice snack for us and a decadent dinner for the kids.

500 gms mushrooms finely minced
2 cloves garlic minced
100 gms butter
1 tbs chopped sage
A few whole sage leaves
1 good splash of white wine
4 or 5 tbs natural or Greek yoghurt
1/2 a smoked rainbow trout flaked
Salt and pepper

Heat half of the butter over medium high until foaming, add in the garlic and chopped sage. Cook until quite fragrant. Add in the mushrooms and sauté until very soft, add in the wine and reduce until almost absorbed completely . Season with salt and pepper, stir through the smoked trout and remove from the heat. Allow to cool a bit then mix through the yoghurt, check for seasoning and adjust with more salt and pepper or yoghurt or if too rich, a squeeze of lemon.
Heat the remaining butter over medium high until foaming then spoon off the white stuff on top and discard. Once clarified, add in the whole sage leaves and toast. Fill ramekins with your pate and level out then pour over the butter and sage leaves. If you can wait, refrigerate until the butter sets. 

Simple Chilli Tomato Sauce

I make this all the time and even the kids (all under 5) love it. Do the whole thing for less than $5 and in less than 5 minutes easy. This is the same sauce that I use when making patatas bravas but I feel as though it needs it own recipe as I use it so freaking often. It gets used with breakfast, through pasta, on barbecued goods, alter it by adding blue cheese and sun dried tomatoes and sage, add it to burgers and use it on pizzas.  So so so so good. Amazing with prawns and prawn pasta.

1 bottle tomato passata (1/2 is good too)
2 cloves garlic  minced
1 chilli minced
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 handful basil leaves

Heat the oil to medium high, add in the garlic and chilli and when very fragrant, pour in the passata. Allow to simmer for 2 or 3 minutes then tear in the basil and a little salt. Allow to cool and refrigerate or just use straight away.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Prawn, Sweet Potato and Mushroom Pizza

So good.
If you like this recipe, try these.

300gm green prawns shelled
4 cloves garlic minced
1/2 bunch parsley minced
1/4 of a sweet potato
300 gms mushroom minced
Basil leaves
1 onion finely sliced
4 pizza bases
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper
Tomato passatta

Preheat an oven to 220C. Chop the green prawns into thumb nail size pieces and combine with the extra virgin, salt and pepper, half of the garlic and the lemon juice. Hack at the sweet potato with a vegetable peeler making a pile of very thin slices. Spread 1 or 2 tbs of passatta over each base, sprinkle over the garlic, tear on the basil leaves, divide out mushrooms and a light sprinkling of mozarella. Top with the sweet potato slices and prawn followed by as much cheese as you like. Bake for 10 or 15 minutes.
I like to serve mine with chilli slices and dressed rocket on top.

Prawn and Passatta Pasta with Crab and Sopressa

Quick and awesome.

300 gms green prawns, shelled
200 gms picked crab meat
4 slices sopressa torn
1 onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
Splash of white wine
1/2 bottle passata
Salt and pepper
Small handful of basil
Cooked pasta
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

Start cooking the pasta as you begin this. Saute the onion, sopressa and garlic in the extra virgin over medium high until fragrant and soft. Add in the prawn, toss about for a minute or so, add in the crab and move through the flavoured oil for about 30 seconds. Deglaze with a splash of white wine. When the alcohol smell is gone (about 30 seconds), pour in the passata. Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat to low, season with salt and pepper and tear in the basil leaves. Drain the pasta and stir through the tomato awesomeness.
Serve with crusty bread.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Mushroom, Asparagus, Parsnip and Salsa Verde Soup

Hello again soup season. Soup is the business, get some tasty stuff, simmer it, blend it, maybe add some cream,  serve, top with some tasty stuff and awesome bread - all with very little effort. It doesn't get much better.

1 large parsnip in chunks
500gms mushrooms chopped
1 onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
2 rashers bacon diced
2 large potatoes in chunks
1 bunch asparagus
1 tbs+ salsa verde
Good splash of white wine
1 L chicken stock
1/2 cup cream
Sour cream
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Toasted crusty bread

Remove the woody end of the asparagus and reserve along with the tips, slice the stems finely. Set aside 2 tbs diced bacon. Saute the onion, garlic and bacon in some extra virgin. When the onion is soft and the mixture is fragrant, add in the mushrooms and cook until they have nice colour. Add in the salsa verde and mix through, cooking for a couple of minutes. Check for seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Delgaze with white wine. Add the woody asparagus ends, potato, parsnip and enough chicken stock to cover. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender. Remove the woody asparagus ends. Add in the sliced asparagus and turn off the heat. After five minutes, pour in the cream, blend with a stick blender, adding more stock to reach your desired consistency as necessary. Check for seasoning.
Fry the reserved bacon in a little extra virgin, when almost crispy add in the asparagus tips and cook for a further minute or two, remove and drain on absorbent paper.
Spoon the soup into bowls, add in a tsp of sour cream per bowl, a tsp of salsa verde and top with some bacon/asparagus mixture and a grind of black pepper.