Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fresh Pasta with Salmon and Prawns

On a recent trip to Griffith to pick up our little Ruby girl, we stayed with an old colleague and friend of mine, Tania. With Griffith being the foodie region that it is, and Tania being Italian, we had an epic weekend of all things delicious.
Including a lesson in great pasta making.

First, we made the dough using ‘00’ flour, 1 egg per 100 g flour, an extra yolk, a pinch of salt and a splash of water.

During the kneading process, I leant my first tip, which was to use semolina, not flour, to dust the bench.

After the dough had rested we rolled it into sheets, again using semolina. Apparently using the semolina instead of flour stops the pasta becoming gluggy when you cook it – this worked fantastically for us.

The second trick I leant was to not fold the dough back over it self while feeding it through the machine. This helps to create beautiful, delicate and fluffy pasta – it also reduces the amount of work.

For the first batch of pasta, Tania made a delicious sauce type thing…
First, gently fry a leek.
Add the juice of 1 lime then stir through about a dozen prawns.
Slice a fairly large salmon steak into pieces and when the prawns are about half done, stir in the salmon.
Add a handful of fresh parsley then pour in about ½ a cup (or so) of white wine but do not stir, just leave it to gently simmer.
Season with a bit of salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Fold the mixture through the fettuccini and serve with chilli flakes, shaved parmesan and a wedge of lime.


Easy, and amazing! I think I had a third helping.

For those interested, this dish matched perfectly with a Windy Peak - Sauvignon Blanc Semillon from the De Bortoli vineyard.

Roast Pumpkin and Fetta Salad

This is a variation of a salad I had in Melbourne years ago at a Café with Aunty Jane. I wrote the ingredients on a napkin at the time and have made it a few times since, each varying a little from the last.

It is quick to make and can be prepared a head of time, or assembled just before you eat.
Depending on how you are feeling, you can either combine everything together or layer it on individual plates.

This time I did individual portions a little differently. June, my step-mother-in-law, asked me to make this salad as entre for Christmas lunch, and assemble it in some plastic tubes she had had made using PVC piping.

This is what I used:
Baby spinach and rocket mixed
Butternut pumpkin, diced and roasted
Fetta, crumbled
Mediterranean stuffed olives, sliced
Red onion, finely chopped
Basil leaves, shredded
Slithered almonds, dry toasted
Balsamic vinegar, caramelised with a little brown sugar

Plastic tubes (about 10cm diameter x 10cm tall)

Place a clean tube on each individual plate.
Put a small handful of the spinach mix in the bottom of the tube.
Add the roast pumpkin as the second layer in the tube.
Lay a few slices of olives on the pumpkin then sprinkle with the crumbled fetta (I use a mild one so it’s not too over powering).
Add the red onion and basil leaves then very gently poke it down, not to squash any of the ingredients but to help it settle a little.
Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top then drizzle the caramelised balsamic over the almonds.

If the balsamic has cooled and thickened too much, just gently heat it back up and it should liquefy again.

To serve, gently lift the tubing away so the salad is left standing.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thai Green Curry

I love Thai food, and on colder nights I particularly love a nice spicy curry. This one is delicious and easy to make which is perfect when you don't have much time.

Like the Penang Curry I made some time ago, I use Mae Ploy curry paste and just add a few extras to boost the flavours you like.

1-2 Tbs curry paste
1 tin coconut cream
1 tin coconut milk
Kaffir lime leaf
Coriander leaves
Snow peas
Fresh lemon grass

In a pan, fry the curry paste with a small amount of coconut cream.
Add the chopped chicken and some finely sliced lime leaf and combine well.
Add the rest of the coconut cream and the coconut milk.
Bring to a gentle simmer and add the finely sliced or crushed lemongrass and chopped broccoli.
Stir through the snow peas and fresh coriander leaves.

Serve with steamed rice and top with a little fresh red chilli for some colour and extra bite.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fried Rice with Baby Broad Beans

I think that broad beans are one of those foods that people are often not sure about.
I was one of those people until last year sometime Mum put baby ones in a salad. This is when I realised that they can be really delicious.

Last winter, after pulling out my tomatoes, I decided to plant out some broad beans to see if they would survive winter in my back yard. They grew quite well and even survived moving house.

In the chaos of unpacking, endless jobs to be done and a non user-friendly kitchen, our meals turned quite basic and rushed, but for quite a while seemed to include lots of baby broad beans from the garden.

This fried rice was something I made up for a quick, filling dinner. It pretty much had the following, but I’m sure you could use what ever you like.

Day-old cooked rice
Spring onion
Shredded baby spinach
Firm tofu
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Massel chicken stock powder
Baby broad beans

Chop all the veggies and dice the tofu
In a wok fry the tofu until it starts to turn golden, then add the stock powder, combine well then set the tofu aside.
In the wok, lightly fry the finely chopped garlic, ginger and chilli
Add the rice, tossing occasionally while it fries.
When the rice is almost done, add the veggies, soy sauce and sesame oil.
Add the tofu to the rice and combine well, but gently.

I served this with some young chive buds as I think they are super cute and add a little kick of flavour.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lavender Pancakes with Fruit and Yogurt

After a lovely relaxing day at home, lounging in the sun, I thought it would be nice to make a treat.

With my Mr being sick with something-itis, and only eating tinned fruit, I decided to make some pancakes to go with the fruit.

During the week I saw a recipe in the Food & Wine using lavender, so I thought I would try it out with the pancakes.

I made a fairly simple mix and added a little cocoa, almond meal and chopped lavender.

I stacked a few pancakes, added tinned pears and apricots, a spoon of natural yogurt and drizzled with some eucalyptus honey from Williworld.

Delicious... an afternoon snack for my patient.
(Oh, I also sprinkled on a few tiny fresh lavender flowers from the garden - beautiful!)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pan Fried Tuna with Baked Fennel Salad and Fried Gnocchi

Over the years I have seen many recipes that combine fennel with fish, so when mum gave me half a bulb of fennel I thought I would give it a go.

I flicked through my books looking at various fennel recipes and settled on a delicious looking one of baked fennel with salmon and capers.

I didn't quite have all the ingredients that were required - mainly the salmon - but used the recipe as a guide and made up the rest.

In a baking dish I slowly baked a mixture of the following until tender and golden.
Red onion
Olive oil
White wine

As something to go with my dish, I cooked up some semolina with a bit of water and salt. Stirring constantly, I slowly added milk as needed - making sure the mixture stayed thick enough to spoon into balls for a gnocchi type thing.
Once rolled, I pressed the balls between two forks and pan fried them until they were golden.

For the fish, I used tuna steaks as that is what I had in the fridge.
I rubbed them with a good amount of freshly cracked pepper and some salt flakes, then pan fried them until just done but golden and crispy.

The dish, and my first attempt at cooking with fennel was a success. It tasted good, though I'm not sure that fennel is for me. It has quite a strong aniseed flavour ... like licourice which is not exactly my favourite thing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Satay Tofu with Stir Fried Broccolini

This recipe is originally from Mum, who has fond memories of eating satay chicken skewers with her Dad and Grandad from the street carts in Singapore.

Growing up a vegetarian, I have only ever had this marinade with tofu, which is one of my all time favourites. It is so easy to make and tastes fantastic.

The broccoli recipe is also from Mum and is how Grandma used to make it.

What is in it
Garlic, grated or minced
Coriander seeds, ground
Soy sauce
Kecap manis
Lemon juice
Minced onion (although I never bother with this)

Baby bok choy
Garlic, thinly sliced

How to make it
Chop the tofu into whatever size / shape you like... slices, battens, cubes etc.
Place the chopped tofu in a water tight container.
Add the garlic, ground coriander, kecap manis and soy sauce.
Put the lid on the container and combine well by giving it a shake, rattle and roll...
Leave to marinate for an amount of time, 1/2 an hour or overnight if you wish. Periodically shaking to mix.

For the greens, heat a little olive oil in a wok or frypan.
Add the sliced garlic and veggies and quickly stir fry.

You could eat these as sides, have by themselves or serve with rice.
The tofu is also great with some spicy peanut sauce.

Mm mmm!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Achari Paneer with Jeera Rice and Chicken Nibbles

A visit (thanks to Jethro) to the Mudgeeraba Spices has rekindled my curry fervour. When I spied Paneer as a new arrival in the supermarket cheese section, I thought yes, I'll try that. Vague memories of having seen Paneer in an Indian cookbook.

Having not had the time to make it during the week, I decided to take the ingredients to Canberra and cook it for Kristel's birthday.

200g paneer
200g farm cheese
1 red capsicum
1 zucchini
2 yellow squash
2 T sunflower oil
red chilli
1 t fennel seeds
1/4 t black mustard seeds
6 fenugreek seeds, ground
1 t kalonji seeds
1/2 cumin
1/2 t aesofoetida (optional)
1/2 t turmeric
1 tin diced tomato
2 T mango pickle
1 t garam masala
salt to taste
1 t coriander leaves chopped

Roughly cut the vegetables and set aside.
Cut the paneer and farm cheese into 1 1/2 cm cubes and set aside.

Heat the oil, add ginger, garlic and chilli and simmer for 8 - 10 minutes.
Add all the spices (except the masala) and fry until aromatic.

Add the tinned tomato and simmer for a few minutes then set aside while you prepare the rice.
Add the veggies and simmer for about 5 minutes before adding the cheese, pickle and masala.
Gently combine and cook until heated through. Add the coriander just before serving.

For the rice you will need:
1 1/2 cup basmati rice
2 t cumin (Jeera)
1/2 cup salted roast cashews
3 whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves
3 cloves
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/2 t cinnamon pdr
1 onion finely sliced
2 T ghee (1T butter 2t peanut oil)

Wash the rice and soak for 1/2 hour.
Heat ghee, fry the onion until soft, then add the bay leaves and spices.
Add the rice, salt and about 2 1/2 cups water, stir then cover and simmer until done. (We also added the juices from the roasted chicken nibbles).

The chicken nibbles were Kristel's recipe that she had made-up the night before. It was a marinade of dukkah, harissa, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and white wine. The chicken can then be either fried or baked.

Swadisht mazedar!
The experiment was a great success and I will definitely make this again.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Roast Chicken with North African Spices

This dish is thanks to Bridget, who kindly gave me last weeks Food and Wine magazine. I flicked through, looking at the pictures, reviews, ideas, gardening tips and delicious recipes.

The following night I was severely lacking inspiration or motivation to cook but was hungry and didn't want to get takeaway.

Then I remembered this particular dish and the blurb saying something that made me want to try it... it said 'This recipe is full of exotic spices and the cooking aromas will whisk you away to a Moroccan souk.'

As I was short on time and energy, I modified the recipe a little, buy using a different cut of meat, and just cooking it in a pan on the stove rather than slowly roasting it in the oven.

It is quick to make and super tasty...
I didnt really measure anything but used roughly the following:

3 Chicken fillets
1 tsp Salt flakes
1 tsp Freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Large Onion
5 Garlic cloves
2 tsp Ginger
1 Chilli
2 tsp Sweet paprika
2 tsp Cumin seeds
2 tsp Coriander seeds
1/2 tsp Turmeric
3 tsp Chicken stock powder
1/2 cup Parsley, chopped
Juice of 2 Lemons

Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. I used chicken fillets but you could use which ever cut you like.
Fry the chicken over medium heat to seal the meat then put it in a separate bowl for later.

In the same pan, add a little more olive oil and fry the onion. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and gently fry for a few minutes.
Add the spices and fry until fragrant. Add the chicken back into the pan and combine well with the spice and onion mix.
Add the chicken stock, parsley and lemon juice and combine well.

I served this on hot polenta which I had cooked with a little veggie stock and drizzled with a little olive oil and extra lemon juice.

Yum! absolutely delicious...

Thursday, August 4, 2011


The first time I had this scrumptious, rich, and somehow delicate dessert was about 10 or 15 years ago when we were fortunate enough to meet Jo and Gina.

Although we (the Willi kids) had already been growing up with amazing food, this couple and their kitchen introduced us to a whole new world of delicious food... authentic Italian!
Meals were always tasty beyond belief and left you feeling extremely satisfied, if not a little full.
I remember huge bowls of pasta including Pesto, Arrabiata and Boscaiola, delicious BBQs, salads straight from the garden, a range of biscotti and the best fish soup!

Although these were all very tasty and memorable I can’t go past the tiramisu... it is still one of my favourites.
The quantities of ingredients will depend on the size of the bowl you want to make this in.
My bowl was about 20cm wide and I used roughly the following:

300ml Thickened cream
200g Mascarpone
1/3 cup Icing sugar
1 tsp Vanilla essence
1/2 a packet of Italian sponge fingers
2 Espresso coffee shots
1/4 cup Chocolate Pyjama Vino (usually Tia Maria or other coffee or chocolate liqueur)
1/2 a block of chocolate, coarsely grated (I used Cadbury Roast Almond Dark Chocolate)
Firstly, make your coffee. If you have an espresso machine, great, if not, you could use a plunger or coffee bag. You can also water down the coffee if you wish.
When the coffee has cooled add about half the liqueur.

Dip the sponge fingers in the coffee mixture and create a single layer in your bowl then sprinkle with about a third of the grated chocolate.

In a mixing bowl whip the cream, sugar and vanilla into soft peaks then add the mascarpone and remaining liqueur. Whip further until just smooth.
Gently create a cream layer with about half of the cream mixture.
Repeat with the dipped sponge fingers, chocolate and cream.
Top with the remaining grated chocolate.

Cover and place in the fridge overnight, allowing the flavours to combine and the biscuits to soften.
I also used a single glass as I wanted to see how well it would work making single serves.

As anticipated, they both turned out fantastically... what a shame they disappeared so quickly.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pumpkin and Roast Garlic Soup

This is not entirely 'pumpkin' soup as it has a bunch of other things in it, however you could use pumpkin on its own if you wish.

I’m not that great with quantities and they probably change a little each time, but I think I would roughly use the following...

1 small pumpkin
3 - 4 carrots
3- 5 small potatoes
1 large onion
2 - 3 Tbsp Massel chicken stock powder
1 - 2 Tbsp Massel vegetable stock powder
1 large knob of garlic
Boiling water
Salt and pepper to taste

Dice onion and fry on low heat with a little butter and oil until onion begins to caramelise.
While the onion is cooking, break garlic knob apart, leaving skin on, and dry roast in a fry pan stirring/turning for a few minutes until it begins to char. Allow to cool, remove skin and set aside
Dice potatoes and add to onions, frying on lowish heat for a few minutes.
Add diced carrot, cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently. (The potato might stick a little but that’s ok, as long as they don't start to burn).

Stir through the stock powder and add a tiny bit of water if the veggies are sticking.
Add the diced pumpkin, stirring, frying for a minute or two
Add just enough boiling water to just cover the veggies.
Stir and simmer on medium heat for around 10-15 minutes (you don't want to over cook the pumpkin)

Remove from heat, stir through roast garlic, cover and allow to cool for a minute or two before blending with a wiz stick or in a food processor.

Serve with sour cream, turkish bread, a bit of parsley or chives and some freshly ground pepper.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pear and Carob Pudding

We were due to catch up with some friends last Sunday afternoon as we hadn't seen them for a while. I was in the mood for some baking and as their little boy had just turned 1 I thought I would bake something to share.

I knew my friend was on a restricted diet due to the birthday boy’s allergy to dairy and salicylates, so I sent a quick message to find out a few things they could eat.

With my newly acquired list of ‘okays’ (which included pealed pears and carob) I went on the hunt for an adaptable recipe. I found a recipe, originally by Nigella Lawson, which looked like it would do the trick.

You will need:
Tinned pears, drained
125g plain flour (I used 90g plain, 35g whole wheat flour)
125g dark brown sugar
25g light carob powder
150g Original Nuttelex
2 tsp No Egg
4 Tbsp water
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda
2 tsp soy milk
(I also added a bit extra water and soymilk, a teaspoon or so of each)

Lightly grease a 20 cm baking tin. (I used 4 low-ball glass tumblers)
Preheat oven to 200C.
Lay the tinned pears on the bottom of your tin, glasses or ramekins.
Place all other ingredients into a food processor and blitz until you get a soft dropping mixture.
Gently spread the batter over the pears and bake for 30 minutes (or less if baking individual serves) I baked my 4 tumblers for about 15 minutes.

The original recipe called for a chocolate sauce made from dark chocolate, cream and a little coffee. This got me stumped as I wasn’t sure how to adapt this into something edible for my friend. However, while driving to their place I decided to attempt a sweet béchamel sauce using Nuttelex, plain flour and soymilk with carob powder and brown sugar.

The puddings turned out to be a great success and were very rich (which I think is the result of any Nigella recipe). There will definitely be a next time for this one, though I think I’ll use more pear and maybe make the sauce a little thinner or try leaving the carob out.

Hello friends; and Happy Birthday little man!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lamb, caramelised onion and sweet potato baskets

This awesome little delight comes from the "feel great food" cookbook that Ash got from her gym. Of course I didn't follow the recipe exactly but hey, they're more like guidelines anyway :)
It says to make the baskets using filo pastry but we didn't have any so I just used puff instead. I have written the recipe down as in the book using the filo. Modify as you see fit :)

Ingredients needed:
200g cubed sweet potato
3 sheets filo
30g melted butter
2 red onions, thinly sliced
1Tbsp brown sugar
1Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 lamb backstraps, trimmed (I just de-boned some lamb chops instead)
80g goats cheese (or feta)
1Tbsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 200c° and bake sweet potato until tender.
Meanwhile layer filo sheets together brushing with melted butter. Cut evenly into squares, then push squares into a greased (large) muffin tray and bake for 5-10mins till golden.

In a frying pan saute the onions in some olive oil until tender and lightly browned. Blend in the sugar and vinegar and stir over low heat till caramelised. Remove from pan.
Return pan to heat and fry lamb on all sides for a few minutes till cooked to your liking. Remove from pan and rest (covered) for 5 mins then slice into cubes. Combine lamb, onion, sweet potato and cheese and fill baskets. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve with yoghurt.

So obviously I didn't follow the recipe above as I used puff instead of filo and I also added some diced celery, carrot, sliced mushrooms and white wine to the onions as well as a sprinkle of Italian herbs. I served the baskets with a garden salad. Was very tasty!

Tunisian Carrot Salad

This is a delicious salad that we made a while ago to accompany some Harissa Crumbed Chicken. The carrot salad recipe comes from one of our newer cookbooks titled Gourmet Vegetarian, by Jane Price. Its very simple and tastes delicious!

Ingredients you will need are:
500g carrots
3Tbsp chopped parsley
1tsp ground cumin
80ml olive oil
60ml red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2tsp harissa (more if you want to give it a bigger kick)
random amount of olives
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered

Thinly slice the carrots then add to pot of boiling water and cook till tender. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Add parsley, cumin, olive oil, vinegar and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and harissa. Stir well. Put carrots in a serving bowl and garnish with olives and egg.

How simple is that!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mum's famous wholemeal bread

I have recently been making my own bread as the stuff we but at the shops just doesn't compare or fill you up as much as "williworld" bread. I have been following a recipe that mum wrote out for me a few years ago when I was living with Dan & Stelle in Albury. The recipe if for 3 loaves, each one weighing around the 1kg mark.

The recipe says to use dry bakers yeast but I have started my own sourdough starter and have been using that together with 1 teaspoon of yeast just to kick it along. Depending on how dense you want your bread you can vary the amounts of wholemeal and plain bakers flour and yes, you can add just about anything else you want too.

I have been adding some home made LSA (combination of ground Linseed, Sesame seed and Almonds) as well as some whole sunflour seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds i think). The loaf at the front in the top picture is different to the other two behind it as I added olives and a whole Kransky sausage to the middle of it. This idea was inspired by something I saw on French Food Safari. Was interesting to say the least :)

Of course, if you dont have a bread machine you are going to need some bread tins or rectangular cake tins unless you just make them into cobb loaves etc.

The recipe is as follows and uses dry yeast and not sourdough starter.

4-5 cups hot water (hand hot, not boiling)
1700g flour (any combination of wholemeal, bakers, soy etc.)
1Tbsp sugar
3tsp yeast
1Tbsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Set to froth 1c. water, the yeast, 1c flour and the sugar. Once your yeast froth mix is ready, combine 3c water with around 1200g of the flour. Set to rise for 45min-1hr. Once it has risen sufficiently, press it down with the salt and oil and combine the remaining flour. If it is too dry add a little more of the remaining water. Set to rise again in a warm place (hard to find in our house at the moment) till ready to use.

Next you need to divide the dough into 3 sections and knead, then set in tins and allow to rise for 15-20mins. While they are rising in the tins, preheat oven to around 250. Cook for 10mins at this temp then another 50mins at 180.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chilli Sauce

I polished off the last of the chilli jam that Mama made me and was going to put it on my list of things to get next time I went home, when I realised that I should make some myself - given the umpteen chillies lying around my house.

As the chillies were picked a little while ago and had started to dry out, I chopped them up and put them in a saucepan with some water. As this began to create steam, I began to wonder if I was actually making a bio-weapon! My eyes were burning and I was coughing so hard I thought I would spew or burst a lung.

Hmm... maybe it's not a great idea to only grow super hot chillies after all...

After airing out the house, contemplating a gas mask and leaving the chilli liquid to settle for a day or two, I reluctantly re-attempted the sauce. This time, with a little more success.

I blended up the chillies with a wiz-stick, removed just about all the seeds, which were floating, and brought the chillies back up to a very gentle simmer. I then added white vinegar, sea salt, a few garlic cloves and 3 or 4 or 5 cups of sugar.

I simmered this for quite a while then poured it into sterilised jars.

Yum. What started as virtually poison turned out to be rather delicious.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Date and Almond Swirls

I felt like baking on the weekend, but couldn't decide on what to make. I really wanted some Tiramisu but somehow that didnt happen, neither did the Portuguese Tarts...

With my spare time quickly running out, I finally decided to make a cheats version of Mama's Danish pastries (or are they kolache? I can't remember, either way they are delicious!)

Mama makes hers from scratch, buttery pasty and all, and makes an almond filling as well as a poppy seed one.

I seem to also remember a date filling so I thought I would give that a go.

In a small saucepan, place about 1/2 a cup of dates with a bit of water. Cook gently until dates a very soft. Keep an eye on the water, you want just enough so the dates don't stick or burn.

Add about a 1/3 cup brown sugar to the dates along with 1 egg white and about 1/2 cup whole almond meal, then combine well.

Spread the filling onto defrosted puff pastry sheets, loosely roll and place back in the freezer to firm up a little. Otherwise, you can slice the pastry into strips about 1 1/2 cm wide and loosely roll into spirals.

Place your little swirls onto a lined baking tray and bake in a hot oven until golden brown.

MmMmmm! Although they were not as scrumptious as Mamas, they still make a nice treat with a leisurely afternoon coffee.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tofu with Chilli Jam and Cashews

This is an adaptation from a recipe in the 'Gourmet Vegetarian' cook book that Mama gave me a year or so ago.

It is pretty quick to make and tastes delicious!

You will need:
400g Tofu
3 Chillies
3 Garlic cloves
3 Spring onions
1 Tbsp Tamarind puree
1 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 Tbsp Brown sugar
1 Tbsp Kecap manis
1/4 cup Thai basil
1/2 cup Roasted salted cashews

To make the chilli jam, chop the chilli and garlic and fry in a small sauce with sunflower oil over low/medium heat. Add tamarind puree, soy sauce, sugar, kecap manis and a little water if you want. (you can also add sweet chilli sauce or use it instead of the chilli and sugar)

Cube and fry the tofu until golden brown then add the chilli jam and combine well.
Add the chopped spring onions, basil leaves and cashews.

Serve with rice and some Asian greens - I used baby broccoli leaves from my garden.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Standing Rib Roast with Baby Vegetables

The last few weeks have been very chilly in Canberra, reminding us that it is well and truly winter and with Mum and Dad visiting for the weekend I thought it would be a good opportunity to bake my first roast dinner.

As I'm not experienced in buying cuts of meat I had a slight misunderstanding with the Butcher who cut my Roast into individual portions. I was initially disappointed but decided that it actually created more surface area for the marinade and that I could just tie them back together.

Using the pestle and mortar I made a simple marinade of fresh garlic, parsley, pepper, salt, a bit of thyme and olive oil. Mum and Dad then helped me tie the individual cuts together with some cotton string, courtesy of Hannah. (Thanks Hannah. It worked perfectly!)

I then placed the roast back in the fridge to marinate while we went for a drive to Corin Forrest where it was snowing!!

After researching how to cook a roast, I decided to roughly follow the advice on a Canadian beef farmer's website called Whispering Meadows.

I placed the roast, which was at least a kilo, on a few celery stick in a baking dish and put it in the oven at 180C for maybe 1 1/2 hours, basting it a few times and drizzling it with some red wine and butter. I then took it out, covered it with foil and let it rest for another 20 minutes or so.

While the roast was cooking, Dad and Luke got the potatoes ready with olive oil, salt and rosemary. I washed and prepared the baby carrots, baby beets, baby onions (shallots) and garlic cloves. For the Beetroots, I par-boiled them then finished them in the oven with the rest of the veggies.

Lastly, Mum made a delicious gravy while I steamed the baby brussels.

Yum! The meat was perfectly tender and the veggies were scrumptious and golden.

I think Dada was right... the universe does allow for beginners luck.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pear and Rocket Salad

I first made this salad for a shindig at Williworld after seeing the recipe in an ad for Maggie Beer's Spicey Pear Paste.

It has since become a favourite.

Baby rocket or rocket and spinach mix
Pears (sweet but still firm), cut into narrow wedges
Shaved parmesan
Crumbled feta (sheep or goat)
Candied walnuts

Pear or Quince Paste
Equal proportions of Lemon Juice, White Wine Vinegar and Water
Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, or Macadamia or Walnut oil (enough liquid to make the dressing pourable)
Salt and a liberal amount of pepper (use some schechaun pepper for a spicey bite)

Candied Walnuts
Lightly toast nuts in a saute pan. Add good pat of butter and equal volume of brown sugar and stir until butter and sugar start to toffee, being careful to not singe the butter.
Set aside to cool and then break apart.

Combine the ingredients, pour on the dressing and top with the candied walnuts.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pad Thai

One of the best places I have found to buy a great Pad Thai is from the Thai Cart (Baan Sabai Jai) on Smollett Street in Albury, however, it is pretty quick, easy and super tasty if you want to make it yourself at home.

I orginally got this recipe from Stellie (thank you muchly) and have played with it a little each time I have made it.

Firstly, soak 200g rice noodles in warm water until just soft, then drain well.

In a pestle and mortar, make a paste using:
2 large garlic cloves
2 small chillies
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp palm or brown sugar (I know, I don't really like palm products, but I bought it before I knew that much about it and I don't like waisting things)

2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp tamarind paste
(if you like a stronger flavour, you can make each of these 3 Tbsp)

Heat a little oil in wok:
Fry 2 eggs, stirring until just cooked, then set aside
Stir fry 1 chopped onion then set aside with egg
Stir fry about 400g cubed firm tofu until golden

3 tsp Massel chicken stock powder
Soft noodles
Garlic paste
Fresh bean sprouts
Chopped spring onion
cooked egg and onions
1/2 cup toasted chopped nuts

Combine well then enjoy with spring onions, chilli, fried shallots and a wedge of lime.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Patate, Pepe E Melanzane Fritti (Fried potato, capsicum and eggplant)

This is a recipe out of my new Italian Food Safari cookbook. It is very similar to the fried vegies that mum makes. Of course in true WilliWorld fashion I modified the recipe. Basically this meal is a traditional farmer's lunch and would probably be served with some crusty bread and cold meat.

The modifications that I made to the recipe was to add some fried Beef Kransky as well as some mushrooms and zucchini.

The traditional recipe is as follows.

185ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium potatoes (cut into large cubes or wedges)
1 large eggplant (cubed)
2 red capsicums (preferably bull's horn, cut into 2cm strips)
2 cloves garlic
1 medium tomato (diced)
basil leaves

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the potatoes until lightly golden. Remove from pan and keep warm. Add the cubed eggplant and capsicum to the pan and stir-fry until just soft. Return the potatoes to the pan and stir everything together.

Next you need to create a well in the middle of the vegies and add the diced garlic. Fry the garlic for a few seconds until it releases its aroma, then stir in the tomato, basil and salt. I served this with some of my home made bread which I toasted and spread with mayo and harrissa.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hot and Sour Fish, Steamed in Banana Leaves

I went to the shops the other day looking for a garden pot for my desk at work, but somehow didn’t manage to make it past the recipe books aisle.

While flicking through an assortment of beautiful books I saw a great photograph of a scrumptious looking fish. I had a quick look at the recipe and stored it to memory.

I then went on the hunt for some fresh banana leaves. It took 2 days and 7 shops but I finally found some beautiful leaves at Simply Fresh Fruit Market.

The recipe had 4 whole medium bream, but I already had a single, huge Drummer that I think Mark had caught.

To season the fish you need:
4 chillies
2 Kaffir lime leaves
2 spring onions
1/2 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup Thai basil leaves
2 sticks lemon grass

Lime and Chilli Dressing:
1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp grated ginger

Firstly, make slits across the thickest part of the fish, on both sides. Spoon about 1/3 to 1/2 of the dressing onto the fish. I then wrapped mine in gladwrap and put it in the fridge to marinate for about an hour.

While the fish is marinating, chop and combine the chillies, herbs and spring onions and finely slice the lime leaves. Chop the lemon grass in half, and then in half lengthwise and lightly bruise.

To prepare the banana leaves, trim them into large squares, large enough to wrap your fish.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, then using tongs, dip the leaves into the boiling water then immediately run then under cold water.

Lay out the prepared banana leaves and place a few stick of lemongrass and about 1/3 of the herb mix. Lay the fish on the herbs and cover with the rest of the herbs. If you have extra, place some inside the fish too.

Wrap the banana leaves around the fish and tie the with twine. Place the fish in a steamer (I used my wok as it has a wire rack insert for steaming) and cook for 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of you fish.

When the fish is done, open the parcel and pour the rest of the dressing over the fish. Serve with steamed rice and Asian greens, a few fresh herbs and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Mmm... spice but tasty. I think I might buy the book.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Turmeric Rice with Tofu and Toasted Almonds

This is a variation on a simple but delicious dish that a family friend used to make when I was a kid.

I loved it then, but I much prefer this version.

You will need:
1 ¼ cups rice
1 Onion
1 – 2 tsp turmeric
A handful of whole almonds
Diced tofu (I use half a 750g block of Soyco firm tofu)
Massel chicken stock and vegetable stock powders
Sour cream
Chilli sauce
Veggies of your choice

Gently caramelise onion with a little butter and oil.
Add 1 tsp each of chicken and veggie stock along with the turmeric, stir until fragment.
Add rice, gently frying and stirring until combined.
Add about 2 cups hot water, reduce heat and cover.

In a pan, fry cubed tofu, once it starts to turn golden add about 3 tsp of chicken stock powder and a handful of almonds.
Continue cooking until almonds are hot and there is good colour on the tofu.

When rice is done stir gently with a fork to combine the onion and loosen the rice.

Serve with scoop of sour cream and a drizzle of chilli sauce.
To make it a bit healthier, and depending on what is in season, I also serve this with broccoli, tomato wedges, beans or snow peas.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Panang Curry with Green Beans

This is very quick and easy to cook and tastes amazing! I love the slow food revolution whole heartedly, but sometimes I just don't have the time or energy to make a homemade curry paste.

Thankfully, I have found the Mae Ploy range of pastes have great flavour, are convenient and very easy to use.

Stir fry about 3 Tbsp of Mae Ploy Panang curry paste with a cup or so of coconut milk.

Reduce heat and add a tin of coconut milk, chicken (about 4-500 g) and a handful of shiitake mushrooms.

After a few minutes add a chopped carrot.
When the chicken is almost cooked add a good handful of fresh green beans.

Serve with hot steamed rice and top with a finely shredded kaffir lime leaf, sliced chilli and a few coriander leaves.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Williworld was first introduced to this little hit of magic when Shane and Jane gave Mama Maria Stephanie Alexander’s, The Cook’s Companion, for Christmas …maybe in 1999?

One day when I was sitting at the dining table flicking through this gigantic book, I found the recipe in the margin of the page. I read it out to Mum, who was pottering in the kitchen, and promptly added chillies to shopping list.

Over the years I have made harissa a few times, and each time it has changed, often due to a lack of the actual recipe or the required ingredients. This; combined with my strange love for growing chillies (and rather hot ones) has resulted in my version tending to differ a little each time, though always seems to be, umm... very hot.

To make your own batch you will need:
A bunch of chillies
At least a knob of garlic
A couple of teaspoons each of caraway seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds
A few glugs of olive oil, and
A nice amount of salt

I like harissa quite hot and it seems to be rather addictive, though if heat is not your thing, you could cool it down by adding some fresh or roast capsicum, or if you grow or buy milder chillies you shouldn’t have a problem.

I also don’t measure my ingredients very well, but generally use mostly chilli, then garlic; fairly equal quantities of the spices, a fare amount of salt with enough olive oil to make a nice consistency – not to thick, but not soupy.

Place all ingredients in a food processor (or pestle and mortar – for a more rustic blend) and combine well.

Store in sterilised jars in the fridge.

The actual ingredients from The Cooks Companion are:
250 g chillies
1 head of garlic
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp ground caraway seeds
1 Tbsp dried mint
3 Tbsp fresh coriander
1 Tbsp salt
olive oil

Harissa can be added to a bunch of different dishes and cuisines. It is perfect with cheese and crackers; can be added to things such as yogurt or hummus as a dip; or with Tagine, Ratatouille or Ossa Bucco for some kick. Plus, if you are anything like me, it might just start a slight obsession with chillies.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pork crackling

Last night Dan and Estelle were present for a pork-stravaganza.
I has a 1.5kg slab of pork belly and some skin for extra crackling. All recipes I consulted said lots of salt, blanch in boiling water before blasting at the highest heat then turning down to fully dry out.

Most crackling was all good. Some didn't get anywhere close to the blistering that I had hoped for. Any advice from fellow crackling lovers?

Image attached is desired result, sadly not exactly what was achieved.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Garlic Zwieback with Lentil and Barley Soup

I have fond memories, from when I was little, of having nice warm soup – usually a rich tomato or pumpkin soup – with zwieback made from Mum’s homemade bread. I still love all of these things - Soup, Zwieback, and Mums bread.

I made up this soup a little while ago and think it is a great soup for lunch or dinner on a cold winter day.

I roughly used:
2 cups lentils, uncooked
1 cup pearl barley, uncooked
2 carrots
2 - 3 celery sticks (can use leaves too)
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp ground cumin seeds
2 or 3 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 ½ tsp turmeric
1 fresh chilli
Massel beef stock powder
Salt and

Soak lentils and barley for 8-12 hours, drain then cook separately (in fresh water) until tender.
I add a couple of teaspoons of Massel beef stock powder to the lentils while they are cooking.

Fry an onion, add garlic and spices and stir until fragrant.
Add veggies, cooked barley and lentils.
Add water or stock to create desired consistency.
Salt and pepper to taste.

For the zwieback I used some homemade, whole-wheat, olive and rosemary bread.
Toast the bread, allow to cool, then lightly rub with a clove of garlic before spreading with butter. Then place the toast into medium oven until warm and crisp.

I also add some parsley and sliced fresh chilli to serve.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Spinach and Ricotta Pasties

This is one of my favourite snacks or meals. Apart from being very yummy... they have pastry!
They are super easy to make and can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for a rainy day.

I made this batch using a mixture of fresh spinach and silverbeet from my garden.

As a guide, you will need:
  • Some spinach
  • A large-ish wedge of ricotta
  • A block of fetta
  • An onion
  • A couple of cloves of garlic
  • Maybe ½ a tsp of nutmeg
  • A few sprigs of oregano
  • Maybe 2 eggs
  • Salt and Pepper

Using a little olive oil, lightly fry the onion, adding the garlic just before the onion if done.
If using fresh spinach, chop it up and throw it in with the garlic, stir then cover with a lid and turn the heat off – just to wilt it down. Otherwise, just defrost some frozen spinach.

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Scoop onto pastry, fold into parcels and bake in a hot oven until crispy and golden.

Enjoy hot with some tomato sauce or chutney.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Salt & Pepper Squid with Crispy Noodle Salad

This is from a cookbook that Aasha got from her gym. Its called Feel great Food.

This is in two parts. The squid and the salad.

Salt + pepper squid:
2 Tbsp flour
1tsp salt
1 tsp crushed pepper corns
2 squid hoods
2 eggs lightly beaten
oil for deep frying

Noodle salad:
1/2 chinese cabbage (unless its a big one then just use a quarter)
2 carrots (cut into matchsticks)
1 packet bean sprouts
1 packet crispy noodles
1 packet snow pea sprouts
1 red onion
1/2 cup coriander leaves
honey-soy dressing (make your own or use pre-made)

1. Combine salt pepper and breadcrumbs in a small bowl
2. Score the inside of squid tubes diagonally then cut into 6cm pieces.
3. Toss squid in flour till evenly coated
4. Dip in egg mix then coat with breadcrumb mix and set aside.

5. In a large bowl combine all the salad ingredients except the dressing, toss well
6. Deep fry squid in batches for 1-2 mins until golden. Drain on paper towl.
7. Divide salad onto plates and top with squid, then drizzle with dressing.
8. Enjoy!

Mushroom and nut loaf wraps

This is my variation on the nut burgers that we all love from Gav's deli in Ulladulla.

The mushroom and nut loaf is one of mum's recipies. And yes, like everything mum cooks it is delicious! Firstly the mushroom and nut loaf recipe.

500g mushrooms
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
1tsp thyme
2Tbsp rice flour or semolina
2 eggs
1 cup milk
500g nuts (I used brazil, almond and chestnuts)
salt and pepper
2Tbsp butter + 1 of olive oil

Melt butter and oil, then saute finely chopped onion till soft. Add chopped mushrooms and thyme and cook for 5 mins. Add milk and rice flour and cook till thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in ground nuts (Put them through your food processor till finely chopped. If they are too chunky the loaf is hard to slice) eggs and salt and pepper. Line a loaf tin with the breadcrumbs and fill with the mixture. Bake in moderate oven for 1hr or until skewer comes out smooth.

As for the wraps... Just add you favourite toppings to a warm lavish bread. These wraps have mayo, harissa, cucumber, tomato, capsicum, lettuce and of course, the mushroom & nut loaf!

Rappatootie (ratatouille)

This is a williworld favourite for sure! Think you all know how to make it and we all add our own little twists but here's my most recent version.

1 Eggplant
4 Zuccini
2 Red Capsicums
500g Button mushrooms
Lots of garlic!
1tsp harissa
Olive oil

Chop all the vegies up into small bite size pieces, add oil, chopped garlic and harissa to large pot and sauté, then add all your vegies. Simmer on low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally for around 30mins or until vegies have cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with toasted Turkish bread spread with mayo and harissa :) Enjoy!

Quince Paste

So, I'm finally getting something up on the blog. Seeing as I'm on holidays I dont have an excuse now. Anyway, many of you have already tasted my quince paste so thought I would post it on here. The process I used to make the paste was unorthodox as I started making quince jelly then realised I was making the wrong thing. Anyway, the process is fairly similar for both jelly and paste, its just that the paste uses the actual quince fruit while the jelly discards it. I found the recipe for the quince jelly on a

2kg semi-ripe quinces (usually 5-6)
2-3 lemons
3 L cold water

Basically you just remove the fur from the quinces by rubbing under the water with a cloth or your hand. Pour the water into a large pot. Next peel one of the lemons and add peel to the pot. Juice the lemons and add half a glass (150-200ml) of juice to the water. Core the quinces and then cut into small pieces (1-2cm). Bring to the boil then simmer for 90mins. Remove lid and simmer for another 15mins.

So this is where you would start making the jelly if you wanted to but I'll just stick to the paste. Once the water has turned a rosy pink colour you can use a kitchen wiz or blender to blend all the quince pieces. Next you need to add the sugar. For every 500ml of liquid you need to add 500g of sugar. Stir till the sugar is dissolved and simmer for several hours. Test on a small saucer to see when the paste has reaches setting point. Depending of how hard you want your paste you could add some jam setter. And that's pretty much it. Makes about 12 jars or 5 take away containers :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Warm Bourghal Salad

I had planned on having pumpkin soup for dinner tonight... but someone didn't feel like soup.

We ended up having a BBQ with lightly steamed vegetables, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to use the pre-soaked bourghal I had in the fridge.

In a pan I fried the bourghal with some olive oil on low to medium heat. Added some fresh chilli and garlic, a chopped spring onion, some frozen peas and halved cherry tomatoes. Then seasoned with some veggie salt.

For some crunch I also added toasted slivered almonds.

It turned out to be a delicious little concoction that spiced up our BBQ.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sushi Rolls

I love sushi rolls... they are easy to make, are fresh and healthy, filling and full of flavour - especially when you add wasabi and pickled ginger... yummo!!

The first time I had sushi was with Grandma when I was maybe 11 or 12. We went to SushiTrain in Broadbeach. I quite liked it, but probably enjoyed the experience and outing (on my own) with Grandma more.

I really fell in love with sushi while at college in Sydney... Having the beautiful Kabuki Shoroku Japanese Restaurant just a couple of doors down from JDW lead to me having a roll (or two) for lunch nearly every day.

The following year I learned to make homemade sushi with Dan and Stelle at Pine Avenue.

I usually make mine with cucumber, red capsicum, spring onions and tariyaki chicken or tofu, or salmon and avocado.

I also make a sauce of kikkoman with a bit of fresh chilli, garlic and vietnamese mint.

The instructions for cooking the rice are on the back of the 'sushi rice' packet and are pretty easy to follow. I find that about 1 cup of uncooked rice will make 4 full nori rolls.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Persian Kofta with Yogurt Sauce

I stumbled upon this recipe online several years ago while researching tagine or maybe megadarra... It was on this website, blog type thing, of a guy that seemed to be travelling and eating his way around the Middle East.
The site looked a bit strange and unusual but the recipe sounded amazing. Hence – I hit print and added Persian kofta (after altering it a little) to my collection of favourites.

For the sauce:
3 cups natural yogurt
3-5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp dill, chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Combine all ingredients together and set aside to allow the flavours to meld.

For the kofta:
1 kg ground beef or lamb (maybe a bit less?)
1 large onion
1 cup bulgur wheat, soaked for ½ hour in warm water
5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp coriander
Salt and pepper
Toasted almonds and pine nuts, chopped
2 - 3 eggs

Lightly fry onions and toast chopped nuts. Combine all ingredients together with a splash of olive oil and mix well.

Form small balls/patties/ovally shapes and fry in a pan or on the BBQ.

Top with yogurt sauce and enjoy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Raspberry Mousse Macarons

I ended up making these macarons for Greg's party too, as someone wasn't sure people would like the Cardamom ones.

I tried a new recipe, from my book Secrets of Macarons' for the shells which was pretty much the same as the last recipe only seemed to possibly have tant pour tant (the mixture of almond meal and icing sugar) as they were actually in equal quantities.

Hesitantly, I did lessen the amount of caster sugar in the syrup - not sure what difference if might have made - but I'll give you the real amount. I also unfortunatley had to use almond meal that had dark bit of almond skin in it which gave the shells a bit of a 'wholemeal' look making them not quite as pretty as they could have been...

For the shells:
100 g almond meal
100 g pure icing sugar
80 g egg white
90 g caster sugar
75 ml water
Food colouring
Lemon zest

Whisk egg white into soft peaks, then add a few drops of colour.
In a small saucepan gently boil caster sugar and water until it reaches 115C.
While continueing to whisk the egg whites, slowly pour in the hot sugar - continue wisking for 5-10 minutes or until the mixture cools.

Gently fold in the TPT and zest of one lemon.
Pipe batter onto lined trays, rest for 1 - 2 hours then bake at 145C for 15 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before removing shells from paper.

For the mousse:
Make a firm raspberry jelly using 1 cup frozen raspberries, juice of 1 lemon and gelatin or agar.
Make a basic buttercream from egg yolks, hot sugar syrup, butter and zest (instructions here - just leave out all things orange and add a nice amount of lemon zest).
Mash up the jelly with a fork then whisk it into the buttercream - presto! Raspberry mousse - ok not really, but it's a similar texture.

Yummo... these just might be the favourite.