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.