Sunday, April 30, 2006

Lamb Patties with hummus & pitta

After all of the tagines, stews & roasts I’ve eaten & cooked up lately I felt like a bit of a change & decided on something lighter for dinner tonight. Keeping to my weekend Nigella theme I cooked up the Lamb patties from Forever Summer. Quite simple to prepare & a nice casual dinner. The patties were very nice especially when combined with the sauce & salad ingredients though when making again I would add dome salt & pepper to the mix just for a bit of extra flavour, I am a bit of a salt addict though. Also as you can see I made my patties a bit bigger so only got 17 patties from the mix. Half of this is heaps to fill 2 large pitta’s and serve 2 people. Michael was happy too as he is a big souvlaki man so was nearly able to believe he was eating junk food which he loves!

Lamb Patties with hummus & pitta

For the patties
50g bulgar wheat
500g lean lamb mince
4 teaspoons dried mint
4 teaspoons dried oregano
1 clove garlic
zest of 1 lemon
olive oil for frying

For the pittas
Pitta breads
Lettuce, shredded
Fresh mint, chopped
1 red onion, halved & sliced into very thin half moons
Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Soak the bulgar wheat by covering with boiling water & leaving for 15 minutes in a small bowl.

Drain the bulgar thoroughly, pressing the water out in a sieve & put it in a bowl with the minced lamb. Add the dried mint & oregano, mince in the garlic & the lemon zest. Stir everything thoroughly & form into small walnut sized patties, then flatten slightly & arrange them on glad wrap on a plate or baking tray & let them stand for 20 minutes in the fridge to firm up. You can leave in the fridge for up to 6 hours before frying. The mix makes about 34 patties which makes about 8 bulging sandwiches.

Fry the patties in a little olive oil until cooked through, and a beautiful golden brown on both sides. These are little, so it shouldn’t take too long: about 4 minutes a side. The important thing is not to crowd the pan as you cook.

To make up your sandwiches, roughly proceed as follows. Toast or otherwise warm each pitta bread and cut a strip off one long side to open it, then stuff it with a salad of shredded lettuce, chopped mint and half-moons of red onion rings. Dollop into each gaping pitta (and you can do this before or after the salad stage actually) a couple of tablespoons of hummus mixed with 1 tablespoon Greek yoghurt and a pinch of ground cumin. Cram with four or five lamb patties, then squeeze in half a tomato roughly chopped and give a good spritz of lemon juice.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Yesterday my good friend Rach had a bit of a bbq for her birthday so of course I had to make her a cake. I chose the first of Nigella’s cakes from the Chocolate Hall of Fame in Feast. As you can see from the pic I didn’t have two matching tins (I never read the instructions first!) so I went for a tiered effect. I think it looked pretty good myself & all of the kids loved it, we had to hide in a cupboard to pretect it from them until time to serve. It was really good & as I always find with Nigella’s cakes there was more than enough icing to go between all of the layers nice & thickly, very simple yet delicious cake. Also the ‘throw it all in the food processor’ method was great, esp as I was running late after a big night the night before. HAPPY BIRTHDAY RACH!

Old Fashioned Chocolate cake

200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
40g cocoa
175g soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
150ml sour cream

75g unsalted butter
175g dark chocolate, broken up
300g icing sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125ml sour cream
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Take everything out of the fridge & bring to room temperature. Preheat oven to 180c & line & butter 2 20cm sandwich tins with removable bases.

Put all the cake ingredients in a food processor & process until you have a smooth thick batter. Divide the mixture between the tins & bake for abt 25-35 minutes until cooked when tested with a cake tester.

Remove the cakes in their tins to a wire rack & let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of their tins.

To make the icing, melt the butter & chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. While this mix is cooling a little, sieve the icing sugar. Add the golden syrup to the chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream & vanilla & when combined whisk in the icing sugar. When done of too thick then add a little boiling water.

Cur four strips of baking paper & place around the edge of your plate & place the first layer over these (these can be ripped away when done leaving you with a clean plate). Spoon about 1/3 of the mixture over the top & spread with a knife or spatula bring down over the sides as you go, put on the next layer & repeat until all covered with chocolate goodness.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Cajun Blackened Tuna

Tonight for dinner we had some tuna in a Cajun spice mix & served it with some mashed sweet potato & bok choy. I was a bit busy & Michael was home early for a change so he managed to put it all together with minimal instructions from me, very simple. I mainly wanted to post this as Matt over at Abstract Gourmet in Perth was looking for some Cajun spice blends to make up & this one is very good & the optional cayenne pepper really spices its up. So here goes

Cajun Blackened Tuna

Spice Mixture:

1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 tuna steaks

Combine all spice ingredients in a bowl. Rub butter into tuna & press steaks into spice mixture. Grill on both side in a hot pan to your liking

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Spezzatino with cheesy Polenta

Tonight for dinner I cooked up a lovely humble beef stew in keeping with my current theme of Winter slow cooking. It was an Italian dish inspired by Stefano de Pieri from Allan Campion & Michele Curtis’ Food With Friends’. I served it with some cheesy Polenta from the same book, the polenta was delicious, well worth the effort & a nice change for me from my usual mash potato or couscous. After 3 hours of cooking the meat was nice & tender & the liquid had turned into a delicious flavour filled thick goodness, very simple yet oh so good. The polenta was a great match for it & it was another great cold nights dinner, can you see the heart warming steam coming off it?


Olive oil for cooking
2 carrots, diced
2 onions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1.5kg blade steak, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
250ml (1 cup) red wine
4 potatoes, peeled & diced
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
250ml (1 cup) tomato sugo
1 bay leaf
salt & freshly ground black pepper
250-375ml (1-1 ½ cups) beef stock

Serves 6

Heat a large heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add a generous splash of olive oil and carrots, onions & celery & cook for 5-6 minutes until soft but not coloured. Remove, add more oil if necessary & cook beef in batches. Cook until well sealed (browned), return vegetables to the saucepan along with all other ingredients & enough of the stock to cover the meat.

Bring to a gentle simmer & cook for 2 ½-3 hours over a low heat, partially covered until meat is tender. Check seasoning.

Cheesy Polenta

750ml (3 cups) water
750ml (3 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
270g (1 ½ cups) polenta
90g parmigiano, grated or shaved

Serves 6

Bring water & stock to the boil in a heavy based saucepan. Sprinkle polenta over & whisk in to prevent lumps forming. Reduce to a low simmer & cook fro 20 minutes, stirring often until the mixture thickens. Take care, as the polenta can splutter & burn. Add more stock or water if it becomes too thick to stir. Remove from heat & stir through parmigiano, season to taste & serve.

Weekend Cat blogging

Well I thought it was about time I participated in Weekend Cat Blogging that Clare at Eat Stuff puts together each weekend. This is a pic of the lovely Mojo who was having a bit of a sleep after a huge day, you know, just the usual, eating, sleeping, more eating, more sleeping, attacking my new painintg...typical day in the life of my baby

Friday, April 21, 2006


Last night I went along to the Melbourne Affordable Art show with some girlfriends & had a magnificent time admiring most of the work, laughing in disbelief at others & not understanding the rest! Managed to pick up a piece I am very happy with too so as soon as that decision was made we started on some champagne while wandering around, lucky I had no money left by then as it all looks like the perfect piece for the lounge room wall after 2 glasses of bubbly!

So after working up quite an appetite wandering around & spending all my pennies we headed down to Yeltza for a glass of wine while waiting for our 9.30 table at Ladro which I managed to get them to squeeze us in for. Yeltza was a hive of activity & even the main bar area was becoming packed by the time we left, Thursday night was up & running. I hear they have a great beer garden hidden out the back where you can get some great food, will have to remember to check it out next summer. Great place for a drink anytime of night though.

Next was Ladro, this was the 3rd time I’ve been & finally I managed to bring my camera along. To start with we had some marinated mushrooms which are divine. We couldn’t have the stuffed olives which are to die for as they have been taken off the menu, when I demanded to know why it was explained that they were so good that they couldn’t get people to order any of their other appetisers so they had to go, can you believe it, hopefully they will come back one day? Next I ordered the same thing I have had each time I’ve been as I cant go past it, Duck Ravioli with a lentil sauce (sorry about the blurry photo again!), I love duck, love ravioli, love lentils so have can I not order this, next time I promise to try very hard so I can sample some of their other dishes which I’m sure are all fantastic too. The ravioli is superb, very simple flavours & not rich at all yet in all works wonderfully together. The girls shared the puttanesca pizza which was topped with tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, anchovies, capers & olives, very good. The pizza are huge, the base is ultra thin & crispy & cooked to perfection in a wood fired oven. The girls were kind enough to share some with me (as I did mine with them) & tasted very yum. On the side we had a mixed leaf salad as there were some specimens included that I was yet to try, chicory, radicchio, rocket, fennel & witlof, think that was all, very nice & simple with a light dressing. I had never seen chicory before & we couldn’t identify it so our lovely friendly very knowledgeable waiter pointed it out for us & even bought us out a whole leaf which you can see I took a photo of for all those others out there as ignorant as me. Was nice, a bit on the bitter side along with the radicchio but mixed with the rest was not too much for me. This was all washed down with some nice Italian Chianti that was recommended.

Anyway after all this food you would think that we would be stuffed right? Wrong, we did a lot of walking around that exhibition floor so dessert to share was called for, a small piece of pistachio nougat & crepes filled with vanilla custard & peaches finished off the night perfectly.

The place is nice & cozy with a modern look & very warm on a cold blustery night like it was & I will say it again our waiter was perfect, attentive, funny & had an answer for us on anything we needed to know & we were an inquisitive bunch last night let me tell you. If you haven’t been seriously give it a go, just remember to book ahead as its very small & always packed

224 Gertrude Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065
Ph: 9415 7575

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Chicken Tagine with Wild Mushrooms, Chorizo & Sherry

Tonight Michael was off playing soccer so I thought I would do a slow cook as had plenty of time to get dinner on the table. Tried this recipe from Allan Campion & Michelle Curtis’ 2006 Fresh produce diary, everything I have cooked of theirs so far has had great results so was sure it would be great. Served with some Mashed potatoes this was truly sensational, the long cooking time reduced the liquid to a thick tasty fantastic intensity of flavours, really, really yum

Chicken Tagine with Wild Mushrooms, Chorizo & Sherry

Olive Oil for cooking
1 chorizo sausage, approx 250g, diced
1.5kg skinless, boneless chicken thigh fillet, diced
1 onion, sliced
300g wild mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon harissa
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
½ teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon flour
¼ cup dry sherry
250-500ml (1-2 cups) tomato sugo
500ml chicken stock
fresh parsley & coriander leaves, to serve

Heat a small frying pan, add a splash of olive oil & diced chorizo & cook until fat renders out. Drain on absorbent paper.

Heat a heavy based saucepan over medium heat, add a generous splash of olive oil & cook chicken pieces until golden brown. Remove pieces & set aside. Return the pot to the heat & add more oil if necessary.

Add onion to saucepan, cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add mushrooms, more oil if necessary, & cool until they soften. Add garlic & spices & cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add flour, lower heat & cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring well. Raise heat, add sherry, bring to the boil * allow to evaporate by half. Add half the tomato sugi & the stock & bring to the boil.

Return chicken & chorizo to the pan, add more sugo if necessary to just cover the chicken. Cover the saucepan with lid & cook over a low heat for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally. Check seasoning & add fresh parsley & coriander to serve.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Spiced Salmon

Tonight I cooked up this very very quick & simple dinner from Marie Claire’s Luscious. It’s just a matter of throwing it all together & whacking in the fridge while you run around the house sorting out all of those after work bits & pieces you normally don’t have the time for as cooking elaborate dinner! Nice simple flavours with the smokiness of the paprika really coming through. I also added some cherry tomatoes to my couscous for just a teeny big of fruit/veg factor.

Spiced Salmon

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon small salted capers, rinsed & drained
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon rind
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
4 Salmon Steaks

Place all ingredients in a bowl & stir, add the salmon, cover & refrigerate for 1 hour.

Bake in an oven preheated to 180c for 10 minutes & serve with steamed couscous & mint leaves.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Easter Egg Nest Cake

Yesterday we had Easter lunch at my parents house so I took along Nigella’s Easter Egg Nest cake from Feast, Easter being the only time you can make this so I thought why not. It is amazingly rich, having to flour at all. It was delicious but I actually found it a little too sweet for my taste, looked very impressive though.

Easter Egg Nest Cake

250g good quality dark chocolate, broken up
125g unsalted butter, softened
5 eggs, 2 whole, 4 seperated
175 caster sugar, 75g for the yolk mix & 100g for the whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

125g good quality dark chocolate, broken up
250ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 packet small sugar coated chocolate eggs

Preheat the oven to 180c. Line the bottom of a 23cm springform tin with baking paper.

Melt the 250g chocolate with the butter in a double boiler & set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk the 4 egg whites until firm, then gradually add the 100g sugar & whisk until the whites are holding their shape & peak gleamingly but not stiff.

Remove this bowl & set aside while you whisk in another bowl the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with the 75g sugar & vanilla extract, then gently fold in the chocolate mixture. Lighten the egg mixture with some of the egg whites – just a dollop & stir in briskly – and then fold in the rest of the whisked whites gently, in about 3 goes.

Pour into prepared tin & bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is risen & cracked & the centre is no longer wobbly on the surface. Cool the cake in its tin on a wire rack, the middle will sink & the sides will splinter.

To finish, carefully remove it from the tin & place on a plate, if any bits fall off, put them back in a loose fashion.

Melt the chocolate for the topping & leave to cool a little. Whip the cream until its firming up & aerated but still soft, then add the vanilla & fold in the melted chocolate. Fill the crater with the cream & arrange the eggs on top.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Creme Brulee

Well this was my first attempt at making a crème brulee & my first use of my blow torch, very exciting stuff. To start with I couldn’t find any rhubarb anywhere apart from some very mangy looking stuff in Coles that I could not bring myself to buy. So I went with straight brulee which is good as the mixture was more than enough to fill 6 ramekins so would have been double if rhubarb in the bottom. Have given the full recipe in case anyone wants to try it. This recipe is taken from Jamie Oliver’s The Return of The Naked chef. Having never made these before I wasn’t sure exactly how wobbly they should be & unfortunately I got it wrong. After much fun had by Michael torching them, we tucked in only to find runny centres, delicious runny centres but runny none the less. The fact that they were thicker than suggested I guess means that I should have upped the cooking time. Next time I will know better & will definitely try again as they were so easy to make & no fuss to serve when you have people over.

Crème Brulee

Serves 6
300g fresh rhubarb
3 tablespoons caster sugar
2 vanilla pods
300ml double cream
200ml milk
8 egg yolks
80g sugar

Preheat oven to 140c. roughly slice up rhubarb & place it in a pan with the caster sugar & 5 tablespoons of water. Simmer until tender, divide between 6 small serving dishes & set aside.

Score the vanilla pods lengthwise & run your knife up the pos to remove the seeds. Scrape the seeds into the pad with the pods, cream & milk & slowly bring to the boil. Meanwhile beat together the yolks & sugar in a bowl until light & fluffy. When the cream & milk are just boiling, remove the vanilla pods & add little by little to the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Remove any bubbles or froth from the mixture before dividing into the serving dishes, on top of the rhubarb. Stand these in an appropriately sized roasting tray filled with water half way up the containers, & bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes until the custard mixture has set but is still slightly wobbly in the centre.

Allow to cool to room temperature then place in the fridge until ready to serve. Sprinkle with sugar & caramelize under a very hot grill or using a kitcken blowtorch.

Roast Beef & Yorkshire Puds

Had a couple of friends over for dinner last night & given the cold blustery conditions outside thought it was time for my first roast of the season. Decided to follow Jamie Oliver’s recipe from Happy Days as I saw him cook it on tele & it made me drool, also has been years since I’ve had Yorkshire puddings. As well as the veggies suggested I added roast beets & pumpkin with some salt & rosemary & cooked some bok choy in garlic on the side. As usual I cooked way too much & Michael & I are enjoying some roast beef sandwiches for brekky as I type. Everything was delicious, forgot how much I love a good roast. The potatoes were crispy as promised so think I will always parboil first in the future. The Red wine gravy after a shaky start where I thought it was just going to be a runny mess was sensational so we didn’t need my backup gravox after all, and I didnt even sieve it as recomended! And the puds, well just look at the photo, how delicious do they look & yes they were as good as the picture.

Roast Beef & Yorkshire Puddings

Serves 8
2.5kg fore-rib, wing-rib or sirloin of beef, French trimmed
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
3 red onions, halved
3kg roasting potatoes, peeled
4 large parsnips, peeled & Quartered
3 rosemary twigs
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 thumb sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled & diced
½ a bottle of robust red wine

Yorkshire Pudding Batter

285ml milk
115g plain flour
pinch of salt
3 eggs

Before you start get all veg prepared & getting pudding batter ready.

Preheat the oven to 230c & heat a large thick bottomed roasting tray on your stove. Rub your beef generously with salt, then add a little olive oil to the tray & lightly colour the meat for a couple of minutes on all sides. Lay the onions in the tray with the beef on top, then cook in a preheated oven for 1 ½ hours. While the beef is starting, parboil your potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes then drain. Toss about to chuff them up, this will make them very crispy.

After 30 minutes, take out the tray & toss in your potatoes, parsnip & rosemary. With a garlic press or grater, squeeze or grate the garlic and ginger over everything in the tray. Shake the tray & whack in back in the oven for the final hour. Remove the potatoes & parsnips to a dish to keep warm, place beef on a plate, covered with foil, to rest & get your greens & puddings on.

Preheat a muffin pan with 1cm of oil in each section. After 10 minutes, divide the batter into the pan. Cook for about 30 minutes until crisp – don’t open the oven door or they won’t rise!

Remove most of the fat from your roasting tray & you should be left with caramelised onions & sticky beef goodness. Add a teaspoon of flour to the tray & mash everything together. Heat the tray on the stove & when hot add your red wine, simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes until your gracy is nice & taste & thick enough. Add any juice from the beef if you feel like it. Pour through a sieve & serve with the roast.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Pear & Spice Slice

Tonight for Good Friday we are going over to Michael’s parents for dinner with the family so of course I offered to make a cake to take along. Seeing as how this was all arranged at the last minute & all the shops are closed today I had to make to with what was in the house. I has some pears sitting around that needed using so scoured all of my cookbooks & magazine cuttings & came up with the recipe from the Aug 2004 Table Mag. Luckily the only missing ingredient was sour cream which Michael was kind enough to do a 7/11 run for me to pick up. The cake mixture was very sticky & hard to spread out in the tin so I was a bit worried. No need though as the finished slice was delicious, Michael has already had 3 pieces & hopefully he will stop at that so there is enough for the family tonight, 9 of us in all!

Pear & Spice Slice

125g butter, at room temperature, chopped
¾ cup (150g) firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cups (300g) self raising flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
¾ cup (185g) sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
2 pears, peeled, cored & sliced
1 tablespoon caster sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
icing sugar, to serve

Preheat oven to 180c. Lightly grease a cake pan (18cm x 28cm) & line base with non stick baking paper.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter & sugar together until creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition & scraping down side of bowl. Beat in vanilla.

Sift flour & spice together. Lightly fold into creamed mixture alternating with combined sour cream & milk, beginning & ending with flour.

Spoon mixture into prepared pan & smooth top. Arrange pears over top of cake & sprinkle with combined caster sugar & cinnamon.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until cooked when tested. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar and cut into squares to serve.

Chicken Stock

Well I know every good chef is supposed to make their own stock but to be honest most of the time I used the stuff in a carton as who really has the time??? However a combination of today being the start of Easter, deciding to go on a 4 day cooking & baking frenzy & having some chicken thighs that Michael mistakenly bought when I had asked for fillets, I thought I would make up a huge batch to freeze for later use, so huge I needed 2 great big pots to fit it all in. It really is very easy, you just need those 4 hours or so to hang around waiting for it which for once I had plenty of spare time. The aroma in the kitchen while bubbling away all day was delicious & I’m sure it will make a big difference to the dishes I make with it (it better anyway!!) & Mojo should enjoy the chicken. Even though it’s very simple I pretty much followed Jamie Oliver’s recipe which can be found in The Naked Chef & The Return of the Naked Chef, almost the same recipe in both, I omitted just a couple of things which I didn’t have handy, leeks & thyme.

Chicken Stock

For 4 litres of stock

2kg raw chicken carcasses, chopped
½ whole head of garlic, broken up but unpeeled
5 sticks celery, roughly chopped
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
2 medium leeks, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
5 sprigs fresh parsley
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 whole black peppercorns
6 litres of cold water.

In a large, deep, thick bottomed pot (or 2!), place all ingredients. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat & simmer gently for 3-4 hours, skimming as necessary, then pass the stock through a fine sieve. After cooling for about half an hour, divide into small containers & freeze or you can keep in the fridge for about 4 days.

Lemon Chicken with a warm lentil salad and Herb relish

Last night my good friend Rach was coming over for dinner for a well overdue catch up. Had some computer disasters at work so got home a bit late, the 1 hour marinating time for the chicken was not looking good! Don’t you hate it, things always seem to go wrong only when you have plans! Luckily Michael got home early for a change & I managed to instruct him over the phone on the chicken, lemon juice, olive oil & chicken, what could go wrong? Well surprisingly the chicken nearly went wrong as Michaels first pick was some thighs that I had out for making stock today, luckily he thought to ring me & all was soon corrected. I used breasts instead of the chicken supreme suggested as couldn’t find any of these & omitted all tarragon as none on hand. Also used a tin of brown lentils instead of cooking up puy lentils as really didn’t have the energy or time. The result was a smashing success, lots of ingredients mixed together to create beautiful subtle flavours, Rach loved it & has vowed to start cooking with lentils, something she has not tried yet. The recipe comes from Bill’s Food.

Lemon chicken with a warm lentil salad and herb relish

1 lemon, finely sliced
125ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
4 chicken supreme (breast fillet with wing attached, with skin on)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

to serve
100g (3 ½ oz) baby English spinach leaves
warm lentil salad (below)
herb relish (below)

Mix the lemon and olive oil in a bowl, add the chicken and coat well, then cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 200c (425 F/Gas 7). Heat an ovenproof frying pan (large enough to hold all the chicken) over a high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, place with the skin side down in the pan and sear until golden on one side. Turn the chicken over and cook for another minute to seal the chicken.

Put the pan in the oven and cook the chicken for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the chicken feels firm to touch. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing the chicken on the diagonal into three pieces. To serve, put a handful of spinach leaves onto each plate, spoon some lentil salad on top, then divide the sliced chicken among the plates. Serve with fresh herb relish. Serves 4.

Warm lentil salad
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
215 g (1 cup) lentils du Puy, cooked to instructions on the packet and drained
½ red onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Whisk the mustard, olive oil and vinegar together in a small bowl until combined. Combine the vinaigrette in a bowl with the warm lentils, red onion, herbs and salt and pepper.

Herb relish
1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed, squeezed dry and chopped
1 anchovy fillet, chopped
3 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chervil or tarragon
½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
a few drops of red wine vinegar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl, then leave for 1 hour to allow the flavours to develop.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Ginger & Ricotta Flatcakes with Honeycomb

Yesterday I had my family over for brunch before heading out to the Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show with my mum. I cooked up these flatcakes which sounded yummy, they took a bit more effort than just your average pancake so needed an excuse to cook them, would not go to the effort for just Michael & I. The reason I picked these was that I had a lovely chunk of fresh honeycomb that I picked up a couple of weeks ago. The end result was very nice, the coconut gave them some added flavour as well as a nice texture, I couldn’t really taste the ginger though so would maybe increase the quantity next time. The family were impressed & at 3 per person they were actually very filling so even though the recipe was for 4, I fed 5 without any empty stomachs left at the end. The recipe comes from my cute pocket sized Lust book

Ginger & Ricotta Flatcakes with Honeycomb

150 g (1 cup) Wholemeal Flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
55g (1 cup) flaked coconut, toasted
2 teaspoons ground ginger
4 eggs, separated
310ml (1 ¼ cups) milk
500g ricotta
200g fresh honeycomb, broken up into chunks
4 bananas, sliced

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder & ginger into a bowl & stir through coconut. Make a well in the center & add combined egg yolks, milk & 350g of ricotta. Stir until a smooth batter forms. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, fold through mixture.

Drop 3 tablespoons of batter into a lightly oiled or buttered pan & cook until small bubbles appear on top, flip & cook other side. Serve 3 flatcakes topped with a spoonful of ricotta, a chunk of honeycomb & sliced fresh bananas. We also poured over some maple syrup & some of us even added a scoop of ice cream!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Pasta E Fagioli

With the cold weather that has suddenly hit Melbourne I thought it was time to start cooking up some warming winter soups, this is my first of the season. The recipe comes from this year’s Delicious diary. Very easy & quick to make so good if you’ve had a busy day running around as I have & just want to knock up something in a hurry. The end result was a thick hearty soup, the rosemary flavours really shone through, very yummy.

Pasta E Fagioli

150g tubetti pasta (or other small pasta)
2 tbspn olive oil
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 sprig rosemary
2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
400g can borlotti beans, rinsed & drained
425g can whole tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 ltre (4 cups) vegetable stock
50g (2 handfuls) baby spinach

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water according to packet instructions, then drain.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook the celery, carrot & onion for about 10 minutes until softened but not browned. During the final minutes of cooking, stir in the garlic & rosemary.
Process 1 can of cannellini beans until pureed but still chunky. Add pureed beans, whole beans, tomatoes, stock & 1 cup water to onion mixture. Bring to a simmer, cover & cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir through pasta & spinach & season.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mrs Fields Choc Chip Cookies

Tonight I cooked up a huge batch of Mrs Fields secret recipe choc chip cookies to take in to the boys at work tomorrow for the few birthdays we’ve had lately. I don’t know what Mrs Fields taste like but these were sensational, I feel sick from eating so many, hopefully the boys enjoy them. The recipe came via Waffle who got them from Recipe Zaar. I used a mixture of dark & milk choc chips & might try some variations as suggested.

Top Secret Recipes Version of Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's very important that you not exceed the cooking time given below, even if the cookies appear to be underbaked. When the cookies are removed from the oven, the sugar in them will be hot and continue the cooking process. The finished product should be soft in the middle and crunchy around the edges.

225 g softened butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons
vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups
all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon
1 teaspoon
baking powder
1 teaspoon
baking soda
340g semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350f
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla.
3. Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
6. With your fingers, place golf-ball-size dough portions 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 9 minutes, or until edges are light brown.
8. For variations of this cookie, substitute milk chocolate for the semisweet chocolate and/or add 1 1/2 cups of chopped walnuts or macadamia nuts to the recipe before baking.
9. Although you can substitute margarine for butter in this recipe, you will have the best results from butter. The cookie will have a richer taste and will be crispier around the edges like the original.