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29 March 2009

Poached Chicken Salad with Roast Beetroot and Tomato

So Mark came home a few days ago and informed me that he had had the best salad ever for lunch that day at a cafe in Pyrmont. Of course I wanted to re-create this meal for him (I was probably a little jealous he was so excited about the cooking of someone else!).
But I had been thinking about creating a roast beetroot salad, so this came as very good timing really.

The version that Mark had in Pyrmont contained goats cheese. I'm not a huge fan of goats cheese, but I love danish feta, so I have used feta in mine (I already had this in the fridge anyway) and goats cheese in Mark's.

This salad is not really something you whip up on a weeknight because I have actually cooked the tomatoes and beetroot for quite a long time, but it is well worth it for a lovely weekend meal.
See my post from 22 February 2009 for my homemade mayonnaise recipe. For the mayonnaise dressing used here, I added about a tablespoon olive oil, and extra white wine vinegar, as well as a bunch of chives. I also let it sit for half an hour or so in order for the flavour of the chives to penetrate the mayonnaise.

I don't have a decent photo of this one, but will put one up next time I make it.

Very happily for me, Mark said this was just as nice as the one he had at Pyrmont.

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 chicken breasts trimmed
1 quantity mayonnaise (see post from 22 February 2009, add extra white wine vinegar, olive oil and one bunch of chopped chives)
1 bunch baby beetroot (about 4 bulbs)
3 tomatoes
1 teaspoon sumac
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1/2 bunch endive leaves separated, washed and chopped in half
1/2 lebanese cucumber sliced
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
1 avocado diced
Goat's cheese or danish feta, as much or as little as you want, crumbled


Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Season with freshly ground pepper. Place the chicken in the boiling water and place the lid on the saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes, then take off the heat and set aside to cook through.

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half. Place in a baking tray, season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with sumac and drizzle with olive oil. Clean and trim beetroot. Drizzle with oil, wrap in foil and place in the baking tray with the tomatoes. Roast for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, unwrap the beetroot and bake uncovered for another 30 minutes.

While the tomatoes and beetroot are cooking, place the pine nuts in a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

Place endive, cucumber, red onion, avocado and cheese in serving bowls. Slice the chicken and place on top. Cut the beetroot into quarters and add to the salad with the tomatoes and pine nuts. Drizzle with mayonnaise and serve immediately.

Delicious Beef Casserole

When I was young mum used to make delicious beef casserole that I loved. Since I became obsessed with my spice collection, I have been wanting to create casserole that I would love just as much. So last night, I perused my herb and spice collection, decided what flavours I would use, and set about trying to re-create those delicious flavours from my childhood. I have no idea if this is similar to the ingredients Mum used, but it was wonderful anyway.

Slow cook recipes are fantastic, I made this one last night, ready for an easy Monday night meal after what I knew would be a long and stressful day. And all the ingredients I have used in this recipe are fairly standard, pantry items (except perhaps for the anchovies)...or perhaps they are just standard for me? Regardless, I really enjoyed this meal and it was quite easy to prepare, just brown the meat, add the other ingredients and then leave it on the stove for a few hours.

I have use rump steak because the supermarket did not have much of a range. You could also use any cheaper cut of beef.
Don't be scared of the garlic. It becomes incredibly sweet and soft after being cooked for so long and loses its pungency.


600g rump steak trimmed of fat and cut into 5cm pieces
1/4 cup plain flour
Freshly ground black pepper
3-4 tablespoons olive oil (you may need a little extra if the pan becomes dry)
2 white onions roughly chopped
1 head garlic individual cloves peeled
45g tin anchovies
2 tablespoons worcheshire sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 cup water
2 teaspoons powdered chicken stock (I used chicken stock because that is what I had, you could use beef stock also)
1/4 cup fresh parsley roughly chopped
Zest of one lemon


Combine the beef, flour and pepper in a plastic bag and shake to combine. Heat a portion of the oil in a medium saucepan and brown the beef on each side. You'll need to brown the beef in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside. Add extra oil as needed.

Heat remaining oil and add onion, garlic and anchovies. I used kitchen scissors to chop the anchovies while still in the tin and added them straight from the tin, along with the oil they were preserved in. You'll notice the anchovies will melt into the oil.

Return the beef to the pan, along with the worcheshire sauce, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, bay leaves, oregano, basil, water and powdered stock. Add additional freshly ground pepper. Stir to combine.

Cook over the lowest heat possible on your stove top for 2-2 1/2 hours, stirring every so often. I found that the longer I cooked this, the more tender the beef became.

Combine parsley and lemon zest. Sprinkle on top of meat just before serving,

Serve with baked potato or rice, and vegetables. I boiled our veges in some water and a little dried basil (another tip from my Mum).

23 March 2009

Steak with Peppercorn Sauce

I love pepper sauce with steak. I have experimented with quite a few variations. This week I tried a combination of one I saw on French Food at Home and one that was in Donna Hay Classics 1. I think it was the best by far, but probably not the lowest in fat. If I am trying to make a low fat meal, I use Carnation Light 'n' Creamy, which works really well. You probably need to add a little extra cornflour though.

I'm not overly happy with the photo for this one. Once I make it again, I'll take a better photo. But trust me, it tasted delicious.

I used creme fraiche in this recipe because I love its tang. It is also very thick, so I did not need to add much cornflour. I used beef stock that comes in one of those tetra packs. I have never tried this recipe using powdered beef stock and water. I really think the result would not be as good, but feel free to have a go.

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 steaks
1 cup beef stock
1 cup creme fraiche
3-4 teaspoons green peppercorns lightly crushed
1 teaspoon cornflour
1 teaspoon beef stock, extra

Heat the beef stock in a small saucepan until boiling. Reduce until only 1/3 cup liquid remains.

Meanwhile, cook steak to your liking and set aside to rest.

Once beef stock has reduced (to allow the flavour to intensify) add the creme fraiche and green peppercorn to the stock. Whisk to combine. Blend the cornflour with the extra beef stock and add to sauce. Allow to simmer for a few minutes until thickened.

Serve steaks topped with peppercorn sauce. I like to serve this dish with crunchy potatoes.

Ginger, Garlic, Egg and Sesame Rice with Chinese Chicken

I made this recipe last night for Mark and our friends Scott and Amber. I have been making the rice for some time (inspired by garlic rice we had the The Rocks Teppanyaki which was amazing), often serving it with fish cakes, or grilled chicken. Last night I decided to experiment with my spices and season the chicken with a combination of spices regularly used in Chinese cooking. And the gamble paid off!

I cooked the chicken in oven, on a roasting rack. At the end of the cooking process, I turned the oven off and let the chicken sit for a few minutes. The chicken was juicy and succulent. Cooking it this way is also extremely easy, just pop it in the oven, set the timer and forget about it. I think I'll be doing it this way more often.

Mark and Amber both liked drizzling a little soy sauce over the rice, but you may like to give this a go also.

Ginger, Garlic, Egg and Sesame Rice

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 cups long grain rice
8-10 cups boiling water
4 tablespoons sesame seeds
4 eggs lightly whisked
1 tablespoon peanut oil
3cm piece of ginger grated
2-5 garlic cloves crushed (add garlic to taste)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 tablespoons peanut oil (extra)
Soy sauce (optional)

Boil the rice in the water as per packet instructions. Rinse under cold water. Toast the sesame seeds in a large fry pan until lightly toasted. Heat the peanut oil in the large saucepan. Add the eggs and cook until just cooked. Turn over to ensure cooked through, and then remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat the sesame oil and peanut oil in the fry pan. Cook the ginger and garlic until fragrant (you can also add a bit of lemongrass if you like). Add the rice and mix to combine. If it seems a little dry, add extra oil. Roughly chop the egg and add to the rice with the sesame seeds. Stir to combine and serve immediately. Drizzle with soy sauce if desired.

Chinese Chicken

Ingredients (serves 4)

1/4 teaspoon green peppercorn
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
1 teaspoon amchur powder
3/4 teaspoon cassia or cinnamon
1/2 teapsoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon galangal powder
1 teaspoon cumin
4 chicken breasts trimmed
Drizzle of oil

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Grind the peppercorn, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and cloves in a mortar and pestle. Add the remaining spices and mix to combine. Coat the chicken in the spices and place on a roasting rack in a roasting tray. Drizzle with a little oil.

Roast for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Once cooked, turn the oven off and leave the chicken to sit in the oven for 5 minutes.

I served this with bok choy and chinese cabbage which had been briefly stir fried with a little sesame oil, oyster sauce and soy sauce.

22 March 2009

Tomato and Bocconcini Salad with Pink Peppercorn Dressing

So as I said in a previous post, yes, I have made this dressing before. I was so happy with how it turned out that time, I wanted to try it again, but this time add pomegranate molasses (I just added a small amount as it is very strong). And again I love the result. The dressing was just so tangy, with a little bite, against the basil and the blander bocconcini. I think this dressing is going to feature heavily in my salads from now on.

I love salads, so therefore love summer. Pretty soon though the weather will turn cool and you'll see a few more vegetable dishes on the blog. But for the moment, I am enjoying these fresh, delicious salads.


250g cherry tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt
100g salad leaves (even though I just generally love it, baby spinach or rocket do honestly work best with this sort of salad) washed and dried
180g tub bocconcini slices
2 tablespoons pine nuts lightly roasted
Handful basil leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1-2 teaspoons pink peppercorns (if you like extra tang, add the extra)


Place the cherry tomatoes in a colander and add the salt. Leave to sit for at least an hour (the salt will draw moisture out of the tomatoes and intensify their flavour). Arrange the salad leaves, bocconcini, pine nuts and basil in a serving bowl. Just before serving, top with the tomatoes.

To make the dressing, crush the peppercorns in a mortal and pestle. Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar and pomegranate molasses and whisk to combine. Drizzle the salad with the dressing just before serving.

Thyme Potato Bake

I'll admit, I love thyme. I probably added a little too much to this recipe when I made it today. I have therefore halved it for the recipe below. I just think it works so well with the cream and potato and butter and garlic...all my favourites ingredients!

Mark loves potato bake, and I was never a fan until I started making this one. I originally used a a recipe I found in Marie Claire Taste 101 but I don't really go by that recipe any longer, I just put in what feels right.

Again, I cooked this for longer than necessary (and made extra so we would have leftovers). It probably only needs about an hour in the oven. I love dishes that take an hour or longer in the oven. This is because I love to prepare the dish before my guest arrive, put it in the oven just before they knock on the door and then spend some time with them while the meal is cooking.


300ml pouring cream
1/2 bunch thyme
30g butter
2 cloves garlic bruised
2 dried bay leaves
Salt and Pepper
6-8 potatoes (depending on size, I used 9 medium potatoes) slices thinly


Place the cream, half the thyme, butter, garlic and bay leaves in a small saucepan. Heat until just boiling. Discard the bay leaves, thyme and garlic. Place the potatoes in layers in a baking tray. Add a little leftover thyme and salt and pepper to each layer. Pour the cream mixture over the top.

Cook for at least an hour, or until the top is crispy and the potato underneath is creamy and cooked through.

Sumac and Lemon Grilled Chicken Breasts and Baked Wings

I love chicken wings when they are seasoned and crunchy. But I also love succulent and juicy chicken breast, particularly when cooked on the BBQ. Today I could not decide which to make, so I decided to make both. I cooked for four people, but I made a little extra so we would have leftovers.

I was very undecided about what to flavour the chicken with...I now have so many herbs and spices that the choice is almost more difficult (if I only had a few items, the choice would be a lot easier). But at the last minute I went with sumac, lemon and garlic. These flavours taste so summery and fresh. If I had had any fresh mint, I would have sprinkled some on top when serving, but unfortunately, today I didn't.

I probably cooked the wings for about an hour and 50 minutes. They didn't really need this long, this just happened because we started the BBQ later than I had anticipated, and then the breasts took a while to cook. You really just need to cook them until they are crispy and golden.

Ingredients (serves 4 with leftovers)

3 plastic freezer bags
8 chicken wings
4 chicken breasts trimmed
2 teaspoons sumac
4 cloves garlic crushed (add less if you do not like garlic as much as I do)
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
Salt and Pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil


Take two of the freezer bags and add to each: 1 clove garlic, 1/2 teaspoon sumac, zest and juice of half a lemon, a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper. Add 4 chicken wings to each and use your hands to massage the marinade into the chicken wings. To the last freezer bag, add 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon sumac, zest and juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper. Add the chicken breasts and massage the marinade into the chicken. Store in the fridge until ready to cook (you could marinade for a few hours if you like).

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the wings in a single layer on a tray lined with baking paper. Bake for an hour or so until crispy and golden (or longer if desired).

Cook the chicken breasts on a BBQ until cooked through. Serve immediately.
You could serve with mayonnaise or aioli if desired.

Quick Weekend Lunch

It seems that it is the season for Mark's New Zealand relatives to be visiting. Mark caught up with one cousin during the week, today Mark's Uncle Stuart and Aunt Carol came over for lunch, and I believe another Aunt will be out next weekend also. It is lovely to see the family, and I was thrilled when Mark suggested that Stuart and Carol come to our place for lunch. This time of year there is a beautiful breeze coming off the water, and our balcony is wonderful and sunny (though a little hot at times).

Since lunch was arranged only yesterday, I did not have a lot of time to devise a menu. It is times like this that I am grateful for having many different spices and basic ingredients on hand. Having a large herb and spice range at home means I can quickly whip up delicious meals in no time at all without having to think too much, or buy too many fresh ingredients. And as soon as we have a house of our own, I plan on having a large pantry and freezer so I can store everything I may want or need.

Today I went with:
  • Sumac and lemon grilled chicken breasts and baked wings
  • Thyme potato bake
  • Tomato and bocconcini salad with pink peppercorn dressing

I know I have made the pink peppercorn dressing before, but apart from the fact that I loved it, this time I added a little pomegranate molasses which went beautifully with the basil and bocconcini.

This meal worked well because pretty much everything was prepared in advance - Mark just cooked the chicken on the BBQ and I dressed the salad just prior to serving.

Stay tuned for the recipes...Mark has just poured me a glass of champagne to enjoy on the balcony!

Burnt Butter and Sage Risotto

Lately Mark has been telling me how much he loves sage. He also really loves risotto (as do I). We have both really enjoyed ravioli with burnt butter and sage sauce (burnt butter is deliciously rich and absolutely divine), so this time I decided to combine this sauce with risotto for something different.

If I was serving this as a main meal, I would add some grilled chicken. Last night I served it as an entree, so the servings were small.

I have used a spice called "akudjura" or bush tomato in the risotto. I purchased this spice in one of my many recent trips to Herbie's Spices (http://www.herbies.com.au/). As it has a sweet, caramel flavour, I thought it would compliment the flavour of the burnt butter. The result was delicious!

Ingredients (serves 2 as an entree)

Knob of butter (about 30g)
1 small onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
3/4 cup arborio rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon ground akudjura
Salt and pepper
100g butter
1/4 cup whole sage leaves (I used about half a bunch)
Shaved parmesan to serve

Combine the stock and wine in a small saucepan and heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan. Cook the onion and garlic and until soft. Add the rice and cook for a minute until translucent. Add the stock one soup ladle at a time. Stir the rice while it cooks. When the stock has been absorbed into the rice, add more stock. When half the stock has been added, add the akudjura. When you have about a cup of stock left, taste the rice. It should be soft, but still have a bit of bite in the centre. You may not need to add all the stock, so it is important to taste the rice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the rice is almost done, place the butter ans sage in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat the butter and sage until the sage is crispy and the butter has browned. This takes about 5-10 minutes - but watch it carefully.

Place the risotto in serving bowl. Top with burnt butter and a few sage leaves (I like lots of sage. You may not need all the butter, I cook a bit extra as it is easier and therefore does not brown too quickly). Sprinkle with grated parmesan.

Chorizo and Paprika Quiche

When I lived at home I would sometimes make a bacon quiche for my family for dinner. However, my husband seems to have something against quiche. I have heard him say "real men don't eat quiche". As a result, quiche has not really featured in my recipe repertoire. But I recently wanted to bring it out again and decided to "man it up" with some spice and sausage. So I came up with this version. And Mark loved the final product!

I use puff pastry in this dish rather than shortcrust pastry. This has a lot to do with the fact that puff pastry is what I used when making it at home for mum and dad. You could use savory shortcrust pastry if you like, though you would be best to blind bake the the shortcrust pastry prior to adding the filling which adds a lot of time. I think the puff pastry works well here and is lovely and light.


3 chorizo sausages
Olive oil for frying
2 sheets puff pastry
5 eggs
300ml thickened cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated
1 cup cheddar cheese grated
1 cup parsley roughly chopped

Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Cut the chorizo lengthwise down the centre, and then lengthwise again (so it has been cut into 4 lengthwise) and then slice. You will end up with small pieces of chorizo. Heat the oil in a large fry pan and fry the chorizo until crispy. Set aside and allow to cool.

Grease a cake tin and line with baking paper (I used a spring form tin). Place one sheet of puff pastry in the tin and push down to line the tin. Cut the other sheet puff pastry into wide strips and use to line the sides of the tin.

Combine the eggs, cream, milk, paprika, parmesan, cheddar, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Stir in chorizo. Pour the egg mixture into the tin.

Place in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes until golden. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

17 March 2009

Herb, Pomegranate and Pistachio Rice Salad served with Spiced Chicken

I first made this salad for my God son's first birthday. It was a bit of an experiment then, but I really liked it. I have tried it again, and am really pleased with the results. I love how fresh it tastes with the mint and pomegranate. The pomegranate seeds are wonderful citrus bursts against the taste of the rice and spices.

You really do not need much dressing for this salad, so just add a little at a time and then stir and taste. You don't want the final product to be wet, just lightly flavoured.

With the chicken, if you want a bit of extra heat, add a little more paprika than the amount specified.

I made extra rice salad to take to work for lunch, this is why the quantity of chicken is much less than the salad. I would estimate that the rice salad serves 4-6 people, more if it is being served with a few other dishes (for example, as part of a BBQ). If you do not plan on eating the rice salad immediaely, do not add the dressing until you are about to serve.

I think this salad is great for entertaining as it can be made in advance, can be enjoyed with a variety of other dishes and looks really colourful and appetising!

I thoroughly enjoyed this meal, and hope you do also. I served it with green beans for some extra veges.

Herb, Pomegranate and Pistachio Rice Salad

Ingredients (serves 4-6, more if part of a buffet)

10 cups water
2 cups white long grain rice
1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 whole cinnamon quill
5 green cardamom pods bruised
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
1/2 cup raw pistachios roughly chopped
5 shallots finely sliced
1 cup mint roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups parsley roughly chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste


Bring water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add rice, fennel seeds, cinnamon quill, cardamom pods and cumin seeds. Boil as per packet instructions. Rice should be cooked, but still with a slight bite. Once cooked, drain, remove cinnamon quill and allow to cool.

To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, lime juice and ground cumin in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Once the rice is cool, stir through pomegranate seeds, pistachios, shallots, mint and parsley. Add the dressing just prior to serving and stir to combine.

Spiced Chicken


1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground lemon myrtle
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 chicken breasts skin removed and trimmed


Combine ground cardamom, fennel seeds, cumin, lemon myrtle, paprika and olive oil in a small bowl. Coat chicken with spice and oil mixture. Heat a fry pan over medium heat. Cook the chicken for 5-7 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

16 March 2009

Quick Lasagne

As I mentioned in the "Pesto" post yesterday, I have tried a new "Quick Lasagne" recipe. Mark and I love lasagne, but it does take a little time to cook and prepare. We normally only have it on a weeknight if I have cooked a batch on the weekend. I tend to make 3 small ones at a time and freeze them for easy midweek meals. I buy disposable lasagne tins from the supermarket.

So, considering this, I was trying to think up a fast lasagne recipe. This one is a variation on a vegetarian lasagne I made some years ago. It was really just a rich, tomato sauce, mozzarella and herbs. With this one I incorporate pesto and spinach (yes, I do use a lot of spinach) and use a bottle of passata sauce which is really just a Italian sauce made only of tomatoes and salt. I often use passata for the tomato base of homemade pizzas.

As Mark usually likes some kind of meat in his meals, I added prosciutto. I like cooked prosciutto, so I fried the prosciutto until crisp prior to adding it to the lasagne, but this is not vital. I have also used homemade pesto, but of course you can use store bought pesto. The reason I use pizza style mozzarella instead of fresh bocconcini to finish is that I prefer how pizza style mozzarella browns.

I really enjoyed this meal, but am afraid the photo does not do it justice. I originally intended to add grated parmesan to each layer, but forgot while I was making the dish. I think this would definitely add another dimension, so I will try it another time and update the post.

I should warn that this is a fairly light lasagne, therefore serve with a large salad or allocate a little extra per person! I think it would make a lovely entree.

I also have an idea for a pesto chicken lasagne, but have not made that one yet. Stay posted, you may see it soon.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

9 slices prosciutto
4 large fresh lasagne sheets (I use Latina Fresh large lasagne sheets - if not using this brand, you may need more lasagne sheets)
1 quantity pesto (about 3/4 cup - see post from 15 March 2009)
700g bottle tomato passata
500g fresh bocconcini sliced thinly
75-100g baby spinach
A few handfuls pizza style mozzarella (ie not fresh mozzarella)


If desired, fry or bake the prosciutto until crisp. Set aside. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Prepare either 3 small lasagne tins, or a medium sized (4-6 people) lasagne dish by spreading 1-3 teaspoons of pesto on the base (1 teaspoon if using small tins, 3 teaspoons if using a larger dish).

Cut the lasagne sheets to fit your tin/dish. Place one sheet of lasagne over the pesto. Spread lasagne sheet with another 1-3 teaspoons pesto and lay one prosciutto slice on top. Top with a handful of spinach and drizzle with passata. Then top with a handful of bocconcini. Repeat process another 2 times, finishing with a lasagne sheet. Sprinkle the final lasagne sheet with mozzarella.

Bake for 40 minutes or until nicely browned. For best results, leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with a green salad.

15 March 2009

Scallops with Prosciutto, Sage and White Wine Sauce Served with Wilted Spinach and Grilled Polenta

With this recipe I have tried to recreate an absolutely delicious meal we had on the last day of our honeymoon. We were in Manhattan Beach just near Los Angeles airport and we had this fabulous meal in a tiny restaurant we just happened to walk past. It was a perfect meal to finish our amazing trip.

Try and buy the freshest scallops that you can. The ones I used today unfortunately tasted a little too fishy, which was not ideal. The meal was still lovely however. And don't overcook the scallops as they will become tough. They don't need long at all to cook.

I may keep refining this recipe, so check it for updates. The polenta recipe is from Australian Good Food Magazine (April 2009 issue). In the version I made tonight, I added 2 tablespoons of sage to the polenta, but found it was a bit overpowering, so I have left it out in the recipe below.

I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients (serves 2)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup instant polenta
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
16 scallops cleaned with roe removed
4 slices prosciutto cut in half lengthwise
8 sage leaves halved
150g baby spinach
2 tablespoon olive oil for frying
2 tablespoons butter (at least half must be chilled)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste


Soak 4 bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes.

To make the polenta, heat the milk and water in a medium saucepan on high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to medium. Add polenta in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and stir for about 5 minutes or until polenta comes away from the side of the pan in one lump. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the polenta onto a lightly oiled board or baking tray. Smooth until it is about 1 1/2 - 2cm high. Cool at room temperature until firm and set (about 30 minutes).

Thread the scallops, sage and prosciutto onto the skewers. I did this by threading a sage leaf, then adding the prosciutto and scallop. I then added another sage leaf, wrapped the prosciutto around the scallop and back onto the skewer and then repeated the process. I left the prosciutto long so that it would wrap around the scallops. I needed 2 prosciutto strips per skewer. (Not the best description I know, just go with whatever you like.)

Heat a grill pan or fry pan over medium heat with half the olive oil. Cut the cooled polenta into 4 pieces. Fry the polenta for about 5 minutes each side until golden. Set aside and keep warm (I kept them warm in a low oven while I finished the meal).

Heat the olive oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Add the scallop skewers and cook for 30 second to 1 minute on each side (I cooked on all 4 sides so that the prosciutto was well browned). The length of cooking will depend on how big the scallops are. Add the white wine and lemon juice and simmer for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat half the butter in a large saucepan. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the skewers from the pan and set aside. Whisk the rest of the butter (must be chilled) into the white wine sauce.

Serve the scallop skewers with the spinach and polenta and white wine sauce.


Pesto was one of the first recipes that I started making from scratch instead of purchasing it. I don't really like the taste of store bought pesto, something about it never tastes quite right to me.

I actually have not made pesto very much lately, it has sort of fallen out of my repertoire. Not that I don't like it anymore, I just started making other dishes more often.

Today I have made some because I am using it in a "Quick Lasagne" recipe (this recipe should be posted in a few days). It is very hard for me to give precise quantities, like a lot of my cooking, I add ingredients by feel and measure very little. With pesto I just keep adding whatever I think it needs until it tastes right. But I have given it a go below.

I have used extra virgin olive oil below (because that is what I had), but to be honest, I think that in this batch of pesto the taste of the olive oil is a little overpowering, it is quite a peppery olive oil. If you have a strong olive oil, I would be inclined to either use half extra virgin olive oil and half regular olive oil, or just regular olive oil alone. But this also depends on how you are using the pesto. As I am using this in another dish with many ingredients, the strong taste is fine. If I was serving it as a dip, I would probably try and tone the flavour down, or make another batch.

My tip is taste as you go and add any ingredient you think the pesto needs more of.

1 bunch basil (sometimes I use half basil, half parsley as some people find the basil too powerful a taste)
2 tablespoons pine nuts lightly toasted
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the basil, pine nuts, lemon juice, parmesan and garlic in a food processor. Process to combine. Slowly add the olive oil while the motor is running. Continue to process until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. Taste the pesto and season to taste.

Thai Beef Salad - My Style! (Or "Beef Salad with Soy and Lime Dressing")

Okay, I admit, there is not much about this salad that is authentically "Thai". I only call it a "Thai Beef Salad" because the dressing came from a Thai Beef Salad recipe I saw somewhere...I think. I'm not too sure actually where it came from.

Regardless, I love this salad. I always feel really healthy after eating it. Obviously avocado is not something you would normally see in a "Thai Beef Salad"...the story here is that one night I really felt like avocado, so I just added it to the salad, and LOVED it. So now, I always add avocado when making this salad.

Really, it should probably be called "Beef Salad with Soy and Lime Dressing". Regardless of the name, it is a delicious, easy and healthy meal.

The quantities below are for 2 people. One note of warning, I love to drench this salad in dressing. If this does not suit you, remember to add less dressing. If you are a chilli fan, add some fresh chilli for a little bite.


2 beef steaks (about 200g per person)
2 handfuls of salad leaves (enough per person)
1 tablespoon slivered almonds
1/4 cup mint roughly chopped
1/4 cup basil leaves roughly torn
125g cherry tomatoes (or 2 -3 ordinary tomatoes) diced
1/2 lebanese cucumber sliced
2 shallots finely sliced (or 1/2 small red onion finely diced)
1/2 - 1 avocado deseeded and chopped (use a quantity to suit you)
41/2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar


Pan fry, BBQ or char grill the steak until cooked to your liking. Allow the steak to rest before slicing thinly.

Meanwhile, dry roast the almonds in a small pan until golden. Set aside to cool.

To make the dressing combine the soy sauce, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar in a bowl or glass jar and mix to combine.

Toss the salad leaves, mint, basil, tomatoes, cucumber, shallots, and avocado together in a bowl.

To serve, top the salad with the beef and almonds and finish with the dressing.

10 March 2009

Spiced Haloumi and Lentil Salad

A haloumi and lentil salad is one of my favourite meals to make for lunch on a Saturday. I also make a very similar salad to take to work for lunch but add danish feta instead of haloumi.

I made this salad for dinner last night and served it with grilled chicken. In my quest to use the many, many spices that I have purchased, last night I sprinkled the haloumi with cumin and green cardamom - and the result was fantastic. The spices were delicious when fried with the haloumi and they formed a gorgeous, golden crust.

Normally when I make this salad I either serve it with a simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing, or lemon myrtle infused olive oil and lime juice. I recently purchased a bottle of pomegranate molasses and decided to try it with this recipe. Pomegranate molasses is pomegranate juice that has been reduced until it is thick and syrupy. It is wonderfully sour and tangy. And I think it works really well with the cumin and cardemom in this recipe. It is available from specialist delis, some greengrocers and some supermarkets (but not mine naturally). It is also available from Herbie's Spices (my new favourite shop - see http://www.herbies.com.au/). Don't be scared, give it a go!

Ingredients (serves 2 either as a side, or as a light lunch)

400g tin lentils drained and rinsed
A couple of handfuls of salad leaves washed and dried (I used baby spinach...yes, I love it)
Half a lebanese cucumber sliced
Half a small red onion finely diced
1 tablespoon pine nuts lightly toasted
A handful parsley and mint roughly chopped
125g cherry tomatoes halved
180g haloumi sliced into 1cm slices
Olive oil to fry

2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground green cardamom
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
3 tablespoons olive oil
Splash fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste


Combine dressing ingredients in a glass jar and shake to combine.

Combine lentils, salad leaves, cucumber, red onion, pine nuts, parsley, mint and tomatoes in a bowl.

Heat olive oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Sprinkle cumin and cardamom over haloumi. Fry haloumi on each side for a few minutes until golden.

Add dressing to the salad and toss lightly. Serve salad with haloumi.

08 March 2009

Sunday Lunch Preparation Plan

So, here is my preparation plan for my Sunday Lunch.

Day before

Make aioli

Make butter for beef

Make ravioli

Roast pine nuts

Toast sourdough for bruschetta

Wash rocket

Bake prosciutto

Roast tomatoes

In the morning of "the day"

Peel prawns

Make cake

Prepare spiced berries

Whip cream
Have fun!

Rich Chocolate Cake with Spiced Berries and Whipped Cream

The cake recipe that I use here is the "almost flourless chocolate cake" from Marie Claire Food Taste 101. But I have added a few extra touches. One of these special touches is wattleseed which matches brilliantly with chocolate. The other is cassia which is like cinnamon, but more aromatic.

I was given the spiced berries recipe by a saleswoman at Herbie's Spices when I went in looking for a spice to go with the dessert. I ended up buying "Fragrant Sweet Spices" which is a wonderfully fragrant spice blend. It was marvellous.

The cake can be made in advance, as can the berries. I made both in the morning on the day of my Sunday Lunch.

Chocolate cake


Butter for greasing

100g dark couverture or good quality cooking chocolate

1/2 cup cocoa plus extra for dusting

1 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup boiling water

2 large eggs separated, plus 2 eggwhites extra

1/4 cup almond meal

2 1/2 tablespoons plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon cassia or cinnamon

1 teaspoon wattleseed

1 vanilla pod split down the middle and seeds removed

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Spiced berries to serve

Whipped cream to serve


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease a 20cm springform cake tin, line the base with baking paper and dust the sides lightly with flour.

Put the chocolate, cocoa and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a large heatproof bowl and pour over the water. Stir until the chocolate melts and sugar dissolves. Beat in the egg yolks then stir in the almond meal, flour, wattleseed, cassia and vanilla seeds.

In a separate clean bowl, use clean beaters to beat the eggwhites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Beat in the remaining sugar until stiff. Using a metal spoon, fold the eggwhite, in two batches, until the chocolate mixture until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake on a lower rung on the oven for 30-35 minutes (I found I needed 40 minutes) or until a few moist crumbs cling to a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake. Remove from the oven, then leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack. Carefully turn out the cake, remove the paper and invert onto a plate so it is the right way up. Dust with cocoa and serve with the spiced berries and whipped cream.

Spiced berries


1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons Fragrant Sweet Spices

300g frozen raspberries


Heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in spice mix.

Leave to cool.

Place thawed berries in a bowl, pour cooled syrup over and refrigerate. Serve with chocolate cake and whipped cream.

Rocket, Roast Tomato and Parmesan Salad with Pink Peppercorn Dressing

Given the roast beef and rosemary chips contained strong flavours, I wanted to serve them with a fairly simple salad. As it turns out, I loved this salad, especially the dressing. The pink peppercorn was another Herbie's purchase. It adds a bit of bite, without being overwhelming. The combination of rocket, roast tomatoes and parmesan is an old favourite of mine, but the dressing added something different.

The tomatoes can be roasted in advance. I made them the day before and stored them in the fridge until just before serving. I also made sure the rocket was washed and dried before my guests arrived. I love my salad spinner - if you don't have one I highly recommend purchasing one. I wash all my leaves when I buy them and store them in the spinner in the fridge until required.


250g cherry tomatoes cut in half

2 teaspoons sumac

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

100g rocket washed and dried

1/4 cup grated parmesan (I used a vegetable peeler to peel the parmesan into thin strips)

3 tablespoons olive oil (extra)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon pink peppercorn


Place the tomatoes in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil and sumac. Toss to combine. Roast for 20-25 minutes until soft.

To make the dressing, crush the peppercorn in a mortar and pestle and mix well with the olive oil and vinegar.

Just before serving, toss the rocket, parmesan and tomatoes with the dressing.

Roast Beef with Mustard, Garlic and Herb Butter and Rosemary Chips

I absolutely love red meat. I love a really tender steak cooked and prefer it medium - not too well done, and not raw in the centre.

There is a fantastic pub near us which serves the best steak, I cannot resist ordering it whenever we are there, although then I feel guilty, like I should be trying something different because I am sure the other meals are just as good. But I really cannot go past a good steak.

I also therefore love roast beef.

I love really tender beef, so tend to buy fillet steak. But New York Sirloin and Porterhouse are generally very good also.

In this recipe, the beef is roasted with a flavoured butter which seeps into the beef and makes it wonderfully moist and tasty.

These rosemary chips are fast becoming one of my favourites. Apart from tasting fantastic, while cooking they fill our apartment with a delicious aroma.

In terms of timing, the butter can be made in advance. I also chopped the rosemary a few hours before my guests arrived.


1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon green peppercorn
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons parsley
1 tablespoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
75g butter softened
Small splash lemon juice
Use a mortar and pestle to crush the mustard seeds and green peppercorn. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. Place on plastic wrap and mould into a log shape. Refrigerate until needed
900g beef fillet
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Sear the beef in a hot pan until browned on all sides. Place on a rack in a roasting tray. Slice the butter into 5 pieces and place on top of the beef. Place in the oven and roast for 40-45 minutes for medium, or until cooked to your liking. Remove from the oven, cover lightly with foil and rest before serving.
Rosemary chips
5-6 potatoes depending on size (I use coliban potatoes, washed but unpeeled)
4 sprigs rosemary leaves removed and finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cut the potato into chip shaped pieces. They should be about 1/2 cm thick (remember they will cook faster if they are thinner). Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and oil and toss to combine.
Place on a baking tray (you may need two trays) lined with baking paper. Cook with beef for about 1 hour. Once you take the beef out of the oven, turn the heat up to 200 degrees. Keep an eye on them and cook for less or more time as required.
Serve with the roast beef.
P.S I cannot fix the formatting on this one! Sorry it is all squashed up.

Roasted Red Onion and Garlic Ravioli with Cream and Thyme Sauce

I was extremely happy with how this dish turned out. It is very rich, so you do not need much per person.

Don't be scared by the amount of garlic - when garlic is roasted it becomes very sweet and loses a lot of its pungency. It is absolutely delicious.

You may have some of the ravioli filling left over once the ravioli is filled. I cooked a little extra just in case, and also to give to Otis if he was hungry.

Making fresh pasta is a bit of a process. If you do not enjoy cooking, you may want to buy gow gee wrappers and use those instead. But of course, the results will not be the same. If you can persevere, the dish is that much better with fresh egg pasta.

Heat will ruin fresh pasta, so if it is humid while you are making it, try and cook in a cool place. It is sometimes easier to divide the pasta into portions and work with only smaller amounts at a time. Also, it dries out easily, so store it under a damp, clean tea towel or in the fridge if necessary.

The ravioli can be made in advance. I probably wouldn't make it any more than 1 day in advance, unless I was going to store it in the freezer.

The pine nuts can be toasted the day before. If you wanted to, you could make the cream sauce earlier in the day, but I would not keep it for too long.


3 eggs

1 3/4 cups plain flour ('00' strong flour is best - this is now available from the supermarket)

4 red onions cut in half (skin on)

2 heads garlic with the top cut off

3 sprigs thyme

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
2 sprigs thyme (extra)

2 teaspoons dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

400 ml thickened cream

3 sprigs thyme (extra)

100g butter

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon pine nuts


Place the flour and eggs in a food processor and process until a dough forms. (If you do not have a food processor, place the flour on a clean work surface, make a well in the centre and add the egg. Whisk the egg with a fork, slowly incorporating the flour until a dough forms).

If your dough is too wet, add a little extra flour.

Knead the dough well on a lightly floured surface until it is smooth and elastic. Cover with a damp tea towel and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Once rested, either use a rolling pin to roll into thin strips about 1mm in thickness and a few inches wide. If you have a pasta machine, pass through the machine at each setting until it is about 1mm in thickness. I personally like my ravioli to be as thin as possible.

I like to cut my pasta into squares (or sometimes they are rectangles due to the way the pasta has been rolled out) about 8-10 cms square. You then place a few teapoons of the ravioli on each square, brush with a little water and seal, making sure that all the air is pushed out. But be gentle! They break easily. Dust the pasta with flour while you are waiting to fill it, and also once you are done. Once filled, I store the pasta on a tray lined with baking paper. I dust both sides of the ravioli with flour and store in the fridge.

Now for the filling. Drizzle the garlic heads and red onion halves with oil. Wrap the garlic in foil. Toss the onion with the thyme. Place the garlic, onion (cut side down) and thyme on a baking paper lined tray and roast for 30-40 minutes until soft. Allow to cool.

The soft garlic will then pop easily out of its skin. Therefore remove each clove of garlic. Remove the onion flesh from its skin and blend, mash or process in a food processor both the onion and garlic. Add the vinegar, fresh thyme and dried thyme and mix. You'll need to taste the mixture and add salt and pepper as you like. Fill the ravioli.

Just before serving, cook the ravioli in boiling salted water. They only take a few minutes and will rise to the surface once cooked.

While the water is boiling toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until lightly browned. Also while the water is boiling, heat the cream, butter and thyme in a saucepan until simmering and the butter has melted. Add salt and pepper to taste as well as a handful of parmesan cheese. Keep warm.

Divide the ravioli among four serving bowls. Top with cream sauce and a few pine nuts. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan.

Prawn, Avocado, Prosciutto and Aioli Bruschetta

I made the aioli myself for this recipe, but you could easily use store bought mayonnaise and add a clove of garlic. Of course, the final product will not be as delicious, but it is easier.

I will publish a full time plan for the whole Sunday Lunch menu, but for this particular dish, the time plan is as follows.

The day before:
  1. cook the prosciutto

  2. toast the bruschetta

  3. make the aioli

Just before serving, cook the prawns. While the prawns are cooking, mash the avocado. Don't be tempted to mash the avocado in advance - it will go brown.


The fenugreek adds a wonderful, sharp tang which is not dissimilar to mustard. I think it compliments the other flavours very well in this recipe. But you therefore need to add less dijon mustard than you normally would.


1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/2 cup sunflower oil

1 teaspoon fenugreek

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 clove garlic crushed

Dijon mustard (extra - to taste)

Squeeze lemon juice

Salt and white pepper to taste


Place the egg yolk and dijon mustard in a small bowl. Whisk until combined. Add the sunflower oil one drop at a time, whisking continuously. Continue whisking until the ingredients are emulsified. The mixture should be rich and creamy. Add the garlic powder, fenugreek and fresh garlic. You will need to taste the mayonnaise at this point to work out what else it needs. Whisk in extra dijon mustard, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.



2 slices prosciutto

1 small sourdough bread stick sliced into 12 slices

Olive oil

12 green prawns cleaned and peeled

1 teaspoon sumac

1 avocado mashed


Make the aioli.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the sourdough slices on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for approximately 15 minutes until golden. Allow to cool.

While the bread is toasting, also place the prosciutto on a baking paper lined baking tray and bake for 12 minutes or until crisp. Allow to cool.

Mix the prawns with a little olive oil and sumac. Heat a fry pan and cook the prawns for 2-3 minutes on each side. While the prawns are cooking, spread each toast slice with avocado. Once the prawns are cooked, top the avocado with a prawn, a slice of prosciutto and a teaspoon of aioli. Serve immediately.

Sunday Lunch

Today our friends Rochelle and Phil came over for lunch with their beautiful son Otis (I am also his very proud God mother!). For the first time today even Oti tasted some of cooking, and he seemed very impressed! He is only one year old, so even if he had not been impressed I would not have minded. But he ate some of everything.

I am still quite obsessed with my spice book, and have made another trip to Herbie's Spices, I'd probably have 35 spices now and try to use at least one in each dish I cook. They add such an interesting and tasty dimension to basic meals.

On the menu for today was:

  • Prawn, avocado, prosciutto and aioli bruschetta

  • Roasted red onion and garlic ravioli with cream and thyme sauce

  • Roast beef with mustard, garlic and herb butter

  • Rosemary chips

  • Rocket, roast tomato and parmesan salad with pink peppercorn dressing

  • Rich chocolate cake with spiced berries and whipped cream

Rochelle and Phil were told that their food would have to be photographed prior to eating it (and they happily agreed), so I will shortly be uploading the recipes and the photos along with a menu plan for what can be prepared in advance. We had a lovely relaxing meal with much being prepared in advance.


03 March 2009

Cardamom Lemon Tart with Allspice Pastry

So again I am experimenting with spices. I took this lemon tart recipe from Comfort a marie claire recipe book by Michele Cranston and have added a few special touches in the form of green cardamom, allspice and vanilla bean seeds.

Green cardamom adds a lovely freshness. And allspice adds a delicious cinnamon and clove like fragrance to the pastry.

On my recent trip to Herbies in Rozelle I bought the most beautifully fragrant vanilla pods. You can small them through the plastic. They are amazing. In this recipe I split open a pod with a sharp knife, scrape out the vanilla seeds and mix them with the whipped cream to serve. Delicious!

In the picture I have served the tart with the vanilla cream and blackberries which I have whizzed in the food processor with a little lemon juice and sugar. Enjoy!



1 2/3 cups plain flour
100g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 teaspoons allspice
2-3 tablespoons chilled water

I made my pastry in my food processor. If you do not have a food processor, combine the flour, butter, sugar and allspice in a bowl and rub butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Then add the water slowly and knead until the pastry forms.

If using a food processor, add the flour, butter, sugar and allspice and process until combined. Add the water slowly until the mixture comes together.

In both cases, wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

Grease a 25 cm tart tin or pie dish. Roll out the pastry until very thin (I found that I had far too much pastry - you can store the extra in the freezer for later use) and line the tin / dish with the pastry. Chill for another 30 minutes (I put this in the freezer for 15 minutes instead).

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Prick the base of the pastry with a fork, line with baking paper and fill with rice or pastry weights. Bake for 10-15 minutes until dry and slightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.



Prebaked pastry tart case (see above)
6 lemons
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons ground green cardamom
250ml whipping cream (unwhipped)
300ml cream, whipped to serve
1 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds removed
Icing sugar to serve


Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.

Finely grate the zest of 2 lemons and place in a large bowl. Juice all of the lemons (you should have about 185ml lemon juice). Add to the lemon zest along with eggs, egg yolks, caster sugar and green cardamom. Whisk to combine. Add the cream and whisk once more before pouring the mixture into the tart case.

Place the tart case (carefully!) into the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes (I found that I needed 50 minutes). The filling should be set but still a bit wobbly in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate to enhance the lemon flavour.

Add the vanilla seeds to the whipped cream. Serve tart with vanilla cream, fresh berries and dusted with icing sugar.

Lamb Curry

Okay, so this is my first attempt at making my own blend of herbs and spices to create a curry (other than adding lemon myrtle to my Tomato Chicken Curry dish). I recently bought Spice Notes and Recipes by Ian Hemphill who owns "Herbies Spices" a spice shop at Rozelle. I am absolutely loving this book and the inspiration it provides. I now have so many sticky notes stuck to the pages there is really no point having any as almost every page is tagged.

As a result you'll find a lot more herbs and spices in some of my dishes. Some are a little obscure - I am trying to experiment with more unknown ones. If you want to find out more about any visit http://www.herbies.com.au/ where you can also purchase spices online. Or of course ask me (you can ask by making a comment on my recipes).

In this lamb recipe you will find "amchur" which is made from dried green mangoes. I chose to use this spice as it is lemony and adds sourness to curries.

You'll also find "fenugreek" which adds sharpness.

My Sunday night taste testers (Mark and Scott) were very happy with this creation (Mark described it as "very good"). The paprika was added during the cooking process. I tasted the curry while it was cooking and asked the boys whether they thought it needed more kick. Mark, who is a big chilli fan, wanted more heat added, so I added the hot paprika. Personally I think the delicate taste of the other spices can stand alone as a delicious curry, but add paprika as desired to suit your taste buds.

The quantities I list below fed the three of us. So perhaps add a bit more meat if you are feeding more people.

If you do not have a mortar and pestle you can use ground spices and skip the first part about roasting the herbs. I just love bashing the spices myself!

2 cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
4 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1 tablespoon tumeric
1/2 cinnamon quill (or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon)
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon amchur
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon hot paprika (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 small onions chopped
800g lamb leg steaks cut into 2cm pieces
Flour for dusting lamb
3 tablespoons beef stock
3 tablespoons yoghurt
Oil for frying
Handful fresh mint
Rice and steamed greens to serve


Preheat oven to 150 degrees.

Toast the cloves, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and coriander seeds until fragrant. Place spices in a mortal and pestle. Once cooled, grind spices with the garlic until a paste is formed. Add other spices and mix to combine.

Heat oil in a fry pan, add onion and cook until soft. Add spice mixture and cook until fragrant, stirring. Put onion and spice mixture into oven casserole dish and set aside.

Dust lamb pieces with flour. Add more oil to the fry pan and brown lamb on each side. Put lamb on top of onion and spice mixture in casserole dish.

Add stock and yoghurt and stir to combine all ingredients. Place in the oven and cook for 2 - 2/12 hours. The cooking time can depend on how much time you have. If you want to prepare the meal in less time, turn the heat up. Just check the liquid levels and test the lamb at regular intervals. I find however that if I cook the lamb for longer at a lower temperature it is a lot more tender. Taste the sauce as it cooks and add more salt, hot paprika or other spices as desired.

Serve with steamed rice, greens and a sprinkling of mint.