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27 April 2009

Prawns with Avocado and Ginger and Lemon Myrtle Mayonnaise

I have been wanting to make this dish for quite a long time. I surprised Mark last Wednesday night with a mid-week romantic meal and decided to serve this as an entree.

It was exceptionally easy and tasted delicious. It is important, however, to buy good quality, very fresh prawns as they really are the centrepiece here.

Unfortunately I cannot give precise measurements for the ginger and lemon myrtle to add to the mayonnaise. I just added a little bit at a time and then tasted the mayonnaise and kept adding more until I was happy. If I had to guess, I would say add about 1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger and 1-2 teaspoons lemon myrtle. But really, you can just add however much you want until it tastes the way you want it to taste. I also added a very small amount garlic, but this is optional.

I used the mayonnaise recipe that I posted on 22 February 2009, but did not add the mustard.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

1 quantity mayonnaise (see post from 22 February 2009 and omit mustard)
1/2 - 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
Approx 2 teaspoons lemon myrtle
1/2 clove garlic crushed
8 fresh cooked prawns peeled and heads removed
1/2 avocado sliced
Handful fresh mint


Make the mayonnaise. Add ginger, lemon myrtle and garlic to taste. Arrange the prawns and avocado on a plate. Spoon over a tablespoon or two of mayonnaise and sprinkle over the fresh mint. Serve immediately.

Gnocchi with Quick Prosciutto and Tomato Sauce

I love to make gnocchi on the weekend ready for a quick Monday night dinner. The gnocchi recipe I have used here is the same recipe I posted on 13 April 2009. This time I made the gnocchi on Sunday and just stored it in the fridge ready for Monday. If I was going to store it for any longer I would have placed it in the freezer rather than the fridge.

I really cannot tell you how much better homemade gnocchi is than store bought gnocchi. Of course it does take a little extra time, but it is well worth the extra effort. Store bought gnocchi can be very heavy and glue-like, whereas homemade gnocchi is very light and tastes completely different.

But as I have said before, you have to be gentle with it - do not over knead and handle it very lightly.

Have a go!

Ingredients (Serves 2)

1/2 tablespoon garlic
1 small brown onion finely chopped
1-3 cloves garlic (I like a lot of garlic, you may prefer less) crushed
100g prosciutto roughly chopped
1 tin crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Handful each of roughly chopped fresh parsley, basil and oregano
Parmesan cheese and a green salad to serve
Fresh gnocchi (as per post from 13 April 2009)


Bring a large saucepan of boiling water to the boil. Add salt. Set aside until sauce is almost cooked.

Heat the olive oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the prosciutto and cook until crisp. Pour the tomatoes into the pan with the red wine vinegar and cook until slightly reduced and thickened.

Meanwhile bring the saucepan of water back to the boil and add the gnocchi. It only needs a minute or two to cook.

Remove sauce from the heat and stir through the herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Add cooked gnocchi and stir gently to combine.

Serve with parmesan cheese and a green salad.

20 April 2009

Hearty Hamburgers

Yesterday, when Mark said he wasn't sure what he wanted for lunch, hamburgers popped into my head. I don't eat burgers a lot - I almost never eat take away (other than pizza) - but I do enjoy a really good hamburger.

The burger I made for Mark was more traditional - bun, lettuce, cheese, beef, tomato sauce, onion, tomato. But I really felt like avocado and aioli, so that is the recipe that I have set out below.

These burgers were huge. Honestly, they could have fed an extra 1 or 2 people. So, the recipe below is the same quantity I made for us (and which I finish) but I'd suggest making four beef patties instead 0f two. I also served these with oven chips - so if you make 4 patties and the burgers look a little small, you can bulk it up with some chips.

Ingredients (Serves 2-4 - divide mince accordingly)
2 tomatoes cut in half
Drizzle olive oil
4 hamburger buns
1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil (extra)
2 red onions sliced
Salt and pepper
1 brown onion grated
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 teaspoon oregano
250g beef mince
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1 egg
1/4 - 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (you'll need a little extra if the mixture is too wet)
Olive oil to fry
1 avocado
Aioli (see mayonnaise post from 22 February 2009)
Oven fries to serve


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the tomatoes cut side up in a roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes until soft.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the red onion, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is caramelised and very soft.

Combine the onion, garlic, oregano, mince, tomato sauce, egg in a bowl. Add breadcrumbs until mixture is still sticky, but not too wet or too dry. Mould mince mixture into 2-4 beef patties.

Heat olive oil in a fry pan and fry mince patties on each side until browned and cooked through.

Just prior to serving, toast the hamburger buns. Top with avocado, tomatoes, beef patties, caramelised onion and aioli. Serve with oven fries.

Marinated Spiced Strawberries - dessert for those who don't really eat dessert

As I have said before, I am not big on sweets. I much prefer savoury food like cheese. And I also have a few friends who are like me (or perhaps just one?) so I am always excited to find a dessert that is easy and that even someone who is not a huge fan of desserts will enjoy.

These strawberries really hit the mark. As much as I am not a sweets person, I do like cream. And while strawberries and cream are a classic combination, sometimes I find that even strawberries are a bit much in terms of sweetness (as a result I use raspberries and pomegranate a lot more often). But marinating the strawberries for a few hours before serving makes them delicious and tangy and also really soft and 'melt in your mouth'. And of course, I have made good use of one of the numerous spices I have purchased recently.

I have used pomegranate molasses, but you could also use balsamic vinegar. Originally that is precisely what I was going to use, until I realised I had run out. If using balsamic, you may need to add a little extra sugar. Just taste to work out whether it needs anything extra.

These strawberries would also be lovely served with yoghurt and also with pancakes - watch this space, I may try that recipe soon.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

1 x 250g punnet strawberries hulled and cut in half
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Juice of half a lemon
Whipped cream to serve


Place the strawberries in a bowl with the molasses, sugar, allspice and lemon juice and allow to marinate for at least two hours.

Serve with whipped cream.

13 April 2009

Easter Saturday Extravaganza

This time we entertained friends Scott and Amber. Normally when Scott and Amber come for dinner (which is quite regularly) it is a last minute affair. This time we knew in advance, so I wanted it to be more formal.

On the menu was:

- Gnocchi with Prosciutto, Sage and Caper Sauce
- Thyme and Rosemary Lamb served with Roasted Vegetables, Salsa Verde and Red Wine Sauce
- New York Cheesecake

This menu allowed much to be prepared in advance, which in turn allowed me to relax with our friends. To prepare, I prepared the following in advance (and remember, the salse verde had been prepared the day before as part of the Good Friday Feast).

1. Made the gnocchi and stored it in the fridge until ready to cook.
2. Made the red wine sauce (it was prepared until just before the point where the additional butter is added).
3. Marinated the lamb.
4. Peeled the potatoes and stored them in cold water until ready to cut.
5. Washed and drained the capers.
6. Cooked the cheesecake (this was done the say before actually).

Gnocchi with Prosciutto, Sage and Caper Sauce

I love homemade gnocchi. It is so light and fluffy - not heavy and glue-like as some commercially made gnocchi can be.

It is not hard to make. One tip is not to handle the gnocchi too much as it will become tough. It needs to be handled lightly and it does not need to be kneaded anywhere close to the extent that fresh pasta does. I barely kneaded it at all really.

The gnocchi can be made in advance, dusted with flour and stored on a baking tray in the fridge until serving time. Make sure the gnocchi are separate and are not touching as they will stick together. In fact, for this dish, I baked the potato the day before and then stored it in the fridge until I finished the recipe off the next day. It was a very straight forward process.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

4 potatoes weighing around 230g, each washed and dried
3 eggs
Approximately 2/3 cup plain flour
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
8 slices prosciutto sliced
2 tablespoons capers rinsed and dried
1/2 cup sage leaves
150g butter
Extra parmesan cheese to serve


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Cook the potatoes in their skins for one hour. Allow to cool slightly and then scoop out the flesh. Pass the potato through a potato press and allow to cool completely.

Once cooled, mix the eggs, flour (start with 2/3 cup flour and add extra if necessary) and parmesan with the potato. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly knead for a minute or so or until a dough has been formed.

Mould dough into a ball and cut into 8 portions. Using your hands, roll each portion into a long strip. Use a knife to cut the strip into 2 cm pieces. Dust with flour and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

When ready to eat, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the capers, prosciutto and sage and cook until crisp (it will taste better if the butter browns also).

Cook the gnocchi for about a minute in the boiling water. Drain and serve with the butter sauce. Serve with extra parmesan if desired.

Thyme and Rosemary Lamb served with Roast Vegetables, Salsa Verde and Red Wine Sauce

I saw a very similar recipe on the Lifestyle Channel and it looked so delicious I just had to create my own version.
The lamb used in this recipe is wonderfully tender and moist. As Scott described, it melts in your mouth. And again, this dish was very easy to prepare. I will definitely be making it again.

It is important to marinate the lamb for a sunstantial period of time (at least a few hours). Apart from flavouring the meat, the marinating process helps ensure the meat is tender.

I strongly suggest you give this recipe a go!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

800g lamb sirloin or fillets
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 lemon, zest removed and cut into slices
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 slice prosciutto chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 cup beef stock
1 cup red wine
1/2 tablespoon butter (extra)
4-5 potatoes peeled and cut into halves or quarters (depending on size)
4 tomatoes
1 head garlic, cloves separated
3 red onion cut into quarters
Olive oil
Salse verde to serve (see post from 12 April 2009)


Place the lamb, half the thyme and rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper and olive oil in a plastic food storage bag. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and add to the bag along with the lemon itself. Mix well to combine the ingredients. Set aside for 4 hours. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before serving to bring to room temperature.

To make the red wine sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the proscuitto and cook for a few minutes until crisp. Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes. Now add the thyme, beef stock and red wine and stir well. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until reduced by half. (At this point I let the sauce cool and then just reheated it when serving). Strain the sauce and discard the prosciutto and thyme. Just prior to serving, whisk in the extra butter (this adds a glossy sheen).

For the vegetables, preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Place the vegetables and left over thyme and rosemary in a roasting tin. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 40-50 minutes untill cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat a fry pan over high heat. Sear the lamb on each side until well browned. Transfer to a roasting tray and roast for 5 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Serve the vegetables topped with the lamb, red wine sauce and salsa verde.

New York Cheesecake

Mark loves cheesecake, and while we were in New York, he particularly loved New York Cheesecake. So when I asked him for a dessert suggestions, that was what he said.

I used a recipe I found on taste.com.au - here is the link http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/19621/new+york+cheesecake

It was really lovely and also quite simple to make. As the picture suggests, it was very much enjoyed!

Good Friday Feast

Our friends Renee and Todd were coming over for dinner on Good Friday. I therefore wanted to create a delicious, and different, meal that they would enjoy. After much thought, I decided on the following menu.

- Caramelised Onion and Haloumi Tarts
- Twice Baked Feta and Chive Souffles
- Spiced Crumbed Flathead with Cauliflower Puree, Salsa Verde and Sauteed Spinach

I also made a New York Cheesecake, but we were all full, and not really dessert people anyway, so we skipped dessert. I served it the next night - the blog will be updated with that menu shortly.

This menu allowed me to prepare a very large portion of the food in advance so that I could sit and chat to our friends rather than be stuck in the kitchen. So, during the day I prepared the following.

1. Made the salsa verde and stored it in the fridge.
2. Prepared the souffles and baked them once. They were then stored in the fridge until I was ready to cook them again.
3. Crumbed the fish. Crumbing the fish early and storing it in the fridge also ensured that the crumbs stayed on.
4. Caramelised the onion for the tarts.
5. Cut the haloumi.
6. Washed and dried the baby spinach.
7. Trimmed and washed the beans I served as a side dish.
8. Made the pureed cauliflower and kept it warm in a bowl placed in a large saucepan of simmering water.

Caramelised Onion and Haloumi Tarts

I have seen a lot of recipes around for onion and goat's cheese tarts. As I am not keen on goat's cheese, I decided to try one and use haloumi instead.

With respect to the caramelised onion itself, I wanted to use a combination of spices in order to enhance the flavour. I decided to use a combination of coriander seed, lemon myrtle, wattleseed and akudjura (bush tomato). Once combined, these spices were so deliciously fragrant I decided to use this same combination with the crumbed flathead I was serving as the main meal. The caramelised onion tasted wonderful - I had to quickly put it in the fridge to stop myself from constantly eating bits of it. It would also be lovely served with steak.

These tarts are easy to prepare. I caramelised the onion in advance and then stored it in the fridge until I was ready to put the tarts together. Just before Renee and Todd arrived I cut out the pastry rounds and placed them on the baking tray and then a bit later topped the pastry with the onion and haloumi and popped them in the oven. Very simple!

Ingredients (Makes 18)

Olive oil for frying
3 brown onions peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon lemon myrtle
1 teaspoon wattleseed
1 teaspoon ground akudjura (bush tomato)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 sheets puff pastry thawed
250g haloumi cut into 18 slices
Olive oil for drizzling


Combine the spices in a mortar and pestle and grind to combine. Set aside.
Cover the bottom of a medium sized saucepan with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and stir to cover with the oil. Add the garlic. Cook for 30 minutes or so until the onion is very soft and has caramelised. The quantity will look quite a lot smaller.

Add the spices and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cool and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Close to serving time, preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Use a cookie cutter to cut 8-10 cm round from the pastry. Use a slightly smaller cutter to cut partway through each round to that a border is formed.

Use a teaspoon to divide the onion evenly among the rounds. Top with a piece of haloumi. Drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden. Serve immediately.

Twice Baked Feta and Chives Souffle

I was hesitant to serve a cheese based souffle as an entree when we were having a fish main. It just didn't seem to "match" to me. But, Renee told me that she had never had a savoury souffle, and I knew how much she would love it given how much she loves cheese, so I decided to make it anyway. And I take it back - it did "match".

Because souffles are made with whisked egg whites they normally cannot be made in advance. When entertaining I like to make as much as possible in advance, so decided that a twice baked souffle would be the best option. This recipe is really very easy, and very tasty.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

15g butter (as well as extra butter for greasing)
30ml milk
55g plain flour
5 eggs separated
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
150g creamy feta (such as Danish feta) cut into small cubes
100g parmesan cheese grated
1 bunch chives chopped
150ml thickened cream
Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease 4 ramekins with butter. Place the milk, flour and butter in a small saucepan and heat slowly, whisking, until the mixture thickens and boils. Let the mixture simmer for about a minute and then remove from the heat. Beat in the egg yolks, feta, 3/4 of the parmesan, dijon mustard and chives. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to cool.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir about a third of the egg whites into the milk and cheese mixture. Carefully fold in another third of the egg whites until combined and then repeat with the remaining third.

Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins. Place the ramekins in a roasting tray and half fill the tray with water. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

After cooking, remove the ramekins from the roasting tray and allow to cool on a wire rack. The souffles will fall - this is normal. Once cool, the souffles can be placed in the fridge until ready to serve.

About half an hour before you want to serve, preheat the oven again to 200 degrees. Run a knife around the edge of the ramekins and remove the souffles. Place each souffle in a baking tray. Sprinkle with parmesan and thickened cream. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden. Serve immediately.

12 April 2009

Spiced Crumbed Flathead with Cauliflower Puree, Salsa Verde and Sauteed Spinach

When Mark and I went to a seafood cooking class about a year ago, one of the dishes involved pureed cauliflower - and it was amazing. Because I wanted to create a really special fish dish for Renee and Todd, I decided to try out the pureed cauliflower, and even if I do say so myself, it was fantastic.

With the fish, because the pureed cauliflower is so creamy, I thought that crispy, crumbed fish would be an interesting contrast. And I am really happy with how that turned out also. I mixed a few spices with the crumbs to contrast with the sweetness of the cauliflower. The flathead crumbed and cooked really well.

I made the cauliflower puree a few hours in advance. To keep it warm, I placed the puree in a glass bowl and placed the bowl in a large saucepan with a few inches of water in the bottom. I placed the whole lot over a low heat and the steam kept the puree hot as well as moist.

Just before serving, I preheated the oven to about 140 degrees. After frying the fish, I placed it in the oven to keep it warm while I sauteed the spinach and blanched the beans I served the dish with.

So, the salsa verde is not really salsa verde, but it is delicious all the same. Dill is not ordinarilly used in salsa verde, but I really like the combination. The recipe makes a large quantity of salsa verde. I used the rest on Easter Saturday (lamb recipe to be posted shortly).

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon lemon myrtle
1 teaspoon wattleseed
1 teaspoon ground akudjura (bush tomato)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup plain flour
3 eggs lightly whisked
700-800g flathead fillets
1 1/2 heads of cauliflower cut into florets
600ml thickened cream
1 litre milk
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch dill
1 bunch mint
2 tablespoons capers
45g tin anchovies
2 cloves garlic
2-3 teaspoons dijon mustard (to taste)
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 - 3/4 cup olive oil
2-3 tablespoons butter (extra)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (extra)
1-2 tablespoons butter (extra for spinach)
150g baby spinach
Green beans to serve


First, crumb the fish. Place the coriander seeds, lemon myrtle, wattleseed and akudjura in a mortar and pestle and grind well. Place the egg, plain flour and breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Mix the spices with the breadcrumbs.

Coat the fish in the flour, shaking off any excess. Then dip the fish in the egg and coat well with breadcrumbs, pressing down firmly to ensure the breadcrumbs stick. Place the crumbed fish in the fridge until ready to cook.

To make the cauliflower puree, combine the milk, 450ml of the cream and cauliflower in a large saucepan. The cauliflower needs to be completely covered, so add a little extra milk if necessary. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft. Drain and place the cauliflower in a food processor. Heat the remaining cream in a small saucepan until hot. Puree the cauliflower in the food processor. Add the heated cream, butter and salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve.

So, now we'll prepare the salse verde. Place all ingredients, except the olive oil in a food processor. Process until well combined. Slowly add the olive oil until the desired consistency is reached. Store in the fridge, but remove from the fridge at least an hour before serving to bring it back to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees. When you are ready to eat, place the extra butter and oil in a fry pan and melt over medium heat. Once hot, fry the fish on each side until crisp. If the pan becomes dry, add a little extra butter or oil. Place fish in the oven to keep warm.

Wipe clean the fry pan and melt extra butter. Add the spinach and saute until wilted (this only takes a few minutes).

Serve fish with the pureed cauliflower and sauteed spinach. Seave some blanches greens (such as green beans) on the side.

Tomato and Spinach Breakfast

If I feel like something really healthy for breakfast, I make this dish. I always feel like I have started the day well when I eat this with a big glass or orange juice and a cup of tea.

Okay, garlic for breakfast is not for everyone - the garlic is optional of course, but it does really enhance the flavour. You could also add white beans or cannellini beans for an extra dimension. I also like to serve it with grilled ham or bacon.

Ingredients (Serves 1)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic crushed
100 - 125g cherry tomatoes halves
A few handfuls baby spinach
Buttered toast to serve


Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant, but not browned. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until soft (you can cover the pan to speed up the process). After a few minutes, add the baby spinach and cook for a minute or so until the spinach is wilted.

Serve immediately with buttered toast.

08 April 2009

Grilled White Fish with Salsa Verde, Potato Rosti and Corn and Avocado and Corn Salsa

I have been wanting to incorporate more fish into our diet. Fish is so good for you, but it can be a bit of a pain in that it is best to buy it on the day you serve it. As I like to do shopping only once a week, I often don't want to visit the shops again during the week for fish. But this week I did.

The fish I used was ocean perch. It was delicious, but you could use any fish you like.

The ingredients I have used for the salsa verde are not necessarily the traditional ingredients used for salsa verde, but they taste good together regardless. I find that every salsa verde recipe is different - some have gherkins, some have anchovies, some use basil, others just mint and parsley. I just used what I had.

Stay tuned for more recipes featuring salsa verde over the long weekend. Two of the dishes I am planning will have it included.

Serves 2

Potato Rosti


2 potatoes peeled
1 tablespoon chives chopped
Salt and pepper
1 - 2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil


Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Grate the potato and place into a sieve. Squeeze all excess moisture from the potatoes. Mix in the chives. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the butter and oil in a large fry pan. Divide the potato into 2-3 portions and add to the hot butter and oil. Press down so that the potato forms patties. Fry for 5-10 minutes until browned. Turned over and cook on the other side. Add more oil or butter if the pan becomes dry.

Once cooked through place on a baking tray and place in the oven to keep warm.

Salsa Verde


2 teaspoons salted capers, rinsed and dried
Handful fresh parsley
Handful fresh dill
Handful fresh mint
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 clove garlic crushed
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste


Chop the capers and herbs together until finely chopped and well combined. Place in a small bowl and mix through the mustard, garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.

Corn and Avocado Salsa


1 avocado diced
400g tin sweet corn kernels rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chives
1 tablespoon dill
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste


Make just before serving (or at least only cut and add the avocado at the last minute). Mix all ingredients together and serve immediately.

Grilled Fish


2 white firm fish fillets
2 teaspoons lemon myrtle
1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil


Sprinkle the fish with lemon myrtle. Heat olive oil in a fry pan. Fry the fish for a few minutes on each side until cooked through.

Serve immediately with the potato rosti and avocado and corn salsa and drizzled with salsa verde.

05 April 2009

Zucchini Flower, Crab and Lime Fettuccini

This recipe is inspired by one that I learnt when Mark and I went to a cooking class at the Sydney Fish Markets about a year ago. I unfortunately couldn't remember the details of that recipe, only that it contained crab meat and zucchini flowers, so I just made up my own, and was very happy with the results.

This dish took next to no time to prepare. I bought the crab meat fresh from a fish shop, but of course you could buy crab and extract the meat yourself. I personally hate retrieving meat from crab, so skipped this step.

You can buy crab meat from the supermarket, though I am not sure whether the quality is any good. If possible, try and buy the meat from a fresh seafood market.

I purchased the zucchini flowers from a local greengrocer. I think you may be able to purchase these from the supermarket at certain times of year, but I could not find them there today.

The pasta needs to be cooked just before serving. It is best to take it straight from the boiling water to the pan with the other ingredients. This way it is still very hot and slightly wet which makes it easier to incorporate with the other ingredients.

Ingredients (serves 2)

7 zucchini flowers, flower removed and stem sliced
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 red chilli chopped (optional - seeds either left in or removed depending on how much heat you want)
3/4 - 1 cup crab meat
Zest and juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh dill roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
375g fresh fettucini
Salt and freshly ground pepper


Heat water in a large saucepan. Add salt and bring to the boil (this is for the fettucini).

Heat oil in a large fry pan. Add zucchini stems, garlic and chilli (if using). Cook for a few minutes until just soft (but still crunchy in the middle). Add crab meat and heat through.

Add fettucini to the boiling water and cook for a few minutes as per packet instructions. Once cooked use a pasta server to transfer the fettucini to the crab. Add lime zest, lime juice and herbs and toss together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Add extra olive oil if it is a bit dry.

Chicken Stew with Black Limes

My quest to discover and use new herbs and spices has led me to investigate ingredients that I have not used before and which you don't commonly hear about. Black limes are one of these ingredients.

Black limes are whole sun-dried limes. Inside the hard outer layer is a black, sticky pith with a pungent, citrus aroma. My spice bible (Spice Notes and Recipes by Ian Hemphill) informs me that black limes go well with fish and chicken and can be added whole to casseroles and stews (with a few holes punched through them with a skewer). They can also be pulverised and mixed with pepper to sprinkle on chicken and fish.

I was intrigued to use them, so I have created this chicken stew.

Normally a stew like this would go well with couscous. However, Mark has decided that he hates couscous and never wants to eat it again. So, needless to say, I have not served this dish with couscous. I've chosen healthy and nutty brown rice.

I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon hot paprika
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup plain flour
500g boneless chicken pieces cut into 4-5cm pieces
2 medium white onions diced
2 cloves garlic crushed
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 black limes each pierced 4-5 times with a skewer
1 tablespoon fresh dill chopped


Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Place the spices in a mortar and pestle and grind to combine.

Place the flour, 2 teaspoons of the spice mixture and the chicken pieces in a plastic bag. Toss to combine. Heat half the oil in a pan. Shake excess flour off the chicken and brown in the oil in batches. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add extra oil and onion and garlic to the pan. Fry for a few minutes until soft. Add remaining spice mix and stir for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add white wine, chicken stock and black limes.

Place chicken in a casserole dish. Pour over onion, spice and wine mixture. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for one hour. Serve sprinkled with fresh dill.

Hearty Bacon and Vegetable Soup

Now that the weather is becoming cooler, I am starting to think about making soups. Because of the recent rain, I decided this weekend to make one of my favourites - a hearty soup with bacon and vegetables. I love to make a large batch of this soup and take it to work for lunch. I feel so healthy and satisfied when I eat it.

To add extra flavour, I have added parmesan rind which I remove at the end of the cooking process. When you have a piece of parmesan cheese, it is handy to freeze the hard, translucent rind and use it to flavour dishes such as soup or risotto.
I use a very large pot for this recipe, but you can really make as much or as little as you like. I normally fill the pot until about halfway with vegetables and then top with water until full. The quantities are fairly loose - add more or less of anything you like.

I like to serve this soup with a sprinkling of parmesan and buttered sourdough bread.


1-2 tablespoons olive oil
4 rashes bacon rind and fat removed and cut into 1cm pieces
1 large brown onion diced
2-3 cloves garlic crushed
2 carrots peeled and diced
4 stalks celery diced
1 tin red kidney beans drained and rinsed
1 tin crushed tomatoes
1 tin tomato puree
6-10 cups water
3-5 teaspoons chicken stock powder (alternatively, use liquid chicken stock to replace some or all of the water)
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
3 bay leaves
Parmesan rind
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
150g baby spinach leaves washed and dried
Sourdough and grated parmesan cheese


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add bacon and fry until just crisp. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook until soft. Add tomatoes and tomato puree. Half fill the tomato and puree tins with water, swirl around and pour water into saucepan (so you retrieve ever bit of tomato flavour and add it to the soup). Add kidney beans. Stir to combine ingredients.

Add water, chicken stock, basil, oregano, bay leaves, rind and tomato paste. Heat over low heat. As the soup heats, any fat will rise to the top and form a foam on the top of the soup. Use a large spoon to skim the foam off the top.

When the soup boils, turn the heat right down and simmer for an hour or so or until the vegetables are soft. If the soup becomes too thick, add some extra water and also extra chicken stock powder if desired. Once the soup is cooked, but while still warm, add the spinach leaves and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with sourdough and parmesan cheese.