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29 August 2009

Broken Camera

Unfortunately our camera has broken - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Last night it did not work. We're going to buy another one, but have not yet had a chance. Apologies for the last of photos - quite honestly it is shame because some of these recent dishes looked lovely (even if I do say so myself).

I have however just now remembered that our video camera takes still shots, so I'll have a go at taking photos using that when I made lunch for Renee and Todd tomorrow - this really is the perfect weekend for me, lots of cooking for my friends!

Relaxing Friday Night Feast

Last night we had our friends Alana and Ben over for dinner. Alana and Ben have pretty hectic schedule (Alana being an event manager and Ben being a Qantas engineer) so this dinner was planned quite some time ago - but as a result I was extremely excited because I had long been thinking about what I would make for them!

As it was a Friday night, I wanted to cook something that would be easy enough to do after work. So, I came up with the following menu.

Lemon and Lime Prawns
Fragrant Lemon Spiced Chicken
Almond and Herb Couscous
Golden Chocolate Tarts

I also made a very simple spinach, avocado and pistachio salad with lime juice dressing. But I have not added that as it was really very simple.

No photos unfortunately - camera is broken and we need to buy a new one.

We had such a lovely time with Alana and Ben - ending with Ben smashing Mark at Wii tennis. Just a lovely way to spend a night with friends - good food, conversation and company.

Lemon and Lime Prawns

I purchased some black limes some time ago. I have used them in a casserole, but wanted to try pulverising them and sprinkling them over prawns or chicken.

Black limes are whole sun-dried limes of 2.5-4cm in diameter. They are have a delicious, citrus sticky pith in the centre.

So, yesterday, I took two black limes and ground them in my mortar and pestle with about 1 teaspoon black pepper and salt until well ground. I had a bit of a taste and decided that something more was needed. I had been trying to avoid lemon myrtle since I use it so often, but it really did seem like that was exactly what was needed. And I wasn't wrong, Just a small amount of lemon myrtle was perfect.

This is another dish that I will be repeating!

Ingredients (serves 4 as a starter)

20 green prawns peeled
2 black limes
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon myrtle
Olive oil to fry
Mayonnaise to serve (see post from 22 February 2009)


Grind the limes, pepper and salt in a mortar and pestle until well ground and combined. Add lemon myrtle. Place prawns and spice mix in a plastic bag and squish to coat prawns in spices. Preheat olive oil in a fry pan. Cook prawns for a few minutes on each side until cooked through. Serve with mayonnaise as a starter.

Fragrant Lemon Spiced Chicken

I asked Alana what sort of food she was into at the moment - and she replied that she is not too keen on too much heat. Taking this into consideration, I wanted to make a really fragrant, but mild curry chicken dish. Personally, I think when you add too much chilli it overpowers the rest of the food and you cannot appreciate the all the other subtle flavours. This is particularly true when you are making something that contains many herbs and spices. If you are adding a lot of different flavours you want to be able to taste the subtlety of each without the heat overtaking the dish.

I was really happy with how this dish turned out. I think we will having this one again this week. My inspiration for this dish was the cover recipe on 'Delicious' magazine this month - but as normal, I made a few changes and now it is actually quite different...

Again, this was very easy to prepare - just marinate the chicken in advance and pop in the oven to cook before serving straight from the oven.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 lemon zest removed and set aside, white pith removed and the flesh cut into slices
1/3 cup olive oil
4cm fresh ginger finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon medium curry powder (I used Herbies brand - delicious!)
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons tumeric
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Pinch dried chilli
2 onions finely sliced
3 cloves garlic crushed
1 tablespoon white poppy seeds
4 chicken breasts trimmed
Greek yoghurt mixed with lemon zest (you'll need a zest an extra lemon) and 1/3 bunch mint finely chopped to serve


Place the oil, ginger, dry spices and tomato paste in a bowl. Add 200ml water and whisk to combine. Add lemon zest, lemon slices, onion, garlic and white poppy seeds and stir to combine.

Put chicken and marinade in a plastic zip lock bag, seal the bag (releasing as much air as possible) and squish to mix the ingredients well. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place the chicken and marinade in a casserole dish with a lid. Cook for 40-50 minutes. Serve with yoghurt, couscous and a green salad (I made a spinach, avocado and pistachio salad).

Herb and Almond Couscous

I think in a previous blog I mentioned that Mark one day announced that he no longer like couscous and never wants to eat it again. Well despite that, couscous just seemed like the perfect accompaniment to this dish, so I decided to give it another go with him - and I seem to have changed his mind about it! He now says that he meant polenta not couscous.

As I was cooking on a Friday night I wanted to ensure that the meal was easy - and couscous is so much easier than rice, and so much easier to flavour.

We'll definitely be having it more often from now on.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 1/2 cups chicken stock boiling
Knob of butter
2 tablespoons toasted almonds
1 bunch parsley finely chopped
2/3 bunch mint finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Drizzle of olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon


Place the couscous in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling chicken stock, add butter and cover with glad wrap. Leave for 5-10 minutes or until stock is absorbed.

Use a fork to mix through the almonds, herbs and cumin. Stir through lemon juice and add olive oil to taste.

Golden Chocolate Tarts

I was watching Jamie Oliver one day and he made these delicious looking chocolate tarts. They looked gorgeous and were very easy - so I decided to give them a go, but added a few extra little touches of my own...

Jamie Oliver used orange zest to flavour the pastry. I decided to raid my spice containers and used cinnamon instead. Wattleseed or allspice may also be nice (something to try next time). He also did not add any additional flavourings to the chocolate. At the moment I have a lot of golden syrup in the pantry. It seems a number of times I have purchased it with the intention of making something, and then have not. So I decided to add it to the chocolate and it added a really delicious caramel flavour. I really like golden syrup, it reminds me of eating homemade pikelets.

I used mini cupcake tins for these - if using normal sized cupcake tins, the quantities may need to be increased.

The pastry is a bit fiddly, but generally these are easy and can be made in advance.
No photo unfortunately due to the broken camera...

Ingredients (makes 10-12)

1 sheet puff pastry thawed
30g butter melted
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
100ml thickened cream
75g dark cooking chocolate
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons golden syrup


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Grease 12 holes of a mini cupcake tray. Brush the pastry with the melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Roll the pastry sheet up into a roll (like a Swiss roll) tightly so that the sugar are swirled through the pastry. Cut the roll into 1cm slices. Press down through the middle of each slice so that a flat dish is formed with the sugar and cinnamon swirled throughout. Roll each so they are about 1mm thick (ensure there are no holes). Line each cupcake hole with a pastry disk. Fill each with scrunched up baking paper and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden (you'll notice that some of the butter and sugar will caramelise - this is exactly what you want). Allow to cool.

Meanwhile place the cream in a glass bowl and microwave on high for a minute or so until just below boiling point. Break the chocolate into pieces and add to the hot cream. Mix until the chocolate has melted. Add the pinch of salt and the golden syrup. Fill pastry cases with chocolate and refrigerate until set.

23 August 2009

Ladies and Babies Lunch

Last Saturday I had lunch with Rochelle and her sister Lani, and their beautiful children Otis (19 months old) and Isla (9 months old). I was very excited about this lunch. Firstly, I love seeing Rochelle and Lani and also love seeing Otis and Isla. Secondly, as the weather is getting warmed I was thrilled to sit outside and enjoy our courtyard. But thirdly, because Lani is a fan of this blog, I was really excited to cook for her (although I did feel slight pressure for it to be a superb meal!).

The day started perfectly, the weather was amazing, I was very well prepared and when my guests arrived I had completed every bit of preparation that I had wanted to complete in order to be relaxed and enjoy my time with my guests.

And I was not disappointed with the rest of the day either. Sitting outside was so wonderful and relaxing, Otis and Isla were gorgeous and the three adults had a lovely time chatting and eating.

All in all, it was a day I could repeat again and again...

Now, the menu.

I had asked Rochelle what Lani's favourite foods were - and found that, like me, she loves chorizo, haloumi and chicken schnitzel. So, considering this, I came up with the following menu:

Chorizo and Haloumi Ravioli with Spinach, Lemon and Butter Sauce
Lemon Myrtle Crumbed Chicken
Rosemary Hasselback Potatoes
Pomegranate Lemon Tart

As for preparation, here is what I did in advance:

make ravioli
wash spinach
chop rosemary
crumb chicken
peel potatoes (and store in cold water)
zest lemon for 'Spinach, Lemon and Butter Sauce'
make tart

Everything else I did just before serving. I will upload some photos as soon as I can.

I hope my guests enjoyed the day as much as I did. Now I am looking forward to next weekend - dinner with Alana and Ben and then lunch on Sunday with Renee and Todd. It will be a big weekend of cooking - perfect for me!

Chorizo and Haloumi Ravioli with Spinach, Lemon and Butter Sauce

So, was very excited to make this dish, I had been dreaming about it for a very long time. Here, I have managed to combine many of my favourite ingredients - chorizo, haloumi, butter, spinach...

There is quite a lot of filling - I made this on Saturday and then again on Sunday. So you need two quantities of pasta.

Make sure you do not make the ravioli too big. It is best to have more filling and less pasta in order to appreciate the flavours.

This one should definitely be a starter. It is very rich, but very delicious, even if I do say so myself (although, next time I will add more chorizo).

Ingredients (serves 6 as a starter)

2 quantities of pasta (see post from 8 March 2009)
2 chorizo sausages
Olive oil to fry
250g ricotta
250g haloumi grated
1/3 cup fresh mint finely chopped
1 egg
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
300g baby spinach
4 tablespoons olive oil
120g butter
Zest and juice of two lemons
Extra olive oil to drizzle
Parmesan cheese to serve


Make pasta as per my post from 8 March 2009.

Place the chorizo in a food processor. Process for a few minutes until chorizo resembles mince. Fry minced chorizo in some olive oil until crisp. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool.

Meanwhile combine ricotta, haloumi, mint, egg and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Mix to combine. Fill ravioli.

Cook ravioli in a large saucepan of rapidly boiling, salted water for a few minutes. While ravioli is cooking, heat the butter and oil in a pan and saute the baby spinach until just wilted. Add lemon zest. Serve ravioli with wilted spinach and butter sauce. Drizzle with extra olive oil and lemon juice. Serve with parmesan cheese.

Lemon Myrtle Crumbed Chicken

As lemon myrtle is one of my new favourite ingredients, I could not resist adding it to the crumbed chicken I was making. It is so fragrant, lemon and fresh - it really gives the chicken a lift!

I served this with Rosemary Hasselback Potatoes, homemade mayonnaise (see post from 22 February 2009) and a simple side salad of baby spinach (of course) cherry tomatoes and avocado. This dish is definitely a favourite of mine!

Ingredients (serves 3)

3 chicken breasts trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise so you have two thin breast pieces
2 cups store bough breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons lemon myrtle
2 cups plain flour
3 eggs lightly beaten
Olive and oil and butter to fry


Combine the lemon myrtle and breadcrumbs and mix well. Dip the chicken in the flour, then the egg and then coat with the breadcrumbs. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to set the coating.

To cook, heat butter and oil in a fry pan. Cook the chicken for a few minutes on each side until golden and crisp (I like them to be cooked for a bit longer and to be quite brown).

Serve with avocado salad and mayonnaise.

Rosemary Hasselback Potatoes

I really wanted to cook these potatoes with sage and not rosemary, but there wasn't any sage at the supermarket, so I swapped to rosemary. What I really wanted was a sweetly fragrant herb to compliment the lemon a eucalyptus lemon myrtle in the chicken.

I just love crispy potatoes, and these definitely fit the bill!

Ingredients (serves 3)

4-5 medium potatoes cut in half
Leaves of 3 sprigs rosemary finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Olive oil to drizzle


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Using a sharp knife cut slits in the potatoes, from top to bottom, about 2 mm apart and 3/4 of the way through the potato.

Place the potatoes in a bowl, add rosemary, salt and olive oil. Stir to combine. Spread on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 50-60 minutes until golden and crisp.

Pomegranate Lemon Tart

So, I decided to experiment with using pomegranate molasses in a dessert. This tart is quite tangy and 'tart' (I can't think of another word to describe it). But it did have some fans (or one at least...Rochelle seemed to enjoy it and I think Otis did also). I enjoyed it, though I think I will do some further experimenting.

You will need to taste the filling to ensure that it is not to tangy or sweet.

The pastry needs to be cooked for quite a while to ensure it is cooked through. That was one down fall of this dish - I did not cook the pastry for long enough.

I used a pastry recipe I found in Bill Granger's Bills Open Kitchen (well, the quantities anyway (except for the water - I found I needed more than the 60ml specified), I used a slightly different method and also sealed the pastry with egg before pouring in the filling). I would recommend either rolling it thinner than 3mm, or cooking it for longer - my suggestion is set out below.


2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup icing sugar
Pinch of salt
180g chilled butter cut into cubes
60-100ml iced water
1 egg lightly beaten

Tart filling

4 eggs
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup thickened cream
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 - 1/3 cup pomegranate molasses (to taste)
Creme fraiche to serve



Place the flour, icing sugar, salt and butter in a food processor. Process until well combined and mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the water slowly until dough comes together in a ball. Wrap in glad wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

After dough has chilled, use a rolling pin and roll dough out on to a floured surface until 2-3mm thick (or thinner of you like - but in this case, cook for less time). Line a greased or non-stick tart tin with the pastry, prick the base with a fork and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or rice and cook for 15-25 minutes or until pastry is cooked through.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Brush pastry with egg and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool completely.

Pastry is now ready to fill.


Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the cream, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses and whisk lightly with a fork until just combined.

Fill pastry shell with filling and bake for 25 - 30 minutes until just set. Serve with creme fraiche.

11 August 2009

My New Favourite Potatoes

I made these potatoes a few weeks ago when Scott came over for dinner. And fell in love with them. I made them again last night. And still loved them. I really think they are my new favourite. This may be attributable to the fact that I love burnt butter and sage, but that is fine with me!

It is important to dress the potatoes while they are still warm so that they suck up all the flavours.

The flavours just seem to work beautifully together. I hope you enjoy.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)
3-4 large potatoes cut into chunks (or 12 small potatoes)
6 slices prosciutto
100g butter
1 bunch sage
1 tablespoon capers
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon pink peppercorns crushed
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 210 degrees. Steam potatoes until cooked through. Meanwhile, bake prosciutto until crisp.

Once potatoes are just cooked through, place butter, sage and capers in a small saucepan. Cook until sage and capers are crisp and butter is browned. Pour over potatoes. Break up prosciutto and add to potatoes. Top potatoes with lemon zest and peppercorns. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with extra olive oil.

Thyme and Chicken Risotto with Crispy Garlic Breadcrumbs

I saw a Jamie Oliver recipe recently which inspired me to make risotto. The risotto that he made was quite 'loose' - a lot more creamy than any other risotto I have ever made. As he described it 'oozy'.

To flavour I used thyme, celery and garlic. And I complimented the 'oozy' risotto with crisp breadcrumbs. And because Mark always likes meat with his meals, I added chicken.

I was very happy with the result. It seems my camera is dying, so unfortunately I don't have photos of this dish.

Ingredients (serves 2)
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic crushed
Olive oil
1 brown onion chopped
1 stalk celery finely chopped
2 cloves garlic (extra)
1 cup arborio rice
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 glass white wine
4-5 cups chicken stock
1 chicken breast trimmed
1 cup grated parmesan
50g butter


Preheat oven to 220 degrees. Combine fresh breadcrumbs, garlic and enough olive oil to coat the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Mix to combine. Spread over a roasting tray and roast until crisp. Set aside.

Heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan until simmering.

Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds. Add the arborio rice and cook until translucent. Add the thyme.

Pour in about a glass of white wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed. Add salt and pepper. Use a soup ladle to add the chicken stock one ladle full at a time, stirring well, and adding more stock once the last ladle full has been absorbed.

While the risotto is cooking, cook the chicken breast in a fry pan with a little oil until cooked through. Slice thinly. Set aside.

You probably won't need all the chicken stock. When about 2/3 of the stock has been absorbed, taste the risotto. It should be creamy on the outside but still with a bit of a "bite" in the centre. Don't let it become too thick - some of the liquid should remain.

Once cooked, stir through the parmesan and butter and place the lid on the saucepan for 3 minutes. Just before serving, stir through chicken. Serve topped with crisp breadcrumbs.

10 August 2009

Mark's 30th Birthday Party

So, we recently celebrated Mark's 30th birthday. We entertained about 32 guests at our new house - and we had a ball!

I wanted to cater it myself (despite Mark urging me to arrange a caterer so that I would not have to worry about anything on the night). I decided to take the day before off work - and thank goodness I did. I will admit that this menu was a lot of work. I was very lucky to have some wonderful helpers, and despite being busy beforehand, I was very relaxed on the actual night, thanks again to my helpers and to being extremely prepared.

So, here was the menu...

Mini Caesar Salads
Mini Roasted Tomato and Bocconcini Salads with Pesto
Open Beef and Chorizo Pies
Mini Chicken Pies
Roasted Beef on Potato with Salsa Verde
Crumbed Chicken Strips
Sumac and Lemon Chicken Wings (see post from 22 March 2009)
Asian Beef Salad Boxes
Mini New York Style Cheesecakes
Mini Lemon Cupcakes scented with Cardamom

I have not posted the cupcake and cheesecake recipes - I searched www.taste.com.au to find the cheesecake mixture and for the lemon cupcakes I just used a basic cupcake recipe I found on www.taste.com.au and added a little cardamom and iced them with a lemon juice icing. It was a last minute decision to make them (originally I was going to buy a cake), but I am very glad that I did.

I was also going to have a chicken curry and rice box, but cut this as people were full and I could not be bothered.

In terms of timing, here is what I did in advance.

Week before
Make mini chicken pies and put them in the freezer.

Day before
Make pastry cases for salads and beef and chorizo pies
Roast tomatoes
Make aioli
Make pesto
Prepare mince and chorizo for pies
Make salsa verde

On the day
Make cheesecakes
Make cupcakes
Ice cupcakes
Roast beef and cut once cool
Make roast potatoes
Make asian salad dressing
Crumb chicken
Marinate chicken wings
Bake prosciutto
Make asian beef salad (but do not add beef or dressing)

On the night
Because all the above had already been prepared, on the night all we had to do was:
- fry chicken
- grate parmesan and put salads together just before serving
- cook chicken wings
- re-heat beef and chorizo pie filling and add hot to cases
- cook chicken pies
- put together potato and beef and top with salsa verde
- dress salads and put in boxes

It probably seems like a lot on the night, but it was really quite easy. I really did have some wonderful helpers.

Renee was with me pretty much all day Saturday. She helped ice the cakes, crumb the chicken, make the salads, clean up and then on the night she turned up not only as a guest, but she also brought her famous avocado and salsa dip and then helped again.

My mum was a wonderful help and one of the only people I trusted to fry the chicken, given she was the one who taught me to make it! Her and my sister Jess arrived early and were such a magnificent help with all the last minute preparations.

Rochelle also brought some dips (I wanted to have a few nibblies around for people to munch on) which was a fantastic help and very delicious, and helped on the night with the salads and many other things.

Sharon was also a wonderful help, along with Amber (if not for Amber I would have no photos), Shelley and Mark's mum Dianne.

So thank you to everyone who helped, I appreciate it immensely - your help enabled me to give Mark a really wonderful party, which is exactly what I wanted. But I definitely could not have done it alone!!

Asian Beef Salad Boxes

I really wanted to serve one of the dishes in some type of 'box'. A salad seemed like a good choice as it can be prepared in advance and no cooking is required. This salad was very simple and our guests seemed to enjoy it.

My quantities are not great for this, so I will just tell you what I included and you can include as little or as much of each as you like.

Beef cooked to medium and thinly sliced
Mixed greens (I used the 'Asian Salad Greens' mix you can buy in packets from the supermarket)
Spring onions
(If I had remembered, I would also have included toasted almonds)
Soy sauce
Lime juice
Caster sugar
Fish sauce


Combine beef, greens, tomatoes, cucumber and spring onions in a bowl. To make the dressing, mix fairly equal parts of soy sauce and lime juice, add a splash of fish sauce and a teaspoon or two of sugar. Combine well. Dress the salad just before serving.

09 August 2009

Crumbed Chicken Strips

Growing up, crumbed chicken and chips was my favourite meal. It was what I requested every birthday until we became conscious of cooking with too much oil and butter. Mum also used to deep fry the chips - something I have only ever done once as a very special treat (because unfortunately the deep frying does make them taste better).

Now that I am older, we occasionally still have crumbed chicken (minus the deep fried chips) cooked in oil and butter (though, more often it is actually oven baked) and I love to serve it with homemade mayonnaise and avocado.

For the party I decided we could treat ourselves and have crumbed chicken strips, golden fried in oil and butter and served with aioli as a dipping sauce. And they were delicious. We just pre-crumbed the chicken (thanks Renee!) and fried it in batches just before serving (thanks Mum!). Easy!

2kg chicken breasts cut into thin strips
5 eggs lightly beaten
4 cups breadcrumbs
3 cups flour
Oil and butter for frying

Coat each chicken strip in flour, then in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs. Refrigerate to set coating. Heat butter and oil in a fry pan and fry until golden. Serve with aioli.

Mini Chicken Pies

For this dish, I just made up a batch of the mixture for Mum's Chicken Pie (see post from 21 February 2009) but instead of making a big pie, I bought mini foil pie dishes and made about 36 smaller pies instead. The mini pie dishes I found at my local 'Discount Variety' store which I find has many useful items such as this.

They worked beautifully and were the fastest dish to go!

Roasted Beef on Potato with Salsa Verde

I was really excited when this canape popped into my head while I was trying to sleep. And they seemed to be a bit hit with our guests.

Again, they could be prepared in advance and then assembled just before serving. Initially I was going to re-heat the potato before serving, but then I decided that it was unnecessary.

These are very easy and effective.

Ingredients (makes 60)
10-12 large potatoes, each cut into 6 rounds
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
750g beef fillet cooked to medium and cut into 60 chunks
Salsa verde (see post from 12 April 2009)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place potatoes, olive oil and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix to combine. Place potato rounds on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Cook for about 30-40 minutes or until cooked through and crispy.

To serve, place a piece of beef on each potato round and drizzle with salsa verde.

Open Beef and Chorizo Pies

I made about 70 of these pies, and still had some of the mince mixture left over, so my quantities may be a bit off here. If you try to make these, you may therefore need to make a little less of the mixture. Or else, just pop the left over in the freezer like I did.

Otherwise, these were delicious and most seemed to be snapped up by our guests.


8 sheets shortcrust pastry
2 eggs lightly beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 brown onions finely chopped
3 cloves garlic crushed
3 chorizo sausages finely chopped
1kg beef mince
3 tins of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup chicken stock
Dash Worcheshire sauce
2 teaspoons hot paprika
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt and pepper


To make the pastry cases, preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Use a round pastry cutter to cut rounds from the pastry. Line mini cupcake tins with the pastry. Stuff pastry with scrunched up baking paper to ensure it keeps its shape. Bake in the oven until just golden (about 10 minutes). Remove baking paper and brush the inside of each case with egg. Bake for another 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool.

For the filling, heat the olive oil in a large fry pan. Fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add the chorizo and fry until crisp. Add the mince and brown, breaking up any lumps. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, Worcheshire sauce, paprika, basil and oregano. Simmer for approximately 40 minutes or until most liquid has evaporated.

Fill pastry cases with mince mixture just before serving. Re-heat mince mixture if necessary.

Mini Roasted Tomato and Bocconcini Salads

As with the Mini Caesar Salads, I would normally serve these in bread cases that have been baked with garlic and butter, but again, the bread cases just did not work for me here.

Again, you can pre-prepare all the ingredients and then fill them just before serving.

Ingredients (makes 18)
2 sheets shortcrust pastry
1 egg lightly beaten
18 cherry tomatoes
Olive oil to drizzle
Salt and pepper
18 mini bocconcini
Pesto (see post from 15 March 2009)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Use a round pastry cutter to cut rounds from the pastry. Line mini cupcake tins with the pastry. Stuff pastry with scrunched up baking paper to ensure it keeps its shape. Bake in the oven until just golden (about 10 minutes). Remove baking paper and brush the inside of each case with egg. Bake for another 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile, place the tomatoes in a roasting dish, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and roast for 20-30 minutes or until soft.

To serve, fill pastry cases with one roasted tomato, one mini bocconcini and drizzle with pesto.

Mini Caesar Salads

I have made these salads on a few occasions prior to the party. Normally for the cases I use white bread that has been rolled very thin and flat and buttered with garlic butter, but some reason when I was making these this time, the bread just would not work. So I decided to use shortcrust pastry that I had purchased instead. It saved a lot of time.

For the aioli, see my post from 22 February 2009 for Mayonnaise and add one clove garlic. I like to use aioli instead of traditional caesar dressing, only because I like the taste better.

These are very easy to make - I recommend them for entertaining. Just pre-prepare the cases and filling in advance and then fill just before serving.

I used mini cupcake tins, but you can always use standard size cupcake tins.

Ingredients (makes 18)

2 sheets shortcrust pastry
1 egg lightly beaten
3 slices prosciutto
Cos lettuce shredded
A few handfuls grated parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Use a round pastry cutter to cut rounds from the pastry. Line mini cupcake tins with the pastry. Stuff pastry with scrunched up baking paper to ensure it keeps its shape. Bake in the oven until just golden (about 10 minutes). Remove baking paper and brush the inside of each case with egg. Bake for another 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool.

Bake the prosciutto until crisp and break into shards.

Just before serving fill the pastry cases with lettuce, prosciutto and parmesan and top with aioli.

Pine Nut and Ricotta Ravioli with Roasted Tomato Sauce

So a few weekends ago I felt inspired to make fresh ravioli. Scott was coming over for dinner and I knew he would appreciate fresh pasta.

Believe it or not it was a lot quicker and easier than you might think. And so, so satisfying.

See my post from 8 March 2009 for how to make the fresh pasta.

Ingredients (serves 3)

3 eggs
1 3/4 cups plain flour ('00' strong flour is best - this is now available from the supermarket)
1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup fresh basil finely chopped
1 egg
1/2 - 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
6 tomatoes halved
6 cloves garlic peeled but left whole
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Olive oil to drizzle
Salt and pepper
Dash red wine vinegar
Freshly chopped basil (extra) to serve
Parmesan cheese to serve


For the fresh pasta, please see my post from 8 March 2009 for Roasted Red Onion and Garlic Ravioli.

To make the filling, combine all ingredients (except the breadcrumbs) in a bowl and mix to combine. Add breadcrumbs until a creamy, but not to soft, consistency is reached.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place the tomatoes, garlic, dried basil and oregano and olive oil in a roasting dish and roast tomatoes for 40-50 minutes until soft. Process tomato mixture in the food processor. Just before serving, heat tomato mixture in a saucepan and season with salt and pepper and a dash of red wine vinegar. Stir through extra basil.

Cook ravioli and serve topped with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.

Jacket Potatoes with Danish Feta, Bacon and Garlic Chives

As a child I just loved potatoes baked in their skins. Mum would always bake them so that they were crunchy on the outside and then pop a bit of salt and butter in the middle making them delicious and creamy on the inside - simple but so wonderfully comforting.

After I moved out of home I made baked potatoes very rarely - in fact until recently the only time I can remember baking a potato in its jacket was when I had my tonsils out and felt like something very plain but homely (unfortunately I could only manage a few bites). But lately potatoes baked in their skins have made a come back with me. Naturally, I normally cannot go past just the simple butter, salt and pepper filling of my childhood (though Mark prefers chives, bacon and sour cream), but on occasion I have tried something different - resulting in this combination which I really loved.

Ingredients (serves 2)
2 medium - large potatoes in their skins, scrubbed clean and pricked with a knife (or a few smaller potatoes as I have used in the photo)
Olive oil for frying bacon
2 rashes bacon finely chopped
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Danish feta crumbled
2 tablespoons garlic chives finely chopped


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the potatoes directly onto the oven rack and bake for at least an hour (you can also pre-cook the potatoes in the microwave and bake for less time).

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan and fry the bacon until crisp. Drain on absorbent paper.

Once potatoes are cooked, cut a cross in the top of each and fill with a small knob of butter, salt and pepper, bacon, feta and chives.

08 August 2009

Roasted Herb and Sumac Tomatoes

The tomatoes I used in this dish were quite small so I used three to serve two people, however normally I would only use two tomatoes.

I used to roast tomatoes almost every time I served them, no matter what - in salads, with roasted meats, whatever. But more recently I have been serving them raw...but I think roasting may be about to come back into my repertoire.

Sumac is a deliciously tangy spice that matches beautifully with roasted tomatoes. If you have never tried it, you definitely should.

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 large tomatoes (or 3 smaller ones)
1 teaspoon sumac
Freshly ground salt and pepper
Handful of parsley
Olive oil to drizzle


Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Cut the tomatoes in half. Place in a roasting dish and top with sumac, salt and pepper, parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until soft.

Garlic and Spice Lamb

Apologies to anyone checking this blog regularly for updates (fingers crossed there may be at least one of you...) I have been very slack lately. We had Mark's 30th last weekend, and that event seemed to take up the majority of my time and effort for the last few weeks. The party was fabulous though (more about that later when I post the party menu).

But I have been doing a bit of cooking and will with any luck over the next few days post my most recent recipes. I'm also doing a bit of entertaining in August so those menus will be posted. I'm very excited that next weekend I am cooking for my friend Rochelle and her sister Lani - I have some really interesting fresh pasta ideas for that menu.

And thank you to Renee who after cooking my last post 'Chicken, Cherry Tomato, Mint and Danish Feta Pasta' noticed that the picture shows pine nuts but the recipe does not. I have rectified this now.

A word of warning about this one - it is not for the faint hearted when it comes to garlic. I absolutely loved it, but it may not be for everyone. Of course, you can simply reduce the amount of garlic to suit your tastes, but as it is not cooked for long, it still remains quite pungent. To reduce the pungency you could roast the garlic before adding it to the spices.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
4 cloves garlic
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 lamb fillets


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the coriander, cumin, salt, pepper and garlic in a mortar and pestle. Bash the ingredients together and add the olive oil to form a paste.

Cook the lamb in a very hot pan until seared on one side. Turn the lamb over and spread the garlic and spice paste on the lamb. Place the lamb in the oven to finish cooking to your liking (normally about 4-6 minutes). Slice and serve with roasted tomatoes and potatoes - recipes to come.