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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.