Popular Posts

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.