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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.