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14 June 2009

Lemony Greens

You would be aware of how much I love spinach - I have withdrawals if I don't eat it for a few days. I also love green beans and lemon. So combining these into one dish just seemed logical. I also like to serve at least something green with each and every meal.

The lemon adds just enough tang to make these greens just a little extra special. I served this to Scott and Mark along with the roast chicken and roasted garlic mashed potato.

Ingredients (serves 3)

3 handfuls green beans
Drizzle olive oil / knob of butter (whichever you prefer)
200g spinach washed and dried
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil or butter in a fry pan. Cook the beans until cooked through, but still crunchy. Add spinach and saute until wilted. Add the lemon juice and zest and serve immediately.

Roasted Thyme Chicken with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

It was the Saturday night before our 'Long Weekend, Long Dinner' house christening. I was tired (from shopping and lunching for Jess's birthday) and busy cooking for the next day, but we had invited Scott over, so I wanted to cook something lovely that the boys would enjoy.

Since winter has set in I have been craving more comfort food - and what is more comforting that roast chicken and mashed potatoes?

So I grabbed a whole chicken from the supermarket, added a few extra wings (Mark looked very suspiciously at the chicken when I served it, asking whether I had added extra wings. I think he for a brief moment wondered if I have purchased a mutant chicken) and then threw it in the oven to roast. Simple and delicious.

Ingredients (serves 3)

1 whole chicken and 3-4 extra chicken wings
1 bunch thyme
30g butter
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1/2 lemon
1/2 onion
1 head garlic
4 large potatoes peeled
1/2 cup milk or cream
30g butter (extra)


Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Place 1/2 the thyme and butter under the skin on the breasts. Place the onion and lemon in the cavity and rub both the whole chicken and the wings with oil, salt and pepper. Scatter the remaining thyme around the chicken. Roast in the oven at 200 degrees for 45 minutes per 500g. To serve, drizzle with pan juices.

Cut the top of the head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil and roast for about an hour. Once cooled, squeeze garlic flesh from skins. Set aside.

Boil potatoes until soft. Drain well and return to the pan with the milk and butter. Add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Mash well. If you want it to be extra smooth, press the mash through a fine sieve and then fluff with a fork. Serve with the chicken along with lemon greens.

Long Weekend, Long Dinner

So, this was our first experience entertaining in our new house. We were very excited to christen our house, so I wanted to create a really amazing menu for my friends. I hope that I succeeded - every ounce of food was devoured, so it seems that my friends enjoyed themselves, or at the least were hungry.

This was the menu...

Marinated feta
White Bean and Olive Dip
Fragrant Red Kidney Bean Dip
Feta, Ricotta and Pine Nut Dip

Main Meal
Slow Roasted Lamb with Spiced Butter
Wonderfully Crunchy Chicken Wings
Crispy Chicken Breasts
Mustard and Chive Potatoes
Honey Spiced Carrots
Beans with Pistachio Gremolata
Green Salad with Pink Peppercorn Dressing

Chocolate and Raspberry Cupcakes with Ganache Icing
Brown Sugar Butterfly Cakes with Raspberry Cream

Do in advance...

Day before:
Marinate feta
Make white bean dip
Make kidney bean dip
Make toasts for dips
Make spiced butter
De-seed pomegranate
Chop pistachios
Make salad dressing

Morning of 'the day':
Make cupcakes (including cream and icing)
Marinate chicken wings
Wash spinach for salad
Chop spring onions
Blanche beans and carrots
Par boil potatoes
Put salad together (except for avocado)

Feta, Ricotta and Pine Nut Dip

Normally I would make this dip with only feta - but I didn't really like the taste of the feta I had purchased. So I added a little ricotta to mellow the flavour and decided that I liked it better this way.

This dip was a last minute addition to my menu - I just really love the flavours and, of course, I cannot look past such a cheesy, creamy dish!


150g creamy feta crumbled
1 cup ricotta
1 spring onion finely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts lightly toasted and lightly
1/2 clove garlic crushed
1/2 cup basil leaves thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
Olive oil to taste


Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Fragrant Red Kidney Bean Dip

I saw Nigella Lawson a recipe similar to this one as part of a middle eastern banquet once and thought it looked delicious. I have tinkered with it a little, and used some additional spices and herbs. The end result was very pleasing.

I found that I can smell this dip before I taste it - it is wonderfully aromatic.

Again I served this with toasted bread - just delicious!


2 medium onions
4 cloves garlic
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tins red kidney beans undrained
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom
Juice and zest 2 limes
1 bunch mint
Olive oil (extra)


Mince the onion and garlic in the food processor. Heat the olive oil in a fry pan and add the onion and garlic mixture. Cook until golden. Add the kidney beans (along with the liquid in the tin), tomato paste and spices. Cook for a few minutes. Take off the heat and allow to cool. When cool process in a food processor until well combined, but still lumpy.

Place in serving bowls and top with zest and mint. Drizzle with extra olive oil.

White Bean and Olive Dip

I call this a 'dip', but really it is more of a bruschetta topping (for want of a better expression). Regardless of what it is - I absolutely love it. I first learnt this recipe when Mark surprised me with an Italian cooking class http://www.cucinaitaliana.com.au/contact.php) and this was one of the dishes that we made.

Since that time, I have made it many, many times. People always seem to love it.
I serve the dip with toasted sourdough or Italian bread which I have drizzled with olive oil and then baked in the oven until golden.

You need to be generous with both the salt, olive oil and parsley in order to make this dish work - do not be stingy, I simply with not be as nice. Taste regularly and add what you think it needs.

Again, I made this one the night before and just pulled it out of the fridge about an hour before serving so it came back to room temperature.

1 red onion finely diced
2 tins cannellini beans or white beans rinsed
Olive oil to taste
1 bunch parsley (or as much as you want)
1 cup olives
Salt and pepper to taste


Place the diced onion in a sieve and salt well. Allow to sit for a few minutes and then rinse (this takes away the bitterness). Place the beans and onions in a medium bowl. Add olive oil and mash with a potato masher until coarsely mashed. Do not over-mash and do not place in the food processor - it should be rustic. Add the parsley, olive oil, olives and salt and pepper. Taste and add extra olive oil, salt and pepper and parsley as you please.

Feta Marinated in Lemon and Oregano

Normally I would use Danish feta for this dish. I love the one from the deli section of Woolworths. But as one of my guests was pregnant, and therefore could only have pre-packaged feta, I used a smooth and creamy, packaged, cow's milk feta. I cannot recall what brand it was, but it was delicious.

I made this the night before in order to give the flavours sufficient time to come together. I was very pleased, everyone seemed to enjoy.


200g smooth and creamy feta crumbled
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper


Combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for at least an hour, longer if possible.

Mustard and Chive Potatoes

I keep reading that mustard seeds go really well with potatoes and have therefore been keen to give that combination a go. But I have also been very much enjoying steamed potatoes with butter (or olive oil) and herbs. As I could not decide what to serve for my dinner party, I figured that I could have the best of both worlds - mustard and chives - two flavours that work beautifully together.

These potatoes were quite simple. I par boiled the potatoes in advance, sauteed them in a large fry pan with a lid (thanks Renee!) and then just let them sit on low until I served the main meal. They were left there for perhaps 30 minutes.

Add butter to taste. I didn't really measure the butter, I just threw in as much as looked sufficient.

I don't have a decent photo unfortunately - the steam coming off the potatoes made it very difficult to take a good one.


15-17 medium-large potatoes peeled and cut into quarters
50-75g butter
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1 bunch chives finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste


Par boil the potatoes for approximately 5 minutes. Drain and allow the excess moisture to evaporate. Melt the butter in a large fry pan. Add the potatoes and mustard seeds and saute until golden. Add the chives and mix well.