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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.