Pork fillet wrapped in pancetta and sage with wild Rocky River pumpkin mash and grilled parmesan zucchini

•April 23, 2013 • Leave a Comment

There was some major cheating involved in this meal as I purchased the pork fillet already snugly tucked up in it’s pancetta blanket and sage ribbons, but hey… it would be easy to replicate should you wish to. But why bother with all those ingredients purchases for two if it’s already been assembled I say, and some days just have to be like that.

I am really lucky to have an amazing butcher close by that puts together all sorts of lovely things for those times when you’re either too lazy or too busy to embark on some culinary feat. Not every day is gourmet right!

The rest was all about using up a bit of what was lying around (I hate waste). I still had some leftover wild Rocky River pumpkin courtesy of my friend up north, so I decided to roast it to bring out the rich sweetness, then turn it into a bed of mash for those snug little pork fillets. I get an attack of the guilts for not serving something green sometimes (hello Katia) so in went the zucchini all zinged up with a sprinkle of parmesan.

And that’s really it. No list of ingredients or cooking methods here, just winging it in the kitchen with some great produce, both local and from afar. Couldn’t be easier and sometimes that’s just the way we like it.

Tip. Roasting the pumpkin then adding a little butter and milk when mashing is a great way to get a deeply rich, sweet and creamy result. Try it sometime.

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Sausage rolls #1

•April 22, 2013 • 2 Comments

There is nothing quite like a really good sausage roll and seeing as I have access to amazing sausages at my local award winning butcher, I figure I can give making good ones, a decent go. Attempt number one was pretty successful. They weren’t quite as fabulous as the ones we get from Alexander’s Patisserie (if you’ve never tried them and you work nearby I highly recommend) but they were pretty damn good for a first attempt.

Do you have a favourite flavour sausage roll?

Recipe is as follows

400 grams of gourmet pork and fennel sausages (flesh removed from skins)
400 grams of plain chicken sausages (flesh removed from skins)
1 egg
1 large grated onion
1 medium sized grated carrot
1/3 – 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
1 small bunch of finely chopped parsley
Puff pastry sheets (I’ll attempt my own pastry once I master the innards)
1 extra beaten egg for brushing the rolls
Sesame seeds for sprinkling on top

Mix together well – sausage meat, onion, carrot, breadcrumbs, parsley and egg.
Cut pastry sheet in half, make a decent sized log of sausage roll mix lengthwise all the way to the edges.
Roll lengthwise and cut into six.
Refrigerate for about half an hour then brush with egg mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds
Bake in oven on 180ºC for about 25 minutes or until golden.

I’m not sure how to improve on these so I’m just going to experiment with some different sausage meats until I’m happy with the result.

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Moroccan spicy saffron lamb tagine with cous cous and labneh

•April 18, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I’ve eaten and made a few moroccan tagines and I think I have gotten to a stage where I have pinpointed the flavours I enjoy the most in order to maximise the experience when making it myself.

A few things I have noted

•    I enjoy the date/sultana/fruit and nut combo so some kind of dried fruit (preferably
dates) and some kind of nuts (preferably almonds) must be included.
•    Don’t overdo the cumin. My french-moroccan friend said we make our tagines with too
much cumin.
•    If it’s lamb, cook it slowly in the oven so the meat becomes melt in your mouth.
•    Saffron adds all shades of WIN.
•    Cous cous, even when doing the quick cheating version, must contain butter.

So this is the recipe for my latest tagine attempt.

1 tspn cayenne pepper
2 tspn ground black pepper
1 1/2 tbspn paprika
1 1/2 tbspn ground ginger
1 tbsn tumeric
2 tspn ground cinnamon
1kg (roughly) diced lamb
2 large onions – finely chopped
2 tbspn olive oil
3 cloves garlic – crushed
750ml passata
1 tin diced tomatoes
50 grams dates
80 grams almond slivers
1/2-1 tspn saffron
1 tbspn honey
2 tbspn coriander – finely chopped
1 tbspn parsley – finely chopped

Mix together the spices at the start of the list, take half of this mixture, coat the lamb and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Heat oil in a casserole dish on medium to low heat and add onion, other half on spice mix and garlic and sautée for about 10 minutes until onion softens but does not brown.

In a heavy based frying pan brown the meat slightly on the outside. Add meat to casserole dish and deglaze the pan with a little passata and add this to the casserole dish as well.

Add the rest of the ingredients down to and including the honey to the dish and bring to the boil. Place in oven preheated to 150ºC for 2 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.

Serve with cous cous chopped herbs and a little labneh sprinkled with smoked paprika.

Note: I cheated with the cous cous. I simply added 1 cup cous cous to 1 cup of boiling water and a knob of butter and wait until cous cous swells, fluff up and serve. Too easy.

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Wild Rocky River pumpkin, beans, feta and barley salad

•April 10, 2013 • 2 Comments

I just spent just over a glorious week traveling around some beautiful parts of NSW over the Easter break. Our first destination was a glorious property belonging to my dear friend Danielle’s family in northern NSW and it came resplendent with wild butternut pumpkin ripe for the picking. Thanks Danielle.

Healthy recipes that taste truly fabulous are always get filed away in the must-make-again category. This one I adapted from a Donna Hay recipe. My mum is on a tangent buying us Donna Hay recipe books at the moment so I’ve been putting them to some use. After a week of eating camp food (albeit great camp food) this recipe really hit the spot.

1/2 a butternut pumpkin – sliced
2 tbspn honey
2 tbspn white balsamic
salt and pepper
1 large handful of green beans – blanched
1 1/2 cups pearl barley (rinsed)
4 1/2 cups water
200 grams feta (sliced)
1 small lump of speck or bacon (I had house smoked speck at home to use up) – diced and fried until crispy
Chopped parsley

Vinaigrette dressing

1 tbspn white balsamic
1 tbspn olive oil
1 tspn finely chopped preserved lemon rind

Combine the vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.
Combine white balsamic, honey, salt and pepper. Place sliced pumpkin onto a sheet of baking paper and bake in 180ºC oven for 25 mins or until golden.
Simmer pearl barley in water for about 15 minutes or until soft

Serve ingredients on plates and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Delicious. Thanks Donna Hay.

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One pan breakfast genius (bacon and egg cakes)

•April 10, 2013 • 5 Comments

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter break. While we’re still just skimming past the eggy time of year here’s another recipe with eggs.

This delightful, no-fuss stroke of genius I picked up from my friend Luke’s lovely wife who lives in Korea. When I saw a picture he posted of it on facebook, I immediately had to know the details of this breakfast treasure, because everything with bacon and eggs in it is all shades of awesome in my books.

And it’s ridiculously simple. Lay the bacon strips around the sides of a muffin tin, squish bread – crust removed into the cup shape of the muffin tin, crack egg in the centre and bake in the oven on about 180ºC until cooked. Tricia had also added cheese and what looked like a sprinkling of parsley. We were out of cheese but my taller half did suggest that a dash of good quality BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s or Smokey Joe’s) underneath the egg would be desirable also.

Too good. Thanks Tricia.

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Happy Easter and here are some eggs

•March 27, 2013 • 2 Comments

I’m about to pack my swag and trundle off for the week. My taller half and I are gathering everything we’ll need for a week, piling into Bertha the silver superbus, and heading north for the last rays of summer before daylight savings ends. Keep you fingers and toes crossed the weather man is kind to us.

So I’ll leave you with my favourite meal (breakfast) with one of my favourite summer fruits (figs), the last of our favourite bacon (home made) and the symbol of easter (eggs).

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter break, whatever it is you’re doing and may your eggs be plentiful. I’ll be spending mine visiting old friends and enjoying our beautiful wilderness.

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Vegetarian frittata

•March 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment

For those who don’t know, we have two delightful Isa Brown chickens called Doris and Daphne. We got Daphne first and she’s top hen. She’s also a little older than Doris and her eggs are bigger. I find having two different sized eggs comes in very handy, especially when breaking down recipes into different quantities. The best conversion for 1/3 of 2 normal eggs is 1 mini egg because you can’t really divide an egg can you? My taller half is, well, taller so he has two big eggs for breakfast and I have two small eggs. It works.

The point of this story is that we get a lot of eggs. Two a day, most days of the year and you only have to NOT eat eggs for a a few days (generally speaking, five) and all of a sudden you have a big pile of eggs in the fridge and getting bigger by the day. I hate waste so these eggs must be put to use. If I don’t get time to make something fabulous with then I take half a dozen into work and run what I call ‘eggslotto’. The first person to email me back wins the eggs. It’s become quite competitive.

One great way to get rid of a bunch of eggs in one hit is to make frittata. I use about 8 eggs (half big and half small) to make enough for the two of us which puts a substantial dent in the egg pile.

This particular frittata recipe is vegetarian and easy.

Sweet potato, zucchini and pea frittata topped with roasted marinated mushrooms

8 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper
1 zucchini – sliced
2/3 cup frozen baby peas (use fresh if you like)
Half a decent sized sweet potato – cut into 1 inch cubes
Mushrooms (as many as you like of whatever variety you like)
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
A drizzle of olive oil
3 cloves garlic – crushed
1 small handful of thyme sprigs – stems removed

Roast sweet potato in oven for about 20 minutes on abut 180ºC or until just done.
Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a bowl.
Distribute sweet potato, zucchini and peas evenly in a deep heavy based pan then pour over egg mixture.
Cook covered over medium – medium/low heat until done.

Meanwhile put mushrooms in a plastic bag with the olive oil, crushed garlic, thyme and balsamic and shake until mushrooms are all covered in marinade. Put in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes on 180ºC or until mushrooms are just done. Remove from oven, slice and serve on top of frittata.

Tip: Sliced mushrooms are a yummy and integral part of many meals but, wherever possible, I find the best way to get the best flavour from mushrooms is to cook them whole. Slicing them causes them to lose some of their liquid and thus, flavour. Cook first, slice later, that’s my mushroom motto.

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