Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Poor Man's Pesto

Traditional pesto calls for pine nuts & basil which can be expensive so I've swapped out a few ingredients. 

This recipe is great for using up those almost manky spinach leaves you have hanging around the bottom of the fridge or any type of green leaf vegetable such as kale, swiss chard or silverbeet. With the exception of baby spinach leaves I lightly steam my greens beforehand.

I've swapped out the pine nuts for walnuts but I've also used unsalted cashews with great success. I'm continuing experimenting with different types of nuts such as almonds, cashews, Macadamia, brazil & pecans. I always toast them slightly first as it helps to bring out the flavour, for example, walnuts can be bitter and toasting them brings out their sweet nutty flavour. I also try & buy nuts in their shells as they keep longer in the fridge plus you get the added bonus of cracking them open (I use a hammer!) for a bit of after work stress release.

Ingredients
makes enough for 3-4 people
takes 20 minutes
  • Packet of pasta, fresh or dried, cook following packet
    instructions
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts, toasted. Depending on the type of nut used I sometimes increase the amount
  • Bunch of kale or leafy green, roughly chopped & steamed slightly, I normally end up with about 1 - 1 1/2 cups. Drain after steaming but you don't need to be too fussy about draining all the liquid, just add it into the blender. Sometimes, I blanch in cold water but I forgot to do this last night & didn't notice any difference. Just make sure you don't over cook the greens.
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil, start with less & add more if you want a smoother consistency
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (I love a garlicky pesto so add less if you aren't a fan)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • crack of sea salt & freshly cracked pepper
Method
  1. Cook pasta according to packet instructions, drain & set aside.
  2. Lightly steam the roughly chopped leafy greens, drain until most of the water is gone and throw into a food processor.
  3. Toast the nuts either on a oven tray at 180oC or in a pot over medium-high heat until golden brown. Keep an eye on them! 
  4. Place the nuts, cheese, olive oil, garlic, lemon & seasoning into the processor & puree until smooth. Check to see if you need to add more parmesan, olive oil or seasoning.
  5. Into the drained pasta tip pesto in and mix until all the pasta is coated with the yummy pesto. Serve with some freshly cracked pepper & a bit more parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Easy Chicken Omelette

Yah for pre-cooked free range chicken at Farro Fresh which helps make this a super quick week day meal. Lovely Asian flavours with crisp vegetables and fresh chilli give it a bit of zing.

Ingredients (per omelette)
serves 1
takes 15 minutes
  • 3-4 free range eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • pinch brown sugar
  • pinch dried chilli flakes, hot
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 cup cooked shredded free range chicken
  • large handful snow peas, shredded
  • large handful sango sprouts or bean sprouts or anything 'sprouty' that takes your fancy
  • 1 spring onion, sliced finely
  • 1 red chilli, sliced finely
  • handful mint leaves, sliced finely
  • soy sauce or kecap manis, to serve
Method
  1. Thinly slice spring onion, chilli & mint, mix & set aside in
    the fridge.
  2. Shred snow peas, set aside.
  3. Whisk together eggs, fish sauce, sugar & chilli flakes until just combined.
  4. Heat 1 tbsp sesame or peanut oil in a well oiled or non stick frying pan over a medium-high heat.
  5. Add egg mixture swirling around the pan until just firm.
  6. Place the chicken, snow peas & sprouts onto one half of the omelette and fold over to enclose.
  7. To serve top with spring onion, chilli, mint mixture and a side bowl of soy sauce. Enjoy!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Huevos Rancheros (Spicy Eggs)

Love these quick, spicy eggs that can be whipped up anytime, not just for brekkie! Lot's of different variations and if you don't have all the spices listed just use what you have in the cupboard. I read one recipe that only uses sumac.

Ingredients
serves 2-4 depends how many eggs you like
takes about 15 minutes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp each: smoked paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander OR
  • 3 tsp mixed spices
  • 1 pepper - can use red, yellow or green, chopped (or use roasted peppers from a jar, which I normally have in the fridge)
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes OR ground chilli OR hot sauce
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 tins beans, drained, such as red kidney, black beans, cannellini, most types will work. How many you use depends on how many you are feeding
  • 4 free range eggs
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • shaved parmesan, to serve (optional)
Method
  1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and cook onion, garlic, 
    spices, seasonings, red pepper, & chilli over a medium heat until the onion is softened, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes, and beans and simmer over a gentle heat until thick and rich. Depending on how soon you want to eat, this can take 10 minutes or you can simmer for up to 30 minutes if you have the time.
  3. Make 4 dents or holes in the spicy tomato bean sauce and crack an egg into each one. I put them in a cup first in case egg shell slips in.
  4. Cover the frying pan (I usually throw a wooden chopping board over the top) and poach the eggs for about 3-4 minutes or until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.
  5. Serve with some toasted chunky ciabatta or Vogels & shaved parmesan for an extra comfort kick. Enjoy!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Fish & Olive Bake

You can use fish of your choice for this, and throw in whatever fresh herbs you have on hand. I'm sure this will change each time I make it. A simple, easy dish with fantastic flavours.

Ingredients
takes 30 minutes
serves 2-3
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup black olives, stones removed
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • 4 white fish fillets
  • 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp chilli oil (optional)
  • 4 tbsp freshly chopped thyme or try parsley, basil, dill, or chives or a mix
  • lemon wedges to serve
  • 1/2 cup black rice to serve (or use your favourite rice)
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesean cheese or 1/2 block crumbled feta or even good ole cheddar cheese
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180oC.
  2. Put rice on to cook. My rice took around 20 minutes (follow packet instructions)
  3. Heat oil in an ovenproof pot over a medium heat and cook onions and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add in olives, tomatoes and season with freshly cracked pepper.
  5. Bring to the boil then remove from heat and add fish fillets, spooning sauce over them, followed by a drizzle of chilli oil.
  6. Sprinkle over breadcrumbs and bake for about 5-10 minutes. Take out of oven, sprinkle with cheese & finish off under the grill to brown up the top.
  7. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve straight from the pan with lemon wedges on the side and rice. Enjoy!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Spicy Fish Tacos

Love soft tacos, love fish soft tacos even more. For the filling you can use whatever you have hiding in the fridge. I make a simple coleslaw so I can throw it all into one plate and people can help themselves. I am careful about the type of wrap I use as a lot of them are filled with crap. Mountain bread works well.


Ingredients

serves 2
takes 15-20 minutes
  • 2 white fleshed fish fillets: I've used Snapper, Trevally, Gurnard and Cod. I found the Trevally too firm, would be great for a fish curry
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • Chilli oil OR 1 small fresh chilli, sliced finely mixed with oil
  • 1 packet soft flour tortillas or Mountain bread, warm as per packet instructions just before serving
  • Coleslaw: 1/4 of a cabbage (red/white) sliced thinly; 1 large carrot grated ; 2 large tomatoes diced; zest of 1 large lemon; chia seeds (optional)
  • Dressing: 1/4 Greek yoghurt mixed with 1/3 mayonnaise
Method
  1. Place the fish in a shallow oven tray & cover with paprika, salt & pepper and as much chilli oil as you like. Give it a good mix so fish is covered with spice & oil. Leave to marinate while you prepare the coleslaw.
  2. Turn oven grill on high.
  3. Grab a big platter and throw in the sliced cabbage, grated carrot, tomatoes and zest of the lemon. Dress then place on the table.
  4. Place fish under the grill for 2-3 minutes depending on thickness. Place onto a serving plate and take to the table.
  5. Heat tortillas according to the packet. 
  6. Serve with Greek yoghurt/mayonnaise mix and enjoy!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Spiced Lamb, Spinach and Chickpea Couscous

On the table within 15 minutes...lovely succulent lamb served on top of lemony couscous. Fantastic week day meal.

Ingredients

serves 2
  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp each ground cumin, coriander, smoked paprika (plain can also be used)
  • 2 lamb short loins (back straps) at room temperature
  • salt & freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil
  • 400g can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • several handfuls of baby spinach leaves
  • couple of small handfuls mint, roughly shredded
  • handful toasted pine nuts
  • thick Greek yoghurt to serve
Method
  1. Place couscous & turmeric in a small pot, pour hot water over,
    stir briefly and cover. Leave for 5 minutes.
  2. Combine dried spices in a bowl along with salt & pepper and rub lamb loins in the mix so both sides are covered.
  3. Heat a frying pan on a medium heat, add a spray of oil and pan fry lamb for 2-3 minutes each side for medium-rare. Remove from heat and let lamb rest for 5 minutes, then slice thickly.
  4. Grab a big platter and throw in the spinach leaves, chickpeas, pine nuts & mint. 
  5. Add the lemon juice to the couscous and fluff up with a fork then mix it in with the platter ingredients. Drizzle some olive oil on top and season before adding the sliced lamb. 
  6. Serve with the yoghurt with a squeeze of lemon juice. Enjoy!
Inspired by Next Magazine

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Pumpkin, Apple and Fennel Soup

This is a smooth, creamy soup with a sweet, perfumy, anise-like flavour imparted from the fennel. Roasting the vegetables helps to bring out all the flavours. 

Ingredients
serves 4
takes 1 hour to roast, 10 minutes to prepare
  • 1kg pumpkin, peeled & cut into 5cm cubes
  • 2 apples, quartered & cored
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cut into wedges
  • 1 large brown onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 garlic bulb, peel away the outer layers of the bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup thick Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180oC.
  2. Place pumpkin, apples, fennel & onion in a large roasting pan with the garlic bulb in the centre. Drizzle with olive oil & sprinkle with fennel seeds. Season well with sea salt & freshly ground pepper.
  3. Roast for one hour, turning half way through.
  4. Let vegetables cool slightly then transfer to a large pot and add stock.
  5. Using a hand blender, whiz until smooth.
  6. Add 1 cup of yoghurt. Cover and reheat slowly on the stove top.
  7. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Enjoy!