Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Tuna Nicoise with caper and green olive vinnigrette

This was my version of the classic, Tuna Nicoise.

2 portions of fresh Tuna, I find 150g each is enough
4 small vine tomatoes, core removed and quarterd
200-300g agria potatoes
8-10 green beans
1/2 bunch asparagus
Zest and juice 1 lemon
2 anchovies
2 T capers
8 sicilian olives, stones removed
Pinch salt
1 tsp white wine vinegar
Black pepper
2 tsp water
4 T olive oil
Italian parsley, leaves picked and chopped
2 eggs

Season and oil and tuna steaks and set aside. Cover the potatoes with cold water, add 1 tsp salt and cook until done. Blanch the beans and asparagus in salty water to set the colour, slice on the angle and set aside. Bring a small pot of water to the boil and cook the eggs for 5 minutes. Cool under cold water and peel.

To make the vinnigrette chop up the olives, anchovies and capers, combine in a bowl with the zest and juice of one lemon, the vinegar, salt and pepper and water. Whisk in the olive oil and check for seasoning.

When the potatoes are cooked, strain and cover with a tea towel for 5-10 mins. When they are still warm pour over all but 3 T of the vinnigrette and mix to combine. Season. 1 T is to mix with the vegetables and 2 T for the plate.
Heat a pan on a high heat to cook the tuna. I like mine rare so I only cook it for a minute max each side, the cooking time also depends on how thick it is cut. Cook the tuna while you put the rest of the plate together.

To serve place the potato on the plate, dress the beans, asparagus, parsley and tomato with 1 T of the remaining dressing, arrange on top of the potato. Slice the eggs in half put around the sides. Place the tuna on top of that and spoon over the remaining dressing.

Serves 2

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Steak sandwich

Keeley wanted a steak sandwich for dinner tonight so that's what he got. Have to say, it did hit the spot.

What I did...

400g rump steak
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Caramelised onion
Bellbird bakery rye/wheat toasted
Grilled asparagus

Rub the rump steak with olive oil, thyme and salt and pepper. Heat a heavy based pan and add the steak, turning once after about 3-4 minutes. Rest for 10 minutes. While the steak is resting carmelise the onions in the same pan.
Toast the bread and spread the mayo on one piece and the chutney on the other.
Slice the steak against the grain, slice the tomato and rip of a hunk of iceberg. Add the onions on top of the chutney, then the sliced steak, tomato and the iceberg followed by the other slice of toast.

I served it with some grilled asparagus and then chowed down with my hands - messy but totally worth it!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Potato Gnocchi with Oyster mushroom, Pancetta and Mushroom broth

So I wanted to make some Gnocchi. I haven't made it at home before and my friend and co worker George gave me a great base recipe to try. I saw some Oyster mushrooms at the vege shop and decided to incorporate it into my dish along with some other treats I found at Med Foods. They sell the ends of their cured meat so I .picked up an end of excellent quality pancetta for $2.50. Bargain. The result was surprisingly delicious! A fresh tomato sauce with garlic and basil would also be very good with this.

For the Gnocchi

3 large potatoes (about 750g)
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup plain flour plus extra for dusting
salt and white pepper

Clean the potatoes and place in the oven until soft - it took about an hour and a half in my oven. When cooked and cool enough to handle mash the potato into a bowl or a work bench. I used my mouli and the result was excellent.
Add the egg yolks and salt and pepper to taste and gently incorporate the flour, adding more if you need to. The more flour added the firmer the gnocchi will be and what you really want is nice fluffy dumplings. However, if you don't add enough flour you gnocchi will disintegrate in the water... it's a fine line!
Split the dough into 2 on a floured surface and roll into a long sausage about 2cm wide. Cut into about 3cm dumplings and place on a floured tray. At this stage you can leave them for up to 2 hours.
Bring a pot of salted water to a gentle boil, cook the gnocchi for 2-3 minutes or until the gnocchi float.
If you are adding the gnocchi to a sauce you only need to blanch the gnocchi for a minute as they will continue cooking.

Serves 2 for a main

Oyster mushroom, pancetta and mushroom broth

100g portabello mushrooms
100g oyster mushrooms
60g pancetta, rind removed but kept and cut into lardons
a knob of butter
handful of Italian parsley, leaves picked
1 T chopped chives
1 clove garlic, bashed a bit
1 bay leaf
a couple of parsley stalks
sprig of thyme
250ml chicken stock
1/2 Divilla Mushroom stock cube - available from Med Foods
Parmesan to serve

In a small pot heat a bit of olive oil and add the pancetta rind, bay, thyme, garlic and one of each mushroom. Gently saute for a minute or so and then add the stock and simmer for about 15 minutes and then strain and set aside.
Heat a medium frying pan and add about 1 T olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook until crisp and golden.
Increase the heat slightly and add the portabello mushrooms, when starting to brown add the oyster mushrooms and the butter. Add the gnocchi into the boiling water at this stage.
Season the mushroom mix as required and add the parsley in.
Place the strained and cooked gnocchi into the serving bowls and scatter over the mushroom mix. Pour the mushroom broth down the side and sprinkle with the chives.
Finish with fresh Parmesan and serve.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Pumpkin, eggplant and chick pea soup with harissa

It was cold tonight so all I felt like was soup, had a few ingredients to use up and felt like something spicy.

What you need:

2 T olive oil
1 onion finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small-medium eggplant, chopped
1 t cumin
1 tsp smoked parika
3 T tomato paste
1 tsp Harissa paste - more if you like it spicy
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 L chicken stock, vege stock or water
300g pumpkin, chopped
1 courgette, chopped
Black pepper
Zest lemon and juice
1 T pomegranate molasses
1 tsp sugar
1 small bunch spinach, chopped
4 heaped spoons of Greek yoghurt
1/2 tsp Harissa paste
Pinch smoked paprika

Heat oil in the pot, add onion, garlic and eggplant and cook for a few minutes. Add spices, and pastes. Cook for a few more minutes.
Add the stock, tomatoes, pumpkin, courgette and season. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the zest of one lemon and half the juice, the pomegranate molasses, sugar, spinach and coriander. Check seasoning.
Mix the yoghurt, Harissa, paprika and the Juice from the rest of the lemon.
Ladle into bowls and top with yoghurt and some coriander leaves.

Serves 4

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Ice cream!

Stopped by Redcliffs Dairy for an ice cream today after taking the dogs to the beach.
With over 30 flavours I found it quite hard to choose... The Deep South range is by far the best. Licorice won for me. Ambrosia and Cookie Caramel for Keeley.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Ravioli of fava and sweet pea with walnuts, lemon and ricotta salata

I have been inspired.
Currently I am reading a book about a young female chef who visits Italy for the Summer and falls in love with the lifestyle and of course the food. So on Monday I decided to make some hand made pasta again. I dusted off my pasta machine, headed to Med Foods to buy some flour and got to work.

Pasta dough
- makes 16 ravioli with enough left to make a lasagna for 6

400g tipo '00' flour
4 eggs
1 T olive oil

Tip the flour onto the bench (or you could use a bowl) and make a well in the centre and crack in the eggs and add the olive oil. With a fork or your fingers mix the eggs and slowly start incorporating the flour. When it comes together knead the dough for approx 10 mins until the dough springs back when touched. Rest the dough for at least 30 minutes. Make your filling.

The filling

75g baby peas
75g fava beans (about 100g unpodded)
1 T olive oil
1/2 small red onion finely diced
1 small clove garlic, crushed
2 T ricotta
Flakey salt and black pepper
Zest of 1/2 lemon and a squeeze of juice.

Heat the oil in pan and gently sweat the onion and garlic. Add the peas and favas and heat through. Place in a blender and puree. Season and add lemon and ricotta. Set aside.

Now the dough has rested you can now roll you pasta.
Starting in the widest setting roll about a 3rd of the dough through, folding the dough over itself and back through for the first 2 setting. Make your way down to the smallest setting. By now you should have a long length of dough. Cut this dough in half with one bit being slightly larger.
Lay one piece on a lightly floured bench and place teaspoons of the filling along the sheet.

Brush around the filling with a bit of water and the gently place the other sheet of pasta on the top. Carefully go around and press down the top sheet down, making sure all the air bubbles come out and the ravioli is sealed. If you have a round cutter you can cut them out with that. I didn't, so I just cut them square.
If you are making them ahead of time it is best to dust the tray you are putting them on with semolina flour so they don't stick, alternatively you could blanch them to set the ravioli.

Finishing the dish

2 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
Handful of toasted walnuts
4 brussels sprouts, broken down to leaves
10-15 fava beans for garnish
20g shaved or microplained parmesan
Ricotta salata- you could also use feta or goats cheese
Salt and pepper
Lemon juice

Bring a pot of water to the boil for the pasta and salt it well. Add your pasta and cook for about 3 minutes. Mean while make the sauce.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic and onion. Sweat down and then add the walnuts and the brussel sprout leaves.
Add the cooked ravioli with a bit of the cooking liquid and gently mix to coat in the garlicy oil. Add the fava beans and season. Squeeze in the lemon juice.
Plate up and garnish with Parmesan and ricotta salata.

Serves 2 for main or 4 as an entree.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Sirloin, wilted greens, hot soy and cashews

This is a good recipe for making the meat go a bit further. It is also great with salad greens and some shredded cucumber and mung beans in the summer.

Serves 2-3

2 Sirloin steaks
Olive oil
Flakey salt and black pepper
2 bunches bok Choy
1/3 head brocolli
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 red onion finely sliced
2-3 T salted roasted cashews
1 chilli sliced


1 T oyster sauce
1 T honey
1 T sesame oil
2 T soy sauce
Lemon juice to taste

- Oil and season sirloin on both sides and leave steaks to come to room temperature.
Slice ends off Bok Choy and wash, segment up broccoli, slice red onion and chilli and set aside.

Heat a pan until hot. Place oiled steaks in the pan and cook for 2 minutes each side. Set aside and rest covered in a warm place for at least 10 minutes or while you are preparing everything else.

Place dressing ingredients in a small pot and heat through, add lemon juice to taste and maybe a T of sweet chilli sauce if you want it a touch sweeter. Set aside.

Heat a bit of oil in the pan and add the garlic. Add the broccoli first and stir fry for a minute. Add the bok Choy and a bit of water to create sone steam and place on a lid to finish cooking.

When greens are nearly done slice the sirloin against the grain. Place the greens on a plate, top with the sliced meat and then the onion, chilli, and the cashews. Spoon over the hot soy dressing. Serve with steamed rice.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Silken Tofu, eggplant, coriander and sprouts

I never used to be a fan of tofu. I then had it at a Japanese restaurant and loved it so now we have it at home about once a week. I like the texture and the subtle flavour and how it carries flavour well.
You could also garnish this dish with chopped roasted peanuts and fresh chilli and add some Bok Choy too.

Silken Tofu, eggplant, coriander and sprouts

2 blocks silken tofu
45ml light soy
1 clove garlic , finely sliced
4cm knob fresh ginger, juilienned

1/2 head broccoli, cut into smallish segments
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 small eggplant, 1cm slices
A few drops sesame oil
2 handfuls mung bean sprouts

1/4 cup dressing - see recipe below
1 tsp sweet chilli sauce                      
1/2 tsp chilli oil

Firstly cut the tofu blocks into quarters and marinade in the soy and half the ginger and half the garlic.
Make the dressing. Reserve all but 1/4 cup and mix with the chilli sauce and chilli oil.
Heat some oil in a pan and fry the eggplant until brown, sprinkle a few drops of sesame oil on each piece and the some of the dressing. Remove from pan and set aside..

Heat a little oil in a pan and add the remaining garlic, ginger and the red onion. Add the broccoli and stir fry for a minute. Add the marinaded tofu, saving the liquid and brown gently in the pan. When brown place on top of the broccoli, add the marinading liquid and put on a lid and steam for a few minutes until the tofu has warmed through and the broccoli is cooked but still has crunch.

Place the warm eggplant on the plate and top with the tofu and broccoli mix, garnish with the sprouts, coriander and spoon over the dressing. Serve with steamed rice.

50ml Fish sauce
60g Sugar
100ml Boiling water
100ml White vinegar

Mix together. Keeps in sealed container for up to 2 months.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Brunch - Auction Rooms.

Enjoyed great food and excellent coffee at Auction Rooms in North Melbourne today. Probably the nicest coffee I have had while here. Great menu too.

Many thanks to my lovely friend Will for making the coffee and shouting us brunch. Much love x

Vietnamese lunch

Chez Dre, Melbourne.

Cinnamon crumble brioche and a Rhubarb Danish. Delicious.

Lunch at Cumulus, Melbourne

Soft shell crab with school prawns and lemony slaw

Dinner at Attica, Melbourne.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Chicken Congee - Vietnamese style

My latest cookbook purchase arrived a few days ago. Little Vietnam by Nhut Huynh has a great range of recipes and as soon as I saw the Chicken Congee recipe I had to try it! It was so delicious I will definitely have to make it again.

First you need to make the stock which is super easy.

2kgs Chicken bones
50 ginger
1 onion
1 tsp salt
5 Litres of water

- Place the bones, ginger and onion in a large stock pot and cover with the water. Bring to the boil, skimming off any scum that floats to the surface and then turn down to low and simmer for 3 hours. Strain.

Chicken Congee

1 T oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
300g chicken mince (or pork)
50g fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 L chicken stock - see above
150g (3/4 cup) long grain rice
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 T fish sauce
2 T sugar
1 bunch spring onions, chopped
1 bunch coriander
1-2 limes
cracked black pepper

Heat oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and cook for 10-20 seconds. Add the onion and sweat for a few minutes and then add in the chicken mince, stirring and breaking up. 
Add in the ginger, pepper, fish sauce, sugar, rice and the stock.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Season with more fish sauce if needed.
Serve in bowls, with the spring onions, coriander, a squeeze of lime and cracked pepper.

Serves 6

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Dippy Eggs and Wholegrain Soldiers

Wooden egg cups
Hot buttered soldiers

Delicious runny yolks
Childhood memories

While up North last weekend I also purchased these cute week Teak egg cups. This morning for breakfast we had eggs with soldiers.

My friend George is an Egg Master. He can tell by looking at an egg how long it will take them to cook and they are perfect every time. From his instructions I cooked these eggs for 5 mins straight into boiling water. 4 minutes 30 seconds would have worked too. Served with hot buttered wholegrain soldiers. Yum.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A big bowl of Chilli

Sometimes all I feel like is Chilli. A nice big bowl of it.  
Here is tonights version of it... Serves about 4

Chilli with avocado, yoghurt and coriander

1 onion finely chopped
1 T olive oil
500g ground beef mince
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a good pinch of chilli flakes
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin cherry tomatoes
2 T tomato paste
1 tin water
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp brown sugar
black pepper
1 tin of cannellini beans

Sweat the onion in the oil until soft. Turn up the heat and add the beef and cook, breaking up until browned. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, chilli flakes, and cook out for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, sugar, pomegranate molasses and a few grinds of black pepper and bring to the a boil, then down to low and simmer for an hour.
Add in the beans ( you can use kidney beans, I just didn't have any) and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Adjust the seasoning and serve with the salsa and a big spoonful of greek yoghurt.

1 shallot finely chopped
3 small vine tomatoes, chopped
1/2 avocado, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 T coriander, chopped
salt and pepper

- Mix all ingredients together.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Sunday Roast

We went to my old folks house for dinner tonight. Dad was cooking a 5 bone rack of Beef, who could resist!  Of course it came with all the trimmings too...
Brothers be jealous.

Roast pumpkin, kumara and potato
White wine braised red onion and fennel
Baby peas and sauteed leeks
Caramelised shallot gravy
Neddys fresh horseradish
And...Yorkie Pud - awesome
5 bone rack of delicous
Dads Yorkie Pud

Our Vegetable Garden

As the weather was nice this weekend we decided to put in our vegetable garden. I had been gathering up the plants over the last few weeks and finally we had the time to sort out the garden and plant everything.

Now to be honest, I'm not really the gardening type. I enjoy the end result but I am not really prepared to put in the hard yards. Thankfully I have a Keeley. With a bit of encouragement we both got stuck in and accomplished quite a bit in the end. Probably the most gardening I have done in my whole life and I quite enjoyed it. 

Hopefully all going to plan we have crops of Silverbeet, Mini Cabbages, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Wombok, Bok choy, Peas, Spinach. Along with Italian Parsley, Coriander, Thyme, Lemon Verbena, Mint and Chives. We plan to plant some Jersey Bennes later in the year and some Tomato plants as well. Will also be on the look out for other interesting things. Just need to wait for the warmer weather!

New Kitchen Purchase

After venturing up North on Saturday for some hound viewing, we stopped at an old mill converted into a shop and cafe in Waikuku for a wee look. 
I found this great handmade wooden chopping board for a great price. I have been looking for a good one for a while now and this one ticked all the boxes.
Very happy with it!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


Often overshadowed by the more expensive and tender cut of meat Fillet, the Sirloin or Porterhouse as it's known has excellent flavour and when cooked properly it is a great eat.

Bringing the meat to room temperature is an important step as it helps cook the meat more evenly. Coat the steak with plenty of salt and pepper and olive oil, always oil the steak not the pan. Cook in a medium to hot pan, turning once until done to your liking. It is very important to rest your steak in a warm place for at least 10-20 minutes, this results in a more tender and flavoursome steak.

At work when cooking whole roasted sirloins us Chefs have it down. Often we feel the need to voice this, that's how good it turns out. We cook the Sirloins for about half an hour bringing them to about 46º and then rest them for an hour, sometimes more. Then we slice them for service. 

Sirloin steaks, seasoned and ready to go
Perfectly cooked and resting

Sliced and ready to eat!

Have to say that tonight's Sirloin from Halswel Butchery was pretty damn good!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Eggs - one of my favourite things.

Eggs are one of my favourite things to eat. From childhood memories of soft boiled eggs with buttered soldiers  to perfectly poached eggs on hot toast for weekend brunch. I was lucky enough to eat some poached eggs on Saturday that were plucked from under the hens minutes before they were on my plate! They we sooo good.

I am going to share with you one of my favourite ways to cook eggs. A recipe from one of the most well used cookbooks I own; Stephanie Alexanders Cooks Companion.  

Bagdad Eggs

4 fresh free range eggs
40g butter
1-2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 lemon
freshly ground cumin seeds
black pepper
mint leaves - shredded
Hot toast or flatbread to serve

Melt butter in a frypan and when it starts to foam add the garlic. 
Crack in the eggs and squeeze in the juice of a lemon, sprinkle over the cumin seeds and season with salt and pepper, gently fry until whites are set. 
Top with the shredded mint.
Serve on hot toast or flatbread.

You could also sprinkle over some crumbled feta or a dollop of greek yoghurt. Maybe even some chopped coriander.

Serves 2

Friday, 3 June 2011

Pasta. The Comfort food.

We always seem to have pasta late in the week when the fridge and pantry supplies are getting low. I needed to used some broccoli up tonight and this is what came of it. I tend to use anchovies quite a bit in cooking. They provide a nice saltiness and background flavour, not a fishy taste. So if you're not usually a fan don't be afraid and give them ago.

Broccoli, Chorizo and Parmesan Pasta

2 T olive oil
1 red onion finely sliced
2 cloves garlic crushed
4 anchovies finely chopped
pinch of chilli flakes
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 chorizo sausage, chopped
Zest and juice of half a lemon
2 T greek yoghurt
Parmesan for serving
250g tubed pasta ( I used Zitone Tagliato)

Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. This is for the broccoli and the pasta.
Meanwhile heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic, anchovies, chorizo and chilli. Cook gently until the onions are soft and the chorizo is crispy.
Add the broccoli to the boiling water and cook until tender, remove with a slotted spoon straight into the pan. Now put your pasta on to cook.
Using the back of a spoon mash and break up the broccoli coating it in the salty and garlicy fat.
Season with black pepper. The anchovies should provide enough saltiness.
When the pasta is cooked mix it together with the broccoli mix. Add the lemon juice and zest and the yoghurt.
Serve with grated parmesan.

Serves 2 (with a bit extra for lunch!)

Shaggy parasol

These beautiful mushrooms are called Shaggy Parasols. One of the chefs at work brought them in for us to try. They have a strong meaty mushroom flavour and are delicious! You do however need to cook them for a decent amount of time to kill any toxins, if not they may give you a sore stomach...

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Pork Meatballs with Lemon, Sage and Anchovy

Tomato sauce

2 T olive oil
3 cloves of garlic finely sliced
1/2 cup of basil leaves
1 700ml jar of tomato passata
1 400g can of cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1 T malt or balsamic vinegar
1 T brown sugar
1 tsp salt
black pepper

Heat olive oil on a medium heat, add garlic and basil leaves and cook until the garlic just starts to colour. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes while you are making your meatballs.


400g pork mince
400g beef mince
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 anchovies, finely chopped
4 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 onion finely chopped
zest of 1/2 lemon
pinch of chilli flakes
1 egg
1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and cook the onion until soft. Cool. Place all remaining ingredients in a bowl and add onion, mix to combine. I like to test them seasoning by cooking a small bit in a pan. 
Roll into 24 balls, slightly larger than a golf ball. Heat the pan with a little and cook the meatballs until brown all over.

Place in an oven proof dish and pour over the tomato sauce.
Sprinkle with Parmesan and place in a preheated oven at 150º for 1 1/2 hours or until the meatballs are nice and tender and the sauce and thickened and lovely and rich. 

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until just cooked. 
Serve the meatballs on top of the spaghetti and garnish with picked basil leaves and shaved Parmesan.

Serves four to six depending on how hungry you are!

Monday, 23 May 2011


After many batches of failed Macarons I have finally mastered them. Here is a tray of 250 waiting to be filled, made with love of course.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Sunday market day

I love venturing to food markets on the weekend. There is something special about buying locally sourced and freshly picked produce. Everyone is always so proud standing behind there wee stalls.
Today we went to the Sunday Opawa Market and brought some free range eggs, kwark, swiss chard, baby fennel, spinach, crisp braeburns and a loaf of organic wholegrain sourdough.
I couldn't wait to try the sourdough and cut a bit off the end as soon as I got home!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Noodle Bowl

Most Sundays my boyfriend Keeley and I head out for some sort of Asian feast. Last week we went to Ancestral in Riccarton. I ordered the Szechuan hot and sour noodle bowl which was delicious.
Great comfort food on a cold day.

Apple Tarte Tartin

Crisp pastry, gooey caramely edges, tender sweet apples. Yum.
First time I have ever really made a Apple Tarte Tartin and  it worked a treat.
Eaten with friends on a chilly night with heaped spoonfuls of cinnamon brown sugar greek yoghurt!