Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Salad of Parsley, Capers, Black Olives and Tomatoes on Bruschetta

Well, its that time of year again, where we need to make new year's resolutions and as always, mine is to lose a few pounds. I always do this to myself. I spend the first half of the year being super good, so I can lose all the wight I put on over the holidays, just to over indulge in the last couple of months of the year and then vow to do it all again. Maybe this year, my resolution should be to stay good over the holidays. But for now, that is 10-12 months away and I need to drop the pounds from this past holiday season.

Therefore, we start the year with a salad. No the best time to do this, as its cold and produce is not exactly fresh, however I did manage to find some great tomatoes (surprise) at the wholesale market. Yes, I know they are imported from California, or some such place and have a big carbon footprint, but I couldn't help it...I was just dying for some great tasting veggies.

This recipe comes from Delicious magazine, Volume 4, Issue 10 and was wonderful. I didn't think it would fill me up, but it definitely did and for a bit of protein, I served with a couple slices of deli cut turkey. Not really suited to the frigid cold outside, but it went down a treat in our lovely heated little home and provided just the veggie boost I have been craving :)

Happy New Year!!

Salad of Parsley, Capers, Black Olives and Tomatoes on Bruschetta
(Serves 4)

1 bunch flat leaf parsley
3 ripe tomatoes
1 tbs capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
20 small black olives, pitted
2 tbs olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 slices of ciabatta bread
1 garlic clove, cut in half
soft goat's cheese, to serve

1. Remove the leaves of the parsley and discard the stems. Roughly chop and place in a bowl. Cut up the tomatoes in uneven wedges and add to the bowl. Throw in the capers and olives and dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Generously season with salt and pepper.

2. Preheat the grill (broiler) to high. Broil bread slices for 1 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Rub gently with cut side of the garlic and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.

3. Top each slice of toast with salad and dollops of goat's cheese. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chicken Salad with Grapefruit and Pistachios

This is another salad from the wonderful Bill Granger and Bill's Food and another hit this week. Simple to put together and really tasty. Definitely a winner!

Chicken Salad with Grapefruit and Pistachios
(Serves 4)

4 skinless chicken breast fillets
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon sliced
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
1/2 cup fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
2 grapefruits, segmented

yoghurt dressing
1 cup plain yoghurt
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs lemon juice
salt freshly ground black pepper

1. Slice each chicken breast into three escalopes on a chopping board, put a freezer bag over them and pound them with a mallet or rolling pin until they are about 1/4 inch thick.

2. Place the chicken escalopes in a flat ceramic dish and pour 1/4 cup of the olive oil over them. Distribute the lemon and pepper over the chicken, cover and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3. Heat a large frying pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Remove the chicken from the marinade and sprinkle it with sea salt. Cook in the pan for 1 minute each side or until cooked through and golden.

4. Toss the herbs with the pistachios, onion, grapefruit and remaining olive oil, then season well. Divide this among four plates and top each with three pieces of chicken. Serve with the dressing on the side.

5. To make the dressing, stir all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Grilled Sirloin with Wild Rocket and Rosemary Potatoes

My wonderful hubby took me away to Philadelphia this past weekend and it was an eating-fest. We dined at lots of wonderful places, then on Sunday spent the day watching football and eating bar food....always fun at the time, but regrettable after the fact. So, I figured I better make something light for dinner tonight to compensate for a weekend of overindulgence.

The first book I turned to was Bill Granger's Bills Food. I love Bill's food because its so light and simple. No fussy ingredients, just simple and tasty. I chose to make this semi-salad as I am not usually one to eat salads in winter. But this one still evokes the heartiness of meat and potatoes, but is still light like a salad. It was the perfect remedy for my expanding holiday waistline!!

Grilled Sirloin with Wild Rocket and Rosemary Potatoes
(Serves 4)

4 sirloin steaks
2 tbs olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 large handfuls of wild rocket (arugula)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil
rosemary potatoes

rosemary potatoes
1kg potatoes, cut into 2cm dice
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove steaks from the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature. Brush with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. heat a large frying pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Sear steaks for 2 minutes on each side, by which time they will be done if you like rare steak. Cook for a minute or two more if you like it medium or medium well.

2. Remove the steaks from the pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes in a warm place. While the steaks are resting, put the arugula, lemon juice, olive oil and a little salt in a bowl and toss to combine. Divide the rocket among four serving plates. Put the steaks on a chopping board and cut each into slices, then place on top of the arugula, pouring any escaped juices over them. Add rosemary potatoes to the plate.

3. To make potatoes, preheat oven to 400F. Place the potatoes, olive oil and rosemary in a bowl and toss. Place potatoes in a single layer on a baking tray and bake for 1 hour or until crispy. Transfer to a serving plate and season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce

These ravioli are a little fiddly to make, but you get a lot and can freeze them for later use. You could even double the ravioli recipe easily as cans of pumpkin tend to be really big. I considered making fresh pumpkin mash, but didn't end up having the time and the canned worked just fine. It is also pretty easy to find this time of year. This is a good vegetarian recipe. tasty and low calorie. Its from the November edition of Cooking Light.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Gorgonzola Sauce
(Makes 6 serves)

1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
2 tbs dry breadcrumbs
2 tbs fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp minced fresh sage
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
30 wonton wrappers
1 tbs cornstarch
cooking spray
1 cup fat free milk
1 tbs all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tbs butter
1/2 cup (2 oz) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
3 tbs chopped hazelnuts

1. Spoon pumpkin into several layers of heavy-duty paper towels and spread to 1/2 inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand for 5 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl using a rubber spatula. Stir in breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, minced sage, pepper and nutmeg.

2. Working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers with a damp towel to keep from drying), spoon 2 teaspoons pumpkin mixture into the center of wrapper. Brush edges of wrapper with water and fold in half, pressing edges firmly with fingers to for a half moon (or triangle). Place on a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch. Repeat process with remaining wonton wrappers and pumpkin mixture.

3. Fill a large dutch oven with water; bring to a simmer. Add half the ravioli to pan (cover remaining ravioli with a damp towel to keep from drying). Cook 4 minutes or until done (do not boil), stirring gently. Remove ravioli with a slotted spoon; lightly coat with cooking spray and keep warm. repeat with remaining ravioli.

4. Combine milk and flour in a saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. remove from heat. Add butter, stirring until butter melts. gently stir in Gorgonzola.

5. Place 5 ravioli in each of 6 shallow bowls and drizzle each serving with 3 tbs of Gorgonzola mixture. Sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 tsp hazelnuts. Serve immediately.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Mum's Minestrone Soup

This is a recipe that I love to make in the winter. It's definitely one of my favourite soups and it comes from none other than my mum. She doesn't like to cook that much, but she does have a couple of stellar signature dishes, and this is one of them. Its a hearty, healthy soup that always last for a few days and is absolutely delicious served with fresh, crusty bread. I made this for dinner tonight and thought I would share with the rest of the world. Hope you don't mind, Mum!! :)

Minestrone Soup
(Makes about 8-12 servings)

1-2 Bacon Bones
1 onion, chopped
1 stick of celery, sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 litres (12 cups) of beef stock
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 large carrot, chopped
2 zucchini's, sliced
1-2 potatoes, chopped into cubes
a handful of green beans, cut into small pieces
as much broccoli (cut into small florets) that you like
1 tbs dried basil
1 tbs dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 -1 cup of small macaroni
grated parmesan cheese to serve
crusty bread with butter to serve

1. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat a little olive oil, then saute bacon bones, onion, celery and garlic over low heat until onions are transparent.

2. Add stock and tomatoes, then turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Whilst waiting for the soup to boil, add the vegetables, basil, oregano and bay leaf.

3. Lower heat and simmer, covered for at least 2 hours. Add macaroni 10 minutes before serving, then serve with cheese and bread.

# This soup gets better the longer you leave it. I like to leave it simmering for at least 3-4 hours and it is even better the next day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rustic Winter Vegetable Tarts

This recipe comes from this months Better Homes and Gardens. It has some bacon in it, but that could easily be removed if you wanted a completely vegetarian version. I decided to use honey smoked ham slices instead of bacon, as I find the bacon in the States too fatty, but feel free to use whatever you like. You could even do prosciutto.

Rustic Winter Vegetable tarts
(Serves 8)

71/2 cups winter vegetables (such as winter squash, sweet potatoes, red onions, parsnips, carrots, turnips and rutabagas), peeled and seeded as necessary and cut into bite size chunks.
4 slices thick-sliced bacon, cut into pieces
3 tbs olive or canola oil
2 tbs chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 pkg rolled refrigerated unbaked pie crusts (2 crusts)
1 cup crumbled goat's cheese
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
fresh rosemary sprigs

1. In a large bowl, toss prepared vegetables with bacon, tbs of the oil, thyme and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Spread evenly on a baking tray and place in cold oven. Turn on oven to 425F and roast vegetables for 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until golden and tender.

2. Meanwhile, roll each pie crust to about 12 inches square. Cut each piecrust square into four free form shapes. Divide between two parchment lined baking sheets.

3.Remove vegetables from oven and stir in 3/4 cup of cheese, vinegar and garlic. set aside. Leave oven on. Divide vegetable mixture among dough shapes, leaving a generous 1 inch border. Fold dough borders around vegetables, pleating as necessary to for tart edges. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup goats cheese.

4. Bake for 20 minutes, then drizzle with remaining olive oil and garnish with rosemary sprigs.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Spicy Turkey and Sweet Potato Gumbo

I'm sorry for leaving my blog unattended for so long, but life and work have been crazy lately and I needed a bit of a break. I hope to be a little better leading up to Christmas.

So to get back into the swing of things, I am putting up a recipe I found on the cooking light website, from December 2001. I had some leftover turkey to get rid of and I found this whilst doing a search for turkey soup. I thought it would be much more interesting and I was right! This was delicious, we both really liked it.

The only change I made to the recipe was that it said to serve it over rice. I wanted to freeze the gumbo, so I just mixed all the rice in at the end. It all ends up in the same place anyway, so no big deal and it still tasted fantastic. It was also really quick and comes in at only 379 calories a serving.

Spicy Turkey and Sweet Potato Gumbo
(Serves 6)

1 (6 oz) box of long grain/wild rice mix (such as uncle ben's)
2 (4 oz) links hot turkey sausage
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups cubed, peeled sweet potato
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
2 (14 oz) cans fat free and reduced salt chicken broth
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion, undrained
1 bay leaf
2 cups cooked turkey (dark, or white, or both)
1/2 tsp hot sauce

1. Cook the rice according to package directions, omitting seasoning packet.

2. remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage in a dutch oven over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add onion, celery and green pepper. Cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for another minute.

3. Stir in flour, cook for 6 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Add sweet potato and next five ingredients (through bay leaf). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add turkey and hot sauce, cook uncovered for 3 minutes. Discard bay leaf and serve over rice.