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.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fresh Vegetable Barley

It seems like getting more fibre and whole grains in your diet is all the rage at the moment, so much so, that in the October edition of Cooking Light they had a whole section on recipes that would give you a fibre boost. I was actually very happy about this because I have recently discovered the joys of eating more interesting grains such as barley, quinoa and bulgar wheat. These are my new favourite grains, as I love the taste and the texture...and getting an added boost of fibre doesn't hurt either. Oh, and they are lower in calories than rice, which makes them super foods in my book.

Anyway, I was surprised to find this recipe in the Autumn/Fall edition of Cooking Light as the ingredients are distinctly summery. And as my summer CSA subscription has now finished, I had to purchase supermarket tomatoes and zucchini for the first time in almost 6 months...the horror!!!

But it turned out ok. This dish was very tasty, almost risotto-like in texture and great as a vegetarian meal. Even my meat eating hubby enjoyed it very much. At 177 calories per serving, you can't go wrong!

Fresh Vegetable Barley
(Serves 4)

1 tsp olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup uncooked pearl barley
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini (about 1)
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs crumbled feta cheese
chopped fresh parsley

1. heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for 2 minutes. Add barley and cook for 1 minute. Stir in chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, over and simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Stir in zucchini, tomatoes, salt and pepper, then cover and cook for a further 5 minutes. Ladle barley mixture into bowls, then top each serving with 1 1/2 tsp of feta cheese and parsley.

Brunswick Stew

As I sit here looking out my window at a cold, windy and rainy afternoon (it looks like 7pm at 4pm), I thought it would be a good time to post this recipe that I made at the start of the week. This stew, is kind of a cross between a soup and a stew and is very satisfying for a wintery day like today. The chicken makes it very hearty, but with loads of veggies, this is a low calorie and extremely tasty dinner, that's good for you too. And its served with garlic bread, my fave!! yum!

The recipe is from the October edition of Cooking Light.

Brunswick Stew
(Serves 6)

1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tbs peanut oil
1 tbs all purpose flour
1lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups fat free, less sodium chicken stock
2 tbs no-salt added tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
1 10 oz package of frozen corn, thawed
1 10 oz package of frozen Lima beans, thawed
6 slices Italian bread, toasted
2 garlic cloves, halved

1. Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan in cooking spray, then add bell pepper, onion and celery to pan. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add oil to pan. Combine flour and chicken in a bowl, tossing to coat. Add chicken to pan and cook until lightly browned. Gradually stir in stock and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Add tomato paste and next 5 ingredients (through to Lima beans) to pan. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

2. Rub toasted bread with cut sides of garlic bread and discard garlic. (Optional: I also like to add a bit of olive oil to the bread before rubbing the garlic, but this adds a few extra calories). Serve 1 slice of bread with each serving of stew.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Chicken Risotto

In putting this recipe on my blog, I almost feel like I am giving away one of my trade secrets. This is a recipe that I reserve for special occasions and it has never let me down. My husband asked me to make it this weekend, so I will pass it on and hope that if you make it, that it might become one of the weapons in your cooking arsenal, too.

This is one of those recipes, that when you look at the ingredients, you think it can't possibly be that good, yet when they come together, it just blows your mind. This is definitely my favourite risotto recipe and I have many of them....risotto is one of my favourite foods. This one always surprises me in its simplicity and tastiness. I can't stress enough how flavourful this dish is. You'll just have to try it for yourself.

Unfortunately I can't take credit for inventing the recipe, it comes from a book I bought years ago called the practical encyclopedia of potato and rice. Enjoy!

Chicken Risotto (Serves 6)

2 tbs olive oil
8oz skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 1/3 cups risotto rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 tsp saffron threads
7 1/2 cups simmering chicken stock
2oz prosciutto, cut into thin strips
2tbs butter, cubed
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
salt and freshly ground black pepper
flat leaf parsley to garnish

1. Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring until it turns white.

2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring until the onion is soft. Stir in the rice and saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly until the rice is coated in oil.

3. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is absorbed. Stir saffron into simmering stock, then add ladlefuls of stock to the rice, allowing each to be absorbed before adding the next.

4. When the rice is three-quarters cooked, add the prosciutto and continue cooking until the rice is just tender and the risotto is creamy.

5. Add the butter and Parmesan and stir until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve risotto sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and garnish with parsley.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Apple-Cheddar Soup

This has been a crazy week weather-wise. We started off in the 90's and today was in the low 60's! A nice excuse to make some soup though. This recipe comes from this month's Better Homes and Gardens in a section on apple's. I have never even heard of apple-cheddar soup, but thought it would be fun to try...and I'm glad I did. This soup was actually delicious. Almost like having cheese fondue (one of my favourite things) for dinner, but not as bad for you!!

I decided to serve it with cheddar roles that I got from Shawnda at Confections of A Foodie Bride. My only problem was, I ran out of bread flour, so had to substitute one of the cups with some whole wheat flour. This made the roles a little heavier, but still delicious. A nice accompaniment to the soup.

This was a very "fall-inspired" recipe, that was great for a windy, autumnal day....enjoy!

Apple-Cheddar Soup
(Serves 4)

1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1tbs butter
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups apple cider
1tsp snipped fresh thyme
1/2tsp salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 medium cooking apple, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup milk
2 tbs all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
fresh apple slices
green peppercorns

1. In a large saucepan, cook onion in butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in potatoes, cider, thyme, salt and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add chopped apple and simmer, covered, for another 5 minutes or until potato is tender.

2. In a small bowl combine milk and flour. Stir into soup and cook until bubbly. Slowly add cheese, whisking until cheese is melted. Divide evenly among serving dishes and top with apple slices and peppercorns.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Korean Beef Salad

This recipe comes from a New Zealand magazine that I found the other week in Barnes and Nobles called Dish. I haven't seen this magazine before, but it is fabulous....certainly on par with Donna Hay. This particular recipe was in a section entitled "meals for every night of the week", so it was nice and quick. The recipe was delicious and healthy and I would definitely make it again.

Korean Beef Salad
(Serves 4)

2tbs soy sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
5cm piece ginger, grated
2 scallions (spring onions), thinly sliced
1tsp sesame oil
2tsp sugar
1tsp salt
1tbs sesame seeds, toasted
1lb sirloin steak, thinly sliced
1tbs sesame seeds, toasted
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2tbs rice vinegar
2tsp soy
1tsp sugar
1tsp freshly grated ginger
1tsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
pinch of chilli flakes - optional
400g thinly sliced cabbage
1 carrot, peeled julienned
3 radishes, thinly sliced
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 cup snowpeas, blanched and julienned
1 red capsicum (red pepper), thinly sliced
shredded mint leaves
2 tbs sesame seeds, toasted

1. Combine the soy, garlic, ginger, spring onions, sesame oil and sugar in a bowl. Grind the salt and sesame seeds together in a mortar and pestle. Add to marinade along with beef and mix well. Leave for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.

2. For the dressing, grind the sesame seeds in a mortar and combine with remaining ingredients.

3. For the salad, toss all the ingredients in a large bowl with the dressing.

4. Heat a wok or large fry pan with 2tbs of vegetable oil until very hot. Add the beef and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, or until just cooked. Either toss the beef through the salad or divide salad between serving bowls and top with beef. Sprinkle extra toasted sesame seeds to serve.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Turkey Spinach Toss

Wow, its been a little while since I updated my blog and I apologise. This has mainly been due to being out of town, being sick and then not cooking anything blog-worthy for a while. This doesn't mean I haven't been cooking, but nothing has really grabbed me in the last couple of weeks.

However, this recipe tonight was actually pretty good, so I thought I would share. It comes from the recent edition of Better Homes and Gardens, of all places and was in their section on autumn dinners. It was fast, tasty, healthy....all the things I love in a recipe. Felt a bit more summery than autumn I thought, but seeing as we are still getting 90 degree days, I think its fitting.

Turkey Spinach Toss
(Serves 4)

2 8oz turkey breast tenderloins, halved horizontally (I couldn't find any, so just used turkey breast chops)
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbs butter
2 oz thinly sliced deli ham, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup orange juice
2 10 oz pkgs of fresh spinach
1 orange cut into wedges

1. Season turkey with pepper. In very a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add turkey and cook for 12 minutes, or until no longer pink. Turn once.

2. Remove turkey from skillet, slice into strips, cover and keep warm. Add ham to skillet, cook for about 1 minute or until heated and starting to crisp. With slotted spoon remove from skillet, add juice and bring to boil.

3. Add spinach, half at a time, to skillet. Cook 1 minute or until just wilted. Add orange wedges with second batch of spinach. Using tongs, remove from skillet, divide among plates sprinkle with slat and pepper. Top with ham and turkey. Drizzle with remaining juices from the skillet.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Stuffed Eggplant

Here is yet another recipe of my own creation designed to clean out my fridge. I am doing great though, and have almost used all of the leftover produce, cheese and other accoutrement's that I had. So hopefully, I can get back to making other fun stuff in the next couple of days.

This is also our fourth vegetarian meal in row! Not bad considering hubby is an avid meat eater. I wanted to stuff my eggplants with rice, but all of the recipes I could find used some sort of mince, or had indian spices...that is, they were stuffed with a pilaf. This would be fine, but I didn't think that would allow me to use my tomatoes, herbs and mozzarella. So, I devised this recipe after looking through tons of others. Again, I'm not going to write it out carefully, as I threw in whatever I had and didn't measure anything. Feel free to omit or add anything you like.

I had 2 small white eggplants, which I pierced and then boiled for about 20 minutes. I then cut them in half and scooped out the middle flesh. In the mean time I cooked some basmati rice, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup and sauteed some onions, garlic and some peachy momma hot peppers. I then added the onion mixture to the rice, then added some lemon juice, chopped heirloom tomatoes, bread crumbs, an egg, grated Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and some fresh herbs (thyme, oregano and basil). The eggplant halves were then stuffed with the rice mixture, placed in a baking dish and covered with pasta sauce (I used jar marinara/napolitana), but you could use fresh. I just wanted to use up what I had), some slices of fresh mozzarella and a bit more grated Parmesan cheese. Baked for about 20-25 minutes at 375F, then served with arugula dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.

Really tasty. Even better than I expected. I think this is quite a good vegetarian recipe and you could use the stuffing for anything. I had some left over and used it to stuff a tomato, but you could also do a pepper or a squash.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ratatouille Risotto

I love risotto. I love to eat it and I love to cook it. I think it is very hard to make a bad risotto and I love that you can make it as simple or as complicated as you want and it never fails to please. Its my ultimate comfort food. I can even get my hubby to eat things he hates like salmon and mushrooms if I put them in a risotto. Its also great for cleaning out the fridge, which is why I came up with this recipe tonight.

I mentioned yesterday that I have an abundance of squash this week, but I failed to mention that I also have loads of eggplant. I think I got five this week!! These are not your regular purple type, I got white ones, green ones and mauve and white ones. All a lot less bitter than the regular, which makes them a bit easier to cook.

Obviously squash and eggplant are the basis of most ratatouille's, hence the name for this one. I won't put up an in depth recipe as I think most people know how to make a basic risotto and really, you could omit or add anything you wanted to, to this one. I have to say though, this tasted even better than I expected, it was really good.

So, in short, I cut up some onion and sauteed with some garlic in olive oil. I added the arborio rice and then some white wine and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Then I put in a small can of diced tomatoes. I could have used fresh, but I don't have that many this week and want to use them for something else. Once the liquid had been absorbed, I started to add my chicken stock. You could use vegetable if you wanted it truly vegetarian.

In the meantime, I sauteed the squash, eggplant and a large, fresh ancho pepper for a bit of kick. These veggies were added to the risotto just before the last of the stock had been absorbed. Then finally I tossed in some fresh herbs from the garden (oregano, thyme and basil). I served hot with some crumbled goat's cheese on top. Delicious!!!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Curried Squash Soup

I found this recipe in my Good Food, Fast cookbook by Martha Stewart and I decided to try it to get rid of some of the excess summer squash that I got from my CSA this week. The original recipe is for zucchini, but I had crookneck and courge longue de Nice.

I found that the soup was a little watery for my taste. I think if I made it again I would use less water. So, depending on how you like your soup, you may want to play around with the amount of water. Because I found it watery, I added a small amount of single cream at the end to give it a bit more body and I think this was a nice addition.

I wouldn't rave that this was the greatest soup I ever had, but it was pretty good (although hubby didn't like it). However, it was a good way to use up your excess squash. I think this makes more than the 4 serves that Martha suggests.

Curried Squash Soup
(Serves 4-6)

1 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
course salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 pounds squash, sliced 1 inch thick
1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup single pouring cream (optional)
1/3 cup sliced almonds for garnish (optional)

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and a tbs of salt. Cook, stirring constantly until onions are soft, then add garlic and curry powder. Cook for another minute, stirring, until fragrant.

2. Add squash, potato and about 4 cups of water (less if you want it thick). Bring to boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until vegetables are tender.

3. In batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Pour back into the pot to warm through, then stir in the cream if desired. Serve warm or cold.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Baby Shower Bash

A colleague of mine is having a baby sometime around the 15th of this month (well, his wife is having the baby) and so we decided to throw him a baby shower on Tuesday to celebrate. It was my job to bring the sweets so I made two different types of cake. The first is a peach upside down cake from I made this to get rid of some peaches I had picked up the other day that I hadn't eaten in time and everyone absolutely raved about how wonderful this cake was. I also thought it was very good. The link above is to the recipe and I followed it exactly, so I won't republish here. I did want to make them individual, but having never tried this recipe before, I didn't want it to be spoiled and inedible for my coworkers, so I just stuck to the recipe as it was, however if were to try again, I think I would give the individual ones a go.

I will say that I used a candy thermometer to measure the sugar, as I can never tell by eye whether or not it is at caramel stage or hard crack stage etc. This is the most accurate way I know of to do that, so make sure that your sugar is really caramelized properly in the first step, or I don't think it will work so well. This is about 338F or 170C. Do make sure you watch it carefully though, because the time from caramel to burned is only a couple of seconds. I learned this the hard way as I turned my back on the first batch I made for just a few seconds and it burned. Its not easy getting super heated sugar out of your pan and clean up is a bitch, so try not to do this if you can avoid it!!

The second dessert I made were s'mores cupcakes. I made a hybrid of a bunch of different recipes I had seen for these to come up with this recipe and I think it turned out really well. Hubby thought they were great, as did everyone at my work. There was none left, so that has to say something.

The only thing I will say about these is that I decided to make s'mores cupcakes so I could use my new kitchen torch (a super cool and super nice gift from my parents), however I quickly learned that butter and flame don't mix very well. I didn't think about this at first as the majority of the icing is made from marshmallow. I thought I could "roast" it under the kitchen torch, but the small amount of butter in there was not having a bar of that. So, the marshmallow topping went un-roasted....kind of a if you wish to roast yours if you make these, then omit the icing and just stick a real marshmallow on top and roast away!! These still turned out great and the icing was yummy, so whatever floats your boat, it will be great either way.

S'mores Cupcakes
(makes 24)

graham cracker base
2 cups graham cracker crumbs from actual crackers, not the box ones (I used teddy's)
1 stick of butter melted
chocolate cake
any chocolate cake recipe you like (I used betty crocker for this one due to lack of time)
marshmallow icing
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar (icing sugar)
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tub if marshmallow fluff
teddy grahams for decoration
graham cracker crumbs for decoration (can be from box)

1. Place the crumbs and melted butter for the base in a bowl and mix. Spoon a small spoonful of the base into the baseo f greased cupcake patties and press down with the back of the spoon.

2. Prepare your cake mix and divide evenly among the cupcake patties (about 2/3 full each).

3. bake for directed amount of time in the chocolate cake recipe, then remove from the oven to cool. Peel away the patty liner.

4. Cream the butter for the icing until fluffy. Add confectioners sugar a 1/4 cup at a time and beat until fluffy each time. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated, then dump in the marshmallow fluff and beat until creamy and mixed in. Transfer to a pastry bag (if desired) and pipe onto cupcakes. Top with teddy grahams and a sprinkle of graham crumbs.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Just when you thought all of the summer squash was gone, along comes another wave!! Yes, that's right, I am once again drowning in squash from my CSA, with an enormous, nearly two foot long, courge longue de Nice as well as a bunch of yellow crooknecks and other squash. I need to do something other than ratatouille and other sauces, so I decided to do a chocolate zucchini cake. I guess this can not "technically" be called a zucchini cake as used half of the courge longue de Nice squash, but it is in the same family, so I am not being nit picky about it.

The recipe actually comes from Clotilde over at Chocolate and Zucchini, so I won't repost the recipe. However, I did not use her nutty topping, instead going with a chocolate fudge icing. The cake is moist and you can't taste the squash at all, so its a good way to use it up if you have a lot. It makes the cake nice and moist. The recipe for the icing is below, but I will say I only made a half batch and that was enough for one cake.

Chocolate Fudge Icing

1 stick butter
1/2 c. cocoa
1/3 c. milk
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla

Melt butter, add cocoa and boil 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth. Spread while warm.

Salmon Burger with Avocado Salsa

This is my last Thursday evening of eating my favourite foods, as hubby has his last class tonight. I usually use these nights alone to eat things that he doesn't like, such as indian food or seafood, so I won't be able to do that any more. These yummy goodies will be relegated to when we eat out....very sad!

Tonight I made a recipe from Delicious magazine (vol 4 issue 7) and it certainly lived up to that name. This was a really simple and quick recipe that was very fresh and great for warm weather, especially if you like salmon.

Salmon Burger with Avocado Salsa
(makes 4)

600g fresh organic salmon fillet, skinned
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbs flat-leafed parsley, finely chopped
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 small egg white
1 tbs olive oil
2 english muffins, split in half
1 cup watercress sprigs
avocado salsa
2 ripe avocado's
2 tbs lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 long green chilli, seeds removed and chopped
2 tbs chopped coriander leaves

1. Roughly chop salmon into pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor with the shallot, parsley, mustard, egg white, salt and pepper. Pulse very briefly, only 3-4 times until the fish is roughly chopped but not pureed. Divide the mixture into 4 and with hands, form into large patties. Place on a tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes to help them 'set'.

2. For the avocado salsa, place all the ingredients, except the lime wedges, in a bowl and gently combine.

3. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Sear the burgers for 1-2 minutes each side, turning carefully, until cooked to your liking.

4. Meanwhile, lightly toast the muffin halves. Top each with watercress, a salmon patty and a spoonful of avocado salsa. Serve with lime wedges.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Barbecue Chicken

This is a Martha recipe from Good Food, Fast and was actually pretty good. I served this with the quinoa salad I made a few weeks ago, which has become a bear household favourite. This recipe was quick and easy and very tasty. This was also my first time cutting a whole chicken and my technique leaves a little to be desired, but it did not affect the taste.

Barbecue Chicken
(Serves 4)

1 tsp hot sauce
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
3 tbs dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cut-up-chicken (3lbs)
1 tbs vegetable oil
salt and pepper

1. Heat grill to medium. Simmer hot sauce, vinegar, sugar, molasses, mustard, garlic and ketchup in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to about 1 1/4 cups (5-7 minutes).

2. In a large bowl, toss chicken with vegetable oil and season well with salt and pepper.

3. Place chicken on the grill. Cover and cook, turning frequently until chicken registers 165F (about 10-15 minutes). Uncover the grill, continue cooking and basting frequently with the sauce until chicken is glazed thoroughly (3-4 minutes more). Serve with remaining sauce.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Dominican Chimichurri Burger with Poppy Seed Fruited Slaw

Growing up in suburban Melbourne, I did not really come into contact with a lot of Latino food. In fact, the closest I came was at our local Taco Bill, but later in life, that was more for the Margarita's than the food. Therefore, I am not that familiar with a lot of Latino foods and don't cook it very often, if at all. So, I was kind of disappointed when I picked up the September edition of Gourmet, to find that it was dedicated to Latino foods, but I decided that it would be good for me to learn more about this exotic (at least to me) food.

I was fortunate enough in the last two years to travel around central and Eastern Mexico for two weeks and to try some authentic Cuban in NYC and Miami. I am still getting used to the flavors, but decided to dip my toe in the water (so to speak) for tonight's dinner and make these Dominican Chimichurri burgers from the September Gourmet edition. They were very nice, but were extremely messy!! Just make sure to have loads of napkins handy.

I decided to serve this burger with the poppy seed fruited slaw from the September 2006 edition of cooking light. Both hubby and I are not huge fans of coleslaw, but this one was pretty good. I don't think you need as much dressing as the recipe provides, but that's just my taste. Enjoy!

Dominican Chimichurri Burgers
(makes 4)

1 1/4lb ground beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup cilantro
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
4 hamburger buns, split
2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1 small red onion, cut into rings
1 tomato, sliced 1/4" thick
2 tbs ketchup
2 tbs mayonnaise
1 tbs yellow mustard

1. Mix together beef, onion, bell pepper, garlic, cilantro, oregano, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Form into patties.

2. Heat the grill, then cook the patties (about 8 minutes) turning once. Toast buns.

3. Meanwhile, cook cabbage and carrot with 1/4 tsp salt over medium high heat, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Oil pan again and sear onion and tomato until slightly charred.

4. Mix ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. Place burger, cabbage mixture, tomato and onion on the burger bun. Top with sauce and remaining bun. Serve with salad.

Poppy Seed Fruited Slaw
(Serves 6)

1/2 cup orange sections
1 cup halved seedless red grapes
1 package of cabbage and carrot coleslaw
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs minced onion
3 tbs cider vinegar
1 tsp poppy seeds
4 tsp canola oil
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt

1. To prepare coleslaw, chop orange sections. Combine oranges, grapes and coleslaw in a large bowl.

2. To prepare dressing, combine ingredients and whisk until sugar dissolves. Add to cabbage mixture and toss well. Cover and chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lamb with Grilled Ratatouille

I haven't posted much lately as I have been drowning in tomatoes and cucumbers and there are only so many tomato and cucumber salads one can post. However, the summer bounty from the CSA is coming to an end and I am now getting more manageable amounts. Although, I do have a lot of eggplants. This is the reason I made tonight's dinner, which allowed me to utilize some of my tomatoes, eggplants and late summer squash. The ratatouille comes from Cooking Light Grilling and I decided to serve it with lamb chops, although you could serve it with anything you like, including rice or pasta for a vegetarian dish. It was very tasty and healthy and great for utilizing that late summer produce.

Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille
(Serves 8)

1 medium eggplant, halved lengthwise (I used a small white and a small green eggplant)
1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
2 medium zucchini or summer squash, halved lengthwise
1 medium green bell pepper, halved
1 medium red bell pepper, halved
1 medium red onion, quartered
cooking spray
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 tbs olive oil
2 tsp herbs de provence
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove minced

1. Prepare grill. Salt eggplants if bought from the supermarket as they can be bitter, but if using fresh picked eggplant, they do not need to be peeled or salted. Coat eggplant, squash, peppers and onion with cooking spray and grill 5 minutes on each side or until tender.

2. Coarsely chop vegetables, place in a large bowl. Stir in salt, tomatoes and remaining ingredients, stirring until blended. Serve with lamb, chicken, beef, pasta or rice.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mixed Berry Steamed Pudding

This recipe comes from Donna Hay Magazine, issue 32 and was originally supposed to be a blackberry steamed pudding. However, I was unable to find any frozen blackberries, so settled on mixed berry instead. This dessert looks gorgeous and tastes just as yummy. I love pudding and I love berries, so this was a perfect combination for me. Not a lot of effort, but super tasty...yum!

Mixed Berry Steamed Pudding
(Makes 6)

75g unsalted butter
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup self raising flour, sifted
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup milk
berry syrup
2 cups frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tbs water

1. Preheat oven to 355F. To make syrup, place mixed berries, sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir well to combine. Cook for 2 minutes until syrupy, but berries remain in tact. Spoon berries into lightly greased 3/4 cup capacity cups, reserving syrup. Set aside and keep warm.

2. Place butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Add the egg and beat well. Add flour, almond meal and milk and beat until well combined. Spoon 1/3 cup of the mixture into each cup and place in a baking dish. Pour enough hot water into dish, to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour, or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Remove cups from baking tray and invert puddings onto plates. Spoon over the syrup to serve.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sausage Rolls with Heirloom Tomato Salad

One of the things I love from home is sausage rolls. Its not something I can get in the US and every time I go home I always make sure to try and get one. So, when I was browsing through Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Dinners this past weekend and saw a recipe for his sausage rolls, I had to try them. These are not the good ol' Four & Twenty from Oz, but they were certainly delicious.

As usual in the Jamie Oliver way, there aren't really any quantities in his recipe, so I will give what I used, which was enough to make 8 rolls, with 2 per person.

The heirloom salad came from the same book and was great with our CSA tomatoes this week. I couldn't find any fresh horseradish, so used some chillies from my garden to give it a kick.

Sausage Rolls
(Serves 4)

3 sausages
handful of mixed herbs (I used rosemary, sage and thyme)
1/4 apple, chopped finely
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped finely
2/3 packet frozen puff pastry
1 egg

1. Take the sausages out of their skins and mash together with herbs, apple and hazelnuts. Roll out puff pastry until its 8" wide and about 16" long. Cut puff pastry in half lengthwise, so that you have 2 x 4" wide pieces. Divide stuffing in two, make into a sausage shape and place lengthwise on the pastry. Egg wash the pastry, then roll up the pastry into a tube, then seal with a fork. Cut each roll into four equal pieces and egg wash. Bake for about 20 minutes at 425F, or until golden and crisp on the outside.

2. These can be frozen before baking for later use.

Heirloom Tomato Salad
(Serves 6)

4 large handfuls of mixed heirloom tomatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
1/2 clove of garlic, grated
2 tsp fresh horseradish, grated
a small handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely sliced

1. Cut bigger tomatoes into slices. Sprinkle them with salt and leave them in a colander for 30 minutes. Place tomatoes in a large bowl and dress with enough olive oil to loosen them and about 1-2 tbs vinegar. Toss around and check for seasoning. Add the garlic and then horseradish to taste. Throw in some parsley, then serve.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fettuccine with Salami, Olives and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes

Tonight's dinner comes from the September 2007 edition of Bon Appetit and was very yummy. I saw the photo for this meal last week and new I just had to try it....and soon. Its in the quick menu section and was also served with a great salad. This meal didn't take a lot of time to prepare and was delicious. I just love salami, but don't eat it very often due to the high fat content. But I think its ok every once in a while to have a treat.

I apologize for not writing too much on my blog lately, but it was difficult to find the time whilst my parents were visiting. Unfortunately for me, they have gone home to Australia, but for my readers, it will free up my time to work a bit more on my blog. I hope you enjoy this recipe :)

Fettuccine with Salami, Olives and Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
(Serves 4)

2 12oz packages cherry tomatoes (or heirloom if you have them)
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
8oz spicy Italian salami
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup black pitted olives
1/3 cup drained capers
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
12oz fresh fettuccine

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1tbs of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes until slightly wrinkled and starting to split, about 30 minutes. Remove tomatoes from oven and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tbs oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add salami and minced garlic, saute 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl. Add wine to same skillet and simmer until slightly reduced (about 3 minutes). Stir in roasted tomatoes, olives and capers, toss to coat. Bring mixture to simmer, remove from heat and stir in salami mixture and parsley. Set sauce aside.

3. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain, add sauce to pasta and toss to warm through. Serve with salad.

Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnuts
(serves 4)

1 1/2 tbs tarragon vinegar
2 1/2 tbs plus 3/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
6 tbs olive oil
2 tbs water
2 tbs fresh tarragon, chopped
6 cups mixed greens
1 cup toasted walnuts

1. Whisk vinegar and 2 1/2 tbs goats cheese until smooth. Gradually whisk in oil, then 2 tbs water and fresh tarragon. Season with salt and pepper. Add greens to bowl and toss with dressing. Top with remaining goat cheese and walnuts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Barley Risotto with Summer Vegetables

This recipe comes once again from the August edition of Cooking Light. It was very nice and pretty low calorie. I had never had barley like this before and wasn't sure I would like it, but it was great. I really liked the texture of the barley, as opposed to arborio rice in this different type of risotto. It also helped me use up a lot of my summer produce.

The only thing I will say about the recipe, is that it says it serves six, but I only got four serves out of it. But then again, perhaps we just eat a lot. But keep this in mind if you need six main serves.

Barley Risotto with Summer Vegetables
(Serves 6)

6 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow squash
1 cup finely chopped orange bell pepper
1 cup cut green beans
1/2 cup minced shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups pearl barley
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup crumbled goat's cheese

1. Combine water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.

2. Heat 2 tsp oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash, bell pepper and beans to pan. Saute 6 minutes or until tender, set aside.

3. Heat remaining oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic to pan. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add barley, cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly, then add wine. Cook for 2 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Add water mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of water is absorbed before adding the next (about 45 minutes). Add squash mixture and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in tomato and basil. Top with goat's cheese and serve.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Lamb Chops with Quinoa Salad

Wow, this meal was awesome! Everybody loved it, especially my mother. It was quick, healthy and super tasty. The lamb comes from Martha Stewart's Good Food Fast, which is yet to let me down, whilst the salad is from the August edition of cooking light. I used my CSA cherry tomatoes, which are so sweet right now, as well as some local corn.

I had never had quinoa before, but read that it is really healthy and a wonderful grain. I didn't expect it to be as tasty as it was, but I think that was due a lot to the chive infused oil in the dressing.

The lamb recipe called for red pepper, whereas I only had green, but the picture in the book looks great with the red. If you have red, use it.

Definitely try this recipe, if you like lamb. A real winner!

Lamb Chops with Mint Pepper Sauce
(Serves 4)

4 trimmed lamb shoulder chops
1 tbs dried rosemary
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
3 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1 scallion thinly sliced

1. Heat the broiler. Rub both sides of chops with 3/4 tsp each of dried rosemary and course salt and 1/4 tsp ground pepper. Place the lamb on a broiler pan; broil until chops are browned, turning once, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and dijon mustard. Stir in the bell pepper, mint and scallion. Serve the lamb chops warm, with the sauce spooned over the top.

Quinoa, Corn and Tomato salad with Chive Infused Oil
(Serves 6)

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley
2 tbs chive-infused oil
2 tbs fresh lime juice
2 tbs white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, minced
chive infused oil
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup slices of fresh chives
1/2 tsp salt

1. Combine water and quinoa in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

2. To make oil, place olive oil, chives and salt in a food processor and blend until chives are finely minced. Strain into a small bowl and discard solids. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

3. Combine quinoa, corn, tomatoes and parsley in a medium bowl. Combine chive infused oil and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over salad, toss well to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Greek-Style Mini Lamb Burgers

Last night I once again turned to Martha's Good Food Fast for some delicious lamb burgers, which were perfect as the temperature soars into the nineties. She hasn't let me down with this book so far and last night was no exception.

I served these burgers with a fresh salad with loads of heirloom cherry tomatoes, although I didn't photograph it. I also served the burgers with the tzatziki already on them, but mum asked for hers on the side and I thought it would make for a little better picture. So the picture above has the sauce in a ramekin, but you could serve it either way.

Greek-Style Mini-Lamb Burgers
(Makes 4)

1/2 english cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp chopped fresh mint
1 small clove garlic, minced
coarse salt and pepper to season
lamb burgers
1 1/2lb ground lamb
1/2 small onion, minced
1/4 cup choppd fresh parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 pita rounds (6")
2 medium tomatoes, sliced

1. Heat grill to high. To make tzatziki, in a medium bowl combine cucumber, yogurt, .lemon juice, mint and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. In a medium bowl, combine lamb, onion, parsley, oregano and salt and pepper. Gently form 16 small patties, then grill until medium-rare, about 2-3 minutes per side.

3. To serve, warm pitas on the grill, halve and fill with burgers, tzatziki and tomatoes. Serve with a salad.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My First Blogging By Mail

This is a really cool blogging event that was organized by Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness, where everyone who signed up had to send out a box of their favourite things. How great to be able to share with others, the things you love and then to receive a lovely box of goodies from somewhere else in the world. Thanks Stephanie for putting so much work into such a wonderful event.

I need to apologise to Stephanie and Eva though, as it has taken me a week or so to get this post up. My parents are currently visiting from Australia and are keeping me very busy. However, I finally have a couple minutes to myself and am happy to be able to put up a post about the very thoughtful box Eva sent to me from Switzerland. Unfortunately, she didn't tell me which blog she has, so I can't link to it, but if Eva is reading this....please send me a note and I will remedy the situation ASAP.

The first thing I noticed about the box that Eva sent, was it was from Fisher Scientific, a company that I order from all the time at work as a scientist, so I wonder if Eva is also a scientist....small world!!

Anyway, she themed her box around lazy Sunday mornings, which is a really cute idea. She included a huge bag of biscotti, which I have been working my way through, as well as some asian cookies that she really likes. She gave me two coasters that I could put my tea on if I wanted, as well as some farmer's market honey and Swiss chocolate. She also included 2 CD's for me to listen to. Last but not least, she had read that I like growing my own food and that I like thai basil, she included some seeds of thai basil that I can grow myself.

Thanks Eva, for a little taste of Switzerland!! And thanks Stephanie for organising such a fun event :)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Citrus Risotto with Garlic Chilli Prawns

This recipe comes from Bill Granger's Bills Open Kitchen. It was in the lunch section, but I found it was definitely big enough for a light summer dinner. I had to use some prawns I had in the freezer, so this was perfect, as I love risotto as well. Very tasty and pretty quick, easy and healthy. Even my visiting parents liked it :)

Citrus Risotto with Garlic Chilli Prawns
(Serves 4)

6 cups chicken stock
1 tbs olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely diced
1 tsp sea salt
1 3/4oz butter
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tbs lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
2 small red chillies
2 garlic cloves
2 tbs olive oil, extra
20 green prawns (shrimp), shelled with tails intact and deveined
1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil, onion, salt and half the butter. Stir until the onion is translucent, then add the rice and stir for 1-2 minutes, or until rice is well coated.

2. Gradually add the stock a cupful at a time, stirring constantly and making sure the stock is absorbed before adding more. This should take about 20 minutes and the rice will be creamy. Remove from heat, then stir in the remaining butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and pepper to taste. Cover the saucepan and leave to sit for 3 minutes for the flavors to develope.

3. Meanwhile, pound the chilli and garlic in a mortar and pestle. PLace the extra olive oil in a frying pan over high heat and heat until hot. Season the prawns with salt and pepper, then cook for 2 minutes, shaling the pan, until the prawns are just opaque, then add the chilli and garlic and cook for 1 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Stir the risotto and divide bewteen four bowls. Toss the prawns with the parsley then place on top of risotto.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

BLT and Potato Salad with Basil Oil

These two recipes come from August Bon Appetit. The BLT is on the front cover and I just had to make it, it looked so good. I also had a load of baby new potatoes from my CSA and wanted to do a potato salad to use them up. This was an awesome one! I highly recommend. Another great summer meal.

This recipe called for burrata cheese, which I could not get my hands on. So I used a cheese from a local dairy called Merry Goat Round cheese. It is a soft cheese, that is almost like brie, but made from goat's milk. Very tasty. However you could use mozzarella, or some other soft cheese.

Best Ever BLT
(Makes 6)

4 3oz packages of thinly sliced pancetta
6 large slices of fresh heirloom tomatoes
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves
6 tbs olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp course kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
12 slices of egg bread or brioche
18oz Merry Goat Round cheese
4 cups baby arugula

1. Working in batches, cook pancetta in a heavy skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp. Transfer to paper towel to drain.

2. Place tomato slices in a shallow dish. Add basil, olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper. Turn to coat and let stand for 30-60 minutes.

3. Place 6 toasted bread slices on work surface. divide cheese among bread slices and spread to edges. Top each with 1 tomato slice, then pancetta slices, dividing equally. Top with arugula and cover with remaining slices of bread, pressing slightly to adhere. Serve.

Potato Salad with Basil Oil

1 cup whole fresh basil leaves plus 3 tbs thinly sliced basil
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tbs unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tbs dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 pounds new potatoes

1. Add basil to processor with oil and process until basil is finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt.

2. Whisk vinegar and mustard in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in remaining 2 tbs olive oil, then stir in red onion and 3 tbs thinly sliced basil. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Place potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender, about 17 minutes. Drain, then let potatoes stand until cool enough to handle. Cut into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over potatoes and toss to coat. Pour over basil oil and toss to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Farmer's Market Salad

This recipe comes from the August edition of Bon Appetit and was great for using all the produce I received this week. It was very healthy and tasted great. Awesome served with crusty bread.

Farmers Market Salad with Spiced Goat's Cheese Rounds
(Serves 4)

goat cheese rounds
2 tbs sesame seeds
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp coarse kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
16 1/3" thick rounds of goats cheese (from an 11oz log)
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp dijon mustard
5 tbs olive oil
1lb baby new potatoes, halved
1lb green beans
8 cups mixed salad greens
1/3 cup small fresh basil leaves
12oz assorted small tomatoes
1/2 up black olives (such as Nicoise)

1. For goat's cheese rounds, line baking sheet with waxed paper and mix first 6 ingredients in a shallow bowl. Dip cut sides of goat cheese rounds into spice mixture to coat. Place on prepared baking sheet and chill until ready to serve. Can be made 1 day ahead.

2. For the vinaigrette, whisk first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season with the salt and pepper.

3. For the salad, steam the potatoes until just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cool. Steam green beans until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Rinse under cold water, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Combine greens and basil in a large bowel. Add enough vinaigrette to coat and lightly toss. Arrange on a platter. Add potatoes and green beans to same bowl, add remaining dressing and toss. Arrange potatoes and beans atop greens, scatter tomatoes and olives over and surround with goat cheese rounds.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

More Goat's Cheese

As regular readers may know, I am in love with goat's cheese. So when I had to use a bunch of thai basil, I decided to stuff some chicken with the basil, some goat's cheese and sundried tomatoes. Yum!! This is the first meal I have cooked for my parents in a few years and thankfully they were very happy with it.

This is super easy, really quick and so yummy. I served with some roasted CSA potatoes and some other veg that I got at the farmers market.

Chicken Stuffed with Goat's cheese, Basil and Sundried Tomatoes
(Serves 4)

4 chicken breasts
1 5oz packet of goat's cheese
about 8 sundried tomatoes packed in oil
1 cup thai basil leaves
2 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs

1. Make a slit in the side of each chicken breast. Combine the cheese, basil and tomatoes, then stuff a quarter of the mixture into each breast.

2. Whisk together the 2 eggs, then dip each breast in the egg, followed by the bread crumbs. Lay on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes at 350F. Serve with roast veggies that have been baked for 45-60 minutes.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pasta With Pesto, Tomatoes and Goat's Cheese

Tonight I am home alone and I couldn't be bothered doing anything fancy, so I decided to toss together this really quick and easy pasta that I first had years ago at my friend Lisa's house. She used orzo, which I prefer, but I didn't have any so I used some rotini that I had in the pantry. She also didn't have the goat's cheese, but I think it makes a really nice, creamy addition to the dish.

Basically all you do is cook up the pasta, drain it (leaving a tbs or two of the pasta water behind), then stir in some fresh or store bought pesto (as much as you like, usually 1 or 2 tbs), some chopped cherry tomatoes and then crumble over some goats cheese.

I actually made some pesto the other day from basil I recieved from my CSA, but decided to freeze it for later use. The pesto I used tonight came direct from Italy. My friend Lindsey was lucky enough to get married in Italy last year and was kind enough to bring me back a gorgeous little jar of pesto and this is what I used tonight.

This is a super tasty meal that can literally be thrown together in 10 minutes. Perfect for me tonight as my parents come in from Australia tomorrow to visit for 3 weeks and I am madly trying to get the house (and kitchen renovation) under control!! Ok, back to the cleaning :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Deja Vu

Well, you know you have made too many different meals when you can't even remeber that you made something before. I was super excited to post the grilled peaches and pork recipe that I made for tonight's dinner, until I realized that I had already made it!! I didn't make this realization until I entered the title for my picture into its folder and it came up as already there. Crazy!!

Anyway, you can check out the recipe here. I liked this even better the second time around. Its a great recipe and I am happy to have found it again....however, I'm sorry I have nothing new to post tonight.