Friday, July 27, 2007

Seafood and cheese? Don't tell Mario Batali

Apparently it is a cardinal sin to serve seafood with cheese. It's just not Italian. A big Italian no-no. Well, it's a good thing that this starter dish is inspired from Greece. No set rules for this one. The saltiness of the Greek Feta cheese enhances, rather than overpowers, the delicate flavour of the prawns. This dish can be cooked in individual gratin dishes, or as a whole, in a large shallow dish. The flavour was...WOW. The sauce mopped up with fresh crusty bread is so good, it should be bottled.

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, a wonderful event foundered by Kalyn and hosted this week by Anna from Anna's Cool Finds.


500 gm shelled prawns, tails intact
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tblsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp finely chopped thyme
4-5 roma tomatoes, finely chopped
200 gm greek feta, crumbled
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Combine olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and thyme and pour over prawns to marinate
Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes
Pre-heat oven to as hot as it goes
Mix the remaining ingredients, sprinkle over prawns then divide into individual gratin dishes, or in one large shallow flat heatproof dish
Bake in the oven until sizzling
Serve immediately with lots of crusty bread.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Rare Kaffir Limes

In temperate parts of Australia, fruit on a Kaffir lime tree is very rare. Well I've got a rare one. My tree is currently sporting about 6 limes, although they are very small. They are suited best for tropical areas in the north of Australia, but I'm growing the tree for the delicious leaves it bears; the addition of fruit is an added bonus. I'll see how large they become, then use the gnarly zest for added zing.

The leaves, shaped like an "8", have a flavour similar to lemon verbena, and there is no substitute for fresh leaves. The dried and frozen leaves don't compare to the fragrance and flavour of fresh leaves.

This recipe only uses 8 kaffir lime leaves, so I still have about 19,992 leaves on my tree. Always a constant supply if I feel like an Asian dish for dinner.

This is my entry into this weeks Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by The Chocolate Lady from In Mol Araan, for Weekend Herb Blogging.

Chickpea & Pea Fritters with Chicken Salad

155 g cooked peas

75 g plain flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tblsp milk

1 (300g) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

salt & pepper

1 tsp canola oil

Chicken Salad

8 kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn

375 ml of chicken stock

250 ml water

2 single (large) chicken breast fillets

1 tblsp sesame seeds

1/3 cup loosely packed coriander leaves, chopped coarsely

1/4 cup loosely packed mint, chopped coarsely

1 tblsp light soy sauce

1 tblsp lime juice

2 tsp sweet chili sauce

1/2 tsp sesame oil


  1. Cook peas until just tender

  2. Combine flour and egg in large bowl

  3. Gradually stir in the milk

  4. Add peas and chickpeas (I also added extra coriander to the fritter batter), salt and pepper

  5. Set aside for 30 minutes to rest

  6. Meanwhile make the chicken salad, combine the stock, water and lime leaves in a frying pan over medium heat

  7. Add the chicken and simmer, turning occasionally until cooked through

  8. Remove from heat

  9. Transfer chicken to a heatproof bowl, aloong with 1 tblsp of the stock mixture

  10. Chill for 30 minutes

  11. Shred chicken

  12. Toast sesame seed in a dry frying pan until toasted, about 2 minutes

  13. Add to chicken with coriander, mint, soy sauce, lime juice, chili sauce and sesame oil

  14. Gently toss to combine

  15. Heat oil in frypan over medium heat

  16. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into pan, making 4 fritters, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden underneath

  17. Repeat to make 4 more fritters

  18. Place 2 fritters on each plate and top with the chicken salad

Thursday, July 19, 2007

SNAG curry

Now before you gasp in complete horror, I have not cooked up members of the Society of North America Goldsmiths, or for that matter a Sensitive New Age Guy. I'm talking about snags...the kind we throw on the barbie, wrap in sliced bread, and slather in tomato sauce. The Australian term for a sausage. Wikipedia explains it as: In Australia and New Zealand, a snag is a link sausage, a snarler, a British banger, a brat or a sausage.

Whilst I endeavour to occasionally make my own sausages, sometimes it's more convenient to purchase the "plastic" variety at the supermarkets. Tasteless, full of fat and whatever offal they can find to throw into them.

So, after making a decision this weekend to start using up the supplies I have in my freezer, in preference to choosing a dish, then going out to buy the ingredients for, I uncovered a tray of "snags", a very large tray. to boot. I couldn't bring myself to grill them or BBQ them, they had to be disguised in a big way.

These fellas were off to a masquerade party.

I didn't really follow any set recipe, but I'll try to recreate what I did in a roundabout way.
1.5 - 2 kg (approx) of beef sausages
1 onion, sliced in half rings
4 cloves of minced garlic (or to your taste)
Small piece of minced ginger (or one heaped teaspoon of preminced ginger from a jar)
1 heaped tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder (depends on your taste again)
1 heaped tsp turmeric
I heaped tsp of garam masala (I use a unique South African mix that my girlfriend has shipped over) but any garam masala would be OK.
1 440 gm tin of tomatoes
1 1/2 cups of beef stock
Splash of soy sauce
Coriander leaves for garnish.

Boil the sausages in a large pot of water for 7-8 minutes (you could add the turmeric to the water if you wish, I added it later)
Drain and keep aside.
Fry onion till golden brown, add tin of tomatoes and cook for about 4-5 minutes, then add garlic and ginger.
In a large pot fry off your spices (coriander, chilli, garam masala and turmeric if you haven't already added it to the water for boiling the snags in)
Slice up your sausages into 1/2 inch pieces, and add to spices, stirring to coat. Add the tomato and onion mixture and mix well.
Add the beef stock and let simmer for about 10 minutes until the sausages are cooked through.

Finally add a splash of soy sauce and season with salt and pepper (do a taste test, it may not need any)

Serve on a bed of mashed potato and sprinkle with finely sliced corrander leaves

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Chicken Basil Pesto Pasta

Presto Pasta Night, an event organised by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast, is turning 21 this coming Friday, so I just had to come to the party with Chicken Basil Pesto Pasta, and to congratulate PPN on reaching its majority.

This is one of the easiest weeknight meals to make, as with a lot of pasta dishes, but it is also a family favourite.

Freshly made basil pesto is best, but my supply from the freezer sadly ran out ages ago, so I'm using a storebought one. I'm going to plant twice as many basil plants this year, if the rainfall we're having now lasts until the summer. It's bucketing outside, but we are still on water restrictions until our reservoirs and water catchments start to get back to an acceptable level.

Jorja likes her variety just plain without any salad, as shown above.

I, however, like mine with slightly more upmarket, topped with tomato and avocado.

1 kg chicken thighs, trimmed of fat, and sliced into small chunks
2 cloves of minced garlic (or to taste)
3-4 tblsp basil pesto (or to taste)
500 mls thickened cream
olive oil
Dried pasta
Freshly grated parmesan

Bring plenty of salted water to the boil. Add pasta and whilst that is cooking, brown chicken in oil until golden (you may have to do this in batches to stop it from stewing)
Add garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes
Add pesto and fry for 1-2 minutes
Add the thickened cream, and simmer gently, don't let it boil
Add a good handful of the grated parmesan

Drain cooked pasta and add to the chicken mix. Serve topped with additional grated parmesan, and/or tomato and advocado. Pepper to taste.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I'm livin' in the 70's

Skyhooks, Village People, Abba, flares, bad hair styles and smoked trout pate...welcome to the 1970's Mr. Power.

When my next door neighbour offered me two trout from his freezer, I jumped at the chance and accepted willingly. I knew he would expect me to make trout pate out of them, hoping that I would repay his kindness with a tub of pate placed in his fridge for him to find after yet another weekend of trout fishing.
This specimen thawing on the bench is a brown trout. Don't you just dig his polka dot jacket? The smaller version was a rainbow trout, not as snappy a dresser as the spotty brown, I must say.

Out with the smoker (that's my BH's job) and he chose some Australian Redgum sawdust for the smoke "flavour".

Thirty minutes later and they're all done.

All up, I flaked approximately 700 gms of pink, juicy flesh from these guys.

I sorta followed this recipe from here but adjusted the ratio of ingredients to match my 700 gms of trout. I didn't add all of the butter as stated, only 250 gms, because I was going to use gelatine to set the pate into my mould, which has been sitting in the cupboard since the '80s at least (the mould that is, not the gelatine). I used dried dill rather than fresh (because I didn't have any), and used a combo of horseradish cream and a horseradish dip, which had quite a variety of different mustards incorporated. I also used a whole tub of creme fraiche...naughty.

And after great difficulty getting this fish onto the plate (I'm sure every fisherman can relate to that statement), here is the final, albeit scraggy around the edges, result.

Well crazy cats, I'm blowin' this scene and chowin' out. Time to eat.

What does this photo tell you?

Two things. It's bloody cold here this morning (sub zero), and I really need to prune my roses today.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Pizza Palace

Whilst on a recent short break to Perth, I was lucky enough to chose an apartment in East Fremantle that was renowned for having the best wood fired pizzas in Perth, and only a short stroll from my front door.

Their menu consisted of chicken marinated in garlic, honey, soy & chilli, tossed sesame seeds, mature cheddar, shallots and chives. Or you could try chilli coconut prawns, served with fresh rocket. Or even calzone filled with ricotta, mushroom, spinach and basil - chef's recommendation is to add chicken, pepperoni or pumpkin. Just to name a few. There are over 20 mouth watering pizzas to chose from. You can find these guys at 133 George St East Fremantle WA. Remember Fremantle was where the Aussies "stole" the coveted Americas Cup with their controversial "winged keel" back in 1983. An event we can never forget, simply because the Cup hasn't been back since!
The girls opted for the chicken of course, but I preferred something a little more grown up if this Pizza Palace was as good as people told me.
I chose the Smoked salmon, capers, red onion, avocado and topped with fresh rocket and sour cream.
My copycat creation doesn't look quite the same, but the flavour was very similar.

Ready for the oven.

Where is that food stylist and professional photographer when you need them?

This is my entry for this Weekend Herb Blogging event, hosted by Susan at Food Blogga. Check out the size of that lobster on her blog! I'm green with envy

When the moon hits your eye

Like a big pizza pie know how it goes. This pizza "pie" was dinner one night during the week. Normally I wouldn't have time to make the dough and wait for it to rise, but this recipe from The Fresh Loaf really caught my attention. Anything with the word ciabatta attached, and I'm hooked immediately.

I've made many loaves of ciabatta, but none in less than 2 hours. This method is a cinch. If you look at the link, it has a picture tutorial, showing step by step photos.

I used a 9" cast iron frying pan to cook this pie in. WARNING Don't bring the pan out of a 450 degree oven, with a tea towel. I have the 3rd degree burn on the palm of my hand as proof of what not to do.

Top your pie with any ingredient you have on hand or desire. I chose sopressa salami, oven roasted capsicums, semi sundried tomatoes, the leftovers from a jar of marinated champignons, basil, mozarella and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

The crust was beautiful and light, chewy as well. I normally like a thin crust pizza, but for a pleasant change I'll be using this recipe frequently.

I just have to remember to use steel plated gloves to get the pan out of the oven next time.

Now that's amore.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Unseasonal Insalata Caprese

It's winter time. The time for casseroles, roasts and hot steamy soups. Why on earth would I crave a summer salad you may ask? The Black Russians made me do it. I picked these up at the local growers market last weekend, and was ensured by the vendor that they will be the best tomatoes I will ever eat. Whilst they don't compare with home grown tomatoes plucked straight from the vine, I can vouch that they are good. Even to find a decent tasting tomato in July is an added bonus. They don't contain acid, which is great for those who suffer from gout. They definitely are sweet, but with a salt and peppery kind of flavour.
The vendor told me about a prior customer, who had obviously just had a tiff with her husband. She asked the lady if she would like to try a Black Russian, and her response was "No thank you. I'm sick of men"!!

My all time flavour combo favourite is tomatoes, baby mozarella, basil and EVOO. I could eat my way through a barrel of Insalata Caprese. So this is my entry for Kalyn's Kitchen Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Chris from Mele Cotte.

No need to post a recipe. Just layer the tomatoes, mozzarella (I only had baby mozarella so I tore it into pieces) and poke torn basil in between. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Buono appetito.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

What's for dinner Jorj?

Parenting certainly has it's ups and downs, and with teenagers, there can be more of the latter than the former. However, when something finally happens that makes you proud, the downs are somewhat insignificant. After all of the nurturing and caring for them over their growing up years, the roles are starting to reverse at last, and now I can say "what's for dinner?" the moment I wake up each morning.

When my girls were growing up, cooking never interested them. I wasn't one for "baking" as such, although they often requested Anzac biscuits, only so they could eat the raw dough before it was put in the oven.

Last night, my youngest daughter, at the ripe old age of 18, insisted on cooking dinner. As we all know, the cooking part is enjoyable, watching a bunch of raw ingredients simmer into something edible. It's the preparation and the clean up that become a chore.

Jorj leans to the vegetarian side of eating, not enjoying red meat, but can eat anything with chicken and pasta in it. So the recipe was chosen, and she "created" a vegetarian pasta bake, made with wholemeal pasta, carrots, leeks, celery, basil and tomatoes. Chicken was omitted because I didn't have any!

Her chopping technique needs a bit of practice, and her cleaning up routine needs a LOT of practice, but the pasta bake was delicious. Now if only I can encourage her to take one more step on the path of domestication, and get her to "clean up her room". My job as a parent would be complete then.