Saturday, March 29, 2008

Zucchini and fetta mash

Hello everyone, it looks like another gorgeous autumn weekend in Sydney. I currently have a colleague working with me at the SCF who is from Minneapolis. Thankfully we have had fine weather the whole time he has been here. We are finding differences of opinion about the temperature though - while I am shivering away in the morning chill, he strolls about in short sleeved shirts exclaiming about how summery it feels! He did fly out of snow I guess...

I heard on the radio this morning that zucchinis are plentiful right now and it immediately brought to mind a lovely little dish I do from time to time which makes a perfect accompaniment to all sorts of things. It is so quick and easy and slightly unusual, but really yum. I hope you like it!

Have a fabulous week.

Love from Jane xx

Zucchini and fetta mash

Serves two

What you need:
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 70g fetta (there are so many different ones available, choose your favourite)
  • A big pinch of allspice
  • Juice of half a lemon

What you do:
  1. Grate the zucchini on the largest holes of a metal grater.
  2. Heat a non stick pan with a little olive oil and add half of the zucchini.
  3. Cook gently without colouring for 2-3 minutes and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove the cooked zucchini and repeat with the remaining half.
  5. Return all of the zucchini to the pan and heat through.
  6. Crumble in the fetta, add the allspice and toss in the pan until the fetta is almost melting but still in small pieces.
  7. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve immediately.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Quinoa salad with roasted vegetables and feta

Hello everyone, what perfect timing for a salad made with roasted vegetables, with the weather in Sydney turning cool and overcast, even rainy at times, this Easter weekend. I promised you I'd give you another recipe using quinoa, for those who went out and bought some to make last week's recipe. I love this salad so much I have started making it regularly to take to work for lunch. It's a delicious way to make sure you eat lots of vegies! Once again it's a recipe from delicious, the current edition of March 2008. I have made a few slight modifications to it to suit my tastes, but as you will see you can really use any vegetables you like.

Lots of people who know me will know that I moan and complain about the cold all through winter, and it's true that I prefer the warmth and light of summer. Still, as I closed the curtains against the dark last night and turned on lots of lamps, then prepared my first batch of rhubarb and apple for the colder months, I had to admit that the advent of the cooler months does bring a certain cosiness which I love. I think I spend even more time in the kitchen in autumn and winter, turning out lovely comfort food.

Have a lovely Easter (as well as roasted vegetables my family will be enjoying chocolate bread and butter pudding) and I hope you enjoy this week's recipe.

Love from Jane xx

Quinoa salad with roasted vegetables and feta

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1 zucchini, sliced (about 2cm thick)
  • 1 small butternut pumpkin (about 400g), cut into small cubes that will go nice and crisp
  • 1 red capsicum, cut in small pieces
  • 1 ear of corn, or 2 small tins
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 100g feta, crumbled (I use quite a creamy one which works really well)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Divide the chopped vegetables, excluding the corn, between two baking trays.
  3. Drizzle the vegetables with the oil and roast for 30 minutes or until golden.
  4. Add the corn half way through the cooking time.
  5. Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa in a sieve and place in a pan with stock.
  6. Bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the water has been absorbed (keep a close eye on this so the quinoa doesn't boil dry).
  7. Remove the quinoa from the heat and set aside, covered, for a further 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and allow to cool.
  8. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl and add the roasted vegetables, sun dried tomatoes, spinach and feta.
  9. Toss with the olive oil and lemon juice and serve immediately.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lemon thyme lamb with fennel and parsley quinoa

Hello everyone, do you have a favourite cafe? I have one where I have lunch nearly every Saturday. I was first drawn to it because they serve Belgian hot chocolate. I then discovered that their limited lunch menu concentrates on toasted sandwiches, with really nice fillings and they are a sensible size! The boys who run the cafe are lovely and welcoming and there is just a great atmosphere there. It's so good to finally find somewhere that ticks ALL the boxes.

This week's recipe is yet another delicious magazine recipe, from the October 2007 edition. I loved it the first time I made it and it's one of those ones that is really quick and easy to whip up. It uses a grain called quinoa that I love. It's like couscous. I'll give you another recipe next week that also uses quinoa, so go and find some (possibly at your supermarket, definitely at your local health food store) and see how easy it is to use.

Have a lovely week! Jane x

Lemon thyme lamb with fennel and parsley quinoa

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 4 lamb backstraps (about 200g each)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon thyme leaves
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • Lemon wedges and harissa, to serve

What you do:
  1. Cook quinoa in a large pan of boiling water for 12 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, rub the lamb backstraps with the mustard, lemon thyme leaves, salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a large, lightly oiled pan on a medium high heat.
  4. Cook the lamb for three minutes on each side or until done to your liking.
  5. Remove the lamb from the heat and rest, covered with foil, for five minutes.
  6. Toss the quinoa with the remaining ingredients and season.
  7. Slice the lamb thickly and serve on top of the quinoa with the lemon wedges and harissa on the side.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chocolate bread and butter pudding

Hello everyone, isn't it nice to have that little bit of autumnal crispness in the air, while still enjoying lovely warm sunny days? You know that Easter must be around the corner when the weather is like this and I have the perfect dessert for you to cook for Easter feasts - an indulgent and totally delicious chocolate bread and butter pudding. Speaking of chocolate, I think there is a conspiracy among health professionals to break the spirit of chocolate addicts like me. Last year I mentioned to my GP that I thought my chocolate consumption was just slightly out of control and she threatened me with all sorts of behaviour modification techniques. Fortunately a friend gave me a tip that craving chocolate can be a sign of a magnesium deficiency. So I have been popping magnesium capsules this year and I must say it has made a huge difference. However, yesterday I was discussing this treatment in a health food shop and the nutritionist to whom I was speaking told me very firmly that "Of course, willpower has a big part to play in overcoming your chocolate habit." These people obviously just don't get it.

So,whatever health professionals think about the delights or evils of chocolate, this dish is a Bill Granger recipe from an April 2003 delicious magazine. I have cooked this pudding many times and it always disappears rapidly. It is super easy to make - you can prepare it in five minutes and then bake it while enjoying the main meal. I've heard that any leftovers of this pudding make a great breakfast the next morning. Not that I can speak from personal experience on that one.

My photos of this dish aren't great (clearly my skills only lie in limited areas), but you will get the idea.

Have a happy week! Love from Jane xx

Chocolate bread and butter pudding

Serves 8

What you need:

· 3 eggs
· 375ml/1 ½ cups thin cream
· 375ml/1 ½ cups milk
· 110g/ ½ cup caster sugar
· 2 tsp vanilla extract
· 6 butter croissants
· 200g chocolate, roughly chopped (Lindt milk chocolate is very good)

What you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
2. Place eggs, cream, milk, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk to combine.
3. Cut the croissants into small pieces and arrange half the pieces in an ovenproof baking dish.
4. Scatter the croissants with chocolate and top with the remaining croissants.
5. Pour the custard over the croissants and set aside for 15 minutes to soak, pressing down occasionally so that croissants soak.
6. Bake in an oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the custard is set and the top is puffed and golden.

Serve with cream and/or icecream if you want to be super indulgent.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Roasted potato with chunky macadamia and feta sauce

Hello everyone, I was vastly relieved to be discharged from jury duty this week, particularly when I saw the sandwiches that are served. Actually, to be honest, they weren't quite as bad as I had imagined as you could identify some of the fillings, and fresh fruit was also provided. But the six week case for which I had initially been called somehow became a twelve week case, so it's a good thing I was in the group that was sent home.

One of my most favourite recipe writers is Belinda Jeffery. I have all three of her cook books and have been to a great cooking class she did last year. Last night I made this roasted potato salad, which is a slightly modified version of a recipe she wrote in the September 2007 edition of delicious magazine. Belinda did hers with kumara, but I substituted potato as I adore potato and will eat it any which way. I was lucky enough to grow up in a household with a Mum that cooked beautiful dinners for us every night and she had a million ways with potatoes. It must be the Irish in us.

Have a lovely week! Love from Jane x

Roasted potato with chunky macadamia and feta sauce

Serves 8 as a side dish

What you need:

  • About 2.4 kg potatos (Desiree are great for roasting), cut into chunks

  • 200ml olive oil, plus extra for coating (I have to say that I usually halve the quantity of oil given in recipes and I did for this one too. It's up to you.)

  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley, plus small extra leaves to garnish

  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

  • 1 cup (150g) macadamias (either salted or unsalted, again up to your taste)

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (or ordinary, whatever you have to hand)

  • 100g feta, crumbled

  • 1 -2 tablespoons lemon juice

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.

  2. Line 1-2 large baking trays with foil, then baking paper.

  3. Just before you put the potato in the oven, toast the macadamias gently, either in the oven or under the grill. Do what I do and roast the whole packet, then you have lovely toasted nuts to eat with yoghurt or on porridge or cereal. Store them in the fridge.

  4. Place the potato on the baking trays in a single layer and drizzle with extra oil. Toss to coat.

  5. Roast the potato for about 45 to 50 minutes, turning once or twice if you think of it, until the potatoes look golden and crispy around the edges.

  6. Meanwhile, pulse the parsley, garlic, macadamias and paprika in a food processor or a Bamix if you are doing a small quantity, to make a coarse paste.

  7. Add the feta and olive oil and mix again for about 15 seconds.

  8. Stir in the lemon juice and adjust to your taste.

  9. Place the cooked potato chunks in a bowl and pour over the sauce. You can garnish with the extra sprigs of parsley if you are keen to impress!