Saturday, December 26, 2009

Grilled piri piri drumettes with coleslaw

Hello everyone and happy Christmas! I hope that you had a lovely day and enjoyed some good food. My family had an enormous feast, the highlights being Jamie's whole stuffed snapper that he did on the barbie and Greg's Balmain bugs, which we also barbecued, served with a luscious lime butter. Mmmmmmmmmmm, it was all so good. I contributed a potato salad, and some lemon curd ice cream and a chocolate royal torte for dessert. It is a relief to be on the other side of all that food now. I am contemplating a very simple rice salad for dinner tonight! (Although wondering what am I going to do with the piles of cheese and cream in my fridge - I can think of things I could do with them, but none are very sensible ideas really so hot on the heels of all the Christmas excess).

This week's recipe is yet another for which I had lower expectations but was really happily surprised. I loved the flavour of the sauce and the mint gives the coleslaw a real freshness. It comes from my Women's Weekly Main Course Salads book which has provided a number of winners over the years. This one is great for casual entertaining in summer and easy for kids to eat. If you can't find drumettes you could use wings or drumsticks or a mix of both.

Have a great holiday time week and a happy new year. Love from Jane xxx

Grilled piri piri drumettes with coleslaw

Serves four

What you need:

  • 16 chicken drumettes

  • 1/2 cup piri piri sauce (you can buy at the supermarket)

  • 5 cups finely shredded red cabbage

  • 5 cups finely shredded white cabbage

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint

Piri piri dressing

  • 1 tablespoon piri piri sauce

  • 1/2 cup peanut oil

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

What you do:

  1. Combine the chicken and the sauce in a large bowl; cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.

  2. Combine the ingredients for the piri piri dressing and mix well.

  3. Cook the chicken in the sauce on the barbecue (or in the oven) until browned and cooked through.

  4. To make the salad, place the cabbages and the mint in a large bowl with the dressing. Toss well to combine and serve with the chicken.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Coconut apricot slice

Hello everyone, I've mentioned before the great sandwiches I have had from Via Abercrombie in the city. Yesterday I ordered sandwiches from them for a lunch I was having in the office. They were great - they are absolutely huge and a little difficult to eat politely as the fillings are so generous and made on very large slices of bread, but they are yummy and very good value, especially for the city. It's always so good to find a reliable caterer for office things - it's just one less thing to think about next time.

This week's recipe is one of those recipes that on first look I didn't think I'd like, as I don't approve of mixing chocolate with fruit (except for chocolate with coconut). So I can't think what actually made me try this one as it uses dried apricots, but it works! I really liked it. If you bought some coconut to make last week's coconut chicken strips then you can use it up with this slice. I can't even remember from where I found the recipe. Anyway, no matter - it's a good one to take to holiday season parties and barbies.

Have a lovely week! Love from Jane xxx

Coconut apricot slice

Makes 16

What you need:
· 125g unsalted butter
· 50ml thick cream
· 200g white chocolate, broken into pieces
· 1 ½ cups chopped dried apricots
· 250g shortbread biscuits, crushed
· 1 cup desiccated coconut


· 25g unsalted butter, melted
· 2 teaspoons lemon juice
· 2 1/3 cups (350g) icing sugar, sifted

What you do:
1. Line a 3cm deep, 18 x 25cm baking pan with baking paper.
2. Place the butter and cream in a saucepan over medium heat, bring to the boil and then remove from the heat.
3. Add the chocolate and stir until melted, then cool slightly.
4. Stir the apricots, biscuit crumbs and coconut into the chocolate mix.
5. Press the mixture into the baking pan and chill in the fridge for one hour.
6. To make the icing, combine the butter, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of warm water in a large bowl.
7. Stir in the icing sugar and beat until smooth.
8. Spread the icing over the slice and chill again until set.
9. Slice in the pan and serve.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Coconut chicken strips with saffron aioli

Hello everyone, I have just returned from taking my niece to see Angelina Ballerina by The English National Ballet. It was fantastic! But my goodness, talk about little girl heaven. The theatre was a sea of pink, with truck loads of tulle, sequins and glitter. No wonder the few dads that came along looked bewildered.

This week's recipe is hot off the press as it was in this week's Good Living, which featured some recipes from a new book called Party: The Complete Guide To Food And Drinks. (I might have to buy it myself I so enjoyed both of the recipes from it that were featured). I had offered to prepare a few nibblies for drinks before the same niece's own ballet concert last night, and this recipe caught my eye. It is simple and sooooo delicious. The aioli makes a nice big quantity, so you can use the left overs with prawns or any's also delicious with home made potato wedges!

Have a great week. Love, Jane xx

Coconut chicken strips with saffron aioli
Makes about 12-14 strips

What you need:
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup soft fresh breadcrumbs (bap rolls are good)
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 500g chicken tenderloins
  • Light olive oil or sunflower oil for deep frying

Saffron aioli

  • Generous pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 1 cup good quality mayonnaise (I use Thomy which you can buy in supermarkets)
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice

What you do:

  1. To make the saffron aioli, pour the boiling water over the saffron threads; stir and leave for ten minutes.
  2. Whisk the saffron liquid into the mayonnaise, then stir through the garlic and lemon juice.
  3. Cover the aioli and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes before serving.
  4. Put the flour and the beaten eggs into separate bowls
  5. Mix together the flour and coconut in a third bowl.
  6. Dip the tenderloins in the flour, then the egg, then coat in the coconut crumb mix.
  7. Place the tenderloins on a baking dish, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  8. Heat a pan on top of the stove until it's very hot, then add the oil to a good depth for frying and heat until it's very hot.
  9. Deep fry the tenderloins in batches (don't crowd the pan, space them out), turning once when golden on the first side, and drain as you cook them on paper towels.
  10. Serve either immediately or when they have cooled with the saffron aioli.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tomatoes braised in olive oil

Hello everyone, I was lucky to have a gorgeous few days away this week in Port Douglas. I did very little, other than lie by the pool, voraciously consuming novels, and having the occasional swim and a delightful massage. Sad to say that the food wasn't a highlight, although I picked a winner on my last night there, having dinner at a fabulous Japanese restaurant, Zai. I had spanking fresh sashimi to start and followed that up with one of my guilty pleasures, pork belly, which was luscious. It really made me conscious of how lucky I am to live in Sydney with an abundance of good cafes and restaurants that have imaginative menus, loads of good fresh produce and reasonable prices.

This week's recipe is one of those relatively simple dishes to which you can add good bread, prosciutto or ham or jamon, some nice cheese and all of a sudden you have a fabulous meal! It is excellent for summer and comes from my SOS Summer cookbook.

Have a great week. Love from Jane xxx

Tomatoes braised in olive oil

Serves six

What you need:
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 peeled cloves of garlic
  • A handful of basil leaves
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 6 peeled medium, ripe but firm vine ripened tomatoes (retain the stem if you are able) (To peel, cut a cross in the base of each tomato, place in a heat proof dish and cover with boiling water for a minute, then plunge into cold water - the skins should slip off)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • A pinch of caster sugar

What you do:
  1. Cook the oil, garlic, basil and thyme in a large, heavy pan over a low heat, until the garlic begins to soften.
  2. Add the tomatoes, stem side down, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar.
  3. Cover and cook very gently for ten minutes, then turn carefully, sprinkle again with salt, pepper and sugar, and cook, covered for a further twenty minutes, basting occasionally with the oil.
  4. When the tomatoes are tender when pierced with a skewer, remove from the heat.
  5. Allow to cool and serve at room temperature with fresh basil leaves, the garlic cloves and a little of the olive oil in which the tomatoes were cooked spooned over, as well as some bread, cheese and other accompaniments.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Roast salmon salad with marie rose dressing

Hello everyone, for about eighteen months I have been trying to book a table at the Tea Room Gunners Barracks for high tea. Every time I called to make a booking I was put off - they were fully booked for the next six Saturdays; they had stoppped taking bookings; there was a new reason every time for why I couldn't book a table. Every time I hung up the phone I would be so cross and think "Well I'm just not going to go there, clearly they don't want my business." But in fact it just made me more and more keen to go there. The last time I called I was told that they no longer do high tea on weekends as they have so many weddings, so I would have to come during the week. Well, being on holidays this week it was my top priority. On a gorgeous sunny day during the week my very appropriately dressed friend Aviva (teacup adorned skirt and all) descended on the place and enjoyed a splendid high tea. Perhaps not quite the best I have had in terms of the food, although it was very good and plentiful, but the fit out of the place and the breathtaking views made the whole experience worth waiting for all that time. And best of all? The cheeky kookaburras who suddenly swoop in to snaffle a sandwich from the tiered stands. We were warned it could happen so ate quickly, but saw it happen to another table.

This week's recipe is a fantastic summery salad, a Jamie Oliver recipe which comes from the November edition of delicious magazine. I loved it when I made it and last night I had word that my brother in law and nieces were road testing it on my recommendation. The verdict? Possibly the best salmon they have ever had. See what you think.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Roast salmon salad with marie rose dressing

Serves four

What you need:
· 600g salmon fillets
· Light olive oil
· 4 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
· 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
· 2 lemons
· Tabasco sauce
· 2 baby cos lettuces, broken into pieces
· 2 handfuls watercress
· 300g cooked prawns, peeled (keep on the tails)
· Extra virgin olive oil

What you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Place salmon on a baking tray, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.
3. Place in the hot oven for about ten minutes.
4. Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise and tomato sauce in a small bowl.
5. Add the zest and juice of one lemon.
6. Season well with salt and pepper and a dash of Tabasco sauce. The sauce should be a loose dressing you can drizzle over the salad.
7. Check the salmon and when it’s done to your liking, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
8. Mix the lettuce and watercress in a large bowl or on a platter and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
9. Break the salmon into nice large chunks and place them in and around the salad.
10. Scatter with prawns.
11. Spoon the dressing over the top.
12. Serve with the remaining lemon cut into wedges.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Champagne ice cream

Hello everyone, I had a lovely day yesterday wandering around the shops in Lane Cove with my friend Anne. There were so many gorgeous things in different shops that we visited, things that you really don't see in the big shopping centres. It was a very good reminder that when you want to do fun shopping, not the boring things on your list, local "High street" shopping really is the way to go. I actually managed to snap up a couple of things for which I had been looking for ages and could never quite find what I wanted. In Lane Cove I was dazzled for choice! Lunch was at the Longuie, the local pub, and it was lovely. We sat out on the verandah to have a drink, catching a nice cooling breeze, and then enjoyed a shared platter in the very smartly fitted out dining room. A very good way to spend a summer Saturday!

With the onslaught of meltingly hot days, my thoughts turn to ice cream. This is one that I have made to take to a friend's place to serve with my peach tart. It is so easy and goes down very well with the punters. I have an ice cream machine which gets a fair bit of use in summer. If you don't have one and you like ice cream it's a good investment as the texture of the ice cream you produce is so creamy. If you don't have an ice cream machine, when you make this you will need to take it out of the freezer periodically in the first few hours to run a fork through it, so that you can break up the ice crystals. The recipe comes from SOS Summer.

Have a great week! Love from Jane xxx

Champagne ice cream

Serves 12

What you need:
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 750ml sparkling wine
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 80ml liquid glucose (you should be able to buy this at the supermarket; if not, a health food shop or a pharmacy)
  • 600ml cream

What you do:
  1. Beat the egg yolks, sparkling wine and sugar until pale and thick.
  2. Cook in a double saucepan over a low heat, beating constantly.
  3. When hot, stir in the glucose until dissolved, then cook until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon.
  4. Remove from the heat.
  5. When completely cold, stir in the cream.
  6. Churn in an ice cream maker.
  7. Store in the freezer until ready to serve.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Parmesan ricotta on toast

Hello everyone, it's definitely party season and getting busier and busier every day. Usually around Christmas time I start to feel a little overwhelmed by all the alcohol and party food but for some reason it seems to have started earlier this year and I already feel I've had way too much wine to drink and desserts to eat. I met some friends for a quick sandwich yesterday and found I was enjoying the iceberg lettuce the most!

So I'm just going to have to squeeze in some simple meals with lots of vegetables whenever I can. Thankfully I made a bucketful of a very vegie-rich pasta sauce from last month's delicious magazine so I can always dig a container of that out of the freezer when it all gets too much.

I thought I'd give you this recipe this week because I had an email a few days ago from a reader who declares that she is not a cook but did the baked ricotta I posted earlier for guests and it was a hit! I adore good, fresh ricotta and love this very simple little dish, which is a Brigitte Hafner recipe I found in Good Living four years ago.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Parmesan ricotta on toast

Serves four

What you need:
  • 500g really fresh ricotta
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 slices of sourdough bread
  • 1 bunch of rocket
  • 2 lovely ripe tomatoes, sliced

What you do:
  1. In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, Parmesan and oil.
  2. Season to taste.
  3. Toast the bread.
  4. Drizzle with a little oil and spread a thick layer of the ricotta mix.
  5. Top with rocket and tomato.
  6. Season with a little salt and pepper and drizzle with a little more oil.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Crostato Di Riso

Hello everyone, this is one of those recipes about which I wasn't enormously excited, but found the finished dish was delicious! I think it's yet another example of a simple dish that when made with good quality ingredients really shines. It comes from a book called "Italian Rice Dishes" by Diane Seed. I also have two books of pasta recipes that she has compiled. They are very good books that I have been using for years!

Have a lovely week. Love from Jane xxx

Crostato Di Riso

Serves four

What you need:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 litre light stock, or water
  • 2 1/3 cups arborio rice
  • 2 cups fresh tomato sauce (make yourself or buy at a good deli, or use Savion tomato dip if you can find it, I've seen it most recently at Coles at Chatswood Chase in Sydney)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 6 basil leaves, torn
  • 300g fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 30g butter

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 175C.
  2. Lightly oil a large round oven proof dish
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan and gently cook the onion until soft.
  4. In another pan, bring the stock to the boil and pour in the rice.
  5. Simmer for ten minutes, then drain and stir the rice into the onion.
  6. Cook for five minutes and mix in three quarters of the tomato sauce with the parsley, salt and pepper.
  7. Stir in three quarters of the Parmesan and the basil.
  8. Spoon half of the rice mix into the ovenproof dish, levelling the top.
  9. Cover with the mozzarella slices and top with the remaining sauce.
  10. Make another layer with the remaining rice and sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan.
  11. Dot with butter and bake for 35 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for ten minutes before serving.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chicken Koftas

Hello everyone, earlier this morning I was listening to a segment on Simon Marnie's program in which he had three food bloggers in talking about their experiences with the Sydney International Food Fair which has just concluded. I didn't go to anything this year, largely because I just didn't have the time or the energy to plan anything, but listening to these three definitely fired me up to immerse in it next year. I think for me there was an element of "overwhelmia" as there were so many events. It sounds like they were a lot of fun and those who went learned a lot too, so it is definitely in my diary for next year.

Also this morning I made the lemon curd ice-cream in this month's edition of delicious. It looks beautiful - a gorgeous delicate creamy yellow. I can't wait to try it!

And just as it is ice-cream weather, so too I have been firing up the barbecue and cooking all sorts of things. Just recently I made these chicken koftas which were really lovely. They are the easiest thing in the world to make and can be served with all sorts of accompaniments - whatever you have to hand. The recipe comes from my fabulous Backyard Barbecue Cookbook - one of the best cook books I have ever been given. I have been cooking from it regularly for ten years now and there are still heaps of recipes to try! I hope you like this one.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Chicken Koftas

Serves eight (or maybe four, depending on how hungry everone is)

(If you use wooden skewers, soak them in water for about an hour before using so that they don't burn).

What you need:

  • 500g minced chicken
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander or mint, whichever you prefer
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cornflakes, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons chilli sauce

What you do:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together and form into eight long koftas on flat metal or bamboo skewers.
  2. Place on a rack on a heated barbecue.
  3. Cook for about eight minutes, turning regularly to avoid charring, until golden brown and cooked through.
  4. Serve with bread rolls, salad and a good tomato sauce (or any other nice sauces you might have to hand).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Oat and chocolate slice

Hello everyone, I'd love to say that my failure to post any recipes for the last couple of weeks was because I was out watching endless sessions of Julie and Julia, but it was actually because my computer was away being fixed. Again. Hopefully for the last time. At the same time my washing machine died. Happily I now have a new washing machine, but I think it's very sneaky that while there is a lot of talk about how good front loaders are for the environment, NO-ONE mentions that they take smaller loads and each cycle takes nearly two hours!! That's a well kept secret. I guess one advantage on a warm day is that as I take out each load the last lot is dry and ready to come in again!

This week's recipe is a very easy slice that I found in my Panasonic cookbook that came with my microwave when I bought it about 15 years ago. I have adapted it from the original muesli recipe as I always have buckets of oats in the pantry, and I finish it in the oven as I don't really believe you can substitute the microwave for the baking step. You can add different things that you have to hand to the slice as well, such as nuts and as I have done, chocolate chips.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Oat and chocolate slice

What you need:
  • 125g butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar (you could halve this quantity if it frightens you)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups oatmeal (or natural muesli if you have it)
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup sultanas
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

What you do:
  1. Combine the butter, sugar and honey in a microwave proof dish and cook on high for a minute, stir, then cook for another minute on high.
  2. Add the oats/muesli, coconut, sultanas and chocolate chips and mix well.
  3. Press firmly into a baking tray.
  4. Bake at 200C for about 10 minutes, or until golden.
  5. Allow to cool then slice into squares.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Crusty onion and cheese muffins

Hello everyone, I am so happy to tell you that I am writing this post with a beautiful warm and cuddly cat curled up on my lap! I adopted Bellatrix on Friday night. She is about one year old, white underneath with black and ginger on top. She has been to two households where it didn't work out (one with a child who turned out to be allergic to cats, one with two boisterous little boys who terrifed her) and I am the lucky one she has chosen. Bella is absolutely gorgeous - very affectionate and cuddly and on a cool day like today, lovely and warm! I think we are going to be very happy together.

This week's recipe is another of those absolutely standard ones that I use all the time, particularly when I'm entertaining a crowd. Being a cold and rainy long weekend, it's the perfect time for whipping up a batch of savoury muffins with a delicious butter. They are beautiful eaten when they are warm from the oven. They can also be stored in the freezer and then popped in the oven or microwave to thaw and warm up . The recipe comes from the Womens Weekly Muffins, Scones and Breads book, an oldy but a goody.

Have a lovely week.

Love from Jane xxx

Crusty onion and cheese muffins

What you need:
· ¼ cup plain flour
· 20g butter
· 1 teaspoon water, approximately
· 1 tablespoon vegetable or light olive oil
· 1 medium onion, halved and sliced (I use red onions)
· 1 ¾ cups self raising flour
· ¾ cup plain flour, extra
· ¾ cup grated tasty cheddar cheese
· 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
· 1 egg lightly beaten
· 1 ¼ cups buttermilk
· ½ cup vegetable or light olive oil, extra

Chive butter
· 50g cream cheese, softened
· 50g butter, softened
· 2 teaspoons lemon juice
· 1 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

What you do:
1. Place plain flour into a small bowl, rub in butter, and mix in just enough water to bind the ingredients.
2. Press dough into a ball, cover, freeze about 30 minutes or until firm.
3. Prepare either a six or twelve hole muffin tin.
4. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion.
5. Cook, stirring, until soft and lightly browned; set aside to cool.
6. Sift self raising and extra plain flour into a large bowl.
7. Stir in half the onion, half the cheese and all of the chives.
8. Add the egg, buttermilk and extra oil.
9. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin tin.
10. Coarsely grate the frozen dough into a small bowl and quickly mix in the remaining onion and cheese. Sprinkle the mix over the muffins.
11. Bake in a moderately hot oven for about 25 minutes (if you are doing six large muffins they may take a little longer).
12. Serve with the chive butter.

Chive butter
1. Beat the cheese and butter together in a small bowl until smooth.
2. Stir in juice and chives.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Baked ricotta

Hello everyone, I was finally able to do something this week which I have long thought would be fun. I was in Melbourne with my family and on a typically freezing cold Melbourne afternoon, following a brisk walk across town, my two sisters and two nieces and I luxuriated in the warmth and comfort of Koko Black and indulged in the best hot chocolate I've ever had. I was quite sure (all of) the girls would enjoy it and they did. It was such a nice way for the five of us to while away an hour!

This week's recipe uses ricotta, one of my most favourite things to eat in the world. There is nothing like super-fresh ricotta and it shines in this very quick and easy recipe which is perfect for serving guests. It's a recipe I cut out from Good Living some years ago and it is very good. Non vegetarians may wish to serve the ricotta with some slices of prosciutto.

Have a lovely week. Love from Jane xx

Baked ricotta

Serves four

What you need:
  • 750g fresh ricotta
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper
  • 1 bunch of red grapes
  • 1 sprig of rosemary

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  3. Cut the ricotta into slices about 2cm thick and place on the baking paper.
  4. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
  5. Add the grapes and rosemary sprig.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.
  7. Allow to cool a little before serving.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Salmon and potato al forno

Hello everyone, I am shortly moving into the city for work, which has its pluses and minuses. The choices for lunch are definitely going to be an improvement on where I am now. Yesterday I was in town and went looking for a sandwich cafe of which I have heard many good things but never stumbled across before. It turned out to be down one of those dingy alleys which you would never explore unless you were on the hunt for something, and there was no signage to indicate the name of the place. Close questioning, and my lunch, proved I had found the right place. It is called Via Abercrombie and they do outstanding sandwiches! So this is one place I'll be visiting regularly.

This week's recipe comes from the August 2009 edition of delicious magazine. Funnily enough there were very few recipes in that issue that excited me, but this one caught my eye as its key ingredients are all favourites, and I was very, very happy with the result.

Have a great week. Love from Jane xx

Salmon and potato al forno

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1 kg chat potatoes
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 25g cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • Light olive oil
  • 4 salmon fillets, with skin
  • A few mint leaves, finely chopped
  • A small handful of grated parmesan
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
  3. Halve the potatoes lengthways and trim the fennel bulb, reserving the leafy fronds for garnishing later.
  4. Cut the fennel bulb into 8 wedges, add these to the salted water with the potatoes and parboil for about 6 minutes.
  5. Drain the vegetables in a colander and leave to steam dry for a minute.
  6. Transfer to a large roasting pan and season well with salt and pepper.
  7. Sprinkle over half the parsley and all of the garlic, dot with the butter and drizzle well with the olive oil.
  8. Toss everything together in the pan so it is all mixed well and then shake out so that the vegetables sit in one layer.
  9. Cook the vegetables in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden.
  10. While the vegetables are roasting, score the skin on the fish.
  11. Season the fish with salt and pepper and push the remaining parsley and the mint into the scores.
  12. When the vegetables are golden, sprinkle the parmesan over the potatoes.
  13. Lay the salmon, skin side up, on top of the vegetables.
  14. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and drizzle with some olive oil.
  15. Cook for a further 15 minutes in the oven.
  16. Just before the dish comes out of the oven, chop the reserved fennel fronds.
  17. Take the fish and vegetables out of the oven, sprinkle with the chopped fennel fronds and serve with wedges of lemon.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rum raisin caramel bars

Hello everyone, do you ever cook something that you have highly anticipated, only to find that the finished product (and not because of your skills), comes up short? I had this experience this week. I have had a recipe for a chocolate macadamia cheesecake for twenty years, which I have always wanted to make, but could never find the right opportunity. Well, finally, this week I got around to it and was quite sure it was going to be the most delicious thing I had ever done. Sadly, not. It was quite nice and I was assured by those who ate it that it was "up there" with my other efforts, but I felt somewhat let down by it. I think for me it wasn't quite creamy enough - the recipe writer did emphasise that it was created in a search for something lighter than the usual cheesecake. Oh well....cross that one off the list.

This week's recipe is a winner - it is chocolate so you can't go wrong. Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Rum Raisin Caramel Bars

Bars can be made up to four days ahead.

What you need:

· 125g butter
· ½ cup castor sugar
· 1 cup plain flour (you can substitute rice flour)
· 2 tablespoons cocoa
Rum and raisin filling
· 400g can sweetened condensed milk
· 30g unsalted butter
· 1 tablespoon dark rum (actually any colour will do)
· ½ cup chopped raisins (can use sultanas)
· ¼ cup coconut
· 125g chocolate, melted
· 30g butter, melted

What you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Grease the base and sides of a 19cm x 29cm lamington pan, cover the base with baking paper and grease the paper.
3. To make the filling, combine the condensed milk and butter in a heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil while stirring constantly and vigorously over heat for about 10 minutes or until golden brown, then remove from the heat.
4. Stir in the rum, raisins and coconut and leave to cool to lukewarm.
5. For the base, combine the butter and the sugar in a small bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
6. Stir in the sifted flour and cocoa.
7. Press the mix evenly over the base of the lamington tin.
8. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until firm.
9. Cool the base for 10 minutes, then spread with filling and cool to room temperature.
10. To make the topping, combine the melted chocolate and butter in a small bowl and stir until the mixture is smooth and spreadable.
11. Spread the topping on the slice and store in the fridge until set, before cutting into bars or slices.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Spicy omelette sandwiches with tomato salsa

Hello everyone, this week's recipe is one of those things about which I wasn't all that excited. It comes from I think Bill Granger's third book, Bill's Open Kitchen, and if I had seen it anywhere else I probably wouldn't have bothered even trying it. To my surprise, it was really, really good! I think the secret is using really fresh, soft rolls and good tomatoes. It is also quick and easy.

Have a great week. Love from Jane xx

Spicy omelette sandwiches with tomato salsa

Serves two

What you need:
  • 4 eggs
  • A large pinch of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Tomato salsa:

  • 3 tomatoes, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced (if you don't mind raw onion; I left it out)
  • 1/4 cup coriander or mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 long chilli, finely sliced

To serve:

  • 2 soft bap rolls

What you do:
  1. Mix all of the salsa ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Break the eggs into a bowl.
  3. Add a tablespoon of water and the cumin to the eggs and beat lightly until just combined.
  4. Heat a non stick frying pan over a medium to high heat, add the oil and swirl to coat the base of the pan.
  5. Pour in the eggs, and as they begin to cook, use a wooden spoon to carefully drag the cooked egg to the centre of the pan, allowing the uncooked mix to flow towards the edges.
  6. Sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper.
  7. When the omelette is nearly all cooked, fold in half and slide out onto a board before cutting in half, lengthways.
  8. Split the rolls in half and butter if you wish, then fill with the omelette and salsa.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lemon and parmesan spaghetti

Hello everyone, I've had a very quiet week due to a very bad cold, so that has meant more time to cook and eat at home! (And read cook books and drool over various sweet delights). One night this week I made this delicious pasta dish from my Marie-Claire Comfort book. It was quite perfect - I could have eaten double the quantity it was so good! It really is best with a thin pasta like spaghetti or spaghettini, and if you can get your hands on a good quality fresh pasta even better. I usually use Pasta Vera products which I buy from Harris Farm Markets, their pasta is better than any other brand I have tried.

Have a lovely week. Love from Jane xx

Lemon and parmesan spaghetti

Serves four

What you need:
  • Grated and finely chopped zest and juice of 2 lemons (do the zesting before you juice, it will be a LOT easier)
  • 400g spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 finely chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 rinsed and finely sliced leeks
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons rinsed and drained small salted capers (optional - I left them out but you might like them)
  • 1 handful flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch chives, finely snipped
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

What you do:
  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add half the lemon juice.
  2. Cook the pasta until al dente, then drain and keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
  4. Add the garlic and the leeks and saute until the leeks are transparent.
  5. Season with the black pepper.
  6. Stir the cooked spaghetti into the leeks and add the lemon zest, remaining juice, capers, parsley and chives, stirring everything together gently.
  7. Divide among four warmed pasta bowls and sprinkle with the cheese.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Red wine and sausage risotto

Hello everyone, I have just returned from three days in Mount Gambier, South Australia, and have two completely different food experiences to relate. (I was very thankful that the second was so different to the first).

On the first night I was there, with the around 60 or so other conference delegates I went to dinner at a local Italian place. My alarm bells had started to ring early as we were informed we were starting with tapas, to be followed by pizza and pasta. Quite a cultural mix, but I guess at least it was all European. For dinner we were presented with quite a wide choice of pizzas and pastas. Frankly none of them really appealed but I picked one and put in my order with everyone else. We then waited, and waited, and waited for our food. No garlic bread or salads to sustain us. Eventually the food started to arrive. I think my neighbour on my right was just finishing hers when my neighbour on my left received her dinner. And lucky me, I just continued to wait! Finally, when everyone else was ordering coffee my pizza arrived. I looked at it, politely thanked the waiter who had brought it to me, then pointed out that in fact it wasn't the pizza I had ordered. Hands on hips she declared "Sweetheart, that's all there is. I suggest you eat it. It will fill you up." Which is just hilarious to be told that in a restaurant! I have laughed my head off every time I have told someone the story. And not only was it the wrong pizza, the base was only half cooked! So, it will be one of my memorable meals but not for the usual reasons!

Thankfully the next nightwas much better. We were treated to a wine tasting at Balnaves of Coonawarra Winery It was lovely. We were welcomed into a beautiful room at the winery which felt like being in someone's very tasteful home, and feasted on delicious cheeses and fruit pastes while tasting various wines. We then moved on to dinner at a wonderful place, Pipers of Penola which was outstanding. The restaurant was beautiful, the service was very charming and the food was excellent. Perhaps best of all was the luscious chocolate pudding for dessert. Mmmmm, it was good.

This week's recipe is one I remembered because I did a very similar thing during the week with pork sausages and red wine. In that case I made a delicious pasta sauce, but this recipe is for a very easy risotto. It comes from the very reliable Take Three by Jill Dupleix.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Red wine and sausage risotto

Serves four

What you need:
  • 3 Italian pork and fennel sausages
  • 300g Arborio rice
  • 115ml good red wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 750ml chicken stock, heated
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving

What you do:

  1. Heat a non stick frying pan.
  2. Squeeze the meat out of the sausages and add the meat in small lumps to the frying pan, frying until lightly crusty and golden. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in the same pan and add the onion, cooking over a moderate heat until translucent.
  4. Add the rice and stir until well mixed with the onion.
  5. Add the red wine and allow to bubble for a couple of minutes, until absorbed.
  6. Add the sausage and stir thoroughly.
  7. Add all of the chicken stock and bring the mix back to the boil.
  8. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the stock and is tender. If the rice starts to dry out and isn't yet cooked, add some water.
  9. Stir in the Parmesan and serve with additional Parmesan served at the table.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Orange semolina cake

Hello everyone, I missed posting a recipe last week as I was in Melbourne for the weekend. I travelled there with my sisters and we spent most of the time packing up the house of my aunt, who is sadly nearing the end of her life. As you can imagine, despite the circumstances, it was interesting going through all her things, as we found lots of familiar items but also things that were a surprise. Perhaps best for me was going through my aunt's collection of cook books. I have souvenired a number of them, so my collection continues to grow!

While we were there I had the opportunity to visit the famous Richmond Hill Larder and Cafe, a place I have been yearning to visit for years. I couldn't believe it, it's a cafe (albeit a very good one) and I had to put my name down at the door and wait for twenty minutes for a table to become vacant! My sisters were smart enough to use the time shopping elsewhere, but I hovered, fearful that a table would come up and go again just as quickly if we weren't there to snap it up immediately. Finally we were seated and with great anticipation I commented to the waiter that I thought I'd try the freshly baked scones that were advertised on their chalkboard at the door. Too late - they only make one batch and they all went while I was hovering for my table!

By this time I was quite cross and thinking I didn't like this place at all, however my humour was restored with a quite good hot chocolate and a very delicious chocolate pudding. I even bought some of their goods to bring home with me.

This week's recipe is for a very moist and tasty cake that takes little time to throw together. The syrup seems like a huge quantity to pour over one cake, but do it slowly and gradually and the cake will take it. I think I may have cut out this recipe from The Sydney Magazine, from one of those "What I Cook When..." columns. I wonder whose it was originally?

Have a lovely week. Love from Jane xx

Orange semolina cake

What you need:
  • 200g butter
  • 300g caster sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 3 oranges (I zested then chopped in the bamix)
  • 6 eggs
  • 260g fine semolina
  • 150g almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder


  • 200g caster sugar
  • 500ml orange juice

What you do:

  1. Beat the butter, sugar and orange zest until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in all of the eggs.
  3. Add the sifted semolina, almond meal and baking powder and mix well.
  4. Pour into a 20cm cake tin lined with baking paper.
  5. Bake at 180C for 40 to 50 minutes or maybe longer, depending on your oven. Remember that it is a very moist cake but when you insert a toothpick it should be cooked all the way through.
  6. While the cake is baking, combine the sugar and orange juice in a saucepan and simmer for 3 minutes.
  7. Cool the syrup and pour over the warm cake.
  8. Serve with cream, strawberries and raspberries.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Warm salad of roasted pumpkin, apples and rocket

Hello everyone, I have enthused in previous winter time blogs about winter salads and was very happy to find another good one this week. It's a recipe that I cut out of the Good Living section of the newspaper and have had stuck on my fridge for weeks so it was good to finally try it. I chopped up the pumpkin into tiny pieces so that it cooked all nice and crispy, and I used a really lovely pomegranate balsamic vinegar that worked well with this mix of fruit and vegetables.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Warm salad of roasted pumpkin, apples and rocket

Serves four

What you need:
  • 500g butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded and chopped into chunks the size you like
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespooons balsamic vinegar, plus extra for serving
  • 2 medium pink lady apples, cored and cut into wedges
  • 80g walnut halves
  • 2 cups wild rocket leaves
  • 2 cups watercress sprigs
  • 100g marinated (or plain) fetta

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 210C.
  2. Combine pumpkin, olive oil and vinegar in a baking dish you have lined with baking paper (best to do this - I didn't and am still scrubbing out my baking dish) and roast for 15 minutes.
  3. Add apples and roast for another 15 minutes.
  4. Make sure the pumpkin is pretty well done and then add the walnuts and roast for a final 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes.
  6. Combine rocket and watercress in a large bowl.
  7. Add roasted pumpkin mix.
  8. Season to taste and toss gently.
  9. Divide salad among four bowls.
  10. Crumble fetta over salad and drizzle additional olive oil and balsamic and serve.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Spaghetti Vesuvio

Hello everyone, I have gradually become aware over the last few weeks that I am in a very, very small minority of people who don't watch Master Chef. Well, I don't watch TV very much and I have never been a fan of cooking shows so I just never bothered to start with this one. I am beginning to regret missing all the drama, tears and joy of it though as I hear so many people discussing it with great intensity.

Well, yesterday I was at my favourite cafe in Mosman (of course), this time with my friend Anne and her daughter Lizzie and Lizzie's friend Clare. And who else was there, having a smoked salmon bagel for lunch? Justine from Master Chef. Anne and I were the only ones blissfully unaware of her presence but everyone else knew. And my celebrity spotting didn't stop there! Later in the afternoon I was in a consignment shop in Crows Nest disposing of a handbag that is much loved but damaging my shoulder with its weight and who should walk in but Fairy Sparkle She was all done up in her fairy gear - I'm guessing she had some time to spare in between parties.

What an exciting day.

Today's recipe is one of those wonderful things to have at the end of the week when you are feeling tired and in need of comfort. Mum used to feed us bowls of spaghetti with tomato sauce and cheese when we were little, and although I use slightly better quality ingredients these days, the effect is just as warming and comforting. This version comes from a wonderful book, The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces, by Diane Seed.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Spaghetti Vesuvio

Serves four

What you need:
  • 500g spaghetti or linguini, preferably fresh
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 x 400g tins of Italian plum tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Sea salt
  • A generous half cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 200g fresh mozzarella balls, diced

What you do:
  1. Warm the oil and add the tomatoes with their juice, squashing them in the pan with a fork.
  2. Add the oregano and salt to taste and cook rapidly for 20 minutes.
  3. While the sauce is cooking, put the water on to boil for the pasta then cook.
  4. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add the Parmesan, the tomato sauce and the mozzarella.
  5. Toss the pasta and sauce, then cover and leave for about 3 minutes so that the mozzarella begins to melt and looks like streams of molten lava. Serve hot.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Giovanni's sausages with potatoes and rosemary

Hello everyone, I had a really delicious meal the other night. I have been dying to try out a tavola restaurant in Darlinghurst and believe me, it was well worth the anticipation. It is a narrow restaurant with one of those great long communal tables in the front room, and then you proceed past a long, narrow kitchen and down some stairs into another room that has tables for smaller groups. The fit out is very cool with lots of interesting bits and pieces. Although in a gorgeous Italian restaurant like this I would usually always have the hand made pasta, having consumed an excellent dish of pasta the day before I tried the ocean trout served with a panzanella salad and it was delicious. Dessert, of course, was my main interest and I wasn't disappointed. We had a beautiful sort of chocolate pudding thing that was cooked to order (I'm a little fuzzy on what it actually was because the waiter had such a strong Italian accent I only understood about one word in every three) and it was served with the most beautiful (both to look at and to taste) raspberry icecream. MMMMM it was all good.

So, inspired by this Italian theme and the increasingly cold weather, today's recipe is a fabulous, I think Bill Granger, recipe that I found some years ago in delicous magazine. I adore sausages (and potatoes of course) so to me it's a fabulous combination. Kids really love this dish too.

Have a great week, love from Jane x

Giovanni’s sausages with potatoes and rosemary

Serves four

What you need:
· 6 thick pork sausages
· 800g kipfler potatoes, scrubbed and sliced
· 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
· 2 rosemary stalks
· 2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (you may not use this much, it’s personal taste)
· ½ ciabatta loaf, crusts removed
· A handful of fresh basil leaves

What you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
2. Slice the sausages thickly and place in a large roasting pan.
3. Add the potatoes, paprika, rosemary, sea salt and pepper.
4. Drizzle with oil and toss gently.
5. Roast, stirring occasionally, for 50 to 60 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the sausages golden brown.
6. Tear the ciabatta into bite sized pieces and add to the pan for the final 20 minutes of cooking.
7. Sprinkle with the basil and serve.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Black-bottom cupcakes

Hello everyone, last night I was very lucky to be invited to dinner at the home of my friends Kirsten and Frank. They are both excellent cooks and they created this beautiful feast for me. While Frank was busy in the kitchen Kirsten and I had a drink at one of their fabulous local Balmain pubs, which was a nice way to start the evening. We then came home to Frank's fabulous rolled roasted pork, stuffed with apricots and ginger, with some beautiful glazed baby carrots and (they know the way to my heart), a lush dish of sliced potato with chopped bacon and brie cheese melted through it. Then this was followed up by a stunning orange tart that Kirsten made. It was all so good and I felt really special having this luscious dinner cooked for me.

This week's recipe is (literally) a really good party trick. I was looking for a cake recipe that I could do ahead and freeze as I wasn't going to be able to bake something fresh. I perused my Belinda Jeffery Mix And Bake and found this cupcake recipe, which I had actually seen Belinda demonstrate at a class some time ago. The cupcakes froze well and in serving them I went one better. I warmed them through in the microwave so that the chocolate melted, and served them with cream, announcing that I had made chocolate puddings. They were very pudding like and a great success for morning tea on a cold and frosty morning, so if you want to go one step beyond cupcakes, this is the recipe for you.

Have a lovely week. Love from Jane xx

Black-bottom cupcakes

Makes 10-12 medium sized cupcakes, or 6 larger ones if you use a 6 hole muffin tin

What you need:
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup Dutch processed cocoa (the better quality cocoa you use, the richer and more velvety your cupcakes will be)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

  • 250g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 200g good quality chocolate buttons or chocolate chopped into chunks

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Line either a large 6 or regular 12 hole muffin tin with paper cupcake cases (I didn't, and had some difficulty getting out the cupcakes, hence the whole pudding inspiration to hide their battered appearance).
  3. To make the topping, using electric beaters beat together the cream cheese and sugar for two minutes or until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg and beat until thoroughly mixed in.
  5. Stir in the chocolate and set aside the bowl.
  6. To make the cupcakes, combine the flour, bicarb soda and salt in a bowl.
  7. Sift in the cocoa and whisk using a balloon whisk for a minute.
  8. In another bowl, whisk together the warm water, vanilla extract, oil and vinegar.
  9. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet mix and stir together thoroughly but only until just mixed. If you over stir your cupcakes will be very chewy.
  10. Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases so they are about two thirds full.
  11. Scoop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture on top of each cake.
  12. Bake the cupcakes for 30-35 minutes (longer if you have done six large ones), or until a skewer inserted into the dark part comes out clean.
  13. Cool the muffins in the tin before removing and leave on a cake rack to cool completely.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Crispy cumin and paprika wedges

Hello everyone, I had the joy of attending a class conducted by Alex Herbert of Bird Cow Fish this week. BCF is one of my favourite restaurants (yes, I know I have a long list) and I love Alex's approach to food. I made sure that I arrived in plenty of time so that I actually scored a seat in the front row which made it very easy to pepper Alex with questions. She started us off with a lovely little winter salad made with venison. I don't really eat meat outside the mainstream ones with which I grew up, so it was my first taste of venison. I don't think it's something I'd order in a restaurant but it worked well in the salad. Next up was roasted salt marinated duck with potato and apple galettes. Delicious. For me (you won't be surprised) dessert was the highlight - steamed ginger pudding served with creme anglaise. Mmmmm, I love puddings, especially steamed ones. It has really tempted me to buy a steamer although where I would store it I don't know. Alex had these two massive old steamers into which she was able to stack 35 puddings. It was a very delicious and fun demonstration.

And yesterday my beautiful Iranian volunteer, Sara, presented me with a dainty container of Iranian saffron, which her parents had brought with them when they arrived in Sydney during the week. She was stunned that I knew what it was and queried "Do you know how to use it?" I assured her that I do and use saffron regularly. Later in the day one of the IT boys came past, and he is also Iranian. I proudly showed him the saffron (and nougat) that Sara had given me. Same question! Same doubtful face! Clearly Australians haven't impressed with their use of saffron!!!

Today's recipe for potato wedges is just perfect for this cold time of year. You cook them in the oven so they are guilt free and just the most divine flavour. If I have nigella seeds handy sometimes I sprinkle them on as well. The recipe comes from Belinda Jeffery's Tried And True Recipes.

Have a lovely week. Love from Jane xx

Crispy cumin and paprika wedges

Says it serves four, I'll leave that to your judgement

What you need:
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 kg Desiree potatoes, peeled and sliced into generous wedges
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Line a large baking dish with foil and then a layer of baking paper. This will save on a really hard to clean dish later.
  3. Sprinkle the cumin seeds into a small pan on top of the stove and warm them over a medium heat until they are fragrant. Do stir them constantly as they burn easily.
  4. When the cumin seeds are ready, pour them into the baking dish and add the potato wedges.
  5. Drizzle the oil over the potatoes and sprinkle them with the salt, pepper and paprika. Mix everything together so that the wedges are well coated.
  6. Spread the wedges into a single layer and put in the oven.
  7. Roast the wedges, turning once or twice, for 50 to 60 minutes, or until they are a lovely golden colour with crisp edges (of course you will need to try one or two to check).
  8. Devour!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cheese custards

Hello everyone, this week has been a non event for me on the cooking front. I just seem to have had a combination of after work events to attend or late nights at the office, meaning very little cooking (and really not great eating). Thankfully I made up a full quantity of a nice pasta dish last Sunday so that gave me some lunches during the week to keep me going. And this week I intend to make the full quantity of a couple more dishes so that I have some dinners waiting for me in the freezer for the nights I'm home late!

Now today's dish might seem very indulgent, and it is, but believe me, it is luscious and something that is very easy to whip up if you have friends coming around, or for a nice little supper for yourself. It's also easily transportable - I took some to work one day when I was going to an after work event and wanted to have dinner before I went. The recipe comes from my very reliable SOS (Autumn/Winter) book. It's served with a red capsicum sauce which you can whip up while the custards are cooking. Now I am someone who for years has slaved over a hot stove roasting capsicums so you can then peel away the skin. At a cooking class recently Valli Little pointed out that you can now buy jars of roasted, peeled capsicums at the supermarket. Who knew? Certainly not me, but I have some now in my cupboard and they are perfect for this sauce. Very time saving.

With the rain pouring down outside today it's definitely hot chocolate weather. I'll be heading to my favourite cafe as usual for my top-up! Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Cheese custards
(Serves 8 as an entree)

Combine 25g melted unsalted butter, 200g brie, 200g cream cheese, 100g sour cream and 3 eggs in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add freshly ground pepper to taste and a little salt only if you think the mix needs it.

Pour the mix into buttered 1/2 cup moulds. Place the moulds in a baking dish and pour in boiling water to come half way up the sides of the moulds.

Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the custards are set. Remove the moulds from the oven and allow to stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

While the custards are cooking, place the capsicums from a jar into the food processor with 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, the finely grated zest and juice of half a lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil and some sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Once you have a smooth puree, transfer the sauce to a saucepan and just before serving, warm over a low heat.

Turn each custard out onto a plate and serve with the warmed red capsicum sauce spooned all around it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Spanish Minestrone

Hello everyone, I haven't been doing so much cooking this week as I have been quite immersed in the Sydney Film Festival. I managed to get to eight films overall and saw some really good ones. My most outstanding award goes to a film shot here in Sydney called Cedar Boys, which is about three young Lebanese men who get caught up in the drug trade. It is the most fascinating story and held the attention of the entire cinema right up to the end. It has gone straight to the top of my list of best films and I really recommend it - it's due for a general release on 30 June.

This week's recipe is another lovely warming soup that I made when winter was just starting to set in and I had some chorizo kicking around in the fridge. It comes from that wonderful book I always have to hand, 3 Ways With Stale Bread... by Ross Dobson, and is very yummy and filling.

Have a fabulous week. Love from Jane xx

Spanish Minestrone

Serves four

Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a saucepan and stir-fry 1 chopped onion with 1 finely cubed chorizo for a few minutes on a medium heat, to soften the onion and bring out all the spices in the sausage. Add 500ml chicken stock, 400g chopped tinned tomatoes, 400g tinned chickpeas (rinsed and drained) and one cubed potato.

Bring the soup to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, until the potato is nicely soft. Stir through a handful of roughly chopped flat leaf parsley and serve topped with some crumbled feta or manchego cheese.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Lemon curd bread and butter pudding

Hello everyone, I was lucky enough to have two group get togethers during the week over dinner at two restaurants I love, both of which have a multiple dishes to share style of dining, so I was able to taste lots of different things! On Wednesday night I went back to Kika Tapas in Darlinghurst. There were eight of us and it felt as if we ordered a huge number of dishes, but we managed to eat it all (and fit in dessert!) and still pay a reasonable amount.

Then on Thursday night I organised my book club to meet at Kuali, a Malaysian restaurant in Lane Cove, to meet my friend Fiona Higgins and discuss her recently published memoir, Love In The Age Of Drought. Fiona brought along the main character, her husband Stu, and we enjoyed a fabulous banquet with the best roti bread I have ever eaten. These two feasts can make up for this weekend when I will be immersed in the film festival instead of being out eating.

Now that it's winter we have the perfect excuse to consume puddings, and this recipe is luscious. I can't remember what prompted me to try it the first time because I am phobic about mass produced white sliced bread, and have never been a huge fan of lemon curd. I think I actually tasted it at a cooking demonstration by Valli Little and loved it, so tried it out at home myself. You can get really beautiful lemon or passionfruit curds these days, and the bread, well, it just works. Try it and see.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

  • Lemon curd bread and butter pudding

    Serves 6-8

    What you need:
  • 14 slices Tip Top white bread, crusts removed
  • 50g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 jar lemon or passionfruit curd
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 6 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups thin cream
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

    What you do:
    1. Butter the bread and then spread with curd.
    2. Cut each slice into halves and layer, overlapping, in a large baking dish.
    3. Beat together the eggs, cream, sugar and lemon zest.
    4. Pour custard over the bread and leave to rest for half an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170C.
    5. Place the pudding in a roasting tin and pour in enough water to come half way up the sides of the baking dish.
    6. Cover the pudding loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
    7. Remove the foil and cook a further 5-10 minutes or until the top turns golden and puffed.
    8. Dust with icing sugar and serve with cream, icecream and berries.

    The leftovers are really yummy warmed up for breakfast!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hummus soup

Hello everyone, I was lucky enough earlier this week to get along to the opening night address of the Sydney Writers Festival It was given by a Nigerian woman called Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She spoke so beautifully about how she wrote as a child in the style of the English story books she read (complete with lashings of ginger beer), even though this reflected a world completely different to what was around her. Over time, as she grew up, she encountered people who had one view about Nigeria and its people (which was all negative), and how through her writing she has worked to portray the many different stories there are about Nigeria. She was completely captivating.

From a slightly different part of the world comes inspiration for this soup. The recipe is from the book Faking It, by Valli Little, one of my favourite food writers, and it's an outstanding book. There are so many different, inspirational recipes in it and as the name of the book implies, they don't involve tricky techniques or hard to find ingredients. I made a big batch of this soup to put in the freezer so that I could take it to work for lunches and I was very sad when it was all gone. If you can get your hands on some labne, the thick Middle Eastern yoghurt, it would taste great swirled into the soup just before serving.

Have a lovely week. Love from Jane xx

Hummus soup

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable if you want to keep the soup vegetarian friendly)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped into a few pieces (it will all be blended later)
  • Grated zest and juice of a lemon, plus wedges to serve
  • 800g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
  • Natural yoghurt (or Greek, or labne), to drizzle
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
  • 2 tablespoons dukkah, to serve
  • Flatbread, to serve

What you do:
  1. Place the stock in a saucepan with the garlic, lemon zest and chickpeas.
  2. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for five minutes. Cool slightly.
  4. Add the mint, parsley and lemon juice and puree in a blender until smooth.
  5. When you are ready to serve, season the soup to taste with salt and pepper and then reheat over a low heat.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls, then drizzle with the yoghurt and olive oil.
  7. Serve with dukkah for sprinkling on the soup, lemon wedges and flat bread.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lentil and pumpkin salad

Hello everyone, I was at a friend's fortieth on Friday night and they hired my friend Anna who is a caterer to do the food. It was gorgeous! She did such a great job, it was all home cooked food presented beautifully. We started with a heap of finger food while everyone was standing around having a drink. There were all sorts of choices, and I am still tossing up as favourite the huge, lovely and sweet peeled prawns, or the Moroccan lamb mince triangles. Then there was a buffet for the main course that included all sorts of salads, meat and vegetable dishes. Then to top it off, Anna baked a really moist, fudgy chocolate cake (decorated with forty candles) and served it with creamy raspberry icecream. It was all so good and I was so happy that everyone loved the food. Definitely my caterer of choice!

Last night I cooked this lovely salad to go with my dinner and thankfully had the foresight (and so much pumpkin) to make enough for Monday's lunch as well. It comes from my Marie Claire Comfort cook book from which I have made quite a few good things. I hope you like it too, it's a great one for winter.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Lentil and pumpkin salad

Serves four or six as a side dish

What you need:
  • 1 kg jap or kent pumpkin, peeled and chopped into quite small pieces so they roast up all nice and crispy
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 120g puy lentils or tiny blue lentils (I don't think you can easily find puy lentils any more, but I found some Australian blue lentils at my local health food store)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspooon whole grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 handful flat leaf parsley, chopped roughly
  • 50g wild rocket leaves
  • 100g goats cheese

What you do
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Place the pumpkin pieces into a baking tray, scatter with the sliced onion and toss with the light olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the pumpkin is looking crispy.
  4. Meanwhile, place the lentils in a saucepan with the half teaspoon of salt and 2 cups of water.
  5. Bring the lentils to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Keep an eye on them and top up the water if needed.
  6. When cooked, drain the lentils of any excess water, then stir in the mustard, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and parsley.
  7. When you are ready to serve, arrange the rocket on a serving plate, top with the pumpkin and onion, then spoon over the lentils.
  8. Crumble the goats cheese over the top and serve.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Chicken and vegetable pot pie

Hello everyone, we had planned a picnic today to celebrate Mothers Day. A day out in the fresh air and sunshine, under a beautiful blue autumn sky...just like yesterday in Sydney! But today it rained. In fact it was pouring down this morning so we ended up bringing all our picnic food to my sister's home and having a more traditional lunch at the table. We ate well, though, with the hostess outdoing everyone with individual chicken and potato pies for the kids, a divine chicken and tarragon pie for the adults and a tomato, basil and prosciutto quiche as well! We did eat quite sumptuously.

Funnily enough I had decided to add this recipe for a chicken pie to the blog this week. It's certainly much more thrown together than my sister's masterpiece, and despite all the bad memories of '70s food that the name might bring to mind, it really is very yummy. You can add whatever vegetables you have to hand, and it's made with a BBQ chicken, so quick and easy as well! It comes from the ever inspirational "3 Ways With..." book.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Chicken and vegetable pot pie

Easily serves six

  1. Have your oven hot and ready at 220C.
  2. Heat 60g butter in a frying pan and when it is sizzling, add 1 chopped carrot and 2 chopped stalks of celery and stir around for a few minutes.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons plain flour and cook for 2 minutes - it should thickly coat the vegetables, but don't let the flour burn.
  4. Add the chopped meat from half a BBQ chicken, 80g peas (or corn) and a handful of flat leaf parsley. (You could also add some chopped capsicum if you have it handy).
  5. Stir the vegetables for a minute then add 500ml chicken stock and 250ml thin cream.
  6. Season well and slowly bring the mix to the boil, stirring constantly, until it's slightly thickened.
  7. Spoon the mixture into a pie dish and top with either some puff pastry, trimmed to fit the dish, or a layer of potato mash.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry/potato is golden.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pecan slice

Hello everyone, there's nothing I like better than a good old-fashioned slice, and as I had about five different varieties of nuts in my fridge last weekend I thought it was a good excuse to bake something for afternoon tea in the office. I made this yummy pecan slice, but did half and half pecans and almonds as that is what I had. The almonds were particularly fantastic - I had bought them fresh from Oriental and Continental Foods in Artarmon. This place is well worth exploring when you have the time. I went in there one day for some preserved lemons and came out twenty minutes later with a box full of stuff, and only paid $20.00! There really is no comparison between fresh nuts and packet nuts, so it's well worth making the trip. They don't supply bags though so do make sure you take your own and expect to buy more than is written on your shopping list!

Anyway, the slice went down well with my office friends. I hope you like it too.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Pecan slice

What you need:
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 150g butter, softened

  • 2 tablespoons dark corn syrup (from a health food store; use light if that is all you can find)
  • 2 tablespoons thickened cream
  • 1/3 cup soft brown sugar
  • 75g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups pecans
  • Dark chocolate shavings to decorate (optional)

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Line a shallow baking tin (18 x 27 cm) with baking paper.
  3. Combine the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor. Using the pulse action, process for one minute until the mixture comes together and forms a ball.
  4. Press the pastry into the tin (you will really have to push and poke it out to the sides and corners but don't worry, there is enough).
  5. Bake the pastry for 15 minutes, until just golden. Cool completely in the tin.
  6. To make the topping, combine the syrup, cream, sugar, butter and eggs in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.
  7. Add the pecans and stir to combine.
  8. Pour the topping onto the cooled pastry and bake for another 25 minutes, until set. Cool completely in the tin.
  9. Lift the slice out of the tin and cut into squares using a sharp knife.
  10. Decorate with the chocolate shavings if desired.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Orange, hazelnut and goat's cheese salad

Hello everyone, this week I have had the luxury of a bit more time on my hands and I have been looking at other blogs written by food lovers. One of the most impressive is Grab Your Fork which details the author's eating adventures, and my, she does a lot! I also came across Not Quite Nigella when trying to find the name of a new chocolate shop I had visited recently. I was a bit overwhelmed for a while looking at some of the other blogs as they are so beautifully done with photos and links to other sites, but in the end I figured that I only ever intended to stick up a few helpful recipes and don't think I'm going to let this mission take over my life!

As my contribution to the restaurant reviewing game however, I must report that I enjoyed an excellent meal with the most charming service at Kika Tapas Bar (the website is still coming but it's a handy reminder) in Darlinghurst during the week. Yes, my Spanish passion continues unabated and if anything it was further fired here with the most luscious jamon and crispy churros. Definitely a must-return.

This week's recipe offers something a little lighter - back to a nice winter salad now that the days are a little shorter and cooler. I made this for dinner one night and loved it. It's from my Growers Market book, a never ending source of inspiration for seasonal goodies.

Have a wonderful week. Love from Jane xx

Orange, hazelnut and goat's cheese salad

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and rubbed in a clean teatowel to remove the skins
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 250g watercress, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup baby English spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
  • Segments from two oranges (peeled)
  • 300g firm goats cheese, sliced into 4 equal portions

What you do:
  1. Make the dressing by combining the nuts, juices, and a pinch of salt in a food processor.
  2. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil a few drops at a time. When about half the oil has been added, pour in the remainder in a steady stream.
  3. Pick the leaves from the watercress and combine in a bowl with the spinach, orange segments and two tablespoons of the dressing.
  4. Toss to combine and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  5. Arrange the salad on four serving plates.
  6. Heat a small non stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and brush the pan lightly with olive oil.
  7. When the oil is hot, carefully press each slice of goats cheese firmly into the pan and cook for a couple of minutes, or until a crust has formed on the cheese.
  8. Carefully remove the cheese from the pan and arrange on top of the salads, crust side up.
  9. Drizzle over the remaining dressing and serve.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spaghetti with chunky tomato, olive and chilli sauce

Hello everyone, I decided last week that I was going to defrost my freezer as it hadn't been done for some time. Of course, this entailed emptying the freezer, so instead of my usual recipe driven approach I chose recipes based on what was there. Two of the highlights were a fabulous chicken and vegetable pie that I made to use up some puff pastry and a gorgeous Spanish style minestrone into which went some chorizo I had picked up on my Spanish Safari a few weeks ago. So now I have a clean, ice-free, empty freezer. This week I'm going to fill it up with three different kinds of soup which will provide lunches for weeks and a great Moroccan style chicken dish that I love. It's so good having ready cooked food in the freezer, especially with winter coming on!

Now this week's recipe is for an absolutely luscious pasta sauce from Belinda Jeffery's Tried-And-True Recipes and I can tell you that when I made it I wished that I had done at least the full quantity so I could store some in the freezer to enjoy later. As it's a chunky style sauce you'll find it's really substantial and probably only needs some good bread to be served with it. I know it looks like a long list of ingredients but really once you have chopped the vegetables you are half way there.

Have a lovely week. Love from Jane xx

Spaghetti with chunky tomato, olive and chilli sauce

Serves four

What you need:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized carrots, cut into smallish dice
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 small red chilllies (seeds and all), finely chopped (use your judgement - I used half this quantity and it was just right for me)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste or sun dried tomato pesto
  • 800g can diced tomatoes
  • A big pinch of sugar
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 150g pitted olives (use whatever olives you like, I love green olives so I used them and they were sensational)
  • Large handful of basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 4 scoops of fresh ricotta
  • Finely grated Parmesan, to serve

What you do:

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat.
  2. Tip in the onions and carrots and cook them, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes or until soft.
  3. Add the garlic and chilli and stir again, cooking for a further two to three minutes.
  4. Mix in the tomato paste or pesto, and cook, stirring, for one minute until fragrant.
  5. Pour in the tomatoes and their juice and sprinkle on the sugar, salt and pepper.
  6. Bring the sauce to the boil, then turn down the heat to low and leave to bubble away gently for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is quite thick.
  7. Cook the pasta while the sauce is cooking.
  8. Just before the pasta is ready, add the olives and basil to the sauce.
  9. Drain the pasta and stir it into the sauce, mixing well so that all the strands are coated.
  10. To serve, add a scoop of ricotta to each pasta bowl, and pour the spaghetti with sauce on top. Serve with the Parmesan.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Roast pork with soy roasted pumpkin

Hello everyone, today I took my nieces to see Artexpress for the second year running. I remember that last year they just walked from art work to art work wide eyed, completely overwhelmed by it all. This year they interacted with it a lot more, darting off to various pieces that caught their attention, analysing some of them, completely ignoring others, and making lots of comments. Last year when I suggested we all nominate our favourite piece they politely said they couldn't choose (which I interpreted as code for "no idea what any of this is about"), but this year they were very quick to make up their minds and give reasons. It was fun! Then we took ourselves off to Woo-mi, a very good sushi train in Mosman, where they put away more sushi than I thought was possible. I guess a good balance for all the Easter eggs to come!

This week's recipe is for a luscious roast pork which I cooked last week, out of my Marie Claire Comfort book (it's such a beautiful book). The butcher very kindly cut a smaller piece for me so I roasted it for dinner and then had some for sandwiches during the week. Just enough. It is the easiest thing in the world to do - you literally put everything in the oven and go away and let it cook itself. It will fill the house with a beautiful aroma as it cooks and provide comfort on these rapidly cooling autumn evenings.

Have a happy Easter! Love from Jane xx

Roast pork with soy roasted pumpkin

Serves 6

What you need:
  • 1.5kg piece of pork shoulder (ask your butcher to score the skin)
  • 4 sage leaves
  • 1 kg kent or jap pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Pat the pork dry with paper towels (very important to get the crackling nice and crisp) and rub the scored skin with a generous amount of salt. Season with freshly ground pepper.
  3. Scatter the sage leaves over the base of a roasting tin, then place the pork on them, skin side up.
  4. Cook the pork for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C and cook for a further hour.
  5. While the pork is cooking, peel the pumpkin and cut into small chunks.
  6. Place the chunks in a large bowl and add the oil, soy sauce, chilli and five spice.
  7. Toss well, then transfer to a baking tray and add to the oven 30 minutes before the pork is due to finish cooking. By then the pumpkin should be cooked and golden.
  8. Remove the pork from the oven and reduce the heat to low to keep the pumpkin warm.
  9. Test if the meat is done by inserting a sharp knife into the centre - the juices should run clear. Transfer the pork to a warm serving platter and rest, covered with foil, for 15 minutes.
  10. Carve the pork and serve with the pumpkin.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Chocolate peanut butter fudge sundae

Hello everyone, this week's recipe is something I have wanted to try out for ages. It's a Nigella recipe from the November 2007 copy of delicious, and I marked it at the time and have just taken this long to actually make it. I did plan to serve it when I had friends over for dinner in January, but they thwarted my plans by bringing a cake with them. So in the end I gave my workmates a surprise last week by serving up some ice cream with this sauce one afternoon. Safe to say it was a hit.

One word of warning - Nigella says that this quantity makes enough for four. All I can say is that her guests must be able to pack away an ENORMOUS quantity of sauce. I think it easily makes enough for twice that many.

Have a fabulous week, love from Jane xx

Chocolate peanut butter fudge sundae

What you need:
  • 175ml thin cream
  • 100g very good quality milk chocolate, chopped
  • 100g smooth peanut butter (buy it freshly made from a health food store)
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup
  • Ice cream to serve
  • 4 tablespoons roughly chopped salted peanuts
What you do:
  1. Place the cream, chocolate, peanut butter and golden syrup into a saucepan and place on a medium heat to melt, stirring occasionally.
  2. In about two minutes your sauce should be ready.
  3. Pour the warm sauce over the ice cream and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Potato and gruyere gratin

Hello everyone, last week I was having dinner at Young Alfred in Customs House with my American friend Chris and I commented to him that despite this being about my twentieth visit to YA, I had not yet persuaded any of my companions to choose the Surprise pizza on the menu (and I have certainly never been brave enough to try it myself). Chris being the courageous and daring person that he is promptly replied "Well, let's order it as a starter". Now up until then I hadn't realised that if you order it, although they won't tell you what is on it, you can declare any items you don't like and if by chance that day's surprise pizza does happen to be covered with your unfavourite ingredients the staff will steer you away from it. So we ordered it with the proviso no mushrooms (me) and no anchovies or mussels (Chris). Well, was I glad we took the plunge! It was beautiful. YA make the best pizza bases, they are very thin and crispy, and our surprise pizza had a lovely garlicky tomato sauce, thinly sliced ham, caramelised onion, goats curd and flat leaf parsley. I was so glad we did it! Now I'm going to order it whenever I go there! (Although who knows what the combination will be next time, I think it's whatever takes the chef''s fancy that day).

Now I know that I gave you a vegetable gratin dish last week and here is another one. This one is far more decadent and is an ode to my favourite vegetable, the potato. With a dish like this I tend to be quite generous with the quantities - if you think you need more cheese, for example, use more cheese. Or potato, or cream. Now that the evenings are getting cooler it's excusable to eat potatoes with cream.

Have a fabulous week. Love from Jane xx

Potato and gruyere gratin

Serves four as a side dish

What you need:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 100g gruyere cheese, grated and divided into two portions
  • 1 1/2 cups hot chicken stock
  • 1 cup cream

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Grease a medium sized baking dish with the butter.
  3. Cover the base with the potato slices and season well, then sprinkle on some of the cheese.
  4. Gradually build up layers of potato and cheese until you have used all of the potato slices and one of the portions of cheese.
  5. Pour the hot stock over the potato and cheese and bake for 40 minutes.
  6. About ten minutes before the potato is due to come out of the oven, gently warm the cream but don't allow it to boil.
  7. Remove the potato from the oven and pour the warm cream over it.
  8. Sprinkle on the other half of the cheese and bake for a further 20 minutes, or until the cheese topping is lightly browned.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fennel, tomato and garlic gratin

Hello everyone, I seem to be going through one of those times where I am eating out nearly every day. In the last two years I caught myself in the habit of going back to just a small number of really good reliable places, which is always good, but this year I'm trying to actually go to all the places I read about and think "That sounds good, I should try there some time". Thankfully I have friends willing to be bossed around and told where we are eating!

So this week just gone I finally got to La Locanda in Bronte which has been on my list for about three years (not that Bronte is that far away, it was just a matter of finding an occasion to go out with my Eastern suburbs dwelling friends) (and it was beautiful, well worth the wait), and then I was lucky enough to be taken to Cafe Sydney the next day, where I had the most luscious home made gnocchi. It was heaven. Tonight I do get to go back to an old favourite (Young Alfred, Customs House) as I'm going to see a play at the Opera House, and then next Friday I'm lucky enough to be going to lunch at my current absolute favourite, Catalonia in Kirribilli! So I guess I haven't completely let go of the old reliables....

Of course all this restaurant gallivanting does mean less time for cooking. And no matter how good someone else's cooking is, it does calm me down to cook something for myself. This week's dish is something I did just recently and was beautiful. I love fennel and it's really just coming into the best time of year for it. The recipe comes from my lovely Growers Market book.

Have a great week, love from Jane xx

Fennel, tomato and garlic gratin
Serves 4, and you can either serve it as a side dish to a main or with something simple like some good bread and cheese.

What you need:
  • 2 bulbs of fennel, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 450g ripe tomatoes

Gratin topping:
  • 60g fresh white breadcrumbs (you get a really good effect if you keep the crumbs large and chunky)
  • 65g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspooons grated lemon zest
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

What you do
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Grease a 22cm square gratin dish.
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan.
  4. Cook the onion for a few minutes until softened.
  5. Add the garlic and cook briefly, then add the fennel and cook for seven minutes, stirring frequently, until softened and golden brown.
  6. Cut a cross at the base of each tomato and place them in a bowl. Pour over boiling water and let stand for 20 seconds and then cool with cold water. Peel the skins off the tomatoes and discard.
  7. Chop the tomato flesh roughly and add to the fennel. Cook, stirring frequently, for five minutes, or until the tomato is softened.
  8. Season the vegetables well and pour into the gratin dish.
  9. Mix together the gratin ingredients, sprinkle over the vegetables and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
  10. Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chilli salmon noodle salad with lime and herbs

Hello everyone, I had a fantastic day yesterday doing a Spanish Gourmet Safari We went all over Sydney and tasted all sorts of beautiful Spanish foods and drinks including jamon, olives, cheese, chorizo, sherry (which I had never tasted before but once I tried the Pedro Ximinez...I was hooked). I knew the day was off to a good start when we began in a tiny cafe in Kings Cross with beautiful thick Spanish hot chocolate and churros. From there we went to Yagoona, then back to McMahons Point, then Glebe and finally into the Spanish quarter in Liverpool street in the city. Who knew there were so many sources of fabulous Spanish things? We finished mid afternoon with some tapas and sangria. I have to say the potatoes in alioli were the best I have ever eaten. All in all an outstanding day, so if you like your Spanish I highly recommend you do this tour, it is excellent.

Now for a completely different taste I'm giving you a recipe for a Thai style salad which truly stands the test of something delicious and easy at the end of a long, hard day. I left work on Friday night at 7.00 and was determined that I was going to make this salad. Only problem was that I had left my shopping list at home and didn't know what I needed for it, and by that time of night my shopping options were limited. I took a punt that delicious magazine, from which the recipe comes (in fact it's this month's cover recipe so you can see it), is sold in Woolies and happily found it there. I bought a copy and then whipped around the shop and managed to obtain all the ingredients that I didn't already have at home. (Including buying the salmon at Woolies which I have never done before but I was surprised at how good and fresh it was, just like buying from a real fishmonger!)

So you can imagine, by the time I got home it was around 8.00. Well, I had dinner made within 15 minutes and it was beautiful. So hopefully a good one for you too when you're in the same situation - just remember to take your shopping list with you!

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Chilli salmon noodle salad with lime and herbs

Serves four

What you need:
  • 500g salmon fillet
  • 1-2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, or a light olive oil
  • 200g rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 avocado, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup each mint, coriander and Thai or regular basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Dressing (I found the given quantities perfect but you can adjust to suit your taste)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
  • 2 tablespoons each fish sauce and sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar

What you do:
  1. Coat the salmon fillet in the sweet chilli sauce.
  2. Heat the oil in a frypan over a medium-high heat.
  3. Sear the salmon for 2-3 minutes each side, leaving it a little pink in the middle.
  4. Place the salmon on a plate, cover loosely with foil and leave to rest while you make the salad.
  5. Prepare the noodles by pouring boiling water over them, then drain and set aside.
  6. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a large bowl until the sugar dissolves.
  7. Add the cherry tomatoes, avocado and sliced red chilli to the dressing and toss gently to combine.
  8. Add the noodles and herbs to the salad and gently toss again.
  9. Divide the noodle salad among four plates.
  10. Break the salmon into chunks with your fingers and gently tuck the pieces into the salad.
  11. Scatter with the peanuts and serve the salad with the lime wedges.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Flourless peach cake

Hello everyone, this was one of those weeks when once again I was reflecting on sandwiches and puzzling yet again over why it's so hard to get good ones. This was prompted by the fact that for three days in a row I happened to have lunch provided in an office in the city (different ones each day) and the sandwiches varied in quality (and none were to die for). I guess the fact that they are done in bulk doesn't help, plus they are probably made some time in advance of being served so inevitably start to sag. I'm also intrigued at some of the combinations of fillings you see. Not all of which I find appealing! Happily today I can go and have the perfect sandwich made up freshly for me at my favourite cafe, accompanied by a beautiful cup of hot chocolate. Thank goodness there are some places that know how to get the basics right!

Today's recipe is for a wonderful cake that I baked recently and brought into the office to share. It is so moist you won't believe it and it went down really, really well, in fact I'd say it's the most popular one so far - the boys in particular really went for it. It's yet another from my favourite Epicure Chocolate book. It doesn't have an icing so I just served it with some thick cream.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Flourless peach cake

What you need:
  • 225g ground almonds
  • 225g brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons really good quality Dutched cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 1/2 cup milk soured with the juice of one lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • One handful of chopped dried peach

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 175C.
  2. Grease and line a 20cm round baking tin with baking paper.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together.
  4. Add the milk and eggs to the dry ingredients and mix well to combine.
  5. Stir in the chopped peach.
  6. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 45 minutes.
  7. Cool in the tin and turn out very, very carefully, then use a second cake rack to flip over so it's the right way around. Because this cake is so moist it's liable to break very easily so be as gentle and careful as you can!