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.