Saturday, September 11, 2010

Little chocolate cakes

Hello everyone, this is going to be my last posting on this blog. I have been writing it since January 2008 and today's recipe is number 150, which seems a good number at which to conclude. It's funny to look at the list of recipes I have shared - it is a compendium of all the things I love to eat! I could quite happily just rotate through all the recipes here for the rest of my life. Of course I won't, there are always new cookbooks calling me with something different.

I decided to conclude with what would really have to be my most favourite food in the world, chocolate pudding. The recipe comes from Jill Dupleix's Simple Food, a book from which I have cooked nearly every single thing. She calls the dish cakes, but she suggests pulling them out of the oven a little bit early so that you can enjoy the luscious squidgy texture. That's how I cook these cakes and I serve them as puddings with cream, ice-cream and chocolate sauce.

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog and provided me with comments and feedback. It made me really happy whenever anyone told me that they had cooked something from the blog, or their family had a favourite recipe from the blog, as that was the original intention. I hope you keep returning to it and find it a useful source of delicious inspiration!

Love from Jane

Little Chocolate Cakes

Makes 12

What you need:
  • 200g dark, bitter, top quality chocolate, chopped
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 120g butter
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • Icing sugar for dusting

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. In a bowl sitting above a simmering pan of water on the stove, combine the chocolate, sugar and butter and stir as they melt into a smooth, glossy sauce.
  3. Remove from the heat and cool for five minutes.
  4. Add the ground almonds to the chocolate sauce and stir well.
  5. Beat in the egg yolks, one by one, until well mixed.
  6. Place the egg whites into a large, dry bowl and beat until stiff and peaky.
  7. Stir a large spoonful of egg white into the chocolate mix to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining egg white.
  8. Spoon the mix into lightly buttered large muffin moulds, or a 12 hole muffin tray lined with doubled muffin paper cases.
  9. Bake: if you want a pudding texture check at 15 minutes; if you prefer a cake effect, check at 25 minutes.
  10. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing the puddings from their moulds, and serve as you prefer.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pizza with prosciutto and ricotta

Hello everyone, I had lunch today at a place I really like called The Cook's Garden in North Turramurra, which I think I have mentioned before. I had a really simple but delicious slice of grilled bread, piled high with roasted capsicum, roasted golden beetroot, grilled haloumi and rocket. I haven't tried golden beetroot before as the traditional version doesn't appeal at all, but it was very good and seemed to have a much firmer and drier texture than the usual purple one.

This week's recipe is a favourite pizza, from a Women's Weekly book called Cooking For Friends There are so many different combinations that you can use for a pizza but this one seems to be just right every time.

Have a great week. Love from Jane xx

Pizza with prosciutto and ricotta

Serves six to eight

What you need:
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 3 x medium sized pizza bases
  • 1/2 to 1 cup tomato paste
  • 300g baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 9 slices prosciutto
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed, coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 300g fresh ricotta
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and stirred through the olive oil

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 240C.
  2. Cut each tomato into eight wedges.
  3. Place the pizza bases on oven trays.
  4. Spread each base with a third of the tomato paste.
  5. Top each pizza with equal amounts of tomato, spinach, onion, prosciutto, basil, ricotta and pine nuts.
  6. Drizzle each pizza with equal amounts of the garlic oil.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the top of each pizza is browned lightly and the base crisp.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Chocolate and cranberry biscuits

Hello everyone, this week's recipe comes from one of my favourite cook books, Epicure Chocolate. These biscuits are lovely and chewy and make a nice big quantity.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xxx

Chocolate and cranberry biscuits

Makes 35-40

What you need:
  • 200g butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup condensed milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 cups dried cranberries (you could substitute raisins)
  • 1 cup chocolate bits, dark, milk or white, whichever you prefer (use good quality ones, not compounded chocolate)

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and condensed milk.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Sift the flour and baking soda into the creamed mixture.
  5. Stir in the rolled oats, cranberries or raisins and chocolate bits.
  6. Place tablespoons on greased oven trays and press down with a fork.
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until golden.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Chicken sandwiches

Hello everyone, today I went on one of Maeve O'Meara's fabulous Gourmet Safaris which was an amazing lunch at Azuma Japanese restaurant. We were entertained and informed by Maeve and a gorgeous Japanese woman called Miko, and were fed what seemed to be a never ending supply of delightfully flavoured and delicately presented morsels. We started with a tasting plate of six different items in various dressings and sauces, then progressed to the biggest bento box I have ever seen. It was so hard to decide in what order to try each section as they all looked and sounded delicious from the description we had on our special menus. I think if pressed I would plump for the wagyu beef as my favourite bite, but it was all outstanding. Dessert was home made vanilla icecream, fresh fruit and these amazing starchy dumplings, which you drowned in a black sauce, which was described as a Japanese sugar syrup and tasted like molasses. It was amazing, generous and a lot of fun. If you haven't tried a Gourmet Safari before I really recommend them and you can choose from a huge array of banquets, walking tours and even gourmet holidays!

This week's recipe is something that is very simple but when done well, with very good ingredients, is just the best. It's a recipe from Good Living, and I feel safe in saying the best chicken sandwich recipe I have ever tried.

Have a good week. Love from Jane xx

Chicken sandwiches

Serves four, easily

What you need:
  • 1 roast or BBQ chicken
  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon seeded mustard
  • 2 sticks celery, washed and finely chopped
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 2 large handfuls of watercress or rocket, washed and dried

What you do:

  1. Remove the chicken meat from the carcass and shred finely.
  2. Mix the chicken in a bowl with all the other ingredients except the bread and leaves.
  3. Lay out the slices of bread and spoon the chicken filling onto four slices.
  4. Top with watercress or rocket and the remaining bread slices.
  5. Cut in half and serve.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Warm winter salad of radicchio, wild rocket and feta

Hello everyone, this week I am wondering if you can do something for me. My beautiful cat Bellatrix has gone missing and I am trying to do everything I can think of to find her. She disappeared on Wednesday 11 August from our home in Cromer. I have searched the surrounding streets, calling her name, and done a letter box drop with a flyer with her photo asking for assistance. My brother in law has searched under the house and I have scoured surrounding bushes, surveyed the roof and called her name until I am blue in the face. If you happen to know anyone at all who lives in Cromer, I implore you to direct them to this photo of Bellatrix and ask them to look out for her. Her name, my mobile number and her Vet's details are on a tag on her collar and she is microchipped so any Vet who scans her could contact me. All help very much appreciated!!

This week's recipe comes from the July edition of delicious magazine. It is a Jamie Oliver recipe.


Warm winter salad of radicchio, wild rocket and feta

Serves six

What you need:

  • 3 radicchio lettuces, outer leaves removed

  • 3 slices good quality bread

  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • A large handful of pine nuts

  • A large handful of raisins

  • Olive oil

  • 200ml balsamic vinegar (I'd recommend using half this quantity, and taste and adjust if you think it needs more)

  • 75g wild rocket

  • 200g feta cheese

What you do:

  1. Cut radicchio into quarters.

  2. Grill in a dry, very hot pan on top of the stove for 3-4 minutes until nicely charred on all sides. Remove to a large bowl.

  3. Chargrill the slices of bread.

  4. To make the dressing, fry the garlic, pine nuts and raisins in a little oil over a medium heat.

  5. When the garlic starts to colour, take the pan off the heat and pour in the balsamic. Most of the liquid will evaporate when it hits the pan, so you end up with a sticky dressing. Leave to cool a little.

  6. Roughly tear up the radicchio and bread, then place back in the bowl and toss with the dressing.

  7. Divide the radicchio and bread among serving plates.

  8. Top with rocket, any pine nuts and raisins left in the bowl and crumble over the feta before serving.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Spicy meatballs on toast

Hello everyone, I was lucky this week to visit a fairly new restaurant, Neutral Bay Bar And Dining, at which I had an absolutely luscious meal. I was a little tenative, as the owners of this place have another restaurant in Glebe where I was left very unimpressed some years ago with the difficulty in booking, the sittings policy and a lost order. That one was not a great night.

NBBAD was (happily) a completely different experience. It was easy to book and you could arrive any time you liked. The fit out is lovely, with comfy, roomy booths; you don't feel as if the next table is sitting in your lap. The service was charming and efficient, but best of all (again, happily) was the food. It was outstanding! I had the most beautiful roast pork, which had I not known better I would have sworn was cooked by my Mum or my Nana. To follow I departed from my habit of ordering the chocolate dessert (enticing as it sounded) and plumped for the pear and raspberry souffle. Again, absolutely outstanding. I did muse later that it's a funny thing when I am excited about going out and spending a decent amount of money on a meal that I loved because it tasted so home cooked. Maybe because it's more common that you would want to get ordinary food. Anyway, NBBAD has gone straight on to my list of favourite restaurants and I can't wait to go back.

This week's recipe comes from the July edition of delicious and I loved it. You can make the full quantity and freeze portions if you aren't cooking for an entire family. It really works with the toast.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xxx

Spicy meatballs on toast

Serves four

What you need:
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped, plus 1 halved
  • 4 slices pancetta
  • 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, plus extra to serve
  • 600g beef mince
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 egg
  • 250g punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 750ml tomato passata
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 8 slices ciabatta bread
  • 1 cup grated parmesan

What you do:

  1. Place chopped garlic in a food processor with the pancetta, rosemary and parsley and pulse until finely chopped. (If you are not that fussed about having everything really finely choppped, you can just do the chopping and mixing by hand).
  2. Place the garlic mix into a bowl with the mince, chilli, tomato paste and egg and mix well with your hands.
  3. Roll into 3cm balls and chill for 30 minutes if you have the time (don't worry if not).
  4. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  5. Heat some oil in a pan over a medium-high heat.
  6. In batches, coook the meatballs for 4-5 minutes until well browned.
  7. Place on a baking tray with the cherry tomatoes; drizzle with oil and season.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and the tomatoes are tender.
  9. Meanwhile, heat the passata, sugar and vinegar in a pan over a medium heat.
  10. Season, then place the meatballs and tomatoes in the sauce and warm through.
  11. Toast the slices of bread, then rub with the halved garlic clove.
  12. Serve the meatballs and sauce on the toast, scattered with parmesan and extra parsley.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Double chocolate muffins

Hello everyone, this week I heard someone say that the Melbourne Cup is only a few weeks away. Well, that is probably stretching reality somewhat, but it did give my heart a lift and the thought that tomorrow heralds the beginning of the last month of winter for another year is a very good thing. I have tried so hard to not complain about the cold weather this year as I usually do (and have realised how many others do, I must have been drowning out their voices previously) but I will be so glad to welcome back longer, brighter, warmer days.

Having said that, I do love winter cooking and have just popped some fennel with a lovely crunchy topping into the oven to bake for my dinner. It is a recipe in the August edition of delicious and as I love fennel, I was very keen to try out both the baked fennel and a fennel soup from the same article. Another lovely thing to have baking on a cold winter morning, as I did last Sunday, is a batch of muffins for morning tea. Now I have baked my fair share of muffins over the years and I have to say, I think these are the best yet. They are so chocolately (as the name suggests) and very moist. Do make sure you use very good quality chocolate - I have been buying the chocolate buttons from Adora chocolate (in the plaza outside the Sofitel Wentworth in the city) and they are excellent. I'm sure you'll think these muffins are great too when you whip up a batch yourself!

Have a happy week! Love from Jane xxx

Double chocolate muffins

What you need:
  • 150g dark chocolate, either buttons or chopped
  • 125g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 150g white chocolate, either buttons or chopped

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
  3. Place the chocolate and the butter in a saucepan over a very low heat and stir until melted and combined. Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
  6. Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk.
  7. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients.
  8. Stir in the cooled chocolate and the white chocolate bits, and stir everything together just until combined. DON'T over mix - muffins need a very light hand.
  9. Divide the mixture between the prepared cases and bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the muffins shows they are cooked. You might want to leave them slightly under-done in the middle to get a nice fudgy texture.
  10. Serve as is or drizzled with a little melted dark chocolate if you wish.

You can also serve these muffins as a pudding for dessert, by warming gently and serving with cream and/or ice-cream and chocolate sauce. In that case you might want to make six larger muffins.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sicilian Potato Salad

Hello everyone, a chair that I had sent away to have re-upholstered has just been delivered back to me. The chair belonged to my great grandmother and was passed from her to my grandmother's sister, Aunty Sheelah. When Aunty Sheelah died some years ago the chair came to me. I've wanted to have it re-done for years, as it was in a rather old lady-ish pink, so I'm very excited to have it all done! I have gone for more of a neutral look, using a linen fabric in a colour that might be described as a slighter darker shade of oatmeal. The possibilities for cushions to dress it up are endless! I will look forward to sitting in my chair at some stage during the weekend and continuing to devour an anthology of short stories by one of my favourite authors in the world (who has sadly departed this world), Carol Shields.

Now as regular readers know, I love my potatoes, and am firmly of the view that you never can have too many potato salad recipes. This week's one is from my favourite food writer, Matthew Evans. I found the recipe years ago in his column in Good Weekend magazine. He says that the dish originates in Palermo. It's certainly delicious and best served warm or at room temperature.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Sicilian potato salad

Serves 4-6

What you need:
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 kg potatoes, preferably waxy, washed and/or peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
  • 60g capers, preferably salted, soaked for 15 minutes and rinsed
  • 150g green olives, rinsed well
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt

What you do:
  1. Heat enough oil in a frypan to fry the potatoes until nearly cooked through.
  2. Add the onion and fry until it becomes translucent and the potatoes are fully cooked.
  3. Add the capers and the olives.
  4. Whisk the vinegar with the sugar and some salt and pour over the potatoes.
  5. Simmer for a few seconds, then turn off the heat and allow the vinegar to soak into the potatoes.
  6. Season to taste and serve in a pretty serving bowl.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Linguine with lemon, parsley and mint

Hello everyone, this week's recipe is one I cut from the newspaper some time ago. It's one of those really simple pasta dishes that you can whip up in a hurry (after you have prepared the lemon oil ahead of time). It's lovely and delicate with a good tang from the lemon and mint.

Have a lovely week! Love from Jane xx

Linguine with lemon, parsley and mint

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1 lemon
  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 500g linguine
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Sea salt

What you do:

  1. Finely grate the lemon rind and squeeze the juice of the lemon into a bowl.
  2. Mix in half the olive oil with the rind and juice and leave for an hour so that the lemon flavour seeps into the oil.
  3. Cook the pasta.
  4. When the pasta is nearly ready, warm a serving bowl.
  5. In that bowl, whisk together the lemon oil mix, the remaining oil, cheese, parsley and mint and 5 or 6 spoons of the pasta cooking water.
  6. Drain the pasta and toss in the bowl with the sauce, adding pepper and a little salt if needed.
  7. Serve immediately.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jamie's burger

Hello everyone, this week's recipe is quite easily the best tasting burger I have ever encountered. That's a big call as I have made a lot of burgers in my time but there was just something about it that made it extraordinary. It comes from Jamie's America, a book I am absolutely loving (having never bought, read or used any of Jamie's other books I'm now thinking that might have to be the next serious addition to my cook book library).

Now I'm not going to give you the whole recipe from the book - it's well worth doing but really, once you have the basic burger you can put together your burger with any bread, salad and sauce you like. I'm sure you will love this mix.

Have a great week. Love from Jane xxx

Jamie's burger

Serves six (I found the quantity very generous)

What you need:
  • Olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 slices of bread, crusts removed and blitzed in the food processor (if you already have breadcrumbs in the freezer, just use them)
  • 500g good quality lean minced beef
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • A handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

What you do:
  1. Add a splash of olive oil to a frying pan on a low heat and add the onions.
  2. Fry, stirring now and again, for about ten minutes or until the onions are cooked, then put aside to cool.
  3. Mix the onion with the rest of the burger ingredients.
  4. Form the mix into patties, as small or as large as you like.
  5. (If you have time to spare) Put the burgers into the fridge for about an hour to allow them to firm up. I didn't and they stayed together beautifully.
  6. Preheat your oven to 200C, or fire up the BBQ.
  7. Cook the burgers to your liking - I did 20 minutes in the oven.
  8. Combine with your chosen bread, salad and sauce. Jamie gives a recipe for a spicy mayonnaise to go with these burgers which works really well but you could add whatever you like.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Not-for-the-faint-hearted hot chocolate

Hello everyone, with the freezing cold weather this week I have been drinking more than my fair share of hot chocolate. I have found a source of quite good chilli hot chocolate close to my office, and there really is no better way to defrost early in the morning! I am also enjoying the luscious hot chocolate from Mitra's Chocolates in Mosman. They do a chilli hot chocolate that really packs a punch, and their milk chocolate is very good too.

This week's recipe shows you how to make incredible hot chocolate at home, just perfect for cold winter nights. It is a recipe I cut out from Good Living a few years ago, created by Matthew Evans, and I think it is in his new book, The Real Food Companion.

(Greg, this one is for you!)

Have a happy week! Love from Jane xxx

Not-for-the-faint-hearted hot chocolate

Could serve either one or two - up to you!

What you need:
  • 150ml milk
  • 100ml cream
  • 100g dark chocolate, broken into smallish bits (generally I prefer milk chocolate, but in this recipe dark is definitely preferable; milk is just too sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon really good quality cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1-2 tablespoons brandy, cognac or whisky

What you do:

  1. Heat the milk and cream carefully in a small pan until warm.
  2. Whisk in the chocolate and sifted cocoa.
  3. Bring to just near the boil, remove from the stove and whisk in the alcohol.
  4. Serve in front of a fire or the heater.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Red cabbage salad

Hello everyone, this week's recipe is something that I have copied from one of my favourite Italian restaurants. It's very simple and you can work out the quantities to suit your tastes.

Combine finely shredded red cabbage with raisins (which you may wish to plump up ahead of time in some verjuice), walnuts and chunks of gorgonzola dolce. Dress with your best extra virgin olive oil and balsamic. Toss together the ingredients, transfer to a deep bowl and serve with pizza, pasta, lamb, fish...whatever you are having for dinner.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Gnocchi with gorgonzola, spinach and walnuts

Hello everyone, I had such a piece of luck today. About six months ago I was out shopping with my friend Anne in Lane Cove and we spent some time in a small local art and craft gallery. A gorgeous brood of crackled pottery hens had just arrived and I was enormously tempted to buy them. I resisted at the time, although I really loved them, as there was something about the chickens that made me keep picking them up and stroking them. Today we went in there again and guess what, there were two chickens left, sitting on a shelf as if they were waiting for me! Of course I snapped them up straight away this time and they are now happily adorning my home.

This week's recipe is one of my favourite combinations of ingredients. It's a recipe from Good Living from a few years back, a good one for winter. It's definitely time for me to cook it again as I happen to have all of the necessary ingredients laid in, to be used in a couple of other dishes.

Have a lovely week! Love from Jane xx

Gnocchi with gorgonzola, spinach and walnuts

Serves four

What you need:
  • 500g good quality gnocchi
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 100g gorgonzola, crumbled
  • 75g baby spinach
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
  • Freshly chopped flat leaf parsley, to serve (which is code for optional)

What you do:

  1. Cook the gnocchi in a large saucepan of boiling water until tender. Drain well.
  2. Place the chicken stock and butter in a large pan over a medium-high heat.
  3. Stir the stock until the butter has melted, then simmer for 2-3 minutes or until reduced by half.
  4. Add the gorgonzola and stir until the cheese has just melted.
  5. Toss the gnocchi with the gorgonzola sauce and baby spinach, and season with pepper.
  6. Serve sprinkled with the walnuts and parsley if using.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Herb baked fish on saffron and tomato potatoes

Hello everyone, well, my annual Sydney Film Festival immersion finished on Saturday with three films. The absolute highlight of the Festival for me was the first one I saw that day, a documentary called Bill Cunningham New York, which was an absolutely charming and fascinating film about this man who cycles around the city, documenting New York fashion, both on the street and at charity galas. It was funny and moving and visually captivating. If you saw the Valentino film last year, or The September Issue, it's a film in the vein of those ones. If it gets a general release, it's another one I highly recommend. The snippets with some obscure diplomat who has a wardrobe full of custom made suits in the most bizarre designs and fabrics is one of the most hilarious things I have ever seen.

This week's recipe is another dish combining two of my favourite things - fish and potato. It is from the June 2010 edition of delicious magazine. In it they use blue-eye. I substituted salmon as I am not huge on blue-eye, but I'm sure you could use whatever fish takes your fancy. I'm not convinced that the inclusion of the tomatoes adds anything so if you can't be bothered with the peeling and seeding, you won't lose anything by leaving them out. The potatoes work really well done this way - they are luscious!

Have a great week.

Love from Jane xx

Herb baked fish on saffron and tomato potatoes

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 250g vine ripened tomatoes, peeled, quartered and seeds removed
  • 900g floury potatoes (such as coliban), peeled and cut into 1cm slices
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • A good pinch of saffron threads
  • 50g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 4 x 200g thick fish fillets

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep frypan over a medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute, then add tomato if using, and cook for two minutes until the tomato starts to soften.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and add the potato slices, stock, saffron and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  5. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potato is almost tender.
  6. Transfer the potatoes and tomatoes to a baking dish, with the liquid, and season.
  7. Stir together the melted butter and chopped herbs, then coat the fish with the herb butter.
  8. Place the fish on top of the potatoes and pour over any remaining herb butter.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the fish is cooked to your liking and the potatoes are tender.
  10. Spoon the potatoes into warmed bowls and carefully arrange the fish on top and serve.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Apple crisp

Hello everyone, this week I launched into the Sydney Film Festival on Opening Night with a really, really beautiful film called South Solitary. It stars Miranda Otto and I highly recommend it when it has its general release. It was a great story, very funny at times, and the location, scenery, clothes and settings were gorgeous.

Thankfully it was such a great film as the opening night speeches were endless and boring. I really don't know why they had to be inflicted on those of us at the public event - they should have been confined to the opening night party afterwards. The Minister for the Arts and the Lord Mayor both gave blatantly political speeches, so I enjoyed the irony of the Minister who received a completely irrelevant and inappropriate special acknowledgement from the Minister for the Arts being sacked two days later!

Anyway, to calm me down, another fruit crumble, as this is just the right time of year for them. This one is a really simple one that comes from my beloved book Heart Of The Home.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Apple Crisp

Serves four to six

What you need:
  • About 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teapoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup softened butter

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Butter a baking dish.
  3. Peel and slice the apples.
  4. Arrange the apple slices in the baking dish.
  5. Mix together the remaining ingredients and sprinkle over the apples.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown.
  7. Serve it hot or cold with thick cream and/or icecream.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Maple glazed roast potato and apple

Hello everyone, I've had a lovely week off work these last few days and seem to have spent a lot of time in the car driving all over Sydney running endless errands that have been piling up. One advantage is that on several occasions my trips took me close to specialty food shops that I have wanted to try but which aren't normally on my way anywhere. I was particularly fortunate to strike two specialty chocolate shops on one day. One was Adriano Zumbo's chocolate shop in Balmain, at which I had heard there was very good hot chocolate to be had. So I stopped there to sample it and it was really quite good. Not as good as Koko Black in Melbourne, but good enough to make me think about going back to try the various flavours of hot chocolate on offer. Then later that day I noticed a shop called "Christophe...Ses Chocolats", a chocolate maker, which is in a suburb called Russell Lea. On my way back I stopped in and bought a handful of chocolates and they were delicious! So nice and fresh and there were so many beautiful sounding flavours it was hard to choose! I think it will be a good thing to go back to work and remove myself from all these temptations.

This week's recipe is a great winter time dish and just luscious. The original recipe uses kumara, but being the potato lover that I am I substitute potato. You can use either or even both. It's from the Autumn/Winter edition of SOS and a very good dish to have in your cold weather repertoire.

Have a wonderful week. Love from Jane xxx

Maple glazed roast potato and apple

Serves six

What you need:
  • 1.5kg potato and/or kumara, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, cored and quartered
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 180ml orange juice
  • 125ml maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C.
  2. Place the potato and/or kumara and apple into an earthenware dish which will hold them snugly.
  3. In a small saucepan over a medium heat, make a syrup with the butter, orange juice, maple syrup, ground cloves, salt and pepper.
  4. Pour the syrup over the potato/kumara and apple.
  5. Cover the dish with foil and roast in the centre of the oven for an hour, basting every 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the foil and continue to cook for about a further 30 minutes, or until caramelised, basting as necessary.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tagliatelle with onion sauce

Hello everyone, last night I was meeting some friends to see the wonderful Irish writer Colm Toibin as part of the Sydney Writers' Festival and we went for a bite to eat beforehand at the GPO Cheese and Wine Room in the city. It was great! It's a very atmospheric kind of place and the staff were warm and welcoming. The menu was wonderful - I really had trouble choosing. In the end my friend Ann-Maree and I shared a vegetarian dips plate and a plate with three cheeses matched to three half glasses of red wine. It was all so good. I really can't wait to go back there again and again! With some evening sessions at the upcoming Sydney Film Festival there should be more opportunities.

This week's recipe is a very simple and beautiful pasta dish. It comes from one of my favourite writers, Diane Seed, in her book The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces. I hope you like it too!

Love from Jane xxx

Tagliatelle with onion sauce

Serves four

What you need:
  • 500g tagliatelle
  • 100g butter
  • 500g onions, thinly sliced
  • Chicken stock
  • 200ml cream
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated nutmeg
  • Parmesan cheese for serving

What you do:

  1. Melt the butter and cook the thinly sliced onions in a covered pan over a low heat until they are soft. Do not let them brown.
  2. Cover with chicken stock and simmer, with the lid on the pan, for another 25 minutes.
  3. Start cooking the pasta following the packet directions.
  4. Allow the onion mix to cool a little, then puree it.
  5. Stir the cream into the onions, then add the salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
  6. Drain the pasta and stir through the onion sauce.
  7. Serve the pasta and sauce with Parmesan cheese served separately.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spaghetti with ocean trout and capers

Hello everyone, yesterday I went to one of the first events at this year's Sydney Writers' Festival which was a talk by the founders of the famous Bourke Street Bakery. It was held at the Surry Hills Library and the two speakers, Paul Allam and David McGuinness, shared some of the "secrets" of the bakery. It was fascinating, and a lovely addition was on that arrival they had a generous selection of their famous tarts set out on a big table, so that everyone could have one on the way in! It was a really good start for this year's Festival for me.

This week's recipe comes from Pete Evan's book Fish, from which I have had mixed results, but this one was a real winner, particularly as I had left work late that day, so was anticipating a late dinner, but despite the lengthy list of ingredients, found that it cooked up pretty quickly and was delicious.

Have a lovely week. Love from Jane xx

Spaghetti with ocean trout and capers

Serves four

(If you don't like capers by all means leave them out, I don't think their deletion will impact too markedly on the dish).

What you need:
  • 500g spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped banana chilli
  • 6 anchovies, roughly torn
  • 60g choppped green olives
  • 2 tablespoons baby capers
  • A large handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 400g ocean trout, skin and bones removed and cubed (it's really important that the skin is removed, I forgot this detail when I purchased my fish and consequently had some difficulty with the cubing)
  • 3 handfuls of rocket
  • 4 tablespoons salmon roe (optional)

What you do:

  1. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil, garlic and chilli in a large pan until the garlic starts to turn golden.
  3. Add the anchovies, olives, capers and parsley.
  4. Drain the pasta, add to the pan with the garlic mix and toss well.
  5. Add the lemon juice and ocean trout and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Stir through for 30 seconds. The idea is for the fish to be served rare, so you are just warming it slightly around the edges and then allowing it to cook a little more when served from the heat of the pasta.
  7. Add the rocket and mix through until slightly wilted.
  8. Transfer the spaghetti and fish to a serving bowl and garnish with salmon roe, if using, before serving.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cashew ginger fingers

Hello everyone, last Sunday we celebrated Mum's seventieth birthday over lunch at Aqua Dining at North Sydney. I hadn't been near the pool for over twenty years and I have to say the addition of this glamorous restaurant is a master stroke (no pun intended). It was a gorgeous sunny day and our table looked out over the pool and the harbour. The service was flawless and the food heavenly. I had the Hiramasa Kingfish and it was one of the most beautifully cooked pieces of fish I have ever eaten. The restaurant also did a cake for us and it was luscious, all full of strawberries and mascarpone. All in all, an outstanding restaurant experience.

This week's recipe is a quick and easy slice from my Women's Weekly Biscuits and Slices book. I wouldn't say that this is one of their better books but from time to time I'll make something from it that is good, and this is one of those.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Cashew Ginger Fingers

What you need:
  • 125g butter
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 60g butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1 cup unsalted, roasted cashew nuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped glace ginger

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Line a 20cm x 30cm lamington tin with baking paper.
  3. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Stir the sifted flour and ground ginger into the butter mix.
  5. Spread this mix evenly over the base of the prepared tin.
  6. Bake the mix in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in the pan.
  7. To make the topping, combine the icing sugar, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the butter is melted.
  8. Stir in the nuts and ginger.
  9. Spread the hot topping evenly over the cold base.
  10. Cool before slicing into fingers.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Spicy potato tagine with olives

Hello everyone, I was prompted to share this particular recipe today following two different conversations this week. On Tuesday a friend was telling me about the tagine he'd made on the weekend and as soon as I arrived home I started searching through my cook books for some lovely tagine recipes I remembered cooking previously. I love a good tagine and they are so warming and comforting in winter. Then this morning I heard an interesting early morning discussion between Angela Catterns on local radio and a potato grower, who was setting up his stall at the Penrith markets. I think he reeled off the names of about ten different varieties of potatoes he had brought to market for sale and they all sounded very enticing.

Hence another recipe indulging my love of potatoes. This recipe is a different take on the usual tagine as there's no meat, so it works for vegetarians, as a side dish or just as a dish on its own for anyone who likes potatoes and olives! I found the recipe in Spectrum in the SMH and it says that it is adapted from Paula Wolfert's book, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Spicy Potato Tagine With Olives

Serves 4-6 when served with couscous or rice

Peel and thickly slice 900g of yellow fleshed potatoes and place them in a bowl of cold water. In a heavy saucepan (or well seasoned tagine), heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and fry a finely chopped onion for 3-4 minutes, stirring. Add a chopped tomato, 1/4 teaspoon each of paprika, ground ginger and cumin, and 2 crushed garlic cloves. Stir for two minutes.

Add the drained potatoes, a bay leaf and a quarter of a lemon (whole). Toss, then add a handful each of chopped parsley and coriander (or you could substitute mint if like me you don't like coriander) and a couple of good pinches of salt. Toss, then add 5 saffron threads and 1 1/2 cups of hot water.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a warm serving dish and discard the lemon. Add 24 pitted green olives to the liquid remaining in the cooking pot and boil until the juices have reduced to a thick sauce. Pour over the potatoes and garnish with half a preserved lemon, chopped.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bill's Creamy Semolina With Bay Leaf And Parmesan

Hello everyone, last night I was lucky enough to have dinner at Barrenjoey House at Palm Beach. I've been wanting to go there for a while and was really looking forward to it, although somewhat disappointed that Darren Simpson was such a recent departure from the head chef role. It turned out to be just the kind of place I like - large and airy, with a real "by the seaside" feel to it. The food was gorgeous. They had fish and chips on the menu and I just knew it was the sort of place that would do it well, which was the case, and then I followed up with chocolate souffle which was divine - all warm and melting chocolate. The only downside was that just before I left home to go there I realised that the shops wouldn't be open this morning, being ANZAC day, and I still had a few items to buy for the lunch I was serving today that I had planned to buy fresh! So at 11.00 last night I was wandering around a supermarket snatching up herbs and croissants.

Now today's recipe is another from the ever reliable Bill Granger. It dates from the time he used to do a breakfast segment on Angela Catterns' breakfast show on local radio (yep, 2005). I loved listening to that slot, and obviously the sound of this particular recipe appealed as I printed it from the ABC website and have made it a few times now. I really love semolina (very similar to polenta) and this is a good one for dinner on cooler nights.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Bill's Creamy Semolina With Bay And Parmesan

Serves about four

What you need:
  • 1 litre of milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 170g semolina
  • 60g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, if you have it

What you do:

  1. Place milk, bay leaves and salt in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over a moderate heat.
  2. Reduce the heat and slowly add the semolina in a thin, steady stream, stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent lumps forming.
  3. When all the semolina has been added, adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles, and stir constantly until the semolina pulls away from the side of the pan, which will take about 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Stir through the cheese and a sprinkle of nutmeg if you have it.
  5. Remove the bay leaves and serve.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Salmon, cabbage and potato

Hello everyone, I had dinner during the week with my friend Jan who lives in Potts Point and therefore is never short of a new fabulous place to entice me. We went to the Sardine Room, and really just the name was enough to get me there, conjuring up images of a glamorous, 1940s style bar. It's actually a little restaurant in Challis Street in Potts Point, specialising, of course, in seafood. I was intrigued when the owner made a point of telling us that several of the dishes were cooked in stock NOT cream, which could be a selling point to some, but not me. Bring on the cream I thought to myself. In any case, we both plumped for a risotto which had fennel and something else, I've actually forgotten already but it was some sort of seafood, and really very nice. But as I was quite stressed that evening, the highlights for me were the lovely glass of red and the luscious slice of chocolate and hazelnut tort with frangelico mascarpone - I definitely needed that combination to make me feel more settled!

Now this week's recipe comes from Jill Dupleix's book Take Three. As she doesn't actually title the recipes in the book I have just named it according to the three chief ingredients, which may not sound that exciting, but it's a very nice dish. It has caraway seeds, which I always think impart a magic touch.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xxx

Salmon, cabbage and potato

Serves four

What you need:
  • 4 x 200g fillets of fresh salmon
  • 1/2 medium white cabbage, cored and finely shredded
  • 10 small potatoes (baby kipflers are around at the moment and very good)
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 200ml white wine (or you can substitute verjuice)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds

What you do:
  1. Cook the potatoes, (either peeled or unpeeled, whatever you prefer) in simmering, salted water for about 15 minutes or until tender.
  2. Cook the cabbage in simmering, salted water for about 10 minutes - you want it to remain fairly crunchy - then drain well.
  3. Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the wine and bring to the boil.
  4. Add the drained cabbage and toss well.
  5. Place the salmon fillets on top, cover tightly, and cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes until the cabbage is tender and the salmon is cooked but still pink and moist in the middle.
  6. Gently remove the salmon fillets and keep warm.
  7. Add the vinegar and half the caraway seeds to the cabbage and toss well for a minute.
  8. Arrange a heap of cabbage on four serving plates and top each with a salmon fillet.
  9. Drain the potatoes, cut in half and tuck them around the salmon.
  10. Sprinkle with the remaining caraway seeds and serve.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Apple and almond crumble

Hello everyone, well, although summer is not entirely gone, it is definitely cooler in the mornings and evenings, and around this time of year my thoughts always turn to fruit crumbles. They are so delicious and warm! During the week I made the crumble recipe given by Jamie Oliver in this month's delicious magazine, an apple and plum one with lovely dried fruit and nuts through it. It tasted great but I must say involves a huge amount of peeling and slicing and cooking fruit. The crumble I'm giving you is another one from delicious magzine, but from quite a while ago, May 2002 in fact. It's a Delia Smith one and one of my reliables for when I have friends coming for a meal. Raw almonds, as used in this recipe, are really good right now.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

PS How excited was I to see that there will be a session called "The Secrets of Bourke Street Bakery" at this year's Sydney Writers Festival on 15 May? I've already booked my tickets!

Apple and almond crumble

Serves 6-8

What you need:
· 700g Granny Smith apples
· 225g Golden Delicious apples
· 25g brown sugar
· 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
· ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

For the crumble:
· 110g whole almonds, skin on
· 75g chilled butter, cut into small pieces
· 175g self raising flour, sifted
· 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
· 110g demarara (or caster) sugar

· Pouring cream and/or custard and/or ice cream, to serve

What you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
2. Peel, core and slice the apples into thickish slices.
3. Toss the apple slices in a bowl with the sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves
4. Arrange in a baking dish and set aside.
5. To make the crumble, place butter, flour, cinnamon and sugar into a food processor and process until you have crumbs.
6. Add the almonds and process again until the almonds are finely chopped (it’s OK to have a few chunky bits).
7. Sprinkle the crumble mix over the apples, spreading it right to the edges of the dish. Using the flat of your hand, press it down quite firmly all over – the more tightly packed the crumble the crisper it will bake. Finish by lightly running a fork over the surface of the crumble.
8. Bake the crumble in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.
9. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving warm with cream, custard and/or ice-cream.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Crunchy breakfast pear muffins

Hello everyone, well, Easter is upon us and I have been so good, resisting all egg and hot cross bun temptation so far. Unfortunately I think I have actually missed the hot cross bun thing for the year, but I'm sure there'll be some chocolate eggs or bunnies to enjoy between now and the end of the weekend. I am planning to call by Accoutrement in Mosman later today to pick up some treats as I have been ogling their gorgeous Easter display for a few weeks now.

This week's recipe is a quick and easy muffin which I whipped up yesterday afternoon, then sampled while losing myself in the DVD of The Time Traveller's Wife (definitely not up to the book standard). They are lovely and moist with the pear and easy to freeze, ready to be freshened up in the microwave. I found the recipe in Good Living some time ago. Regular readers will be surprised to learn that on finding some chocolate in my cupboard I threw that in too - chocolate works so well with pear and is a lovely surprise in a muffin!

Have a wonderful Easter.

Love from Jane xx

Crunchy breakfast pear muffins

Makes 6 large muffins

What you need:
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup wholemeal plain flour (you can use regular white if you don't have wholemeal to hand)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain low fat yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or light olive oil
  • 1 cup peeled, diced pear
  • 100-150g chocolate, optional
  • 1/3 cup pecan nuts, finely chopped

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Using a 6 cup capacity muffin tin, either spray the holes with olive oil spray, or line with paper cases.
  3. Sift together into a large bowl the flours, baking powder and cinnamon.
  4. Add the oats and half a cup of the brown sugar and the chocolate if using, and stir to combine.
  5. Whisk together the eggs, yoghurt and oil.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Muffin mixes do not like to be overmixed and will give you lumps of concrete if you stir too many times!
  7. Gently fold through the pear.
  8. Divide the batter between the muffin holes or paper cases.
  9. Mix together the remaining brown sugar with the pecan nuts and sprinkle over the tops of the muffins.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Croutons of fried apple and goat's cheese

Hello everyone, well, for those of you wondering where I ended up having dinner last Saturday, it was Aki's at Woolloomooloo Bay Wharf It was a perfect early autumn evening and we were seated outside so could soak up the setting sun and all the atmosphere down there. We had a gorgeous meal and best of all, Chris gave me a very treasured farewell gift - Matthew Evan's new book, The Real Food Companion How lucky am I? I know that this will be a book I use very regularly and refer to all the time. I can't wait to start reading it over Easter!

This week's recipe is a hint of the cool evenings that must be going to reach us eventually, although I don't mind summer playing out as long as possible. It comes from the Autumn/Winter edition of SOS and is heaven.

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xxx

Croutons of fried apple and goats cheese

Serves eight

What you need:
  • 250g butter
  • 6 fresh and crisp red apples, cored and sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 loaf of country style bread
  • About 500g mature goats cheese, sliced

What you do:

  1. Melt half the butter in a large pan.
  2. Toss the apple slices in the butter and cook gently for about 15 minutes, turning until tender and a little caramelised.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a dish and keep warm.
  4. Cut 8 slices of bread.
  5. Fry the bread slices in the remaining melted butter until golden on both sides.
  6. Pile the slices of apple on to the croutons and top with the slices of cheese.
  7. Serve immediately with a green salad.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pan fried chicken with lemon

Hello everyone, it's such a gorgeous day today in Sydney! You would think it was summer time.

My neighbours who live in the house behind me are selling their house and had the first open house today. What a half hour of entertainment that provided for Bellatrix! Although she couldn't see anyone, she set herself up in a shady spot in the back yard and followed the sound of everyone who came to look. Her ears twitched continuously - it made me wonder if she was listening to each person and deciding if they would be welcome as our new neighbours or not. Clearly I have a huge stickybeak of a cat.

This week's recipe is from the December 2009/January 2010 issue of delicious and really is delicious! It is lovely and lemony and makes a great dinner, either just for you, the family or guests.

I have one more dinner with my friend Chris, tonight. I am (generously) letting him select the restaurant and am yet to hear his choice. I'm sure it will be a good one...

Have a great week. Love from Jane xx

Pan fried chicken with lemon

Serves two

What you need:
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 x 200g chicken breast fillets, cut into 5mm strips
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons roughly chopped marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley

What you do:

  1. Use a zester to make thin strips of lemon rind, then peel the lemon and thinly slice the flesh. Set zest and flesh aside.
  2. Heat half of the oil and half of the butter in a large non stick frying pan over a medium heat.
  3. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until softened. Remove the onion from the heat and set aside.
  4. Toss the chicken in the flour to coat, shaking off the excess.
  5. Return the pan to a medium high heat and add the remaining oil and butter.
  6. In batches, cook the chicken for one minute, turning, until golden.
  7. Return the onion and all of the chicken to the pan, and add the wine, simmering for a couple of minutes until almost evaporated.
  8. Add the lemon zest, lemon segments, sugar and enough stock to almost cover the chicken.
  9. Bring to the boil, then simmer for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked and the liquid has reduced by half.
  10. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then toss through the marjoram and parsley.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cornflake coconut crunchies

Hello everyone, it has been a hectic week with my gorgeous friend Chris Andersen from Minneapolis in town. We have been catching up with lots of different friends in all sorts of fabulous places around Sydney. I loved cocktails and smart bar food at Rockpool Bar and Grill,, dinner at Mission Restaurant and Bar and lunch at North Sydney Cellars Cafe To say nothing of a hot chocolate at Bather's Cafe....And last night I had dinner at a great find in North Turramurra of all places, The Cook's Garden It's in a house and really beautifully done up. The food was luscious and there's a shop at the front where you can buy chocolates and handbags! It really doesn't get any better!

So to calm me down, this week's recipe is a very easy biscuit mix, which I made recently for a crowd. You can whip up the mix in five minutes and then have the biscuits in and out of the oven in no time at all. They are deliciously moist with all the coconut they contain. Do use a good brand coconut, not some cheap and nasty generic product. The recipe comes from my Women's Weekly Biscuits And Slices book.

Have a happy week! Love from Jane xx

Cornflake coconut crunchies

Makes about 40, depending on how you size them.

What you need:
  • 2 cups cornflakes, which you can either lightly crush or leave whole
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250g butter, melted

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 190C.
  2. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
  3. Combine the corn flakes, sifted flour, both coconuts and brown sugar in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in the eggs and butter.
  5. Place spoonsful of the mixture onto the baking trays, leaving some space in between.
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  7. Remove from the oven and after a couple of minutes transfer the biscuits to wire racks to cool.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Roman summer skewers

Hello everyone, I just had my regular visit from our local Jehovah's Witnesses. I know that many people don't like having these people turn up on their doorstep, bible in hand, but I must say I don't mind it at all and in fact really enjoy the couple of minutes they spend with me. I'd much rather the JWs than those annoying sales representatives flogging pay TV! (Who always reel in shock when I admit that actually I rarely turn on the set...) Anyway, in the eleven years that I have been living here I have been visited by various representatives of the JWs and they are always very lovely, gentle people who aren't afraid of talking about their faith. Usually they give me a couple of their magazines and read me a line or two from the bible and we have a bit of general chit-chat. Currently it is a teenager called Imogen who calls by with her Mum and today her little sister Ruby as well. They are such nice people and I feel blessed to have a minute with them.

But you are here for my recipe, not my musings on who arrives at the doorstep! This week's recipe is another great party one that I have tried out. I found it in Good Living in a feature from a book that had been published recently called Party: The Complete Guide To Food And Drinks. This one is soooooo simple but very effective. Try it next time you are asked to bring a dish to a party and you'll see what I mean!

Have a lovely week. Jane xx

Roman Summer Skewers

Makes 20

What you need:
  • 20 cherry bocconcini
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pesto (Even better if you make it yourself; check my recipe in November 2008)
  • 40 small fresh basil leaves
  • 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 20 pitted black olives
  • 20 cocktail sticks (supermarket)

What you do:

  1. Drain the bocconcini and place in a bowl with the olive oil and pesto.
  2. Stir until coated, cover and leave to marinate for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Thread the bocconcini, a tomato, two basil leaves and an olive on to each stick.
  4. Arrange on a platter and serve.

That's it!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Patatas Bravas

I love potatoes. Have I ever mentioned that? I think they are one of my favourite foods, right up there with chocolate. I find myself indecently excited whenever potatoes are on the menu, and it takes all my willpower to not shout "Let's choose the potato dish" when out with friends and selecting a side to share. This week's recipe is a really yummy potato dish from one of my favourite recipe writers, Matthew Evans, from his book Weekend Fare. I could eat kilos of it (but I know where the kilos would come to rest).

Have a good week, love from Jane xx

Patatas Bravas

Serves 5-6 as as side dish

What you need:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons of a good vinegar - a Spanish sherry vinegar is ideal
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 125 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (or ordinary pepper)
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika, preferably smoky Spanish paprika
  • 1 kg good frying potatoes, washed well
  • Olive oil for frying

What you do:

  1. Beat the egg yolk, sherry and garlic, drizzling in the olive oil in a stream as you whisk, in the same way as you would make a mayonnaise (if you do indeed make your own mayonnaise).
  2. Whisk in the tomato puree, pepper, salt and paprika and check the flavour. This sauce should be reasonably bold tasting.
  3. Cut the potatoes into roughly 2-3 cm dice and fry in plenty of olive oil until cooked through and lightly browned.
  4. Remove the potatoes from the pan and drain on a couple of paper towels.
  5. Serve the potatoes warm with the sauce either on top, or served on the side as a dipping sauce.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sticky soy and maple pork burgers

Hello everyone, I'm finding that being in the city for work now and so close to a handful of cafes that make good hot chocolate I'm having one nearly every day! It's a little out of control. But I keep telling myself good for my bones. I have most recently concentrated my attention on Adora in the arcade next to the Sofitel Wentworth. They do great hot chocolate and you get to choose a chocolate from their display every time! Now I have to say they are not my favourite chocolates, that honour definitely lies evenly split between Just William and Belle Fleur, but I'm not going to turn down the offer. During the week I happened to try the caramel and it was BEAUTIFUL! It was a really luscious burnt caramel flavour. I think I might have to intervene before this becomes a habit!

This week's recipe comes from the September 2009 issue of delicious magazine. It is a great summertime dish and really easy to put together. I love the flavour of maple syrup; make sure you use a proper Canadian one, not some nasty synthetic! You should be able to find a good maple syrup fairly easily if you check the labels.

Have a happy week! Love from Jane xx

Sticky soy and maple burgers

Serves four

What you need:
  • 500g lean pork mince
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped peanuts
  • 6 spring onions, finely chopped (or I often swap chives for onions for this sort of use)
  • A small piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
  • Grated zest of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (or honey)
  • A pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander (or mint) leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of a light olive or vegetable oil, plus extra to brush
  • 4 fresh bread rolls
  • To serve: sweet chilli sauce, sour cream, shredded lettuce, sliced radishes

What you do:

  1. Mix together in a large bowl the mince, peanuts, onions, ginger, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of the maple syrup, chilli flakes and coriander or mint.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Shape into 4 patties, cover and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200C and line a tray with baking paper, or preheat a BBQ.
  5. Heat a fry pan over medium high heat and brush with a little oil.
  6. Cook the patties for a couple of minutes on either side until golden brown OR cook the patties on the BBQ until cooked through.
  7. (If you are using the oven) Transfer the patties to the baking tray and bake in the oven for a further 8-10 minutes, until cooked through.
  8. While the patties are cooking, split and toast the bread rolls.
  9. Mix the oil with the remaining soy sauce and maple syrup and then brush over the cooked patties.
  10. To serve, sandwich the patties in the rolls and serve with the accompaniments you have lined up.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nutmeg cake

Hello everyone, I have been on quite a mission this year to actually get to lots of different cafes and restaurants that are reviewed and make me think "Hmmm, that sounds like a good place to try" (but often don't do anything further about it). During the week I had dinner with my friend Maria at Finola's in the Balmain Bowling Club , as I have heard lots of great things about the food there. It's an interesting setting, as you are right there in the bowling club with the greens to one side and a crowd playing poker in the bar (good for cheap drinks!). The menu is quite Irish influenced and I enjoyed my fish pie. Then today I am going to Revolver at Annandale, lured by a review that mentioned they do very good hot chocolate there. Yes, I know that most of you think it's way too hot and humid for hot chocolate, but in the interests of research I am prepared to go there!

This week's recipe is for a really, really good cake that I must have made a thousand times over the years. I remember discovering it in a Vogue Wine And Food Cookbook from 1991 when I was first living out of home and it seemed quite sophisticated to me (probably because it wasn't the usual chocolate). It's very easy and has a great texture. I think you'll like it.

Have a lovely week, love from Jane xx

Nutmeg cake

What you need:
  • 2 cups of brown sugar
  • 2 teaspooons of baking powder
  • 2 cups of plain flour, sifted
  • 125g butter
  • 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate soda
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg

What you do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Grease a 20cm round cake tin and line with baking powder.
  3. Combine the brown sugar, baking powder and flour in a large bowl.
  4. Rub in the butter until the mix looks like breadcrumbs.
  5. Spread half of the mix over the base of the prepared cake tin.
  6. Dissolve the baking soda in the milk.
  7. Add the beaten egg and nutmeg to the milk.
  8. Pour the milk into the remaining sugar and flour mixture and stir together well.
  9. Pour this mix into the cake tin on top of the first lot of crumbs.
  10. Bake for an hour or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake shows it's cooked.

This cake is delicious served with thick cream or Greek yoghurt, or icecream of course.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Roasted walnut and preserved lemon salsa

Hello everyone, last week I reported on my broken down fridge from the previous weekend. The new one is working beautifully, but my goodness, even though I think I don't have a lot in my fridge usually, I am very conscious of how much rebuilding I have to do. There are so many basic things that I reach for and then remember having to throw out whatever the item is. Slowly, slowly I am restoring things.

I tell you what, the fridge wasn't my only disaster. Last Saturday the clutch in my car went! It was terrible at the time (particularly as I was so flustered that I couldn't find the hazard lights!) This morning I was out and about in the car and so thankful that if the clutch had to go, thank goodness it wasn't today in the pelting rain. It could have been a lot worse!

On Sunday my friend Cathy and I went and tried a fairly recently opened restaurant called Cavallino in Terrey Hills of all places! Trust me, if you like authentic Italian food, it's worth the trip. I had really delicious hand made pasta (although the sauce was rather salty), and we indulged in profiteroles with a wicked chocolate sauce for dessert. Definitely worth a return visit, that one.

Today's recipe is another one that I snipped from the pages of Good Living, so I don't know whose creation it is. But I can assure you that it is luscious. And a bit unusual which is always good when you want to impress family and friends. The key is using fresh walnuts, which you can easily get at Harris Farm or nut shops, rather than packet walnuts, and rubbing them with a teatowel to remove as much skin as possible. Trust me, it doesn't take too long and once you have tried it you will see the difference it makes to the flavour of the nuts. The original recipe is made with coriander, but as I loathe that herb I used mint instead and it was lovely. The salsa is sensational served over barbecued fish, but of course you could do it with fish cooked any way you like, or serve the salsa with other meats or vegetables. It is very summery and refreshing.

Have a happy week! Love from Jane xxx

Roasted walnut and preserved lemon salsa

Serves about four

What you need:
  • 80g walnuts (shelled)
  • 3/4 of a preserved lemon
  • About 1 cup coriander or mint leaves, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or less, use your judgement)
  • Sea salt

What you do:

  1. Roast the walnuts in a hot oven (200C) until golden brown (probably about ten minutes - stay close to the kitchen so you can judge the timing by the aroma).
  2. When the nuts have cooled, wrap them in a clean teatowel and rub vigorously to remove as much skin as possible.
  3. Roughly chop the walnuts and place in a bowl.
  4. Rinse the preserved lemon (does anyone actually do this? I don't), discard the pith and finely chop the skin.
  5. Add the lemon to the nuts.
  6. Add the chopped coriander/mint, lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt to taste.
  7. Spoon over whatever you have cooked to go with the salsa.
  • Note that the dressing is best when made just before serving.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fig, watercress and blue cheese salad with candied walnuts

Hello everyone, I had a kitchen disaster last weekend when my fridge broke down on that very hot Saturday. The fridge repair man came on Monday afternoon and diagnosed....yes, dead. It was the first fridge I had ever bought and nearly sixteen years old so it has given me good service, but really, it would be helpful if they flashed up warning messages like "One week to go!" Of course I had a freezer full of food and quite a few things in the fridge and had to throw it all out. And of course, with the public holiday intervening, my new fridge didn't arrive until Wednesday morning, so it was four very hot days with no way of chilling food! It was a challenge and I'm glad to have the new one in place. Now I'm busy filling it once more!

This week's recipe is one that I made during the week and it was lovely and refreshing. It comes from the December 2009/January 2010 issue of delicious magazine. It's one of those great salads that makes a meal, although of course you could serve it as a salad with other things if you were feeding a few. The walnuts are very easy and taste delicious, probably even better made with butter as in the recipe - I had to use olive oil as I had tossed out my almost melted butter!

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Fig, watercress and blue cheese salad with candied walnuts

Serves four

What you need:
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for the figs
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • 3 ripe, fresh figs, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • A handful of seedless red or green grapes, halved
  • 200g blue cheese, sliced

Candied walnuts

  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon caynenne pepper (optional; you could sprinkle over normal ground black pepper if you prefer)

What you do:

  1. For the candied walnuts, line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  3. Add the walnuts, sugar and pepper, then stir for 1-2 minutes until the sugar melts and coats the nuts.
  4. Remove from the heat and use a spoon to spread the nuts out on the baking tray. Leave for a few minutes to set.
  5. Combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl.
  6. Season the dressing with sea salt and pepper, whisking to combine, then set aside.
  7. Place the figs, cut side up, on a small baking tray.
  8. Sprinkle with the sugar, balsamic vinegar and additional olive oil.
  9. Place the figs under a grill for five minutes or until golden and bubbling. Remove from the grill and set aside.
  10. Arrange the watercress and grapes on a serving platter and top with the grilled figs. Lay slices of cheese over the top, drizzle with the dressing and serve sprinkled with the walnuts.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Prawn skewers with rice salad

Hello everyone, gosh it's a hot summer's day in Sydney today! Mum used to say on days like this she wished she could put a zipper into the cat's coat, and I'm thinking that today. Bellatrix doesn't look too uncomfortable, but it would be lovely to unzip that fur coat and help her out of it.

My freezer is acting in a very suspicious way too...I reached in for some ice cubes this morning and there seemed to be some significant thawing going on. I do hope it's just because of the very hot temperature outside but I am starting to wonder if I'm going to be taking a trip to the new fridge shop this week....

I'll ignore it for the minute. This week's recipe is another of Bill Granger's (from Bill's Open Kitchen) and is one of those dishes that just tastes like summer. When I made it I did the full quantity of the rice salad so that I had some for lunches during the week. I know it looks like a long list of ingredients, but many of the ingredients for the salad are the same as for the prawns and once you have done all the chopping of the ingredients you are nearly there.

Have a wonderful week! Love from Jane xx

Prawn skewers with rice salad

Serves four

What you need:
  • 3 thick slices of sourdough bread
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 24 medium green prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges to serve

Rice salad

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups COOKED white rice (boil up two cups of uncooked rice)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup green olives, pitted and sliced

What you do:

  1. Soak eight wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes to stop them from burning during cooking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  3. Place the bread on a baking tray and toast for 20 minutes or until lightly golden.
  4. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, then turn into breadcrumbs in a food processor.
  5. Toss the prawns in the olive oil.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients, including the breadcrumbs, and mix well so that each prawn is evenly coated in breadcrumbs.
  7. Cover with gladwrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  8. To make the rice salad, combine the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  9. Add all of the remaining salad ingredients and toss until well combined.
  10. Preheat a grill or a BBQ to high.
  11. Thread 3 prawns onto each skewer, curling and skewering the tails to maintain a round shape.
  12. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden, and serve with the lemon wedges and rice salad.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cherry slice

Hello everyone, being such a warm day today I decided to pop over to Glace, an icecream shop in Leichhardt. I can buy their products locally, but thought it would be good to go to the actual shop and view all the possibilities. It certainly is an icecream lover's delight - you can buy single or double scoops to eat on the spot (yes, I indulged, a scoop of Belgian chocolate), tubs in all sorts of luscious flavours and a range of other interesting icecream treats, like the snowball, which is a ball of coconut flavoured icecream enrobed in a coat of chocolate and sprinkled with coconut!

This week's recipe is a sweet treat which caught my eye every time I saw it in my scrapbook of cut out recipes. It's exactly like cherry ripe and so easy to make - a nice treat. Do be very careful with the food colouring - I was a little careless and my cherry slice was very brightly coloured!

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Cherry slice

What you need:
  • 600g dark cooking chocolate, chopped
  • 500g desiccated coconut (buy a good quality one, not the no name version, as you want a nice, moist coconut)
  • 100g copha, melted
  • 395g can condensed milk
  • 150g glace cherries, very finely chopped
  • A few drops of pink food colouring

What you do:
  1. Prepare a 30cm x 20cm cake tin by lining with foil.
  2. Melt half the chocolate and spread evenly over the foil lined tin.
  3. Rest, covered, in the fridge, until set.
  4. Place coconut, melted copha, condensed milk and cherries in a large bowl and stir together to mix. There will be a moment when you think there is far too much coconut and it will never combine, but it does.
  5. Very carefully add a few drops of food colouring and stir through (do it drop by drop).
  6. Spoon the coconut mixture over the chocolate base and use the back of a spoon to press evenly.
  7. Refrigerate until set.
  8. Melt the remaining chocolate and spread evenly over the coconut mix.
  9. Return to the fridge until set.
  10. Cut into bars with a warm knife. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cranberry and walnut brie

Hello everyone, I've managed to meet friends for lunch four work days out of five this week, all in different cafes in the city, and all have been really good lunches (as well as delightful company, of course!) On Monday I went to Bacco, a great Italian cafe on the ground floor of the Chifley Plaza, which does a roaring trade, and when you try their gorgeous salads and super fresh sandwiches, you can see why. They also get a big tick from me for their yummy hot chocolate. Order the large and it is like a soup tureen the cup is so large.

On Tuesday I went to the cafe in the Kinokuniya bookshop at Galeries Victoria. I have to say that my expectations were low and there was only a very small selection, but I had a really lovely vegetable frittata.

On Wednesday I went to Salon on the ground floor of Governor Macquarie Tower where they also do fabulous sandwiches and salads. I had two salads, one of which was the most beautiful combination of rocket, shredded carrot, grilled haloumi and lovely plump sultanas, in a tahini dressing in which you could see and crunch the sesame seeds. It was so good I went back and had the same salad the next day as a takeaway!

Finally on Friday I went to Taste on Sussex Lane, as I have had a yummy baguette there before. This time I had a baguette with roasted vegetables and bocconcini and fresh tomato and rocket. Again, it was very good. So unusual to have consistent quality all week! Of course all of this means that this coming week I will have to eat in at my desk, taking in my own home made salads and sandwiches...

This week's recipe was something I made to take to a Christmas party. It comes from the December/January issue of delicious magazine and is so yummy! Everyone loved it. And best of all, you actually get two treats out of it! I found that there was so much cranberry sauce I was able to freeze half of it and serve it as the most divine (and pretty) granita. The alcohol in it saves it from freezing to a solid block of ice, so when you want some you can just pull it out of the freezer and scoop into bowls to eat or drop some into your champagne flute!

Have a happy week. Love from Jane xx

Cranberry and walnut brie

(The recipe is a huge quantity as it's for a crowd, so adjust as required to your own crowd)

What you need (for a crowd):
  • 1 cup port
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 cups (240g) frozen cranberries (in the freezer section of the supermarket)
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 300g soft goats cheese
  • 150g gorgonzola dolce
  • 1 large (3kg) wheel of ripe brie
  • 2 cups (200g) toasted walnuts, chopped
  • Watercress and toasted baguette slices, to serve

What you do:

  1. Place port, sugar and 1 cup of water in a pan over a low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Increase the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes or until syrupy.
  3. Add the berries and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring, until the berries start to burst.
  4. Mix the cornflour with 2 tablespoons of cold water to make a smooth paste.
  5. Add to the pan and cook, stirring, for one minute until thickened. Cool. (This sauce can be made up to four days ahead and stored in the fridge).
  6. Whiz the goats cheese and gorgonzola in the food processor until smooth.
  7. Split the brie through the centre (horizontally) into two rounds and place the bottom half on your serving platter.
  8. Spread with half the goats/gorgonzola mix, sprinkle with half the walnuts and pour over as much of the cooled cranberry sauce as you think works.
  9. Top with the remaining round of brie and repeat with the goats/gorgonzola mix, walnuts and berry sauce.
  10. Garnish with the watercress and serve with the toasted baguette slices. It really is spectacular and will be devoured.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jamie's Waldorf Salad

Hello everyone and happy new year. I think everyone who lives in my street went to see the fireworks this year, as it was very quiet around here. I was completely engrossed in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood so the peace and quiet made me very happy.

Now I have to say that I am not a huge fan of Jamie Oliver himself, but over the years I have tried many of his recipes in delicious magazine and always thought they were very good. When I saw his latest book, Jamie's America, I had to get it. It reminds me very much of a book in a Time Life series on food in different countries that Mum had when we were children. I was entranced with the book on America as I found the cultural context, and the range of cooking styles and influences around that big country, fascinating. So I had exactly the same feeling when I came across Jamie's book.

Funnily enough, at the community dinners in which I participate, my team mate Margaret made a great waldorf salad one night. She kindly sent me an email with the details - she had found this recipe in a magazine at her hairdresser and copied it. (Well, the list of ingredients - someone had ripped out the instructions). So I had already tried the salad and had Margaret's list of ingredients in hand ready to make it myself when I discovered that the recipe came from Jamie's America. It's great, a really good summertime meal. (The comments in brackets in the ingredients list are mine).

Have a wonderful new year! Love from Jane xxx

Jamie's Waldorf Salad

Serves four

What you need:
  • 4 large handfuls of interesting green salad leaves, washed and spun dry (I have only recently started using a lettuce spinner, gosh they are good!)
  • 2 large handfuls of seedless green or red grapes (or you could have half and half), sliced in half
  • 3 medium sticks of celery, trimmed
  • 2 large handfuls of walnuts (approximately 100g), roughly chopped
  • A handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 red apple
  • 150g mild blue cheese, such as dolcelatte (there's a nice mild King Island blue that comes in a roll which you can buy at Woollies which would work well)


  • 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar
  • Good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 heaped tablespoon natural yoghurt
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

What you do

  1. In a large bowl toss together the leaves and the grapes.
  2. Finely slice the celery sticks and add to the salad.
  3. In a dry pan over a medium heat toast the walnuts. Keep an eye on them - they will only take a couple of minutes.
  4. Discard the tougher ends of the parsley stalks and finely chop the rest of the stalks, then put to the side for a minute.
  5. Chop the parsley leaves finely and add to the salad.
  6. To make the dressing, combine the mustard and vinegar and add the reserved chopped parsley stalks.
  7. Pour in three times as much olive oil as the dressing you have made so far (or less olive oil, depending on your preference) and mix together.
  8. Add the yoghurt and a good pinch of salt and pepper to the dressing and mix again.
  9. Drizzle a little of the dressing over the salad so far.
  10. Finely slice the apple into matchsticks and scatter over the salad.
  11. Add the toasted walnuts and dressing and toss everything together.
  12. Transfer the salad to a large serving platter, piling the grapes and walnuts over the leaves. Use a knife to break off little pieces of the cheese, scattering over the salad and serve.