cauliflower and roast almond soup

cauliflower and almond soup

½ head cauliflower, florets
1 leek, white, chopped
1-2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
½ tbsp butter and/or 1 tbsp oil
about 700 ml water
1 tsp vegetable stock (use a light one or less than usual, you don’t want it to over power)
1 cup blanched almonds, dry roasted
salt and pepper, to taste

Dry roast almonds in the oven for about 10 mins at about 180c or until just turning golden brown.

In a soup pot, add the chopped leek and saute with butter and/or oil.
Add cauliflower florets, potatoes, stock, almonds and water.
Simmer for about 25 mins or until cauliflower and potatoes are soft, then (carefully, if hot and transferring liquids to a blender) blend to smooth.

Portion into approx. 250 ml capacity containers and freeze ready for work lunches.
At lunchtime, reheat in the office microwave.

Thermomix:
Add chunks of leek to bowl, chop on speed 5/5 sec. Scrape down sides, add butter/oil and saute 3 mins/speed 1/100c. Add cauliflower florets, potatoes, stock, roast almonds and water.
Set to 20 mins/speed 1/100c. Check cauliflower is soft buy pressing a floret against the side of the bowl (cook for 10 more mins if needed to ensure potatoes are soft), then puree on speed 6, gradually moving to speed 9, for about 40 sec or until smooth.

scallop, apple and radish salad

scallop salad

This is a lovely little starter to a candlelight night dinner in with your loveliest friend. It’s light and fresh and oh so tasty. He’ll think you’re a closet kitchen dynamo… as opposed to a kitchen closet dynamo which I’m sure would be a hand vacuum.

12 scallops (roe removed if you prefer)
2 tbsp butter
1 green apple, sliced very thinly (or julienned as pictured)
2 tbsp lemon juice (squeeze the lemon juice on the sliced apple to keep it looking fresh and stop it browning)
2-4 radishes, julienned (if not serving immediately, place in an ice bath to keep crisp)
4 chives, snipped or torn
chive flowers (if you happen to have them in your kitchen garden)

dressing:
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
Prepare the julienned apple and radishes.
In a hot pan, fry the scallops in butter. Scallops don’t take long to cook – about 4 minutes each side.
Arrange the apple and radish on small plates, top with scallops, chives and a drizzle of dressing.

wild rice with pecan and orange

wild rice with chicken

A long time favorite in our house is this wild rice side dish. We love that its a little bit spicy, a little bit nutty, a little bit fruity and a little bit crunchy. More recently I’ve learnt that wild rice is also high in fibre, high in protein and a good source of B vitamins. Double whammy!

1 cup wild rice, cooked
1 cup brown rice, cooked
2 tablespoons orange zest
½ orange, juiced
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch salt
½ cup currants/raisins
½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons fresh coriander (or parsley), finely chopped

Combine orange rind, orange juice, clove, salt and olive oil in a large mixing bowl to make the dressing.
When the rice is cooked, add remaining ingredients (minus the pecans) to the bowl of dressing and gently combine to dress.
Top with pecans and serve as a side dish.

wild rice salad

Some ideas to serve with this walk on the wild rice side include:
– tofu steak, marinated in soy, lemon zest and garlic, then grilled
– chicken, marinated in lemon juice, thyme, pepper and olive oil, then grilled*
– white fish, grilled or poached with lemon wedges
– duck breast a l’orange and steamed green beans

*Serve with 1 tbsp soy mayo, 2 tbsp water, 1 tbsp lemon juice, whisked to combine and used to drizzled over the plate as chicken breast tends to be a bit drier.

roasted tomato and red lentil soup

roast tomato soup detail

I like to call this Roasted Red Soup. For obvious reasons.

½ cup red lentils, cooked in 3 cups water
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
about a litre of water, boiled in the kettle

In a roasting tray:
roma tomatoes, quartered
1 red onion, quartered
1 red capsicum, chopped coarsely
olive oil, just a nice slosh
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper

Essentially all that needs to happen here is that you add cooked lentils to roasted tomatoes and capsicum in a pot with some stock, boil and blend, but a more detailed description can be seen below:

Toss the tomatoes, capsicum, onion with oil, sugar, salt and pepper in a baking tray and bake at 160c for about 30 mins. Your aiming for the tomatoes to be soft, and slight darkening on the edges of the capsicum.

Meanwhile, in the soup pot, cook 1 cup red lentils in 3 cups of water, simmer for about 15 mins. Drain out the water from the lentils in a colander (use fresh water from the kettle for the soup but don’t bother washing the pot between).

By now, your tomatoes are looking nicely roasted by not dried out. Add the roasted tomatoes, capsicum and onion to the soup pot with the drained lentils. Add any juices that are in the roasting tray (you should find it quite wet).

Add the boiled water and stock. Simmer for 10 minutes then blend to smooth.

Note: If you feel motivated to do it, peeling the tomatoes after roasting (and leaving them to cool for a bit) will make a nicer textured soup.

Served here with a dollop of greek yoghurt and parsley leaf (crusty bread not pictured).

roast tomato lentil soup

colourful caesar salad

Caesar salad is one of those things that usually sounds better when read off the menu than when served. Too often I’ve received a bowl of dressing with a smattering of dried-up parmesan shards, fat-crusted bacon bits recycled from the breakfast plates of yesterday morning, and croutons that leave an oil slick on my conscience. Well I say, no more!

cos lettuce, chopped coarsely
bbq chicken, meat removed and chopped coarsely
avocado, chunks
2-4 eggs, boiled (or poached), soft to hard depending on preference, quartered
100g prosciutto, grilled to just crispy on a tray lined with baking paper, then crumbled/torn
2 slices toast, cubed
parmesan, shaved
chive flowers (or just chopped chives)

dressing:
½ lemon, juiced
2 tbsp mayonnaise (I used soy mayonnaise)
a dash of water

Add the salad ingredients to a big bowl in the order listed.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small jug to be added as desired.
Serves 4

colourful caesar salad

oh jamie, I think I love you: cheat’s pizza (or, the-never-buy-pizza-again pizza recipe)

Oh, Jamie, it’s a slow burn, but I think I love you.

Jamie Oliver is an international cooking phenomenon. Quite possibly he is the world’s most well known kitchen-dweller. At first, about 14 years ago, I wasn’t so sure I liked his busy, uber-chatty, hands-in, chunky-chopped style. But it could have been I was deterred by the rolling and jittering hand-held camera work of his first show. As a sufferer of motion sickness, the combination of boating and food does not conjure positive association.

More recently, the release of ‘30 Minute Meals’ has seen the reemergence of my man-friend into the realm of steam and kitchen-whizery. At our house, one night a week has been named ‘Jamie Night’ as he works from cover to cover. But there is one recipe that makes me say (and often out loud), “…genius…” and it is, Cheat’s (10 minute pan) Pizza*.

Jamie Oliver cute and cuterpizza base:
1 ½ ‘mugs’ self raising flour
½ ‘mug’ tepid water
dash olive oil
pinch of salt
another dash of olive oil for the pan

tomato paste
feta, crumbled

tomato salsa:
cherry tomatoes, halved
basil, torn
chive, flowers/ chopped stem
dash olive oil
dash balsamic
salt and pepper
Combine them all in a bowl.

In my stand mixer with dough hook attached combine the flour, water, salt and oil to form a dough. If you don’t have a stand mixer, use a food processor to get it started and then knead it for a minute on a well floured surface, but don’t fuss over it.
Put the grill on to med- high.
Put a dash of olive oil into an ovenproof fry pan.
(Jamie uses half at a time to make 2 pizzas – I use it all at once and make a thick crust)
Use your hands to spread the dough to the edges of the pan so its a fairly even thickness.
Turn the stove top heat on to med-high and let the dough come to golden brown on the bottom. Check it by lifting a corner using a spatula.

Spread a spoon of tomato paste over the top of your pan pizza and crumble feta.
Place under the grill for about 3 minutes.
Top with salsa.
If it’s breakfast/ brunch, add a poached egg on top of each slice.

Obviously, you can top yours with whatever you like, but don’t over load it for grilling.

What’s your favourite Jamie recipe?? Or, what’s your fav pizza topping?? I wanna know!

10 minute pizza

*This describes the actions I take when I make it, if you want to hear it how Jamie writes it, buy the book.

image: http://www.rspca.org.au/news/jamie-saves-our-bacon.html

tagliatelle with pea and broad bean pesto

tagliatelle with pea and broad bean pesto

We all know that peas and mint are a match made in heaven but try adding broad beans to the mix and you get a wonderful depth to the flavour. This recipe comes from Donna Hay and is worth sharing.

2 cups frozen peas
2 cups fresh shelled or frozen broad beans
½ lemon, juiced
1 cup mint leaves, plus some pretty ones to garnish
1 cup parmesan, finely grated
¼ cup olive oil
1 garlic, clove
1 packet fresh Tagliatelle pasta
2 chorizo, sliced

Put the water for the pasta on to bring to the boil.
Blitz your peas and broad beans in a bowl of water in the microwave to blanch then set aside. When cooled to the touch, shell your broad beans if they aren’t already shelled.
In a food processor add peas, broad beans, mint, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Blitz to a chunky paste. Then add parmesan to gently combine.
Cook the pasta (fresh pasta will only take about 2-4 minutes). Test a piece before you drain.
In a hot pan, fry chorizo until crisping on edges. Remove to kitchen paper.
Gently combine the pesto with the pasta.
Serve and top with chorizo and mint leaves to garnish.

tofu pork and eggplant hotpot

This Chinese inspired dish is a quick alternative to take away. It took me 20 minutes to make this meal.

tofu pork and eggplant hotpot1 eggplant, sliced to large batons
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp ginger, finely grated
1 tbsp garlic, crushed
250 g pork mince
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp shou shing wine
1 tsp sambal / chili paste
1 tsp cornflour
250 g firm tofu, drained, cubed
¼ cup shallots (green onion), thinly sliced
rice to serve
coriander leaves to garnish

Put your rice on to cook in your preferred method.
In your wok, add the oils over medium-high heat.
When the oil is becoming hot, add eggplant and stir frequently until soft when pierced and lightly browned, or about 5 minutes. Use tongs to remove the eggplant and place on paper towel.
In the remaining oil in the wok, add ginger and garlic and stir frequently until fragrant.
Add pork mince and stir until crumbled and browned.
In a jug, mix soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, chili paste, cornflour and ¼ cup water.
Pour the sauce mix into the wok and stir until mixture is simmering and beginning to thicken (for about 1-2 minutes).
Gently stir in tofu, eggplant and green onions to heat (for about 1 minute).
Serve with rice and a garnish of coriander.

squid pumpkin popcorn pomegranate salad

This salad is a rough imitation of a dish served at Perotta’s at the Gallery in Cairns, Northern Queensland. If you happen be in the area, go and try the real thing. But, if like me, you can only dream of this taste sensation, you can always make my version. Which is not too shabby.salt and chilli squid salad

Rocket leaves, a handful per person
Popcorn, popped (yes, popcorn, in salad, for dinner!), a handful per person
¼ pumpkin, cubed and roasted at 180c for about 20 mins/until golden
½ pomegranate, seeded

Dressing:
1 lime, juiced
½ – 1 tsp palm sugar
1 tsp caster sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp peanut oil

Squid:
2 – 4 squid tubes, cut into 2cm squares (about one per person is a good gauge)
⅓ cup rice flour
2 tbsp salt
1 – 2 tbsp chilli flakes
oil for frying

Make the dressing by mixing to combine. Adjust the acid vs sweet to your liking.
Combine the flour, salt and chilli flakes in a bowl or bag to make the squid dusting flour. Toss the squid pieces in the flour mix to coat then fry them in oil. I used about half a cup of oil in a fry pan to shallow fry them, turning them over halfway through. They only need about 2 minutes in the hot oil. Set aside on paper towel once golden.
Toss the rocket leaves with some dressing to coat.
Either toss the remaining salad ingredients (minus the popcorn as you don’t want it soggy) with the rocket and dressing, OR, plate the items individually and sprinkle some dressing over at the end. (I do the latter because the pumpkin can fall apart easily)
Top with squid and some extra pomegranate seeds.

salt and chilli squid

deconstructing the 70’s: the prawn cocktail

Some nights you just want a light dinner – a little bit of protein and a lot of fresh taste. And you want it in 5 minutes from now. Enter the prawn cocktail – but not all fiddle-fussy like you know it. This is the prawn cocktail 2010’s style. Deconstructed. Chunky. Real.

prawn cocktail dinner

On each plate, place:
A wedge of lettuce (either iceberg or ½ a baby cos)
Avocado, sliced chunky
Prawns, peeled, with tails on
a sprinkle of chives

Dressing*:
2 tbsp whole egg mayonnaise
½ lemon, juiced
pinch of caster sugar

Whisk dressing to combine and drizzle over the above.

* For a more traditional dressing, add ½ tbsp tomato sauce.