Winter Salad

We made this winter salad from Jamie At Home for both of our mums for Mother’s Day this year. Went well with our roast lamb and is a nice change from your standard roast veggies. Although it doesn’t look that different to other salads, this recipe has an interesting combination of ingredients like roasted and spiced carrots, ciabatta bread, avocados and sesame seeds. It takes a little bit of prep but is worth it, especially if you want to liven up a traditional roast and impress your Mum!

Recipe (adapted from Jamie At Home)
serves 4

  • ~500g carrots
  • 2t cumin
  • 1-2 small chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • red or white wine vinegar
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 3-4 slices of ciabatta (or similar) bread
  • 2 handfuls of salad leaves
  • sour cream to serve
  • 4T sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 punnet cress (optional – as we couldn’t find it!)
  • Olive Oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC
  2. Parboil the carrots in boiling salted water for 10 minutes until nearly cooked, then drain and put into a roasting tray
  3. In a mortar and pestle, smash up the cumin, chillies, salt and pepper, garlic and thyme until it resembles a paste. Add enough olive oil to cover the paste and a swig of vinegar and mix
  4. Pour the mixture over the carrots and coat them well
  5. Add the orange and lemon halves to the tray, cut side down and put in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the carrots are golden
  6. While the carrots are roasting, peel the avocados and slice into wedges and add to large salad bowl
  7. When the carrots are done, add them to the avocados. Using tongs, squeeze the roasted orange and lemon into a bowl and add the same amount of olive oil and some red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. Pour this dressing over the carrots and avocados and carrots
  8. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan
  9. Toast the bread on a griddle pan, then tear it into small pieces and add to the bowl along with the salad leaves and cress
  10. Add a generous spoonful of sour cream over the salad and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and finally drizzle over some olive oil
  11. Enjoy!
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Thai Chicken with Lime and Black Beans

This is a recipe from another new cookbook (Yes, Craig has bought another cookbook!) Essentially Thai featuring recipes from the chefs of the Spirit House restaurant in the Noosa hinterland, Queensland.Despite the long list of ingredients there is nothing difficult about creating this dish (which Craig did while Jess vegged out on the couch!).
Thai cooking has become one of our favourites cuisines because of the simplicity of many of the recipes and the fresh, zingy flavour of Thai ingredients – especially lime, chilli and coriander.

adapted from Essentially Thai
Serves 2-3

  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1T ginger grated
  • 2T salted black beans*, rinsed
  • 4T lime juice and 1/2 lime cut into slices
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2t palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • pinch of chilli powder
  • coriander to garnish (optional)
    * We found salted black beans in a local Chinese supermarket. They come in a packet, but are different to black turtle beans which need to be soaked overnight.
  1. Heat the oil in a fry pan and gently fry the chicken until almost cooked, remove and set aside
  2. Start to cook the rice as desired (1 cup of rice will make ~3 cups of cooked rice)
  3. Add to the same chicken pan the garlic, shallots and ginger and fry for a few minutes
  4. Add the black beans, lime juice, soy sauce, palm sugar, stock, chilli powder and lime slices
  5. Bring to the boil and simmer for ~5 minutes
  6. Add the chicken and simmer for a few more minutes
  7. Serve the rice topped with the chicken and sauce
  8. Enjoy!
    Any remaining sauce and rice can be combined for some tasty leftovers
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Chickpea salad

Jess spotted Tessa Kiros’ beautiful colelction of family recipes, Falling Cloudberries, earlier this year in a small but well stocked bookstore in Port Fairy. Craig ordered it online and we were looking forward to its delivery – unfortunately our new puppy Beth found it before us and enjoyed taking a hefty chunk from the front cover and nibbling the spine. So we bought another copy and donated the worse for wear copy to a good home. We’ve only ever used chickpeas in curries or pilafs but thought this Greek salad looked like a healthy option that stands out from our normal leafy green salads. We both really enjoyed this salad (and the recipe for Finnish meatballs which Craig’s mum cooked for us). It won’t be long before we attempt other recipes from this stunningly photographed collection of recipes.

Recipe (adapted from Tessa Kiros’ Falling Cloudberries)
Serves 6-8 as a side (or 2 dinners + 2 leftover lunches)

  • 2 cans of chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • ~200g feta, crumbled
  • ~100g kalamata olives
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • a bunch of parsley, chopped
  • half a bunch of coriander, chopped
  • 1-2 chargrilled red capsicums, choppped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil
  1. Heat ~3T of olive oil and fry the red onion until cooked through
  2. Add the garlic and chilli and cook just for a few seconds until you can smell the garlic. remove from the pan and let cool
  3. In a large salad bowl, add all the ingredients including the olive oil from the pan and another tablespoon or two of olive oil
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Enjoy!
    We chose to have this during the week as our whole dinner, it made enough for one large bowl each, and two smaller leftover serves for lunch. However it would make enough as a side for 6-8 people
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Breakfart anyone?

Here are a few snaps, revolving around food, from our trip to Southeast Asia in 2008. We visited Bangkok, Krabi, Phuket (Thailand), Siam Reap, Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Hanoi and Halong Bay (Vietnam).
Wished we had taken more photos of the amazing food we tasted. One of the food highlights was meeting Phuket local Tam (who Craig met after joining in a friendly game of soccer) and being invited to his small restaurant on the private beach of the exclusive Chava Resort. Only problem was that only resort guests are able to access the beach that the restaurant is on, so Plan B was to spend  the best part of an hour scrambling over rocks and cliffs along the coast. When we finally emerged from around the corner, Tam was very happy and surprised to see us and cooked us one of the best green chicken curries we’ve tasted.
Other food highlights were experiencing the lively markets in Hanoi (from live toads, to butchering meat on the dirty curb, to avoiding  the countless scooters whizzing past, to the smells and colours of unknown fruits, spices and ‘ other things’ ).

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Swedish meatballs (not from Ikea!)

Yes, these meatballs taste just as good as they look (and even better than the Ikea ones)! Some days you just crave certain foods and we had been wanting to try some meatballs for awhile and came across this simple recipe in Jamie Oliver’s fantastic collection of European (& North African) recipes, Jamie Does…, from his trip to Sweden. This recipe was perfect for the two of us, with a rocket and fetta salad on the side, and we enjoyed plenty of leftovers. It is much more satisfying making these yourself, and getting your hands and the kitchen messy, than just buying the premade, frozen Ikea version.
Disclaimer – We do love Ikea!

Recipe adapted from Jamie Does… 
serves 3-4 (depending on how hungry you are!)

For the Meatballs

  • a handful of mixed fresh herbs such as parsley, chives or dill…
  • 300g minced pork
  • 300g minced beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 100ml milk
  • 75g dried breadcrumbs
  • 1t ground allspice
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

For the sauce

  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 1T plain flour
  • 60ml double cream
  • 200g jar of cranberry sauce (or lingonberry)
  1. In a large bowl, add the herbs, pork, beef, egg, milk, breadcrumbs, allspice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix it all up
  2. Divide the mixture in half then roll each half into a sausage shape and cut each into ~15 pieces
  3. With wet hands, roll the pieces into balls and put them on a large oiled tray and cover with cling wrap and put in the fridge for ~1 hour to firm up
  4. Put your largest pan on medium heat and add a good amount of olive oil. Once hot, add the meatballs and fry gently for 10-15 minutes until golden brown
  5. Remove the meatballs from the pan and any excess fat, then add the lemon juice, a splash of stock, the flour, cream, 2T of cranberry jam and some salt and pepper
  6. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and reduce until it has thickened as desired
  7. Return the meatballs to the pan to coat in the sauce
  8. Serve the meatballs, topped with more of the sauce and a few spoonfuls of the cranberry jam and any leftover herbs
  9. Serve the meatballs with a dark green leafy salad and a side of potatoes. Enjoy!

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Bill’s Pumpkin & Lentil Soup

After making Stolen Lamb last weekend we had a surplus of sourdough bread and decided to make one of Bill Granger’s winter soups. Although it took a couple of hours to get on the table, due to all of the roast veggies involved, it was definitely worth the wait. The smashed veggies give this soup a hearty, satisfying texture and the combination of chilli, cumin, coriander and paprika give it a real kick. Bill’s recipe makes more than enough for four so we have enjoyed the leftovers for the last few days and will definitely make this one again.

Recipe adapted from Bill Granger’s Bill’s Basics
serves 8

  • 1.5 kg butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into 3 cm cubes
  • 750g tomatoes, quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • ~30ml olive oil
  • 1t dried chilli flakes
  • 2t ground cumin
  • 2t ground coriander
  • 2t paprika
  • 4-5 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 tin (or similar) of red lentils, drainedto serve
  • plain yoghurt
  • a pinch of sumac
  • crusty bread
  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC. Put the pumpkin, tomatoes, garlic and carrot in a large casserole dish
  2. Drizzle the veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with the spices and season with salt and pepper
  3. Cover the dish and bake for 90 minutes.
    We covered with 2 layers of alfoil and it required close to 2 hours to become soft
  4. With a potato masher or fork, roughtly mash the veggies and stir in the stock
  5. On a stove top, bring the soup to the boil
  6. Add the lentils then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minute. Add some more stock if the soup becomes too thick
  7. Serve into bowls, season and top with a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of sumac and serve with some crusty bread
    We used sourdough bread, so chose to fry it on the griddle pan with some olive oil (highly reccommended!)
  8. Enjoy!
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Stolen Lamb

Arni Kleftiko, or Stolen Lamb, from George Calombaris’ Greek Cookery from the Hellenic Heart. is the perfect recipe for a hearty winter’s meal. Although it is reasonably simple to prepare, this dish takes time – allow at least 3 hours cooking time. It is certainly worth the wait but those on high protein/low carb diets should steer clear – this is serious comfort food.

Recipe adapted from Greek Cookery from the Hellenic Heart 
serves 5

  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 2 medium brown onions
  • 750g lamb shoulder, boned
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 5 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 300g Dodoni fetta, crumbled (Australian fetta works well too)
  • 4 thick slices of stale sourdough bread (or similar)
  • 1T rosemary, chopped
  • 1T thyme, chopped
  • 1T mint, chopped
  • 5T extra virgin olive oil
  • 3T lemon juice
  • 1T salt
  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celsius
  2. Dice tomatoes, potatoes, onions, bread and lamb into 2cm cubes.
  3. Heat a large pot and add olive oil and brown the lamb and onions. Cook until onions soften
  4. Add mint, thyme, rosemary and garlic and cook for a further minute
  5. Add chicken stock and cover and braise for two hours in the oven
  6. Mix all remaining ingredients in a bowl and our over the lamb and bake uncovered for a further 45 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked
  7. Drizzle with olive oil and serve
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