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Monthly Archives: March 2010

Potato, Caramelised Onion & Feta Tart

I really suck at anything to do with pastry.

I hate the mess of making pastry from scratch. All the flour and kneading and icky hands.

I hate the paranoia of staring at it in the oven, hoping it doesn’t shrink or crumble up.

And I really hate blind-baking.  I can’t ever get it right.

So I’m a ready-rolled, frozen pastry kinda girl and not ashamed of it. I don’t have the time, energy or inclination to make dough with my bare hands. Maybe if I had a talent for it, I would feel differently….

This tart is really simple, quick and a perfect light dinner or leftover work lunch. For dinner, you could serve it with a fresh tomato salad or some simply dressed rocket leaves.

I sneaked some eggplant slices into mine only because that’s the only way I can get my husband to eat eggplant, but of course, you don’t have to.

Now my photos aren’t as good as I would have liked (I’m blaming it on the lighting) and let’s just say it’s all looking a bit ‘rustic’, but holy moly, oh so good.

Ingredients

3tbsp olive oil

2 onions, sliced

2 tsp sugar

1/4 cup water

4 slices of eggplant, thinly sliced

5 medium sized waxy potatoes, sliced thinly

2 sheets ready-rolled frozen shortcrust pastry

rosemary sprigs (I used dried rosemary as that was all I had on hand)

rosemary salt

crumbled Danish feta cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Grease a shallow fluted tart pan with removable base
  2. Heat olive oil in pan, add onions and cook, stirring regularly until soft and fragrant.
  3. Add sugar and cook for a further few minutes, allowing the sugar to dissolve and the onions to pick up a lovely caramel colour.
  4. Soak eggplant and sliced potato in salted water while working to avoid discolouration.
  5. Add water to the pan and cook until it reduces down and forms a thick onion ‘jam’ consistency. Set aside to cool.
  6. Line the tart pan with two sheets of pastry to ensure there is sufficient pastry and it reaches up the sides evenly. Trim any excess with a knife.
  7. Line the tart base with baking paper and fill with rice or pastry weights and bake for 10 minutes. Remove weights and  reduce oven to about 160°C and bake for a further 10 minutes until golden and crisp.
  8. Meanwhile, cook eggplant for a few minutes with a lick of olive oil, then set aside.
  9. Cook the potato slices in a hot pan with a touch of olive oil. Add rosemary and a sprinkle of rosemary salt (this isn’t essential, but adds a nice touch- you can even make your own). Cook until the potatoes have picked up some nice colour, then set aside to cool.
  10. Once the tart shell is ready, smear your caramelised onions over the base, ensuring you spread evenly.
  11. Add eggplant (if you’re using it) and then layer the potato slices on top.
  12. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and bake in the oven for a further 15 minutes until potatoes are cooked through perfectly, and the feta has gone all yummy.
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Posted by on March 29, 2010 in Delish Dinners, Luscious Lunches

 

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna Stack

This is one of those “I need to eat some fresh vegetables before my body becomes permanently preserved after all the packaged crap I’ve been eating” recipes- it delivers a nice, healthy hit of vegetables and would also make a  simple, delicious and fresh lunch or light dinner. Apologies for the gazillion shots- I am feeling a tad indecisive tonight and so just uploaded them all.

Ingredients

375 fresh lasagna sheets

1/2 eggplant, sliced thinly

1 small zucchini, sliced thinly length-ways

1/2 sweett potato, sliced thinly

1 onion, sliced

1 carrot, sliced thinly, lengthways

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

1 red capsicum, sliced

2 tbsp garlic

2 tbsp pesto

1/2 cup  pasta sauce (I use bottled home-made pasta sauce- you could make your own with passata, basil, garlic, onion, olive oil and seasoning)

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Basil leaves

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Toss sliced vegetables in a big bowl with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, then lay flat on a tray and bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes- however because all ovens are different, you will have to keep an eye on this.
3. Cut the lasagna sheets into twelve 8cm squares. Cook in a large pot of rapidly boiling water until al dente. Drain well.

4. Place one sheet of lasagna on the bottom of the plate, dollop with sauce.
5. Once the vegies are done, start to assemble your stacks. The order I did mine in was (from the bottom):

  • Lasagna sheet
  • Sauce
  • Eggplant
  • Sweet potato
  • Lasagna sheet
  • Sauce
  • Capsicum
  • Sweet potato
  • onion
  • carrot
  • mushroom
  • zucchini
  • pesto
  • top lasagna sheet
  • sauce
  • mushroom
  • basil leaf

6. Finish the plates with some olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar and serve.

 
 

Pear, Raspberry & Coconut Bread

So I may have mentioned once or twice that I bake when I’m depressed. And that I’m not a very good baker.

I try, but a recipe has to be pretty idiot proof for me to pull it off.

So when I found this recipe for this pear, raspberry and coconut loaf, I set myself a challenge and made a bet with my husband (Sorry can’t repeat the terms of the bet in public) that I wouldn’t botch it!

So I followed the recipe, made a mess of myself and my kitchen and stared into the oven willfully, hoping and praying that this bloody bread would work out.

Now, I must admit. My photo isn’t that appealing, I mean, it doesn’t make my mouth water. Truth to be hold, it’s not an entirely attractive looking loaf, but it was certainly tasty and yes, I won the bet. WOOP WOOP!

Ingredients

  • 2 Josephine pears, peeled, quartered, core removed (I used canned pears)
  • 2 cups (300g) self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 cup (85g) desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup (115g) caster sugar
  • 270g can Ayam light coconut milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (120g) frozen raspberries

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 9cm x 22cm (base) loaf pan with non-stick baking paper. Cut the pear into 2cm pieces.
  2. Combine the flour, coconut and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk together the coconut milk, eggs and vanilla extract. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  3. Gently stir in the pears and frozen raspberries make sure you don’t over mix. Spoon into the pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Set aside for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
 

Parmesan & Spring Onion Omelette with Sauteed Mushrooms

Usually, my husband and I spend our Saturday mornings having breakfast  in a cafe somewhere, enjoying a few coffees and planning the rest of the weekend. Occasionally though, when I’m sick, having a fat day or am just a premenstrual bitch and cannot be bothered getting out of my trackies and fluffy slippers, we stay in for breakfast.

Now let’s be frank. I don’t claim to be some amazing wondercook. At best, I can sometimes make stuff without burning it. There are plenty of blogs dedicated to beautiful food, amazing and exotic ingredients and creative recipes. That’s why I bookmark their blogs, to go and visit and drool- but my mantra, for my blog, is easy, quick and simple because that’s all I can manage most days.

So this morning’s breakfast was nice, quick and simple, but also really yummy. Served with some crunchy wholegrain toast and fresh orange, mango & pineapple juice, it was hard not to feel smug as I sat munching on my breakfast in my trackies and slippers on the couch while watching Get Smart. Best of both worlds.

This recipe is to serve one thicker omelette, which my husband and I shared, so if you’re serving for a family, double the numbers. I cooked this more ‘frittata’ style because that’s the way I prefer it.

Ingredients

4 eggs

3 tbsp spring onions, sliced finely

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp grated Tasty cheese

1 tbsp butter, plus extra for the pan

salt & pepper, to taste

2tbsp olive oil

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 tsp garlic, minced/finely chopped

buttered wholegrain toast, to serve

Method

  1. Whisk eggs in a bowl with spring onions and cheeses, season with salt and pepper to taste. Reserve 1 tsp of spring onions for mushie mix.
  2. Heat butter and a dash of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat and tilt the pan to cover the surface with butter. Add the egg mixture to the pan.
  3. Tilt the pan so that the egg mixture is evenly distributed. Stir quickly with the back of a fork to bring all the runny egg back to the middle of the omelette.
  4. Cook on low-medium heat for approx 3-4 minutes as the egg begins to set around the edges. With a spatula or egg-flip, lightly run around the edges of the omelette to ensure the sides don’t stick. Use this method to carefully lift the omelette and check that it is nice and golden brown on the underside.
  5. Once you’re satisfied that the omelette is done on the underside, take the pan off the heat, put a large plate over the top of it and flip the pan so that the omelette is laying on the plate. Add a dash more butter to the pan and gently slide the omelette from the plate back into the pan and allow the other side to cook for a further few minutes.
  6. While the omelette is in it’s last few minutes, throw your mushrooms, garlic and a few of your chopped spring onions into a hot pan with a dash of olive oil and 1 tsp butter. Cook the mushies on med heat until soft and garlic is cooked.
  7. When the omelette is ready, slide it onto your plate- you can slice it into wedges if you’re sharing, or if you wanna be greedy like me, just fold it in half, top it with the sauteed mushrooms and sprinkle with herbs, spring onions or chopped chilli like I did.  Serve with buttered wholegrain toast and some fresh orange juice.
 
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Posted by on March 27, 2010 in Beautiful Brekkies

 

Slow Cooked Steak Pizzaiola

Remember how I virtually got a hard on over autumn arriving and couldn’t wait to use the slow-cooker? Well, apart from the fact that it is still FRICKEN warm outdoors and the leaves haven’t yet changed colour, I have to accept that somewhere, sometime soon, the colder weather will be upon us.

I had been waiting for one of those miserable, rainy overcast days to put my slow cooking skills on show but today,  I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and get on with it. I hate you , El Nino and global warming.

Today’s slow-cooked dinner is good old fashioned steak pizzaiola.

My grandma brought this recipe to Australia with her 50 years ago and makes it Calabria-style, ie; one dash of wine for the pot, one mouthful for her, one for the pot, one for her…

She always makes it with a nice lean cut of oyster blade, but I’m getting all experimental on her ass and trying it with porterhouse because I couldn’t be bothered going to the butcher.

I’ve been eating this hearty meal since I was a kid and it always reminds me of living with my grandparents. The steak is so tender, it literally melts in your mouth and the simple sauce is delish when you mop it up with some crusty Ciabatta bread. Hope you enjoy. My recipe is altered to feed 2 with some leftovers for the next day, so if you’re cooking for the tribe you may wanna double up on the numbers.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 large white onion, diced

2 tbsp garlic, minced

600g porterhouse, trimmed of excess fat and junk

450ml passata (bottled tomato puree). You could also use tinned tomatoes.

4 tbsp dried oregano

2 cups wine (usually, it’s white wine, however I used a Brown Brothers Vintage 2009 Moscato Rosa)

2 tbsp capers

1/2 cup green olives (for the love of God, please none of those awful ‘cocktail’ green olives with the capsicum in the middle, just normal, green olives, with the stones still  in ploise).

Method

  1. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add a generous lick of olive oil and cook onion and garlic until onion if soft and fragrant. Please. Do. Not. Burn. It . Once it’s done, transfer it into the slow cooker pot.
  2. Trim and slice steak into 5-7cm cubes. Cook in the same frying pan, on high heat, long enough to sear the outsides but not necessarily cook through. You just want to give the meat a bit of colour.
  3. Transfer the steak to the slow cooker pot.
  4. Add dried oregano, passata, wine and capers to the slow cooker pot and stir-well, then cover and cook on ‘Auto’. The auto setting usually cooks the food on high for the first 1-2 hours, then automatically reduces it to low. This is supposed to be the better in terms of food safety, especially if there is meat involved. But I will leave that up to you. If you plan to be away the whole day, switch it to low.
  5. Add the olives about 10 minutes before serving and allow to cook in the sauce for a little while.
  6. Serve up with some crusty, toasted Ciabatta bread and a side salad. Oh and be prepared for your house to smell A-MAZING!
 
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Posted by on March 26, 2010 in Delish Dinners

 

Chicken Cacciatore with Fennel Roasted Potatoes

I’m one of those people who anxiously await the end of summer.

I hate summer and everything about it.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. The concept of summer is nice- the beach, fresh tropical fruit, al fresco dinners and warm evenings where anything is possible…but the reality (at least in my mind) is blowflies, air conditioning running on high and foundation that melts down your face.

So when March 1st arrived, I am almost peed myself with glee.  I celebrated by thumbing through allof my cookbooks, searching for comfort food recipes, because that’s my thing.

Comfort food stirs up all these memories of childhood winters, where my biggest problem was the fact that my sister had stolen my favourite blue Derwent pencil and therefore my colouring book was doomed to a life of monochromatic misery. I remember the days that it used to rain, non-stop, all day and we would be huddled up inside with some delicious aromas wafting from the kitchen.

I also celebrated by pulling out and washing my beloved slow cooker, preparing it for the months again and I cannot freakin wait to use it. I am a 26 year old woman and ashamed that these are the things that excite me.

So tonight, I decided to go old school and make up a big batch of my childhood fave, Chicken Cacciatore.  I served it with a side of my Nonna’s fennel roasted baby potatoes and green beans from the garden dressed simply with some olive oil and white wine vinegar, just like she used to make back in the day. All with some crusty Ciabatta bread of course. Excuse the photo… I was in a rush to feed my husband before he ‘starved to death’, because we all know what a tragedy it is if you don’t feed the man this very second, so please forgive me for the whole ‘red slop on a plate’ vibe.

So as I ate, I couldn’t help but reminisce. Oh and by the way, I did eventually get that precious blue Derwent pencil back….

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • Plain flour, for dusting
  • Salt and cracked black pepper
  • 3 chicken breasts, cut into fist-sized portions
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic/1 garlic clove, chopped
  • Small zucchini, diced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 cup of red and green capsicum, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil leaves
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock
  • 700g jar of passata
  • 1/2 cup wine (I used red because I had some sitting in the fridge, but the recipe calls for white)

Fennel Roasted Potatoes

8 baby potatoes, peeled

2 tbsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp rosemary salt

cracked pepper, to taste

olive oil

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C.
  2. Toss potatoes in fennel seeds and drizzle with olive oil. Season with rosemary salt and cracked pepper.
  3. Bake potatoes on a tray lined with baking paper in hot oven until crispy and golden.
  4. Coat chicken breasts with flour. Heat the oil in frying pan and brown chicken. Don’t worry too much about cooking it through, just get some nice colour on the outside.
  5. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  6. In the same pan, add a touch more oil and cook onion, garlic, zucchini, carrot, capsicum and mushrooms. Cook until onion and capsicum are soft and fragrant.
  7. Add the chicken back to the pan. Add passata, wine and chicken stock and cover. Cook on medium heat for approx 15 minute, then lower to a simmer.
  8. Throw in the olives and basil leaves and cook, uncovered for a further 7 minutes.
  9. Serve alongside the fennel-roasted potatoes and some fresh green beans dressed with olive oil and a dash of white wine vinegar, or just simple steamed green beans. Good, wholesome food just like your mama made.
 
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Posted by on March 14, 2010 in Delish Dinners

 

Monday to Friday Work Lunches

I recently had one of those big lightbulb moments that we all have once in a while.

I realised that I have been spending in excess of $100.00 a week just on buying lunch at work…and multiply that by two because my husband and I work at the same place.

Young, dumb, more money than brains, who knows why, but I was happily oblivious to this little fact until the account balance was $0.00 and I wanted to go clothes shopping.

So this time I decided that I really needed to stop having lunch at the cafe every day- not only was it ridiculously overpriced, but the food was boring and it wasn’t even tasty….just convenient.

So I have set myself a challenge, to take my lunch to work everyday for the next week. I tried to start this last week, but failed twice, ending up at the cafe for a mini Bailey’s cheesecake ‘for lunch-dessert’ and another time for a drink….and of course while I was there, why not some ravioli? Grrrrr!!!

So here’s my lunch plan for the week. Hopefully I can stick to it, save myself a few kilos and actually get to clothes shopping on the weekend!


MONDAY-Haloumi & Avocado Salad

Grilled haloumi slices, sliced avocado, rocket, salad leaves, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrot, mushroom, toasted pine nuts and a mustard-Balsamic dressing.

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TUESDAY- Teriyaki Rice Paper Rolls

Shredded teriyaki chicken, vermicelli noodles, iceberg lettuce, carrot, snow peas with Hoi Sin dipping sauce.

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WEDNESDAY- Cumin grilled chicken strips with Tabbouleh salad and toasted Turkish breadChicken tenderloins marinated in lemon, olive oil, garlic and cumin seeds overnight, then grilled with a salad of chopped parsley, tomatoes, burghul, mint, olive oil and lemon juice with a slice of toasted Turkish bread to scoop up that delicious salad.

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THURSDAY- Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls


Poached chicken in sesame oil, soy sauce, caster sugar, garlic and a dash of fish sauce, green onions, shredded carrot scooped into a crunchy roll.

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FRIDAY: Potato & Leek Soup

Potato, leek, onion, garlic, vegetable, stock, cream. Make up a big pot and take the leftovers to work. Yum!

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And just so you know, I’m blaming WordPress for the formatting of this post…not the wine.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2010 in Inspiration, Luscious Lunches

 
 
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