Sunday, 29 January 2012

lamb, beetroot and broad bean salad

If you haven't cooked with broad beans before, you need to get over all this shit cause these little guys are super tasty, buttery, easy to use and good for you. Normally I would use fresh broad beans from the pod and shell them myself which is a really lovely and honest experience but unfortunately they have just gone out of season. Thankfully you can purchase broad beans frozen in nearly all supermarkets now.
Another thing about this dish is that when you eat fresh beetroot and nature calls the next day, don't forget that it isn't blood! You are not dying! It is just from the fresh beetroot.

1 medium sized beetroot
150g of lamb fillet (backstrap)
1 garlic clove, crushed
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 cup of frozen broad beans
2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt
10 mint leaves, shredded finely
1 teaspoon of honey
1 cup of baby spinach leaves

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Peel your beetroot and wrap it in foil, adding about 1/2 teaspoon of water before sealing up the foil. Cook in the oven for around 45 minutes or until just soft all the way through.

Place your lamb in a dish along with the crushed garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Set aside.

Cover the broad beans in some warm water for around 10 minutes just to defrost them a little. The broad beans have a husk around the outside which you need to remove. To do this just pinch the husk a little bit until it breaks and then pop your bean out, discard the empty shells. Cover the shelled beans with boiling water for around 1 minute, drain and set aside to cool.

Mix the yoghurt, honey, shredded mint leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper together. Pop back in the fridge until serving.

Remove the beetroot from the oven (leave the oven on) and carefully remove the foil, ensuring to avoid any steam. Slice the beetroot in small wedges and leave to cool.

Heat a fry pan and sear your lamb fillet, tip the oil and lemon juice from the marinade in to the pan rather than using any additional oil. Just sear the lamb briefly to seal it and then place in the oven on a tray for around 5 minutes, or until you are satisfied with how well it is cooked. I like my lamb a bit pink still so that it remains tender and juicy.

Mix together the beetroot, broad beans and spinach and place on your plate. Thinly slice the lamb fillet and lay over the salad. Remove your yoghurt mix from the fridge and spoon over the top of the lamb. Enjoy.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

crispy skin salmon with poached egg and asparagus

I haven't got much to write this week other than you need get this dish in your belly! Stat! It is so simple, quick and super tasty. The oozey egg over the salmon and asparagus is near perfect.

The one thing that I cannot stress enough about this dish is: DO NOT OVERCOOK YOUR FISH! You may think that it is raw on the inside but if you purchase good quality fish then it is ok to be a little undercooked and it really does make your salmon experience more enjoyable.

1 salmon fillet, skin on

1/2 bunch of asparagus
1 free range egg
1 lemon
A few sprigs of parsley
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
Dash of olive oil

Finely chop your parsley, zest your lemon and mix together in a small bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Bring one pot of water to the boil and blanch your asparagus until just tender. Run the asparagus spears under cold water to stop the cooking process, drain and lay on your serving plate.

Bring another pot of water to the boil for your egg. Once boiling, turn the water down so that it is a gentle simmer and add your white vinegar.

Whilst your water is coming to a simmer heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a high heat. Lay your salmon fillet in to the hot oil, skin side down. Cook for a few minutes until your skin is golden and crispy but not burnt.

Now whilst the salmon skin is crisping in the pan crack your egg on to a small plate. Create a swirl in your simmering water and gently slide the egg from the plate in to the water. Cook for around 2-3 minutes for a nice oozing yolk.

Whilst your egg is poaching, turn down the heat of your fry pan to a medium/low heat and flip your fish and cook for another few minutes until the centre is heated and slightly opaque. Remember, do not overcook your salmon. Remove from the pan and place straight on to your asparagus spears.

Remove the egg from the water with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to remove any excess water. Lay the egg on top of the salmon and sprinkle your parsley and lemon rind mix all over your dish. Serve with a slice of lemon for an extra bit of freshness.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

zucchini pizza base with prosciutto and bocconcini

The problem = I love pizzas but I hate immensely dislike greasy, oily bases. The solution = pizza bases made from grated zucchini.

This is a winning recipe and I can not recommend it more. It is great to finally be able to enjoy a nice pizza without the guilt and I honestly think that this pizza base tastes better than a regular takeaway pizza. The zucchini provides a great flavour and crisps up well.

This base recipe can be used with any topping combination that you like. Also, if you want an even quicker dinner you can buy tomato paste for the sauce rather than make it yourself but trust me, this sauce recipe is better than anything you can get out of a jar!

Hot tip of the week: when cooking with tomatoes I add a little bit of sugar as it helps to counteract the acidity.

1/2 a punnet of cherry tomatoes - approx 15
1/4 cup of water
1 teaspoon of sugar
Good pinch of pepper
5 leaves of basil, shredded


1 small zucchini, grated
1 small free range egg, beaten
50g light mozzarella, grated

2 slices of prosciutto
5 balls of baby bocconcini
5 basil leaves

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees.

Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters and put in a small pot with the water, sugar and pepper. Put on a medium/high heat and cook until tomatoes have broken down and the sauce is quite thick. Approximately 10 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and stir through the shredded basil leaves. Do not add salt to your sauce as there will be sufficient salt from the cheese and prosciutto.
Whilst the sauce is cooking mix the grated zucchini, beaten egg and grated mozzarella. Tip the mixture on to a flat tray covered in baking paper and spread out in to a thin layer. Put in the oven and cook for around 15 minutes or until golden brown, ensure to turn the base half way through if your oven does not cook evenly. Remove from the oven and slide from the tray on to the bench to cool it down a little bit before adding the topping.

Turn your over up to 220 degrees.

Once your base has cooled for a few minutes, spread the tomato sauce over the top, place the basil leaves on the sauce, tear up your prosciutto in to small pieces and lay over the basil and break or slice your baby bocconcini balls in half and pop them on top of the prosciutto. Slide your pizza on the baking paper back on to your tray and place the pizza back in to the oven for about 10 minutes or until the bocconcini has melted and slightly browned.

Super easy, super quick and super tasty.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

meatloaf in a mug with cinnamon sweet potato and brussel sprouts

So, I am a believer that everything tastes better when eaten out of a mug/cup. I eat lots of things from mugs and teacups – cereal, yoghurt, ice cream, peas – and I got thinking “how can I cook a dinner in a mug?” and the answer came to me in the form of mini meatloaf in a mug! And what could be more perfect for the solo diner?

There are lots of recipes out there on the internet for meatloaf in a mug but they all use a microwave for cooking the meatloaf. Yes this would be a quicker way of doing things but to me cooking meat in the microwave seems extremely wrong! All I get is visions of that grey meat you get when you try to defrost meat in the m-wave too quickly. So here is my own recipe which I recommend cooking in the oven.

Now I know what you are all thinking, "eeewww, brussel sprouts!" but I think that brussel sprouts really cop a bad wrap and I am here to fight for their right to be tasty!! Yes, you probably hated them when you were a kid but that is your parents fault, not the fault of the sprouts. When overcooked (as most of our parents cooked the majority of our veges) they can be quite distasteful but follow the below instructions and I swear you will love these crunchy little guys.

150g lean beef mince
1/4 small onion, diced finely
2 tablespoons of oats
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon of barbecue sauce
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon of mixed herbs
1/2 teaspoon of stock powder (any flavour)
1/4 cup of tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons of dijon mustard (additional)
1 teaspoon of honey
1/2 medium red sweet potato
2 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon of butter
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
5 brussel sprouts
Dash of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mix mince, onion, oats, Worcestershire Sauce, barbecue sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard, mixed herbs, stock powder and a pinch of salt and pepper together in a bowl and combine well. Separately mix the tomato sauce, additional dijon mustard and honey together. Take an oven proof mug and smear with oil. Add a dollop of the tomato sauce mixture into the bottom of the mug and then place the meatloaf mixture on top. Spoon the remaining sauce over the meat and pop into the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Peel and dice your sweet potato and boil until soft and mash together with the milk, butter and cinnamon.

Place a pot of water on to boil. Cut the bottoms off your brussel sprouts, remove a couple of the outside leaves and slice in half longways and then add to your pot of boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes and then drain and return to the pot. Add a splash of olive oil and a good pinch of salt and cook for another minute on a really high heat, continuously stirring.

Remove meatloaf from the oven, remembering that the mug will be very hot. There will be a lot of excess liquid which you can carefully drain off. You should be able to just turn the mug over and the loaf will pop out on to the plate ready for you to enjoy with your mash and sprouts.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

chicken poached in tomato and garlic with cauliflower cous cous

I try to make my recipes as versatile as possible and easy to use. Generally a number of the ingredients can be left out or substituted, e.g. greens beans can be swapped for asparagus, if the recipe calls for a dash of red wine you can leave it out if you don’t have any or if you are a coriander fan you can trade the basil for it. I don’t want to create recipes where you have to go and buy every single ingredient, I want to share recipes where you can go to your fridge/cupboard and find ingredients that you have or that work better for you.

p.s – this is a coriander free zone, you will never find a recipe on here that includes coriander as it is the herb of the Devil.

1 small chicken breast
1 can of crushed tomatoes or a can of cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons of red wine
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vege stock powder
1/4 cauliflower
Dash of olive oil
1/4 cup of water
1 teaspoon of butter
10 green beans
5 basil leaves

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Slice chicken breast into 4 strips. Place can of tomatoes, red wine, garlic, sugar, salt & pepper and vege stock powder into an oven proof dish and mix together. Add chicken strips and pop in to the oven for around 25 minutes.

Remove core stem from the cauliflower. Finely shred the cauliflower head so that it looks like large cous cous or rice (a food processor is perfect for this but I am not an appliance kind of gal so using a knife works just as good). Heat the dash of olive oil in a fry pan, once heated add the shredded cauliflower and sauté until a bit of colour starts to show. Add the water, the cauliflower will absorb this which will cook it further. Test it after around 4 minutes, if you are happy with the texture take it off the heat and stir in the butter and also a pinch of salt.
Boil your beans but don't over do them, nothing worse than soggy beans.

Plate up your cauliflower and beans and remove the chicken from the oven. Cut the biggest strip in half to double check that it is cooked all the way through. Spoon chicken strips and some of the sauce over the top of your veges and tear up your basil leaves to sprinkle over the top.

This recipe also works great with mashed potato, rice or normal cous cous instead of the cauliflower.

Monday, 2 January 2012

sopressa, pea & asparagus pasta

Ah, the first scary post.

I am not usually a big pasta eater but I had a craving the other night for some comfort food but also something that was quite fresh.

2x lasagne sheets
1/2 bunch of asparagus
1/2 cup of peas
2x slices of sopressa, thinly sliced
1 eschallot, 
1/8 cup of light cream
Zest of 1/2 lemon and a slice to serve
5 balls of baby bocconcini
Dash of olive oil
Pinch of fresh oregano - optional

Dry fry the thinly sliced sopressa in a pan until crispy.  Remove and rest on a paper towel.  Cut the bottom 1/4 of the asparagus stalks off as these tend to be quite husky.  Slice remainder of asparagus into small pieces.  Blanch asparagus and peas in a pot together, strain and run under cold water to cease the cooking process.  Break up the lasagne sheets into small pieces, try to keep them the same size so that the cooking is kept even.  Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta, ensure you have enough water so that the pasta can move around freely and not get stuck together.  Saute eschallot in a medium heat pan with a dash of olive oil, add the drained peas and asparagus.  Whilst this is heating, sprinkle the pasta sheets into the boiling water (sprinkled so that the pasta does not clump together).  Add the lemon zest, cream, baby bocconcini balls and salt and pepper to the peas and asparagus.  Let the cream thicken a little so that it will coat the pasta sufficiently.  Check your pasta, it should be al dente, if so drain and add to the pan with the sauce.  Remove pan from the heat.  Add the fresh oregano at this stage and stir the pasta until well coated, serve into a bowl, sprinkle on your crispy sopressa and squeeze your slice of lemon over the top.  Eat before it gets cold.