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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chicken Roll with Boursin & Prosciutto

This is a dish, once you get the hang of making, you will want to repeat again and again not just for a dinner party but also for lunch or even a picnic. Anything that can be prepared the day before or even a few hours ahead suits me - I like to be as stress free as possible when it comes to entertaining. This is my adaptation of a Belinda Jeffery recipe and is open to variation. Just use your imagination and take your lead from colours. Red peppers would look stunning and the cheese could be Blue or White Costello or something similar as long as it is creamy and spreads easily.


4 medium size chicken breasts
5 long slices per breast (approx 500g) prosciutto
2 x 150g baby spinach leaves, washed, dried and destorked
150g Boursin cheese or another creamy variety


1. Tear off eight sheets of baking paper, about two thirds bigger than the chicken breasts and place one chicken breast between two sheets of paper.
2. Using a mallet, kitchen hammer or in our case a bottle of wine, flatten out each breast to about 4mm with the aim of an overall even thickness.
3. Remove the top piece of paper and discard. Smooth the cheese onto each breast - dividing it equally between the four.
4. Place a single layer of spinach leaves on top of the cheese.
5. With the aid of the paper roll up the chicken lengthwise. Put to one side.
6. Tear off four more pieces of baking paper and four pieces of foil all the same size as each other and all the same size as in number 1. above. Put the paper on top of the foil.
7. Place 5 slices of procuitto, butting each one up to the other, on each piece of paper. Short end in front of you.
8. Spread another layer of spinach on top of the prosciutto.
9. Put the rolled chicken at the bottom of the proscuitto, nearest to you and again, using the paper and foil as an aid, roll up and twist the ends like making a bon bon (cracker). Place the rolls in the fridge for at least sixty minutes before cooking.

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Place chicken rolls in a shallow dish and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest 15-20 minutes. Carefully unroll each one and slice into rounds. Three breasts serve four people quite easily but I always make four so we have cold leftovers!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Summer Pudding

Summer Pudding is so English and so delicious!

It might be autumn here officially but I am sneaking in this recipe while we still have a little summer weather left. I like to make individual summer puddings but they are very filling - one large pudding makes more sense and is more economical for leftovers but not so impressive in the looks department. I have not given a quantity for bread – it will depend on your bowl size but around twenty slices will probably be a good guide for a medium size pudding. I sometimes use fresh bread and sometimes stale – they both work well.

Serves: 4


600g frozen mixed berries
110g caster sugar
100ml water
Enough white sliced bread to line bowl, crusts removed
Cream to serve


Place the frozen fruit in a medium size pan with sugar and water, slowly bring to the boil over low heat and simmer for 4 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes before you assemble the pudding.

Grease a large bowl or four individual ramekins with a little butter. Cut enough bread to line bottom of bowl/s, the sides, a layer for the middle and a layer for the top. Start by lining the bottom of the bowl and the sides. Using a slotted spoon, half fill the bowl with berries, add extra bread to fill the middle, continue with more berries and finally, add more bread to cover the top of the pudding. Pour over the rest of the juice but reserve about two tablespoons for ‘patching’, later. Weigh down the pudding with a plate and a couple of cans and chill overnight or for at least 6 hours in the refrigerator. Turn the pudding out of the bowl and ‘patch’ up any white spots with the reserved juice. Serve with cream and blue rosemary flowers scattered over the top.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pomegranate Molasses & Yoghurt Sauce

The jewels of the fruit world are back in season here in Oz gracing our tables with their beauty. Pomegranates are rich in potassium and contain a fair amount of vitamin C. The juice is now available in supermarkets all year round unlike, luckily, the fresh fruit otherwise we might become blasé. I really like using Pomegranate Molasses – available, all year, from Middle Eastern shops – it is a thick syrupy juice reduction that has a rich, tart flavour with a slightly sweet edge. It makes a good marinade for grilled meats but I love to use it with fresh yoghurt as a sauce to accompany lamb – like seared back strap or fillet.

To serve four people: pour 175ml thick, rich, creamy natural yoghurt into a small serving bowl and pour in 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses. Gently swirl the molasses through the yoghurt to create a marble effect, scatter a few fresh pomegranate seeds over the top (if available) and serve on the side with lamb or grilled meat.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Watermelon Granita with Ginger Syrup

This is a good palate cleanser between courses or served as a dessert – both are ideal as part of an Asian meal. The combination of icy watermelon, fresh ginger and just a tiny hint of rosemary from the everlasting flowers are heavenly. So far it’s my favourite thing in 2009 all thanks to Neil Perry from whose original recipe I have adapted this.

Serves: 6


750g seedless watermelon, coarsely chopped for the granita
200g watermelon, finely diced for the finished dessert
60gm white sugar for the granita
100gm white sugar for the syrup
20gm fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
60ml water
Blue rosemary flowers for garnish


Roughly chop the melon, place in a bowl and sprinkle over 60gm sugar. Leave to macerate for about an hour then blend until smooth and pass through a very fine sieve. Pour into a 20cm x 30cm shallow metal tray and place in the freezer, stirring and scraping during the course of the next few hours until crystals form and the granita is frozen.

Ginger Syrup: Combine 100gm sugar, ginger and water in a saucepan, stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, turn off the heat and stand until cool. Strain, discard the ginger pieces and refrigerate the syrup until it is completely chilled.

To serve:

Divide the diced melon into martini glasses, top with granita, drizzle with syrup and scatter blue rosemary flowers over the top.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Bastilla, thanks to Mint, Tea & Rosewater, is a new discovery for me and I now have the recipe thanks to Pete Bakes to which I have made a couple of changes. I used 650gm chicken instead of 2lbs and a small thumb of fresh turmeric, chopped, instead of powdered. I baked the Bastilla at 180˚C in a fan-forced oven and watched it like a hawk. Over all, the flavour was perfect but the chicken and egg mixture was a bit too dry so I would recommend under-cooking the scrambled eggs. I cannot see their ‘wetness’ doing any harm to the pastry. In every other respect this is a delicious recipe and one I shall repeat again, and again. Individual pastries as an alternative look lovely and make a perfect canapé but might prove challenging to prepare.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Persimmon Sorbet

harvest fresh persimmons (now in season in Oz), wash them carefully, pat dry and freeze to rock hard. Remove fruit from the freezer about fifteen minutes before serving, slice in half and enjoy naturer's sorbet!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

hot hearts!

add some heat to green gazpacho with an ice heart or two! Just add a few drops of tabasco to the water before freezing!

Tuna Escabeche!

Using tuna instead of swordfish for escabeche (see recipe) is just as successful and even more colourful!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Carrot, Orange & Tarragon double act

This intriguing combination will really fool your guests - it's hard to spot the difference between the orange peel and carrot when julienned exactly the same size and all glistening with dressing or hot butter. Watch the surprised faces when the eyes, the taste buds and the brain all synchronize then wait for the slow smile to spread across each face. It does help to serve this to people who wear magnifiers for reading - anyone younger might be just a little bit suspicious!


Julienne enough carrot to your liking, to serve as a salad or as a vegetable
Julienne some orange peel, one third of the above amount
French tarragon to serve
Butter or dressing to serve


It is easy to julienne (matchstick strips) this way: take an average size carrot, peel it and divide it into 3 pieces. Take one of those pieces and square off the sides, cut the now square piece of carrot into 1/8 inch (0.3cm) thick slices. Stack these slices on top of each other and cut into 1/8 inch (0.3cm) strips. Repeat with the rest of the carrot. To make julienne of orange is a little more difficult. Remove long pieces of orange rind with a potato peeler avoiding the white pith. Take a very sharp knife, square up each piece and cut strips exactly the same width and size as the julienned carrot or as near as possible.

Toss carrot and orange in either dressing for a salad or cook gently in butter for a few minutes and serve either way with French tarragon. If you can only find Russian tarragon, use it sparingly. Chicken is a good choice to serve with this dish.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Anita's Beetroot Salad

This is a recipe created by my sister-in-law, Anita, who is a great cook and blessed with a talent for turning the ordinary into the sensational. We share tables with Anita and Ross throughout the French summer - taking pleasure in cooking and feasting together. Later in the year I will post more of her recipes and you will see what I mean.

I love the fact the beetroot in this recipe is not cooked – there is something a bit naughty about eating it raw. This is a seriously healthy dish, guaranteeing an inner glow and is truly delicious.

Serves: 4-6 as one of a number of salads
2 large raw beetroot, peeled, grated
Sour cream and mayonnaise – a little of each and enough to bind beetroot
4 handfuls of raisins
40g pine nuts, roasted
40g sunflower seeds
Parsley, to garnish


Grate the beetroot. I use a mouli by moulinex with three inter-changeable blades bought at the local supermarket for 10 Euros, it does the job beautifully and saves oodles of time. Add raisins, pine nuts and sunflower seeds, mix in the sour cream and mayonnaise. Scatter over a little parsley to garnish.

Alternatively combine beetroot, raisins, nuts, seeds and parsley and serve mayonnaise and/or sour cream on the side. Fab, either way!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pedro Ximénez

If you see a recipe calling for PX and are not sure what it is look no further. Pedro Ximénez is a sweet sherry wine from Spain. We buy Romate’s Cardenal Cisneros from Jerez. PX has a dark, dense mahogany colour and is smooth, creamy and velvety with an intense flavour reminiscent of raisins. It is deliciously sweet and persistently lingers on the palate. Magnificent over ice cream, excellent with chocolate and although intended as an aperitif other uses include sweet and savoury sauces in place of normal sherry. Unless you have money to burn, do not use it for reduction purposes. Pedro Ximénez is very expensive and should be eeked out and every mouthful savoured. Enjoy it chilled, too.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Aalborg - the world's best schnapps!

I meant to include this as the drink to have with Esther's Gravlax and any herring dish or just to drink with anything you fancy providing it's before noon and you say skol as you look your drinking partner in the eye. It's the best schnapps there is - an absolute must buy if you are lucky enough to find it.

TOP 30

(a handy list for your wallet)

Almonds, Apples
Bananas, Beetroot
Blueberries, Broccoli
Carrots, Chickpeas
EV-Olive Oil, Garlic
Melon, Muesli
Mushrooms, Oranges
Oysters, Parsley
Raspberries, Red Wine
Rhubarb, Rosemary
Salmon, Sardines
Soy Beans, Spinach
Tuna, Walnuts
Water, Watermelon
Wholegrain Bread, Yoghurt

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Weekly Post

It's really nice to try something new and different. These unusual sausages from Anne Goldfinch in Broke sound not only just that but interesting and fun to make, too.

A meal for when you want something other than meat, fish or poultry!

White Bean Sausages with Anchovy Mayonnaise

(serves 4)

250g cannellini beans (I used Great Northern)
1 large shallot or small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 small red chillies, seeded and chopped (I wasn't quite that brave, only used one)
1 small free range egg
75g mature cheese (I just used cheddar, but you could use something stronger, as long as it melts well)
a little flour and beaten egg
fine dry breadcrumbs for coating
Oil for frying
lemon wedges to serve


Soak the beans overnight covered in cold water. Pour off the water and cover with fresh water - pop on the heat and cook at a lively simmer for about 45 mins... till soft but not squashy. They are done when you can crush them between your fingers. Drain thoroughly.Mash the beans or whizz them for a few seconds only in a processor. Stir in the shallot/onion, garlic, chillies, egg and grated cheese, then season generously with S&P.Cool. The mixture should be a stiffish paste. Roll into thick, short sausages, flour hands whilst rolling. Drop into the beaten egg, then the crumbs and fry in hot oil till crisp, about 6 mins. Eat hot with dollops of the anchovy and garlic mayonnaise and a wedge of lemon.


4 large salted anchovy fillets or 8 smaller ones (I only had the ones in oil)
a large cup/200ml GOOD mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

The mayonnaise was very tasty, and could be used in other ways - over fish fillets, with prawns etc.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Fig & Walnut Palmiers

My friend Anne brought the wonderful world of palmiers to my attention a few years ago with her great salami, olive and rosemary recipe, featured below. Thanks to Anne, I have not only made these tasty pastries countless times but so have many others I know. One friend in particular made them to the exclusion of all else and I have to say drinks in Balmain got just a tiny bit predictable. As much as we all love them there is a thing called a fair go but some people just don’t get it - “what did I do, what did I do” came the response when his wife threatened things I cannot publish here – but that’s Brian for you!

For a variation on a theme, I made this up the other day but didn’t weigh or count the ingredients so it’s a bit of a rough guide!

Makes 10-12 palmiers


1 large frozen sheet bought puff pastry (thawed)
1-12 dried figs
2 handfuls walnuts
zested rind of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons caster sugar
Brandy (optional)


Reconstitute figs by placing in a saucepan, cover with cold water or brandy and gently bring to the boil. Turn heat down and simmer for about an hour – test with a skewer to check if they are soft enough, if not simmer a little longer. Remove from the heat and leave until they are quite cold.

Chop walnuts well with a sharp knife. Do not blitz in a whizzer – walnuts should be chopped one-step above “finely” not obliterated! Slice figs and cover the piece of pastry with them leaving a small boarder around the edge (see above photograph). Scatter with walnuts and sprinkle over the sugar.

To fold:

Fold the sides into the middle, turn the pastry one-half turn, fold the sides into the middle again, and then fold in half (making eight layers). Wrap in cling film to chill for at least an hour before cooking.

Remove from the fridge, slice each one into half-inch slices, and put them all onto a greased baking tray. Bake at 180˚C for approximately 15 minutes or until brown.

Serve warm sprinkled with icing sugar or sugar snow.

This is Anne’s magic recipe (as she originally sent it to me)

1 cup pitted black olives
2/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary needles
8 slices of salami
2 - 3 tablespoons oil
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Whiz all the ingredients in a food processor.

Take one packet (3 sheets) of thawed frozen puff pastry and spread the paste equally between the three sheets. Spread all over each one in a thin layer to completely cover

Fold the sides into the middle, turn the pastry one-half turn, fold the sides into the middle again, and then fold in half (making eight layers). Wrap in cling film to chill for at least an hour before cooking. Cook in a fairly hot oven for 15 minutes until brown and sizzling.

TIPS: Buy the pastry that had sundried tomato and herbs already in it.
Make and freeze days or weeks before so no work to do on the day of eating!
Make only half the above amounts for less people!
Have a large gin and tonic when you’re cooking them!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lovin' Spoonful!

Asian Spoons - everybody loves them!

Here are four ideas for the moment - I'll be publishing many others over the next few weeks!

Watermelon, feta cheese, baby olive, parsley

Smoked salmon, dill mayonnaise, lime, parsley

Beetroot hummus, poached quail egg, parsley

Mini bell peppers stuffed with pesto

(purchase mini bell peppers & beetroot hummus from any good supermarket or deli)


One for the Chef!

Negroni has to be one of my all time favourite drinks!
try this easy to remember way - over ice:

1 third Gin
1 third Campari
1 third Cinzano Rosso
1 slice orange, garnish

Harlequin Sashimi

Buy top grade raw fish: tuna, swordfish and salmon precut. Just before serving slice fish again into small equal pieces, create a diamond pattern on each plate and serve moistened with a little oil. A cheerful way to present sashimi!