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Monday, December 19, 2011

watermelon with feta and black olive salad

This lovely fresh colourful salad will be well known to many and is just perfect to make over the Christmas period.

Be sure to use seedless watermelon, pitted olives and the best plain feta you can find. Feta marinated in herb oil takes on the strong flavour of dried herbs and is a no no for this recipe.

Serves: 6


1/2 seedless watermelon, chopped into small even pieces
1 Spanish red onion, very finely sliced
2 tablespoons pitted black olives
1 300gm pk of plain feta cheese, cubed
1 handful fresh mint, small sprigs only
salt and pepper to season
olive oil
dash of vinegar


Carefully combine the ingredients and lastly drizzle over about 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of red wine vinegar. Serve immediately

Watermelon Salad recipe printer friendly version click here:

Monday, December 5, 2011

clam fest!

clams in white wine and garlic sauce
All kinds of mollusc can be used for this recipe and as much as I love clams (pictured above) I think pipis are more interesting both in size, giving a more substantial mouthful, and texture. Whatever your choice of mollusc for this recipe make sure you purchase sand cleaned mollusc and wash them thoroughly, discarding any that have opened or smell peculiar.

This is a great thing to do in a wok and Japanese Panko breadcrumbs are an excellent thickening agent. 1kg feeds roughly six people as part of a meal of many small plates or two people for a large starter.


1kg fresh closed clams, or other mollusc (see note below), thoroughly cleaned
1-cup (250ml) water
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 spring onions both white part and approximately 3 inches of green
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1-cup (250ml) white wine
Juice 1 small lemon
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
4-5 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
Parsley, chopped, for garnish


In a wok, heat to boiling point 250ml water and pinch of salt. Throw in the clams. Lower heat; cook the clams gently to prevent toughening. Cover the wok and cook until all the shells have opened, shaking the wok now and then. Discard any that have not opened. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Strain the cooking liquor and set aside.

Wipe the wok, heat the olive oil, add the onion and garlic and sweat until transparent. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil, stir in the breadcrumbs. Add the cooking liquor, lemon juice, bay leaf and season with black pepper. Return the clams to the wok and gently turn them through the sauce, stir in the parsley. Transfer the shells and sauce to a serving platter.

Note: substitute the 250ml of water (to open the shellfish) for fish stock providing the stock is not too salty. Substitute clams for pipis, small scallops or mussels or the mighty razor clam, my favourite of all. Clams are high in protein and contain fair amounts of calcium and iron.

Clam fest printable recipe, click here:
sliced garlic and spring onions

Thursday, November 17, 2011

black and purple carrots - the new SUPER food!

black carrots

purple carrots in a stir fry of garlic shoots, red peppers, red onion and cherry tomatoes

I discovered the wonder of black carrots in our local market, when we were in southwest France this summer. According to my source at the Carrot Museum they have been around for thousands of years but my find was certainly a first for me. Black carrots have a unique taste, all of their own, quite different from the common orange variety. Split in half, gently cooked in butter until just past the al dente stage, ideal served alone or as a side dish - they are quite delicious! Do not boil them, this leaches out the colour losing the flavour in the process.

Back in Oz, I recently came across purple carrots – they too were a surprise! I found them at the Kings Cross Saturday farmer’s market in Sydney and then again in Woolworths (who would have thought it!). The Carrot museum tells us the UK reintroduced purple carrots into British supermarkets just recently after five long centuries but had no takers. (So, good luck Woolies). However, I am sure local farmer’s markets in the UK who specialize in heirloom varieties will supply them like our markets here do.

Purple carrots lend themselves to the same cooking process as the black variety but they are both equally delicious chopped into small rings and served raw in salads.

Both black and purple carrots are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties so they are extremely good for you. They are something very different and provide an attractive, colourful accompaniment to any dish or salad.

Please note: Yellow and white varieties exist too. Keep an eye out.

black and purple carrot recipe, click here for printer friendly version:

Monday, September 5, 2011

eel tapas

We all love tapas – the variety is endless and this one is one of my favourites and a must have when in the Basque. Baby eels piled high on French bread diagonals with a little dollop of mayonnaise and a slice or two of cooked red pepper. The eels are a delicacy of San Sebastian but are available in tins from gourmet food shops, internationally. Nothing beats the real thing though, so put them on your list for your next visit to Spain.

Baby eel tapas, printer friendly recipe click here:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

migas with fish

Migas (Spanish for breadcrumbs) comes in many forms and often includes chorizo, eggs, and pimenton. The following recipe is just as tasty and very quick to prepare.

Whizz up the following to resemble fine breadcrumbs:

1 cup torn stale bread
1/2 cup of natural almonds
2 garlic gloves

Cook the Migas in a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil for a few minutes on a moderate heat until lightly browned.

Add a handful of chopped parsley and serve on the side with sardines or any strong tasting fish. I particularly love it served with hake (below) cooked on the plancha.

Migas printer friendly recipe, click here:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

monkfish brochettes

Although referred to as poor man’s lobster monkfish still comes at a price! It also comes as a bit of a mystery! In the southern hemisphere, monkfish it called anglerfish and although this variety looks identical to that of the northern hemisphere, the cooked texture is quite different. Monkfish, northern hemisphere variety, makes very good brochettes. The flesh is very firm and remains that way during the cooking process while anglerfish starts out well but goes sluggish towards the end. I am yet to find out why!

The preparation and cooking of this beautiful firm fish is so easy. 

Purchase fillets of monkfish, but because it is a firm fish with no waste, a little goes a long way. One small fish minus its very large head adequately serves two people.

Soak small skewers in cold water for at least an hour before use. Thread them with cubed monkfish and young, fresh bay leaves and marinate the skewers in extra virgin olive oil, sliced garlic, sea salt and ground white pepper for two hours. Cook them on a very hot plancha for a few minutes on each side until the flesh becomes opaque, brown and slightly crisp – about five or six minutes all up. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top and serve.

If you would prefer a sauce with your brochettes cook them on high heat in a frying pan in a tablespoon each of butter and oil. Remove the brochettes once cooked and deglaze the pan with a little white wine, let the alcohol burn off then add a squeeze of lemon juice, some chopped parsley, sea salt and freshly ground white pepper.

I cook them the first way and drink the white wine on the side. Simple food simply cooked, simply delicious!

Monkfish brochettes printer friendly recipe, click here:

beetroot mushrooms

This is a rather spectacular way to serve beetroot. To do so, you must own a Japanese Spiralizer Turning Vegetable Slicer. Just for the record, this is a fantastic machine if you like to make sushi or if you are a raw food enthusiast or vegetarian.

At the blade end of the machine, stick your whole, raw, uncooked beetroot into the round short cylinder then push the handle end, which has several short prongs attached to it into the beetroot so it stays in place. Rotate the handle continuously until all that remains of the beetroot is the very end 'tip' and ‘stork’, which has come about by continuous turning against the round short cylinder. You will not only have a pile of beetroot peelings, good for salads and other uses, but also my magic mushrooms and no waste!

Brush the ‘mushrooms’ with melted butter or a little oil, place them in a greased roasting pan and cook until just done, about 20 minutes on 180C. They make an interesting accompaniment to any dish where beetroot is called for.

Beetroot Mushrooms, click here for printer friendly recipe:

beetroot soup

This is my friend Claudia’s recipe and it makes a wonderful change from borscht. Not that there is anything wrong with borscht, it is delicious, but when I think ‘beetroot soup’ borscht usually comes to mind. I just love the taste and texture of this soup especially the intense tarragon flavour – it marries so well with beetroot.

Serves 6


500g beetroot, baked, peeled and moulied or chopped
2 red onions, sliced
1litre chicken stock
3 tablespoons, brown sugar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
50ml red wine
8 large French tarragon spigs, leaves only.
Natural yogurt for ice cubes


Add leaves from 4 tarragon sprigs to the yogurt and freeze in ice cube trays until solid.

Melt onions and sugar in a covered pan and sweat for 10-15 minutes. Add the vinegar, the wine and reduce to half the volume. Add stock, beetroot and the rest of the tarragon (leaves only). Bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Season, then blend well until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until cold.

Serve in bowls with a yogurt and tarragon ice cube in the centre of each

Click here for printer friendly recipe:

Monday, August 22, 2011

guinea fowl with brie and apple stuffing

Guinea fowl is as versatile as chicken but with a true gamey flavour and makes a delicious though slightly more expensive alternative. The following recipe, if served cold, extends the yield thus giving better value for money. I love guinea fowl in any shape or form but this dish is particularly tasty with the combination of brie and apple. Both are very noticeable in the finished dish and compliment the gamey flavour beautifully.

Oven: 180C
Serves 4 hot, 8 cold

1 x 2kg guinea fowl

Bone the bird completely without tearing or breaking the flesh. Marinate the boned bird for 24 hours in the following mixture:

8 crushed juniper berries,
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
handful of thyme leaves, no sprigs
sea salt to season
black pepper, ground
Marinate for 24 hours.

For the stuffing:

500g pork and veal mincemeat
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 apple, chopped
1 egg
200g fresh brie, cut into cubes
4 slices of crustless white bread, whizzed into crumbs
3 tablespoons port or brandy
3 tablespoons milk
Salt and pepper to season
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Gently soften the onion in the oil for a few minutes then add the meat and brown well, add the apple and mix through. Add the breadcrumbs, egg, brie, port, milkm salt, pepper and parsley. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Remove the bird from the marinade and lay it flat out on the bench. Smooth the stuffing all over the bird and tie it up into a roll with kitchen twine. Wrap the bird well in greased foil, place it in a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour. Remove foil and return the pan to the oven to continue cooking until the skin browns, about 15 minutes. Remove the bird from the oven and rest for 15 minutes. Remove the twine and serve, otherwise cool and refrigerate. The yield will be far greater and slicing much easier if you serve the guinea fowl the next day.

guinea fowl with brie and apple printer friendly recipe, click following link:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

globe artichoke hearts

The wonderful thing about artichoke hearts is they are available all summer and just one large heart per head makes a substantial starter. I like to cook them from a cold-water start on a gentle simmer for 45 minutes, give them at least an hour to drain and cool down then get rid of all those tiresome leaves, clean up the choke and serve them whole in all their glory. I cannot see the benefit of going through the slow process of peeling off each bract (leaf), dipping it in melted butter or vinaigrette with the net result of a tiny nibble of each and a huge mess. I just do not have the patience.

It is interesting to know that when the artichoke flower is still a bud the whole head can be consumed but once the flower forms and the bracts become tough then their bases only become edible along with the all important heart. Artichokes are a member of the thistle family and their flowers alone are things of great beauty.

Artichoke hearts can be a daunting thought unless you know how to prepare them properly but once this is established they are one of the best and most versatile vegetables available.

Artichokes should feel heavy for their size with closed bracts. Select fresh deep green or purple artichokes.

Cut off the stem as close as possible to the base of each artichoke then snap off any really tough outer bracts – by doing so you will fit more artichokes in one large saucepan. Slice off the tops too thus getting rid of any spiky ones (see photo) and place all the artichokes in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and add the juice of one lemon. Place a bowl over the top to keep them submerged during the cooking process. Bring the pot to the boil, turn down heat to low and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain well, upside down, for at least one hour or  when cool enough to handle.

Now you have two choices depending of your preference.

One is to remove all the leaves and the choke, keeping only the hearts and serve them with melted herb butter as in the photograph.

Alternatively, cut into the centre of each artichoke, remove the choke but keep a lot of outer leaves intact. Pour melted herb butter into the cavity and serve. This gives the choice of a nibble of the bracts ending with the prized heart.

Whole artichokes hearts are lovely stuffed to accompany any meat dish but eating them on their own is truly a wonderful way to experience their special taste and flavour. Robust food, I think!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Castilian spinach with pine nuts and raisins

There are only a few ways to vary this national dish of Spain, but here are a couple of good tips that make all the difference to this old time favourite. Include a lot of garlic and plump up the raisins or sultanas with boiling water before frying them. It is important to turn off the heat before adding the spinach and to undercook it.


1-kilo fresh baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
100g dried raisins or sultanas or combination of both
4 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic crushed to a paste with salt
Cracked black pepper


Pour enough boiling water over the dried fruit to cover and leave for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the garlic for a few minutes, careful not to burn it. Add the fruit and pine nuts to the oil – turn to coat well and warm through for a minute or two. Season with pepper (there should be enough salt content from the garlic crushing). Turn off the heat, add the spinach to the pan with the fruit and nuts - turn it twice with tongs and serve immediately before it wilts. Serves: 4

Castilian spinach with pine nuts and raisins printable recipe, click here:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

salted almonds

I love to buy a particular brand of salted almonds when I'm in France but I have not seen them elsewhere on my travels. To get over this geographic hurdle I have taken to making my own and although they are not quite the same thing, they do come pretty close to it! You only need a couple of hundred grams of whole blanched almonds (available in packets from most supermarkets), about 5 tablespoons of olive oil and salt to taste.

Fresh almonds, blanched in boiling water and thoroughly dried would be the ideal way to go but finding them is also a geographic nightmare for most people. Pre-packaged almonds in their skins from the supermarket must be blanched, peeled and dried too before cooking.

Heat the oil in a small, heavy based frying pan and add the blanched almonds. Gently cook until lightly browned all over. Try not to burn them. Turn out, using a slotted spoon, place on kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.

Spread a piece of baking paper/greaseproof paper on the bench, liberally sprinkle with salt and toss the warm almonds on top. Roll the almonds around in the paper until well coated and serve immediately. Any leftovers can be stored in a screw-top jar for later use.

salted almonds printer friendly version, click here:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

bocconcini & fennel salad

With the aid of a mandoline, fennel, shaved, takes on a completely different guise. Deliciously palatable sliced wafer thin it transforms this otherwise hard, course vegetable. This recipe, is similar to my last but with two important changes: substitute bocconcini mozzarella for gruyère and add raspberry vinegar to the olive oil, for an extra sugar hit. Pears provide freshness while fennel provides sharpness and bocconcini mozzarella with prosciutto go hand in hand. This salad makes a lovely, simple but interesting lunch. Garnish with a few chopped herbs for extra colour and flavour.

Serves: 2

1 large ripe pear, diced
1 small fennel bulb, shaved on a mandoline
1x100gm packet prosciutto, chopped
4-5 baby bocconcini mozzarella, halved
1-tablespoon raspberry vinegar
1-tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Parsley and fennel fronds to garnish

Mix together all the above ingredients and ENJOY!

bocconcini & fennel salad recipe, printable version, click here:

Friday, April 15, 2011

mushrooms with verjuice

Verjuice is the juice of unripened grapes picked just before verasion, the stage at which the colour turns, generally about two months before harvest.  Verjuice is made in the following way:

Carefully wash and de-stork 1.5 kilo of grapes and drain thoroughly.
Whiz the grapes in batches in a food processor then press them through a fine sieve to remove the pulp and seeds. Pour the extracted juice into a jug and fill ice-cube trays. Freeze immediately to avoid oxidization. Yield = 700ml = 40 ice-cubes. Defrost and use as required.

Verjuice is used to deglaze the pan after cooking fish or chicken as an alternative to lemon juice. Also excellent in a salad dressing when a little tartness is required. It is both acidic and tart without being harsh and when heated it gets very sticky – great for an instant sheen! Verjuice is available commercially but it’s fun to make your own.

After cooking sliced mushrooms and garlic in a little extra-virgin olive oil, I add a good splash of verjuice. I rev the heat up to its highest point and cook them until the liquid is completely reduced and the mushrooms have taken on a brown sticky sheen. The subtle flavour of lemon juice compliments the mushrooms making the dish more interesting and adds a refreshing taste sensation. Parsley over the top after cooking is a must. Mushrooms, parsley, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil and lemon is one of the TOP 10 dishes in the world for health and well-being.

mushrooms in verjuice printer friendly version, click here:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

prawn thyme!

We all love basil with tomatoes – yes, they are a marriage made in heaven BUT French tarragon with tomatoes is even better. Probably the last herb one would associate with tomatoes but you will be surprised how good they taste together.

Think outside the box for prawns too. On the plancha, most people would add chopped parsley but try fresh thyme instead, storks and all. It is quite something!


As many large, unshelled, green prawns as you can eat!
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, halved
Freshly picked thyme

Take a flat plancha if you have one otherwise use a frying pan. Smear some extra virgin olive oil over the surface with kitchen paper and rev up the heat. Scatter some sea salt over the plancha/frying pan and toss another pinch or two of sea salt over the green, unshelled prawns. Place the prawns, side by side; on the hot surface and cook 2-3 minutes on each side until they are pink, and the juices caramelize. Try not to overcook them.

The sea salt does three things: it stops the prawns from sticking to the plancha/frying pan, it brings out the natural juices and then it caramelizes them.

Transfer the cooked prawns to a warm serving dish, scatter over the fresh thyme, a drizzle or two of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. Place the other lemon half on the side of the serving plate.

Never mind your sticky fingers, just enjoy them….   

prawn thyme printable recipe, click here:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

hot olives!

The olive branch has long been the symbol of peace and the silvery-leaved olive tree considered sacred since early times, as far back as the 17th century BC.

Whether you are an olive lover and especially if you are not you'll be amazed how different the taste and flavour of olives is enhanced by the introduction of heat. Place the fruit briefly in the oven or in a little olive oil in a saucepan and heat until warmed through. This simple little trick makes them more palatable as well and it doesn't matter about the quality of your olives. The olives in this photograph are out of a jar from the supermarket and warmed up they were truly delicious. Remember though, the taste and flavour or any olive variety depends on when the fruit was picked and how it was processed and heating can only do more good than harm.

Monday, April 4, 2011

tomato confit

The use of the word ‘confit’ seems to have etched itself into our modern day recipe language and is used to describe all manner of things. Once upon a time it only related to a method of preserving duck or goose. The terms means: ‘to cook (something) in its own fat’. The ancient way, still practiced, is to salt duck or goose legs overnight to extract as many juices as possible then slowly cook them, submerged in their own fat, for a very long time on a very low flame. Once cooked the meat must remain under the liquid flat until the fat sets solid. A sterilized spoon is used to dig out each portion of duck then they are cooked in a very hot oven for about 10-15 minutes until hot and crisp.

Confit tomatoes are quite another story and I use the term purely because the dish is considered to be one of those universal dishes and is more likely to attract attention than simply calling it ‘tomatoes in olive oil’! The tomatoes, once cooked must stay submerged in the olive oil. Using the same principle as above: to keep air out.

Preheat oven to 180°C

20 whole, ripe, vine tomatoes
Olive oil to cover tomatoes
Sea salt
White pepper
1-tablespoon thyme leaves only
1-tablespoon fresh rosemary, needles only
1 bay leaf
1-teaspoon sugar
3 cloves garlic, sliced


Wash, dry and cut tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds and membranes. Place the tomatoes, cut side down, in a baking dish large enough to hold them in one layer. Pour the olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, slivers of garlic and herbs and sugar. Cook for 45 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Pack the tomatoes into a container/jar and pour the oil over them ensuring they are completely covered. The tomatoes keep for 4-5 days refrigerated.

Suggestions: great in pasta, salads, with goat’s cheese or ricotta.

tomatoes confit printable recipe version, click here:

Monday, February 28, 2011

ling en papillote

The French term en papillote refers to food baked inside a wrapping of greased parchment paper. The food item plus flavouring ingredients is tightly enclosed so the steam cannot escape. When heated the food steams in its own moisture. All the juices, flavours and aromas are held inside the paper. As the food bakes and lets off steam, the parchment puffs up into a dome shape. It’s fun to create a little drama at the table when the paper is split and peeled back to reveal the food.

I remember the many dramas played out in Leonardo’s Italian restaurant in the Kings Road, London, when they served their signature dish, pasta in a paper bag. There was always a great flurry of excitement when the parcel arrived, held high, with much shouting and laughing. Then a hushed silence filled the room, the moment of trepidation the instant before opening and then a bang as the steam exploded followed by loud boisterous cheering and clapping. Such fun!

Fish works well in paper and I can tell you how to go about all of that, no worries but as to how Leonardo cooked his pasta inside that bag is a complete mystery to me!

For each piece of fish tear off a very large piece of baking (parchment) paper and fold in half. Cut out a heart shape (see photo below). Grease the cut hearts with a little oil. Lay the paper hearts, greased side down, on the work surface.

Hot oven: 230C - fan forced 200C


4 x 200g ling fillets or any firm, white, boneless fish
1 small red pepper, julienned
1 small yellow pepper, julienned
1 small green pepper, julienned
1 small carrot, julienned
1 large thumb fresh ginger, julienned
2 whole, peeled garlic cloves, sliced
4 spring onions, julienned
1 small leek, julienned
1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, smashed then finely sliced
1 large red chili, deseeded, julienned
4 coriander roots, scraped and sliced
1 lemon slice, squeezed
dash dry white wine
dash fish stock
(50g butter to monter – diced, cold from the fridge - optional)
Sea Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste

Mix all the above ingredients together. You might find there are too many vegetables so use discretion – a little looks better than a lot. Use the leftovers for something else.
  1. Place the fish fillets on one side of each heart. Add the topping and seasoning.
  2. Fold over the other half of the heart. Starting at the top of the fold, make a small crimp in the edges (like making a Cornish pasty).
  3. Continue crimping around the edge. Each crimp holds the previous one in place.
  4. Just before the end pour in a dash of white wine and a dash of fish stock.
  5. Crimp the last bit and fold the point under to hold it in place. The papillotes are now ready for cooking.
  6. Place the folded parcels in a large sauté pan (hob to oven). Set the pan on a medium heat and as soon as the paper begins to puff out, place them in the oven. Bake until completely puffed and browned, about 12-15 minutes.
  7. Serve immediately at the table in front of each guest.
The parcels contain the moisture released from the fish, wine, stock, lemon juice etc… and this is okay to serve as is but you might like to turn this liquid into a proper sauce. In which case, very carefully open each parcel and pour off the contents into a small saucepan. Bring the liquid up to boil point and whisk in the diced, cold butter piece by piece until you have a glossy, thickened sauce. This procedure to finish a sauce is known as: monter au beurre. Carefully pour the sauce back into the parcels (down the sides of the fish, not over the top) and re-close the openings. Or serve the sauce on the side.

ling en papillote printable version, click here:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

bocconcini tapas!

In Italy, 'bocconcini means 'mouthful' - referring not to size or the small nuggets of mozzarella as we know them, but to the appetising appeal of the dish it relates to! Don't be confused if you see bocconcini di vitello alla crema or bocconcini fiorentina or something similar on a menu or in a recipe book. 

Baby mozzarella nuggets are universally known as bocconcini in addition to the above and here my 'tapas' are part Italian, the base being tartines and part Spanish, the topping being jamon serrano. And, purely because they are small tasty morsels to serve with drinks and we like to call things like that, tapas!

Easy to make, as follows:

Lightly toast a few slices of soft, fresh white bread and cut out circles with a small pastry cutter.

Butter each tartine to avoid the bread going soggy.

On each one place a piece of jamon serrano or prosciutto, a sun dried tomato and a nugget of mozzarella and secure the toppings with a cocktail stick. I like to use large sticks - they look more dramatic and are easy to hold!

A little chopped parsley and a squeeze of caramelised balsamic vinegar completes the dish.

Bocconcini Tapas printable recipe, click here:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

mushroom soup

the mighty mushroom lends itself to many dishes and is particularly wonderful as a soup

I like to use a variety of mushrooms for this dish but if you have access to just one variety that's okay, too. The addition of rice is optional here but helps in the thickening process and the cream gives it a lovely smooth velvety texture. Make a statement: create an island in the centre of each bowl with a little mound of cooked spinach topped with a cooked quail leg and carefully spoon the soup around the outside. Eat the quail leg in the fingers and spoon the spinach through the thick soup. Serves: 4


500g mushrooms
2 medium onions, chopped
50g butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1L chicken stock
1-tablespoon long grain rice
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons thick cream


Wipe the mushrooms carefully to remove any grit or soil. Cut the stalks level with the mushroom caps and chop them up. Peel the mushrooms, save the peel and slice the mushrooms thinly. Set aside.

Place 25g butter in a saucepan, add the mushrooms, peelings, stalks and chopped onion and cover with a cartouche (a piece of baking paper cut into a circle to fit the saucepan size). Press the cartouche down over the mushrooms and place the lid back on the saucepan. Cook on a low heat for five minutes, shaking the pan every now and then. Remove from the heat and discard the cartouche. Add the remaining 25g butter, sprinkle the flour over the top and stir to blend in. Add the stock, season and stir until boiling. Add the rice and the bay leaf, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, add the cream and blend the soup until you have a smooth, rich finish. Serve immediately.

mushroom soup printable recipe: 

Monday, January 31, 2011

salmon escabeche with black garlic

Escabeche is a wonderful meal and one that suits these hot summer days, when it's 43C and rising! I used salmon instead of swordfish or tuna and found it almost better, but it is a very 'rich' dish. The black garlic, my new addition to this pre-published recipe, offset the pink flesh of the salmon and complimented the flavour beautifully. Click here for my escabeche recipe and for information on black garlic

Monday, January 24, 2011

kangaroo, kumara & macadamia galettes with wild pepper berry sauce

Coming up with something out of the ordinary for Australia Day on 26th January is no simple matter. Although sweet potato is readily available worldwide, I always think of it as very much an Australian vegetable, where a roast dinner would not be the same without it. Kangaroo, native pepper berries and Macadamia nuts on the other hand are most definitely Australian and the combination of all four make this dish a truly Australian meal and certainly one not in the least bit ordinary!

Kumara is a variety of sweet potato and native pepper berries grow wild along the eastern coastline and in Tasmania. Substitute green peppercorns for these if necessary. Pine nuts can replace Macadamias. Exported kangaroo meat is available in some countries otherwise use venison.

Oven to 220˚C


1 x 250g Kumara (sweet potato)
½ red onion, finely sliced
1 egg
25g plain flour
1 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoons mint, finely chopped
Pinch nutmeg
100g macadamia nuts, roughly chopped and lightly toasted
Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 (550g) kangaroo fillets marinated in 20ml olive oil (for one hour before cooking)


Peel and grate the kumara into a large bowl and mix in the other ingredients.
Grease six egg rings with olive oil, place them on an oiled griddle or in a lightly greased frying pan and fill each one with the kumara mixture.  Cook on a moderate heat until the mixture in each ring is set, carefully remove the rings and turn the galettes over. Turn again if necessary or until they are nicely browned and cooked through.

Serves: makes 6 galettes

Kangaroo is lean and must be cooked very quickly on a high heat, then rested for the same amount of time it was cooked.

Heat a heavy based pan on high to smoking point, sear the kangaroo fillets for 65 seconds first side then 75 seconds second side. Reduce the oven to 200ºC; place the seared fillets in the oven for five minutes. Transfer to a clean, hot plate and keep warm.

The Sauce (use the same pan, unwashed)

1-tablespoon pepper berries drained, rinsed and dried
Splash of sherry
50ml cream
100ml veal stock


Heat the pan, add the berries and heat them through for a minute or two, tossing them in the process so they do not burn. Add the sherry and set it alight. When the flames subside, add the stock and simmer until reduced by half and slightly thickened. Add the cream and keep the sauce warm.

Slice the kangaroo fillets on an angle. Place a spoonful of sauce on each place; place a galette in the centre of each pool of sauce. Place two or three slices of kangaroo on top of each galette. Garnish with a little parsley.

Adapted from a Cordon Bleu recipe.

seared kangaroo on kumara and macadamia galettes with wild pepper berry sauce 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

cured salmon with star anise and white burgundy

For a special occasion, cured salmon makes an elegant first course. Delicately perfumed with star anise and flavoured with dry white wine and a touch of sweetness this dish is delicious and very simple to prepare. Give yourself a two day head start otherwise it’s plain sailing!


2 x400g-1kg fillets of salmon, skin on
(Do not remove pin bones from the fish until it is ready to slice – this keeps the fillets tightly intact and gives a better slicing result)
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives or a few chervil sprigs, to garnish

For the court bouillon:

500ml dry white: Burgundy, Chardonnay or Chablis
500ml water
20g sea salt flakes
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
2 level teaspoons sugar
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 3mm slices
1 small leek, white part only, cut into 3mm slices
1 fresh bay leaf
1 clove garlic, skin left on and mashed
1 clove
2 star anise, smashed into pieces with a pestle and mortar

Sherry Vinaigrette

100ml extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons walnut oil
2-3 teaspoons aged sherry vinegar
Salt and ground white pepper

Serves: 8-10


Place all the court-bouillon ingredients into a 3-litre non-aluminium saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, skim froth and simmer for 20 minutes on a low heat. Allow to cool completely to room temperature.

Select a non-aluminium pan dish deep enough so the salmon lies flat and submerged by the liquid – it should be a snug fit. Sterilize the dish with boiling water then allow the dish to cool completely before placing the salmon into it – skin side down first but turn once a day after sealing well with cling film and refrigerate for 48 hours.

Make up the sherry vinaigrette by whisking together the ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the fish and discard the court-bouillon. Remove the pin bones and thinly slice the salmon, beginning at the tail/or narrowest end, with the knife at a 30c angle. Arrange the slices on a serving platter and moisten with the vinaigrette. Garnish with chopped chives or/and chervil and serve with lightly toasted unbuttered bread cut into triangles.


Reduce the fish by half for less serves but use the same liquid measurements. Reduce the proportions in the vinaigrette too in this case but use only a tiny amount in any event as it is there to simply moisten the fish not to change its delicate flavour.

This recipe is from the region of Burgundy in France – the above is adapted from Damien Pignolet’s fabulous book: French.

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