Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Pumpkin and Chick Pea Curry

Sometimes I crave a really warming, satisfying meal full of carbs and veggie proteins. I was really hungering for the sweetness of pumpkin and earthiness of chick peas, along with mellow spices and rice. So I trawled around on the internet for 'pumpkin and chick pea curry', and found quite a few recipes. Sadly, 90% of them involved adding 'curry paste' or 'curry powder' to the basic ingredients. Then I found this nice blog, where a fellow craving-strucken foodie had been inspired by a TV show to create the kind of recipe I wanted, right down to the neat little coriander leaf garnish. My coriander had wilted in the fridge, and I didn't have quite the same selection of spices or number of frying pans, but I did manage to create an extremely tasty and quick dish that really hit the spot. We stirred a few tablespoons of lemon juice and a teaspoon of mustard with our brown rice, and found that the lemony flavour complimented the curry nicely. Naan or chapatis would also be tasty. Enjoy!

  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • two cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 pinch dried red chilli flakes (or more, to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 500g eating pumpkin (squash), peeled, seeds removed and cut into cubes
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 150ml boiling water
  • 340g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • a small handful of fresh coriander, washed and chopped

Set your rice cooking, or chapatis warming, as you prefer. Fry the onion over a low heat until golden and soft. Add the garlic, ginger and bay leaves, and fry for a further minute. Add the spices and again, fry for a further minute. Add the pumpkin and water, and dissolve in the stock cube. Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender. Switch off the heat, stir through the chick peas, and allow to warm through. Depending on your pumpkin, you may find that your curry is either too watery or too dry; if the former, remove the vegetables from the pan and vigorously boil down the liquid until it is thoroughly reduced, then recombine. If it is too dry, add a little water. Serve with your carbs and a garnish of fresh coriander.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Dolsot Bibimbap

This is one of my favourite Korean dishes, which I discovered at a brilliant Korean restaurant in Cambridge, Little Seoul. The basic ingredients are white rice, an egg, and a mixture of stir-fried vegetables and meat, and it's best served with the traditional kimchi.The trick to the meal is that for each person, you heat their very own stone or clay pot in the oven, then add the ingredients at the last minute and bring it sizzling to the table. The egg should be fried sunny-side, or even dropped in raw at the last second, so that each person can break it into the rice and cook it to their own liking. It's delicious and really interactive.

From the moment I tried it, I wanted to make it at home, but I waited until the move to Australia was over to go out and buy the pots - the less we had to move, the better! Tonight I went for a really simple version since it was my first time preparing it. Surprisingly, it only took about half an hour to prepare - just like a stir fry really, but with the added fun of the hot pot.


  • two clay or stone pots, from your local Asian supermarket
  • 200-300g white rice, depending on how hungry you are!
  • 200-300g eye fillet or other good cut of beef
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 thin spring onions
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 eggs

Put the pots in the oven and set it to 220C. Cook the white rice at a simmer with a 2:1 ratio of water to rice; it should take about ten minutes. Finely slice the beef into wide, flat pieces, then stir fry in a hot wok until just cooked, then remove to a bowl (without paper). Finely mince the garlic and finely slice the spring onions. Cut the carrot in half lengthways and cut thin, flat, diagonal slices from it. Stir fry the vegetables together for a couple of minutes, until cooked but still crisp. Return the beef to the pan, along with the oil, sugar, wine and soy sauce and allow to bubble through for a minute or two. Fry the two eggs sunny-side up, while you ladle rice and the cooked meat and vegetables into the pots. Add the eggs at the last second then serve immediately with kimchi, sweet chilli sauce and soy sauce.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Mackerel with Butter Beans and Chorizo

Had a super-busy day cycling around Perth buying yet more things for the house. We needed something a bit more protein-rich than usual and this really fit the bill! Vaguely Spanish in inspiration but really, just something I threw together because I felt like all the flavours involved. Worked out really well!


  • 2 mackerel steaks
  • a small bunch of coriander, finely chopped
  • juice of half a lime
  • half an inch of fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • one red pepper
  • one green pepper
  • one small white onion
  • a small chorizo sausage
  • a 340g tin of butter beans
  • cooked brown rice, to serve

Set your brown rice cooking. Pop the steaks in a glass bowl and mix in the coriander, lime juice and red chilli; leave to marinade while you prepare the rest. Halve the peppers, brush lightly with olive oil and place underneath a hot grill for 15-20 minutes, until at least half of their skin has blackened. Drop into a bowl and cover with a plate, allowing them to steam in their own juices.

Finely slice the white onion into rings and the sausage into rounds. Fry together over a moderate-low heat for ten minutes, until the onion is golden and falling apart, and the sausage has taken on tinges of golden colour. Tip in the butter beans, turn off the heat, and stir together to warm through. Grill the mackerel 2-3 minutes each side, until cooked. Meanwhile, peel the skins from the peppers and tear into rough strips, adding to the butter bean mix. Serve!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Pumpkin, Feta and Rosemary Pizza

A few weekends ago we were out shopping in Cannington, which we've found a useful place to buy pretty much any and all non-food items. This time we were at a barbecue store, ostensibly to pick up barbecue tools, but as it turned out, mainly to buy random new things like skewers and a pizza stone! We had a little trouble with it at first as the instructions are impossibe: you're supposed to heat it in the oven, and meanwhile make your pizza completely, with toppings etc on top of the raw dough. Then you take the hot stone out of the oven and "with a quick flick of the wrist" transfer the raw pizza to the stone. Or in our case, "with a lot of cursing, and burning, clutching hands, transfer a messy goop of what used to be a pizza to the stone". The first one wasn't worth photographing.

This time we cheated and made the pizza ON the stone, then put the whole thing in the oven. It came out a little soggy on the base, so this isn't the best solution either. I think what we'll do next time is put the stone in the oven, roll out the base and prepare the toppings separately, then bring the hot stone out, put the base on, and THEN add all the toppings. In the meantime here is one of our favourite pizza recipes.


  • One pizza base
  • 250g tasty eating pumpkin
  • 2-3 sprigs of rosemary
  • a fat clove of garlic
  • 2-3 tomatoes
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 150g feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Peel and chop the pumpkin into smallish dice (about 1cm on a side). Place in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and tuck in the sprigs of rosemary. Roast for 20 minutes or until golden and tender. Meanwhile, finely dice the tomatoes, then crush the garlic into a frying pan with some olive oil and fry for one minute, then add the tomatoes, and the oregano. Sautee until the tomatoes have collapsed and most of the liquid has evaporated; about 7 minutes. Dice the feta cheese into the same cube size as the pumpkin. Roll out your pizza dough, place on the stone, spread over the tomato sauce, then add the pumpkin and feta. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is risen and golden and the toppings are beginning to crisp.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Potato Salad

Lunch today was with the Oz side of the family, hosted by my lovely cousin on the other side of town. It was a lovely meal, shoulder of lamb with all the trimmings, including way more new potatoes than even the nine of us could eat. I took the extras home with me in a plastic tub, and this evening they served as a shortcut to my potato salad, which I have refined over the years to absolute perfection.

My cousin departs tomorrow for another trip into the outback - and so will I, on Friday. I'll be away for nearly two weeks, but hopefully will be able to keep up the writing while I'm gone - although I might not be able to update until I'm back. In the meantime, the recipe! Tonight we ate this with simply sauteed leeks and golden brown sausages from the butcher. It's really good with anything barbeque'd.


  • 300-400g potatoes (preferably a waxy variety, baby, or new potatoes)
  • half a carrot
  • a generous bunch of celery or parsley leaves
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard

Cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces and simmer the potatoes until tender, but not falling apart - about 10-15 minutes. Run them under cold water or put in the refrigerator to cool down. (WA water conservation kicking in here!) Coarsely grate the carrot, and finely chop the leaves. Mix the cool potatoes, carrot and celery leaves in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Taste, and add more mayonnaise if you like it creamier, or more lemon if you like it sharper. Keeps for a few days in the fridge, but is best served after making, at a cool rather than cold temperature.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Pan-fried Emperor Fillets with Honey and Basil

The seafood here is very nice, although there don't seem to be many independent fishmongers around my area, and a lot of what you get in the supermarkets has been frozen. One thing that really threw us is that salmon is an expensive delicacy here, as opposed to being a cheap 'default' fish like it is in the UK. On the other hand there are lots of fish we would consider exotic readily available from any fish counter. One such is the emperor; I tried finding out exactly what species it is but haven't figured it out so far. The fillets are about 10cm long and less than 1cm thick, so pan-fry beautifully.

I first cooked this with my new heavy-based frying pan about a week after we had arrived, and was so excited, I forgot to take a photo before demolishing the plate! So this time I've recorded the results. We served these simply with mashed royal purple potatoes (a lovely variety you can get here, but any will do) and some steamed vegetables.

  • 1-2 emperor fillets per person
  • a few tbsp of flour
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • a generous handful of basil

Check over the fillets for any spare bones etc. Season the flour and thoroughly coat the fillets, then shake off any excess. Heat a few tbsp of oil in a heavy-based non-stick frying pan until moderately hot and beginning to shimmer, but not smoke. Err on the side of less oil rather than more. Carefully add the fish fillets and fry until golden, turning once. Remove the fillets from the pan, turn off the heat, then add the honey and basil. Mix together with any remaining oil, warming the honey and basil mixture, until it just begins to pop and simmer. Remove from the heat and drizzle over the fish, serving with your poatotes and vegetables.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Stuffed Aubergines with Pumpkin and Feta

Not much to report tonight; we followed this recipe over on BBC Food, omitting the feta (as we'd run out), and swapping the walnuts for pine nuts, and it worked out splendidly. We served it with some cous-cous and apricots, and some sliced tomato with balsamic for a little acidity. Great to be in a country where you can get such lovely varieties of pumpkin!