Saturday, 31 March 2012

BBQ Snapper with Basil, Lime and Chilli

Back to the old butcher today - and they had a couple of huge snapper fillets for sale! Bit of a treat, so we picked them up along with the rest of our purchases, and I marinaded them before popping them on the barbie. We also had Sophie's pots, and the still-cheap-and-awesome-corn-on-the-cob.


  • one lime
  • half a chilli
  • a small bunch of basil
  • a spring onion
  • two large snapper fillets
  • olive oil

Using a sharp knife, peeler, or zester, remove the zest from the lime and finely chop, along with the chilli, basil and spring onion. Coat the fillets with the mixture and drizzle over a little olive oil, and squeeze over the juice from half of the lime. Leave for at least half an hour, up to three hours (chill if the room is warm). BBQ for 4-5 minutes per side, until seared golden, and cooked all the way through.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Courgette Lasagne

I know, I know. As soon as you read that title, you thought - 'Oh no, that sounds totally tasteless.' Well, fear not! I have actually found (and fixed) a good recipe, for this most classic of vegetarian staples, and it actually seems to work!  It's quite filling as-is, but you might find that with the low protein content, you're hungrier a bit sooner in the morning than you might be normally. I suspect that the calorie count on this is quite a bit lower than in the meat equivalent. At this time of year, when courgettes are stacked up high on the grocers' shelves, it's also quite stunningly cheap.


  • two large onions (white, red or both)
  • a 340g tin of tomatoes
  • a generous handful of fresh oregano, or 2 tsp dried
  • 3-4 large courgettes (about 700g)
  • half a head of garlic
  • 9-10 dried lasagne sheets
  • a small bunch of basil
  • one 250g tub ricotta (or two if you like it more creamy - I do!)
  • 50g cheddar

Finely chop and fry one of the onions for a couple of minutes, then add the herbs and tin of tomatoes; simmer for 20-30 minutes until reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally to prevent it sticking. Meanwhile...

Heat oven to 200C. Put a pan of water on to boil, then cook the lasagne sheets for about 5 mins until softened, but not cooked through (or not, if you're using instant lasagne sheets).

Finely chop the other onion; grate the courgettes; finely slice or crush the garlic. In a large frying pan, fry the onion, then add the courgettes and garlic; fry until the courgettes have released their water and turned bright green. Turn off the heat, tear in the basil, and stir in all of the ricotta, then season to taste. You may well need to add quite a lot of salt or even stock powder at this point - get it right because it's no good if it's bland.

In a large baking dish, layer up the lasagne, starting with half the courgette mix, then pasta, then tomato sauce. Repeat, putting a fine layer of tomato sauce on the top, then scatter with the cheddar. Bake on the top shelf for 10-15 mins until the pasta is tender and the cheese is golden.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Roast Chicken Drumsticks with Oranges

This is one of those super-convenient meals that you can just throw together with very little effort. It's also finger-lickingly sticky and messy and wonderful! We served the drumsticks with mashed potato and a few leaves of lettuce, but they'd be great with fresh bread or rice as well. Wings would also work - take ten minutes off the cooking time.


  • 4 plump chicken legs
  • 2 large oranges
  • a head of garlic
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
Set the oven to 185 C. Arrange the chicken legs in a large roasting dish, so they have some space between them. Slice the oranges into medium-sized wedges and nestle around the chicken. Put the garlic somewhere in the middle of the tray. Drizzle with olive oil and grate over black pepper; roast for thirty minutes, then flip the drumsticks and roast for a further 10-15, until the juices run clear.

Serving advice: get a spare plate for the bits, and plenty of napkins! Eat the orange wedges and chicken wings with your fingers, and squeeze out the sweet roasted garlic with your teeth or between your fingers. YUM.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Beef Dolsot Bibimbap

Post-Zumba, so back to the traditional beef bibimbap :) Trying out a new butcher and I have to say, I'm not overwhelmingly impressed with the freshness of their meat so far. I think this weekend we'll go back to our old one, which is conveniently just down the road, but less conveniently, not open on Sunday.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Tofu Dolsot Bibimbap

Just love this meal. Tonight instead of the usual beef, we fried strips of tofu rubbed in Chinese five-spice until crispy, and served it with a more European melange of vegetables - celery, silverbeet and carrots. The usual kimchi and sweet chilli sauce also featured, of course! We improvised heat mats with some spare tiles from the garage, turned upside down...

Saturday, 24 March 2012

BBQ Bean Burgers

Storecupboard... running down... must... use up... ingredients! Bean burgers fit the bill - and the wallet. Also good if you want to cook your whole meal on the barbie - I cut half-cm-thick rounds of sweet potato and drizzled them with olive oil, and popped them on with a couple of sweetcorn-on-the-cob.


  • a white onion
  • a thick slice of bread
  • 1 tin red kidney beans, well-drained
  • two cloves of garlic
  • half a chilli
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, BBQ sauce or a dash of salt
  • an egg

Finely chop and fry the onion for ten minutes, or until golden and well-cooked. Blitz the bread in a blender to make bread crumbs; shake in a bowl and put the largest ones back in the blender with the kidney beans. Blend again, then combine with the rest of the breadcrumbs. Crush in the garlic, finely chop the chilli, dash with  Worcestershire sauce and break in the egg. Add the cooled onions and combine together to make a thick paste. Divide in half, then in half again or by three, depending on how much mixture you have; form into burger-size patties with your hands. BBQ for 2-3 minutes per side.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

A great way to start the weekend, and use up a bit of spare sweet potato and egg whites at the same time :) Modified this recipe. Usual tall-pancake tips apply: don't overbeat the batter, don't swill around the pan like a crepe, do cook over a low heat so it rises and cooks through, and do serve as quick as you can so they're still hot and fluffy. We topped these with sliced plums and maple syrup, and I also had one with a spread of peanut butter - yum!


  • 1/3rd of a sweet potato (about 150g unpeeled)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • a sprinkling of ground nutmeg
  • 2 egg whites, or one large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar

Peel and cut the sweet potato into chunks, then boil for 6-7 minutes, until tender. Drain and mash with the butter, then set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and nutmeg. Whisk the egg whites until frothy, then combine with sugar, salt, milk and mashed potato (in the mashing pan is fine). Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture, and stir gently to combine, stopping as soon as no further dry flour shows. Ladle a quarter of the batter at a time into a pancake pan over a moderate heat, flipping each pancake when the base is golden brown - about a minute or two. Put on a warm plate, sort out your toppings, and serve.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Lamb and Fennel Stew with Oranges and Mash

A simple stew to make over a lazy hour watching a fan-edited version of the Phantom Menace. The editors did their best but the film is still a train wreck. Luckily we had a delicious stew to cheer us up at the end!


Tastier than it looks ;)
  • a large, ripe orange
  • 350g stewing lamb
  • 300ml of lamb, beef, or vegetable stock
  • two bay leaves
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • half a head of garlic, loosest papery parts removed
  • two medium leeks
  • the tough parts of a large bulb of fennel (use the fronds and tender parts in a salad)
  • salt and pepper

Using a sharp knife or peeler, peel several long strips of orange rind from the orange. In a cast-iron stewing pot, fry the lamb at a moderate heat until seared and caramelised. Pour in the stock, orange rind strips, bay leaves, slosh in a little Worcestershire sauce, and drop in the garlic, whole and unpeeled. Cover and simmer for forty-five minutes, checking occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking.

Tail and slice the leeks lengthwise, discarding any tough or discoloured leaves. Wash, removing all dirt and grit, then roughly chop. Add to the pot and cook for a further twenty minutes, turning every so often. Top up with more water if needed.

Finely slice the tough parts of the fennel, treating it like a smaller version of celery. Add to the pot and simmer for another fifteen minutes. Top up with more water if needed.

In a separate pot, put on some scrubbed potatoes and/or sweet potatoes to boil. Mash with a little salt, butter and mustard and set aside covered, to keep warm.

Test the lamb for doneness- it should be tender and falling apart. Turn off the heat and uncover the pot; slice the orange into segments, dropping them into the pot as you go, in the same way one would for a salad. Squeeze the excess juice into the stew. Fish the garlic head up to the surface and pop the squishy cooked garlic cloves out of their sheaths using a spoon, discarding the papery head when it's empty. Stir through, taste and season - mine needed about half a teaspoon of salt and a good grating of pepper. Serve with the mash.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

10th Anniversary Dinner: Crème Brulee

I love this dessert, and since I got a kitchen blowtorch for Xmas, I've been looking forward to making it for some time! I followed this recipe, swapping the vanilla bean for vanilla extract, but found that it didn't set. Still delicious, and the crispy brown sugar worked wonderfully with the cold custard, but it was just not jelly-like enough. From Molecular Gastronomy, I know that egg yolks harden when they reach 57 C. So whether it's my oven, or the latent heat of the dish I used for the bain marie, or the cream not being hot enough, I know that the reason they didn't set was that the custard did not reach and stay at 57 C. That seems quite incredible given that the oven was at 120 C, and the water I put in the bain marie was boiling, and that the cream was beginning to bubble in the pan before I added it to the eggs... but it must have been the case! When I get this recipe right, I'll post again with how I did it! Maybe I should hint that I'd like a kitchen thermometer as an anniversary present ;)

10th Anniversary Dinner: Garlic and Butter Scallops with Pasta and Fennel and Orange Salad

They had an absolutely amazing fennel in the market at the weekend, and I'd been thinking about what to do with it all week. Following the success of our excellent peeler on the courgette salad earlier in the week, I decided to finely shave the finest bits of the fennel and slice the huge and beautiful fronds into a salad, while reserving the tougher stalks for a stew later in the week. Some sort of acidity would work well with the fennel, and also I wanted to serve seafood, so again I thought the flavours would marry very well. It all turned out totally yum!

I couldn't find the sort of large, quivering Scottish scallops I enjoyed so much in the UK - I had been planning to buy just ten, one for each of our years together. As the scallops were so much smaller, I bought ten each - still a hit to the wallet but worth it for the occasion :)


  • One large fennel, preferably with lots of green frondy bits
  • One large, ripe orange
  • 1 tsp grain mustard
  • 100g long pasta, like fettuccine
  • very good olive oil
  • 20 small or 10 large scallops
  • four cloves of garlic
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • a handful of basil leaves

Cut all the nice dark green frondy bits from the fennel and reserve. Cut off the tough stalks where they meet the bulb, and remove any really tough external layers. Wash the remaining parts, and then finely shave into a salad bowl. Save the tough heart, stalks and external layers for another meal.

Place the orange on a chopping board and cut off the top and bottom so that it is flat on each end. Place the bottom flat end on the board and, using a very sharp knife, cut the peel from the orange, following the curve around to the bottom. When you have worked your way all around the orange, turn it over and cut the last bits of pith from the bottom. Hold the orange in the palm of your hand, over the salad bowl. Slice as close as you can along the skin of each segment, letting each one drop into the salad bowl, working your way around the orange. When you have removed all of the juicy segments, squeeze the pithy core out over the salad, then discard. Stir through the mustard then chill while you prepare the scallops.

Set the pasta to cook according to its packet instructions. Finely slice the garlic into slivers. Heat the butter and a tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan, until the butter begins to colour and froth. Add the scallops and sear on one side, then turn and add the garlic. Fry until the garlic is golden and the scallops are done, then turn off the heat and tear in the basil leaves, and stir in the honey. Serve the pasta and salad onto the plate, and top the former with the scallops and butter sauce, and the latter with a drizzle of olive oil.

10th Anniversary Dinner: Melon, Mozzarella and Basil Salad

Ten wonderful years with my lovely partner :) How better to celebrate than to cook a really delicious meal, pop a bottle of bubbly and watch The Muppets :)

This is a starter I'd been thinking about making since I saw a delicious honeydew melon for sale in the market at the weekend. It's super-simple.


  • half a good, ripe melon
  • a tub of tiny bocconcini
  • a few large, fragrant basil leaves
  • very good olive oil

Spoon out the melon into small balls with a small ice cream scoop, a melon baller - or in my case, a spoon. Arrange with a few balls of bocconcini on a couple of basil leaves. Just before serving, drizzle with olive oil.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Courgette and Feta Quinoa Salad with Carrot Fritters

I'm not usually a fan of courgettes in salad, as they can be watery and tasteless. However I came across and immediately wanted to make this recipe. I thought that with a little tweaking, I could prevent the curse of tasteless courgette. I made a couple of carrot fritters, adapting my usual recipe to include only carrots, root ginger, ground coriander, flour and egg; otherwise it would be courgette overkill!

  • 100g quinoa
  • one medium or two small courgettes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • one tomato
  • 150g sharp feta
  • a large handful of mint leaves
  • half a red chilli
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of good olive oil

Cook the quinoa according to its packet instructions; I usually cook it at a low boil in a 4:1 water:quinoa ratio. Wash the courgettes and cut off any discoloured parts. If your courgette is on the large side, cut it in half lengthwise, and scoop out the inner seeds with a spoon, and eat or discard. Using a sharp or serrated peeler (we got a great one for Xmas!) or a very sharp knife, shave the courgette into fat ribbons. Layer into a sieve, sprinkling with the tsp of salt, then leave to drain.

Cut the tomato into small cubes, placing into a salad bowl. Crumble over the feta. Wash and shred the mint leaves, and finely chop the chilli; add to the bowl. When the quinoa is done, cool and add to the salad bowl. When the courgettes have started to drip, scoop them up and squeeze the excess water out (discard). Add the ribbons to the salad bowl. Shake up the dressing ingredients and pour over, then very gently toss all of the ingredients together. Don't over-stir; you don't want the feta to break up too much.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Sour Milk Buns

The one thing we forgot to do before we went away was freeze the bread and milk, so when we returned, the former was mouldy and the latter sour. I found a solution to both problems - make bread with the sour milk! These little buns turned out really well - great for lunch, and also for burgers the next day. The same dough can be used to make a normal loaf, although it dries out a bit faster than our usual wholemeal sandwich loaves. This recipe makes eight large rolls, or one 1kg loaf.


  • 460g sour milk
  • 625g white or lightly seeded flour
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

Either pop the ingredients in your breadmaker and set to dough, or do it the old-fashioned way: combine the ingredients together in a large bowl, make a dough, and knead for ten minutes. Allow to rise for half an hour, knock back and knead again, then leave for another half an hour.

Used as burger buns.
Remove the dough from the bowl or breadmaker tin and place on a floured surface. Divide in half, then divide each half again, and again, to make eight pieces. Flatten each piece slightly with your (floury) hands and place on baking trays, then pop in the (off) oven. Leave to raise for forty minutes, then switch the oven on to 190 C. After fifteen minutes, check the buns; they should be risen and golden - take them out as soon as they are firm, as you don't want them to overcook and go dry. Scatter over a few tsp further of flour, and serve immediately, or allow to cool for ten minutes before placing in a bag or box to store.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

French-ish Salad with Sauteed Potatoes

We spent another weekend away - this time attempting to dive in Exmouth, in north-west WA. Unfortunately the weather was against us, with a cyclone a few 100km away causing massive sea swell and poor visibility. So we cut the holiday short and came back, just in time to do some really zonked-out shopping. After all the sunshine and travelling, I had only enough energy to throw together a quick salad for a nutrient hit, with just a couple of potatoes, few and sliced thickly enough that I could sautee them altogether in a single batch.

  • one tomato
  • half an avocado
  • a handful of lettuce or mixed leaves
  • a few slices of prosciutto
  • two eggs
  • a handful of sprouting seeds
  • one generous tsp dijon mustard
  • one flat tsp grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Boil the eggs to your liking - I prefer to put them in cold water, allow it to come to the boil, give them 2 minutes 30 seconds, then take them out and leave them in a bowl to cool. That way I can also boil the potatoes in the same water.

Chop the tomato and avocado, and wash and tear the lettuce into a large salad bowl. Tear in the proscuitto and tip the seeds in over the lettuce. Shake the dressing ingredients together in a jar and pour over, then toss. Peel the eggs, quarter them and arrange over the salad on individual plates.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

BBQ Aubergines and Double Bean Salad

At last, a meal this week that I put together and actually feel happy about. As I previously covered, aubergines work great on the barbie; this time I spiced them up a little with some ground black pepper, Chinese five-spice and ground coriander. While the aubergine slices and a couple of sweetcorn slowly toasted over the BBQ, I put together a tasty little salad.


  • 250g green beans, tailed
  • two ripe red tomatoes
  • a small bunch of basil
  • a tin of butter beans
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Steam the green beans for five minutes, until just cooked. Drain and rinse briefly; they will continue cooking while they're hot, so if they're in danger of going soggy, blanch them in ice cold water. Cut the tomatoes into small cubes and tear the basil into pieces. Drain the tin of beans and combine with the vegetables and capers in a large salad bowl. Whisk the lemon juice, sugar, salt and olive oil together in a jar or bowl then pour over the salad. Toss and serve immediately.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Pasta with Mushroom Sauce

Only a small amount of
After abandoning all domestic responsibility and gliding all weekend, I had to make the best of whatever shopping the cute one had done on Saturday. And it turns out that if you don't want a 2 kg bag of mushrooms in your fridge... you have to do the shopping yourself ;)

There's no way to make a heap of
fried mushrooms look attractive.
So I needed to use up a lot of wilting mushrooms... and pretty quickly, before my evening telecon. I found a recipe online which suggested frying mushrooms and then adding yoghurt to make a creamy sauce for pasta. Mine completely separated within seconds, even though I didn't heat it at all, so I had to take the fried mushrooms out, and reduce down a huge amount of extra liquid.  Another lesson learned: if you want a creamy mushroom sauce, you have to use cream.

Monday, 12 March 2012

BBQ Kangaroo Steaks, Salad and Sauteed Potatoes

Not much to report beyond the awesomeness of my husband. A couple of kangaroo steaks seared on the barbie, sauteed potatoes, and a man-salad of rocket, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and croutons. Tasty, simple and great after Zumba!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Sweet and Sour Fish Tempura

This morning I went via the supermarket to stock up on supplies for my gliding trip tomorrow. On the way out I popped into the fishmonger and got some lovely little white fish fillets. (I wish I could remember what they were, but it was one of these Southern Hemisphere fish and I haven't memorised them all yet!) They were small anyway, and sweet and fresh. I was daydreaming about how to prepare them and had a strong craving for my sweet and sour sauce. So I figured we could follow the same recipe, but tempura the fish instead of stir-frying it, as it was so delicate and fragile.

Super-husband made all the sauce, set the deep-fryer up, egg-fried the rice and stir-fried the vegetables while I was out Zumba-ing, then I came home and whisked up this batter in a couple of minutes, dunked the fish, and they took just minutes in the fryer. On removal, the batter was crisp and light, and the fish tender and steaming hot, cooked to perfection. Some of the bottom ones did stick to the mesh, I need to work on that... but it did give us an excuse to eat some of the broken ones fresh out of the fryer, tossing them from hand to hand to cool them fast enough to eat. I tried out a new batter today, with a few more additions compared to my usual super-simple version. It was excellent - maybe a tad lighter and crisper!


  • one egg white
  • 1/4 cup of plain white flour
  • 1/4 cup of white rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup of ice-cold water
  • 300g fish fillets, descaled, deboned

Fill your deep fryer and set it to 180 C. If your fillets are thicker than 1cm, slice them widthwise into thinner pieces. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white by hand until somewhere between frothy and just beginning to go white and form peaks. Put the flours and sugar in a large bowl, and pour in all of the water and the egg white. Stir everything together for maximum one minute, stopping as soon as you see no more visible powdery flour. Lumps are fine.

Lower the basket in the fryer into the oil. Dip each piece of fish into the batter, lift out, let drip of excess and then drop gently into the hot oil, using tongs if necessary. Close the lid and deep-fry for 4 minutes; lift the basket and check. The tempura should just be going a tiny bit gold, and the fish will be cooked through. Pop onto a plate with some paper towel; if you are making many batches, try to serve out as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Honey and Soy Chicken Drumsticks

Super-husband actually made this on Monday, but I was so zonked from gliding that I forgot to take a photo. Fortunately he made loads, so we had more cold tonight, with some corn bread slathered in mayonnaise and a quick salad made of roasted peppers, torn basil and olive oil. The chicken was simply skinned, marinaded in soy sauce and honey, with a tsp of chilli flakes for a couple of hours, then bbq'd for about 20 minutes until cooked through. For the last five minutes, baste on a little more honey and then sprinkle over sesame seeds. (Or if you are a very funny man, uncooked quinoa...!)

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

BBQ Bean Burgers

It's been a bit of a crazy week - largely because I've decided to give gliding a try! Great fun, but staying out in the bush has wreaked a little havoc with my cooking. Wednesday I hosted a friend who is also planning to learn, and one of the gliding instructors, for an informal dinner and lecture on the basics. I fell back on tried-and-tested quesadillas, refried beans, a little salsa, and bbq'd some sweet corn-on-the-cobs. Thursday I was out at the Perth Festival, and Friday to Sunday I was learning to glide - awesome! Monday the Most Excellent Husband did the cooking, but I unfortunately forgot to take a photo :(

So we come to today, which was an attack on all the leftovers which have built up in the fridge. I made the watermelon, basil and goat's cheese salad, bbq'd some sweet potato, and threw together some quick bean burgers. Yum with some sweet chilli sauce!

  • a handful of coriander stems and roots
  • a handful of parsley
  • a slice of bread
  • half a cup of leftover refried beans
  • a carrot
  • one egg

In a small blender, whiz the herbs and bread together into breadcrumbs. Grate the carrot. Break the egg into a large bowl and stir the white and yolk together with a fork. Add the carrot, herby breadcrumbs and beans, and stir all the ingredients together. Form into small patties with your hands - if the mixture is too dry, add a splash of milk; if too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Barbecue on the hot plate on a low heat for five minutes on each side, until toasted and cooked through.