Monday, 30 April 2012

BBQ Spare Ribs and Sweet Potatoes

I half-expected Google auto-complete to write this post for me. It's become such a fallback for us! It only takes minutes to prepare and it's super-tasty and interactive. Tonight I had some chives so snipped them into half a pot of sour cream to make a tasty dip for the sweet potatoes.

Friday, 27 April 2012


Minestrone is one of those things I rarely get around to making, but when I do I always wonder why Iit's been so long since I made it! It's really easy, fast, you can make an absolute mountain of it, and it just tastes better and better after it rests in the fridge. The best thing is the way the spaghetti swells up and absorbs all the stock flavours, and then you have to add a bit more hot water to loosen it all up again. Love it!!


  • a large white or red onion
  • a couple cloves of garlic
  • a carrot or two
  • a large handful of green beans or runner beans
  • a sweet corn-on-the-cob (optional but I love it)
  • a medium-sized bunch of parsley
  • five ripe tomatoes
  • a tin of chick peas
  • 1.5 litres of vegetable stock
  • a large handful of spaghetti
  • parmesan cheese
  • black pepper

Finely chop the onion and fry gently in olive oil for a few minutes, until it begins to soften. Meanwhile, crush the garlic cloves, chop the carrots and green beans, and slice the corn kernels from the cob. Add the vegetables to the pan and fry for a further minute or so, until the garlic starts to smell awesome. Chop the parsley and tomatoes and add to the pan, along with the chick peas and stock. Snap the spaghetti into short pieces into the pot, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, grate an enormous bowl (...or, more healthily, a small bowl) of parmesan cheese. Serve the soup with the cheese ready to scatter and the black pepper ready to grind over the top.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Lamb 'Abritzi' with Courgettes

There's a huge glut of courgettes in the market at the moment, so we're incorporating them into everything we eat! This is the same classic family recipe as ever, but with one of the peppers replaced with a deseeded sliced courgette. The flavours work really well together! But I'm not sure I'd replace the green pepper completely.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Moglai Biriani

I've been in Tasmania for most of the last week, hence the lack of updates. Tazzie cuisine is excellent, featuring lots of fresh seafood and local produce. It was also wonderful to see so many apple varieties again - shame I couldn't take any back to WA, what with the quarantine.

Today we went into Perth to catch up on some bits and pieces of shopping we hadn't got round to in ages. One important task was to use a very generous book voucher we had received for the wedding from a friend. As you may have seen me complaining, I really could do with a few new cookbooks for inspiration! I found a rather hefty and inspiring tome - The Complete Asian Cookbook, which tours every country east of Turkey and north of Australia. I need to buy a few things from the market next weekend, but I did manage to put together a pretty amazing moglai biriani tonight, even with half the ingredients missing. What follows is what I actually made, but I thoroughly recommend picking up the cookbook yourself and trying the full, correct recipe.
Complete with Tasmanian Devil oven glove purchased
from Hobart's excellent Salamanca market!

For the lamb:
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 300g of lamb chunks
  • 1/2 tsp crushed black onion seed
  • 1 tsp powdered cumin
  • 1/2tsp dried chilli
  • a large handful of fresh mint leaves
  • one tomato, roughly chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
For the pilau:
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 100g basmati rice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • a chicken stock cube
  • a handful of sultanas
For the topping:
  • a handful of almonds
  • half a cup of frozen peas
  • a sprig of fresh coriander leaf

Finely chop the two onions and fry gently for five minutes, until golden. Crush in the garlic, stir for a further minute, then split between two pans, preferably a stainless steel suitable for cooking rice, and a heavy oven-proof casserole pot, like a small Le Creuset. To the latter, add the lamb chunks, onion seed, cumin, chilli, mint leaves, tomato and lemon juice; cover and simmer for an hour, checking occasionally and adding water if you find it sticking.

Meanwhile, toast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns and remove to a mortar and pestle once fragrant, then crush finely. Stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg, then add all of the spices to the onion and garlic in the stainless steel pan, along with the rice. Fry for a minute, then add the bay leaves, stock cube and sultanas, and twice as much boiling water as rice. Simmer for 20 minutes, checking occasionally and adding more water if you find it sticking - do not stir.

Ten minutes before the lamb is done, start the oven preheating to 160C. When the lamb is cooked and the sauce around it has thickened and become fairly dry, remove it from the casserole, and replace with half of the rice. Put the lamb back on top of the rice, then cover with the remaining half of the rice. Cover the casserole pot and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Five minutes before the end, lay the almonds out on a baking tray and toast in the oven; keep an eye out so they don't burn. Remove and roughly chop. Heat the peas in boiling water in a microwave, then drain. Remove the biriani from the oven and serve, topped with the almonds, peas and coriander leaf.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Banana Split

MONSTER CRAVING!! I blame the afternoon swim plus a light vegetarian meal :) This is a couple of bananas sliced lengthwise, some really excellent Italian-style gelato, some stewed plum juice, and a chocolate sauce from melting a couple of squares of Whittakers dark, whisked together with a little milk. Totally decadent and delicious :D
Serves two!

Courgette and Potato Cakes with Carrot and Bean Salad

It's "winter" here - absolutely nothing has changed in terms of weather, which is still a glorious sunny 25-30C, but our electricity supplier has flipped 'peak' time from 11am-5pm to 5pm-9pm. So generally I avoid using the oven in the evenings, or at least I will until the house gets cold enough that I'd like a little extra heat. (It happens. For like... two or three days in the year!) So I've avoided making these little cakes because they're definitely best done in the oven, and ours is a bit of a power-hungry monster.

At the weekend the electricity is cheap all the time, so today I figured, why not? They're originally a Delia recipe, but over the years I've made a few modifications until they worked well for me.  We served them with a simple salad made from a carrot and a tin of beans, with a mustardy-garlic dressing and a few coriander leaves. Can you tell that I'm not doing the shopping until tomorrow? :)


  • two large courgettes
  • two medium potatoes
  • a 200g block of feta
  • a medium bunch of mint
  • one egg
  • 3-4 tbsp flour
  • salt and black pepper

Using a large tower grater, grate the courgette into long strands. Sprinkle over a tsp of salt and pop them into a sieve over a bowl or saucepan, then put a plate on top and something heavy on top of that. Leave for at least ten minutes, preferably for an hour - green water will start dripping out of the sieve. Squeeze the remaining water out with your hands - I got about 300ml just from two courgettes! Ignore Delia's advice to put them in a teatowel... you will NEVER get all the bits of courgette off the towel!

Meanwhile, grate the potatoes, then blanch in boiling water in a saucepan for five minutes. Drain thoroughly, washing once with cold water to cool them down. Strip the leaves from the mint and wash if necessary. Crumble the feta. Add the courgette, potato, feta, mint and egg to a large bowl, season well with black pepper, and sprinkle with the flour. Combine together with a couple of forks. If there is still excess water or the mixture is not coming together, add some more flour.

Between your palms, make little cakes out of the mixture - I made 12 with the above ingredients. Put on a baking tray and roast for 45 minutes in a 200C oven, until golden brown and crispy on the outside.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Snapper Fillet and Pumpkin Mash

Been having a crazy busy couple of weeks so falling back on a lot of previously-tested recipes, like this one for a robust marinade for some yummy snapper. This time the carbs are helpfully provided by a couple of potatoes, augmented by a few chunks of pumpkin five minutes before being boiled to tenderness, then fluffed into a coarse mash with a swirl of creme fraiche.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

BBQ'd Herby Lamb Chops with Red Pepper Quinoa

Going right back to a Nigel Slater herb rub for this one, but applied to a couple of fat lamb chops from the local butcher. We only grill them until rare and mop up the juices with some quinoa spiked with roast red peppers and plum raisins, and a couple of salad leaves.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Sticky Pork Ribs

Love these on the barbie! Served with a pair that are fast becoming an autumn staple for us: a sweet potato sliced into disks and a couple of sweet corn, both whacked on the barbie around the same time as the ribs.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Porterhouse Steak

When you buy one of these, it's worth cooking simply and perfectly: season with black peppers, sear for 2 minutes per side on a blisteringly hot barbecue, and give it a good ten minutes' rest. Mustard mash, steamed veg, and the barest scrape of dijon on the side.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Carrot Fritters

An evening in with a plate of crispy vegetable fritters, a bottle of sweet chilli sauce, a couple of lightly dressed salad leaves and some random TED talks.