Thursday 29 March 2012

March 2012 - Vintage cheddar & prosciutto toasties with spicy tomato & eggplant relish

I haven't forgotten about my delicious magazine recipe for this month. It was just that I had trouble deciding what to make. It wasn't that I couldn't find recipes in it that I wanted to try. I mean the Plum Tray Bake on the front cover is just glorious looking and I am sure it would be wonderful. My main problem was that I was stuck on really wanting to make David Prior's Breakfast Ful. It sounded just like something I would love for breakfast. The only problem was that it used dried broad beans and I couldn't find them any where. Well, that is not exactly true, I did find them in one online store but I didn't really want anything else so by the time the postage was added it really wasn't worth it. Oh well, I will buy them the next time I want other bits and pieces from that store and make the recipe then. 

I was also rather keen to make Ben O'Donoghue's Crispy rice pancakes with potato & chickpeas. It is a really lovely sounding vegetarian meal and something just a little bit different.  I didn't have any rice flour but that could have easily been rectified at the supermarket. Truth is that I just didn't feel like making them. Although I do hope to give it a try one day. 

What I ended up making was my version of Katie Quinn Davies Vintage cheddar & prosciutto toasties with spicy tomato & eggplant relish. I did a real cheat's version of the relish. Katie's recipe involved roasting fresh tomatoes for 2 hours, char-grilling capsicums and eggplant but as you will see I didn't do all of that. I wanted to use up some of the jars of stuff in the fridge and it was so easy and it is so, so good. I will definitely be making it again, my way. The actual toasties are fabulous too. I can't wait to use the relish on other things though. I am thinking it will be wonderful on a roasted portabello mushroom and made into a burger. 

 Vintage cheddar & prosciutto toasties with spicy tomato & eggplant relish

4 thick slices sourdough bread 
4 slices prosciutto 
1 cup coarsely grated vintage cheese 

Spicy tomato & eggplant relish 

1 tbsp olive oil 
1/2 red onion, finely chopped 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 
20 sundried tomato halves, drained and torn into pieces 
1/2 jar of piquillo peppers, torn into pieces 
1/2 jar marinated grilled eggplant, drained and torn into pieces 
100 ml tomato passata 
1/2 c apple cider vinegar 
2 tbsp red wine vinegar 
1 tsp hot smoked paprika

For relish: 

Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and saute onion until soft. Add garlic and cook for a further minute. Add remaining ingredients bring to the boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour or until thickened and vegetables are starting to break down. 

For toasties: 

Toast bread on both sides under a hot grill. Then spread with relish top with prosciutto and cheese and grill until cheese is melted & bubbling. Serve with rocket on the side. 

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Pesto & Chargrilled Vegetable Pasta

I am so tired, no exhausted, tonight but I just had to do a quick post about tonight's dinner. An incredibly simple recipe that I found on Taste for Pesto & chargrilled vegetable pasta. I already had everything that I needed for it in the house. It was made even simpler since I already had some homemade pesto in my fridge which was a gift from a friend. I made sure to drain the vegetables well. The sun-dried tomatoes that I have at the moment are in a vinaigrette as are the chargrilled capsicum so that cuts down on a bit of oil. I did add some small cubes of feta but I think that some extra parmesan would be great too. 

Monday 26 March 2012

Chicken, mushroom & green peppercorn pie

The weather is pretty changeable here at the moment. We have had some nights that are still rather warm but for the most part they are starting to cool down. I love it when it does start to cool down as I love making autumn and winter food. I made these last week when we had a really cool day. I had made chicken pies before but didn't follow a recipe for these. I really enjoyed them. I have put the rest of the filling in the freezer so that I will be able to make some pies down the track. I served with sweet potato mash and steamed vegies. 

Chicken & Mushroom Pie 

4 chicken thighs, trimmed and diced
250g mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp butter
2 – 3 sprigs thyme
1 tbsp green peppercorns, drained
1 tbsp plain flour
120ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp marsala wine
120ml skim milk
Sheet of puff pastry

Heat olive oil in pan fry add the chicken in batches stirring until cooked. Remove and set aside
Add 1 tbsp butter to pan with the leek and garlic. Cook over a medium heat until soft. Add mushrooms, thyme and peppercorns and cook until soft. Remove and set aside. Remove thyme stalks.  
Add the remaining butter to the pan and melt then add flour and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Slowly whisk in the vegetable stock and marsala. Finally add the milk, beating until it thickens. Return chicken and leek mixture to the pan and stir through. Taste and season if necessary.  
Place filling in ramekins and top with puff pastry. Bake them at 190˚C for 25 - 30 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden. 

Sunday 25 March 2012

Chutney lamb chops

Some time ago I had to replace my refrigerator. I had been having trouble with the previous one for some time and one day I came home and it had given up so off I went and got a new one. At the time the store was having a good interest-free terms deal so I decided to get myself a small chest freezer at the same time. In my old house I had an upright freezer when I moved I sold it. I knew that I wouldn't have room for it plus I really didn't have a need for such a large freezer. Most of the time it was 3/4 empty and that really is just a waste of power. I did find though that the freezer over the fridge wasn't enough. So the small chest freezer was a great compromise. I am very pleased with it. Not long after getting the freezer I decided that it needed some filling so I purchased some bulk meat. A whole lamb, all nicely chopped up how I wanted and packaged up, a bunch of pork loin chops and spare ribs, a lot of mince and some sausages. I have been slowly using up what I bought. 

I am always on the look out for recipes for using the lamb though. I really do love lamb chops just pan fried and served with mash and vegies but some times it is just nice to have something a bit different. I have a number of different recipes saved to try out. I was very happy with this Chutney lamb chops recipe. It was so very tasty and something that I never would have thought to make myself. I didn't have a fruit chutney at home and really didn't want to buy one so I used half tomato chutney and half mango chutney. I also decided to dispense with the rosemary, not my favourite herb, as I usually find it overpowering. I served it with brown rice instead of the risoni and some steamed carrots and zucchini. It was a super simple meal but extremely tasty. I have even passed the recipe on to a couple of friends already.

Friday 23 March 2012


I don't know why I haven't made caponata before. I have had the recipe bookmarked for ages, I also have another recipe for it bookmarked as well. I have a friend that makes it regularly. I was really pleased with how this turned out. I really only made a couple of changes when making it. I would make a couple of others the next time I make it though. I would add some more harissa as it wasn't quite as spicy as I had hoped and I would cut the celery into smaller pieces as it wasn't quite cooked enough for my liking. I served it with plain couscous. It made for a wonderful dinner. The leftovers were fantastic too. 

(adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi)

80ml olive oil
80ml grapeseed oil
1 large eggplant, cut into 2.5cm dice
3 sticks celery, cut in half and then on an angle into 1.5 cm slices
1 red capsicum, cut into 1.5cm dice
2 handfuls green beans, trimmed and halved
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
½ tsp harissa paste (I would use 1 - 2 tsp next time)
400 g tinned tomatoes
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
20g capers
30g kalamata, pitted and halved
1½ tsp caster sugar
Salt and black pepper
shave parmesan and couscous, to serve

Heat half of both oils in a large pan. Add eggplant and fry until browned. Remove to a colander and drain for a couple of minutes then transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. 

Add half remaining oils to the pan then add the celery and fry until starting to soften. Add capsicum and green beans and cook for a few minutes further. Drain in the colander and then transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. 

Add remaining oils to the pan with onion and harissa cook over a medium-low heat until onion begins to soften. Add the tomatoes and vinegar bring to a simmer then return the vegetables to the pan together with the capers, olives and sugar. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes stirring occasionally. Serve with couscous and top with shaved parmesan. 

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Greek Pumpkin and Rice Tart

I like to keep the 90 second rice packets in my cupboard. I know rice is easy to cook and is relatively quick to cook also but some times I just don't feel up to making too much and having these in the cupboard really helps me to still eat well on days like those. There are also a couple of "slices" or tarts that I have made that use them. I think with all of the recipes you could easily use rice that had been cooked and cooled. I really enjoyed this dish. The original recipe uses prosciutto but I ended up using bacon instead. It was a little bit salty but not too bad. This would depend on your bacon and feta though. It was very good hot but I enjoyed it even more when it was cold. 

Greek Pumpkin and Rice Tart 

6 slices bacon
6 spring onions
1 bunch dill
250g packet 90 sec rice, I used jasmine 
8 eggs
100g feta
4 - 6 baby bocconcini, halved
1/2 (about 1kg) butternut pumpkin
60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
200g cherry tomatoes
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 26cm, heavy-based, ovenproof frying pan. Place bacon slices, over base and side of pan, trimming to fit if necessary.
Peel pumpkin then cut into 7mm cubes and toss with 1 tbs oil. Then place on a tray and roast in the oven for 12 - 15 minutes or until just soft. Set aside to cool slightly
Roughly chop white and most of green part of onions, then roughly chop with all but thick stems of dill. Place half each of the onions and dill in a large bowl. Reserve remainder. Add rice and eggs to onion mixture, then crumble over feta. Using a whisk or fork, whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into lined pan, then cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Scatter pumpkin mixture over egg mixture, top with halved bocconcini. Transfer pan to the top shelf of the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make tomato salad, roughly chop tomatoes and place in a bowl with reserved onions and dill. Squeeze over juice from lemon, add remaining 2 tbs oil, then season. Gently toss to combine.
Turn oven to the grill setting and cook tart for a further 5 minutes or until egg is set and pumpkin and feta are golden.
Serve tart with tomato salad.

Monday 19 March 2012

Spiced chicken wraps with carrot & pomegranate salad

Early last year I made Jamie Oliver's Mechoui Lamb for dinner. I have made it quite a few times over the past year now. Although I have tweaked it quite and bit and it really no longer resembles the original recipe much. I have made it for a number of people and everyone who I have made it for enjoys it immensely. I also love that I usually end up with some great leftovers for sandwiches or wraps during the following week. In fact the last time I made it I ended up freezing some of the left over meat so that I could use it at a later date. 

One night I had a couple of chicken thigh fillets to use up so I decided to use a similar mix that I had been using on the lamb and roast it in the oven. I then chopped it up and served on a wrap with a carrot & pomegranate salad. It was just excellent. So full of flavour.  I wished that I had leftovers so that I could have some for lunch the next day. 

Spiced chicken wraps

Serves 1

2 chicken thighs
pinch salt 
1 tsp thyme leaves
2 tsp butter 
1/2 tsp ground coriander 
1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds 
1 tsp harissa (or to taste)
1 garlic & herb wrap (or whatever kind you like) 
1 tbsp greek-style yoghurt 
1 tsp harissa, extra 

Pre-heat oven to 160 C. 
Place salt and thyme leave in a mortar and bash with pestle until thyme is starting to break down. Add coriander, cumin, butter and harissa and mix until well combined. Rub the butter mixture over the chicken thighs and place in a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 15 - 20 minutes or until starting to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 - 15 minutes. Slice into bite size pieces. Pile meat on torn wrap and top with combined yoghurt & extra harissa and serve with carrot & pomegranate salad. 

Carrot & pomegranate salad

1 carrot, julienned 
1 spring (green) onion, finely sliced 
Seeds of 1/4 pomegranate 
handful parsley, finely chopped 
rocket, to serve 
1 tsp pomegranate juice 
2 tsp lemon olive oil 

Combine carrot, onion, pomegranate seeds and parsley. 
Mix pomegranate juice and oil to form dressing. Add dressing to salad and toss well to combine. 
Serve on a bed of rocket. 

Saturday 17 March 2012

Quinoa & haloumi stuffed mushrooms with pesto cream

I really, really need to use some of the food that I have stored in my fridge, freezer and pantry. I honestly think with a bit of imagination I could eat for a week on what I have already only spending money on milk and cat food. Oh and perhaps fruit...I know that I don't have any canned or frozen. Not sure I can actually do a month but I am going to try for a couple of weeks and see how I go. I have actually tried this before. Last time I did it I went to buy milk and cat food and ended up spending a bunch on more stuff. I actually managed to go to the supermarket today and get only 4 things, all of which were on my list and these included milk and cat food.

I had purchased some large flat mushrooms last week to make mushroom burgers but never got around to making them so I decided to do something with them tonight. I have a large amount of quinoa in the cupboard so decide to use some of that as the base for a stuffing for the mushrooms. I really just tossed things in and hoped it would be good. It was very, very good and I will definitely be making these again. I used this mixture to fill two flat mushrooms, but there is plenty left over. I think I could fill at least another two if not four mushrooms.

Quinoa & haloumi stuffed mushrooms with pesto cream

1 c. cooked quinoa
1 small sweet potato, finely chopped and roasted 
1 small red onion, finely diced 
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
100 g grated haloumi, I had a herb & pepper one
handful of basil, oregano & parsley, chopped 
Flat mushrooms 
1 tbsp light sour cream 
1 tbsp basil pesto,

Preheat oven to 180 C. 
Saute onion & garlic until cooked. Combine with quinoa, sweet potato, tomatoes, peppers, haloumi and herbs mixing well. 
Place mushrooms on a tray and pile quinoa mixture on top. Roast in the oven for 15 - 18 minutes or until mushrooms are soft. 
Combine sour cream and pesto and serve with the mushrooms.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Peach Pie

I was given some lovely peaches by a neighbour last week. I had used some to make a peach chutney, that I will write about soon, but the rest were sitting in the fruit bowl and I was starting to worry that they would go bad. While I do like peaches, they are not my favourite stone fruit to just grab and eat, that prize goes to nectarines. This afternoon I decided to use them up I would make a peach pie. I wasn't sure that I had enough fruit to make a full pie so decided to go with some individual pies. I pulled out my Mum's recipe book and used her recipe being sure it wouldn't fail me and nor did it. They turned out extremely well. Just the right amount of sweetness. They could have used a touch more spice though. I think perhaps nutmeg instead of cinnamon. Excellent way to use up the peaches I think. 

Peach Pie


2 cups plain flour
2 tbsp caster sugar 
160 g butter, diced 
1 egg. lightly whisked
1 tbsp vinegar
water to make 2/3 c 

Add flour, caster sugar and butter to food processor. Pulse until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Combine egg and vinegar and add water to make up 2/3 cup. With the motor running add about 3/4 of the liquid, adding more if necessary, until it comes together. Wrap in glad wrap and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. 
Break off small pieces roll out to line 4 individual pie pans, remembering that you need enough for lids as well.


6 peaches, peeled & diced 
1/3 - 1/2 c sugar (depending on sweetness of peaches) 
1 1/2 tbsp plain flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon or nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 180 C.
Mix sugar, flour and spice together and then pour over peaches and stir to coat. 
Divide filling evenly between pie tins.
Roll out the remaining dough for the tops of the pies and place on top. Crimp edges as desired to enclose. Make two cuts in the top of the pies and then place on a baking tray and bake for 35 - 40 minutes. Turning the tray halfway through to brown the pies evenly. 
Serve with vanilla ice cream.