Haloumi with Balsamic Mediterranean Salad

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Haloumi with Balsamic Mediterranean Salad

Yet another dish I whipped up for our Saturday night rendezvous, I found this a perfect entrée or plate that can be shared with friends when having a few drinks. And it is super easy to prepare as most of the ingredients can be sourced from your local deli, and all you need to do is fry the haloumi, toast the accompanying bread and arrange it on the serving plate.


2 whole slices Marinated Eggplant
2 whole slices Marinated Red Capsicum
1 – 2 Handfuls of Rocket
1 tablespoon Olive Oil – good quality
250grams Haloumi (ask for the least salty variety on offer)
Balsamic Vinegar (to drizzle over salad)
Sourdough Bread

Cut the eggplant and capsicum into slices.

Place theses slices into a bowl along with the rocket leaves and toss.

Drizzle about one tablespoon Olive Oil over the salad and combined well being careful not to bruise the rocket leaves.

Place on to one side of your serving plate.

Cut your bread into individual sized portions and toast or grill.
Heat a non-stick fry pan to medium heat. Whilst the pan is heating, slice your Haloumi into ½ centimetre thickness strips.

Fry the haloumi in the fry pan until just golden. (Over cooking will lead to a dry and rubbery texture).

Place haloumi next to the salad on your serving plate.

Drizzle the salad with balsamic vinegar and serve with crusty toast.


Mini Quiches

Mini Quiches

These quiches make great finger food and I made them for a get together we were having at out place on Saturday night. The can be prepared and cooked well in advance and they can be eaten hot or cold, so they are a great option for casual nibbles with a wine or beer!

3 large eggs
4 1/2 tablespoons cream
3 teaspoons grated onion
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
Ingredients to your liking all finely chopped (I did 3 combinations: ham/chive, capsicum/cheddar, spinach/fetta)

Preheat oven to 210 degrees Celsius (190 degrees Celsius fan-forced).

Spray oil onto muffin pan to grease.

Using a fork or small whisk, beat eggs, cream, grated onion, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a small bowl until well combined.

Using a round cutter roughly the same size as your muffin pan holes, cut circles from each sheet of pastry.

Line each muffin hole with a pastry round.

Divide your selected toppings evenly amongst your pastry cases.

Spoon egg mixture on top off your chosen toppings to cover each topping in each pastry case.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until quiches are golden and puffed. (If pastry is still not cooked on the bottom, cover the top of each tray with Aluminium foil and place back into the oven at a lower temperature for a further 10 minutes).


Baked Fish with Parmesan Crumbs

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Baked Fish with Parmesan Crumbs

(serves 4)

1/2 cup fresh multi-grain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
olive oil to coat
4 (about 200g each) thick white fish steaks (such as blue eye or kingfish, Salmon could also be used)
olive oil cooking spray
steamed snow peas, boiled chat potatoes and tomato to serve

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, parmesan, lemon rind, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir to combine.

Drizzle mixture with oil. Stir until breadcrumbs are coated in oil.

Press breadcrumb mixture onto flesh-side of fish fillets to form an even topping.

Place fish, skin-side down, onto a baking tray. Spray lightly with oil. Add a tomato for each person on the same tray.

Bake for 15 minutes or until crumbs are light golden and fish is just cooked through.

Serve with steamed snow peas, potatoes, oven softened tomato and lemon wedges.


Handy Hint - #001 Fresh Egg Test

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fresh Egg Test

If you are unsure when you last bought your eggs then follow this advice:

Fill a bowl or pan with cold water and add some salt and place the egg in question in the water. If it sinks to the bottom, it is fresh. If the egg rises to the top, the egg is no good so discard it and save yourself a belly ache!


Lebanese Bread Pizza

Monday, July 20, 2009

Homemade Lebanese Bread Pizza

Making homemade pizzas with your kids is a fun and easy way to get your kids involved in the meal preparation, introduce them to “questionable” vegetables and ingredients and most of all the kids get a great big kick out of making their very own pizza creation!

Our neice, Bethany (7 years old), was over on the weekend and we had a great time making our own creations and combinations for dinner on Saturday night!

The ingredients for the topping can be as few or as many as you like as well as being as expensive or as inexpensive as you like. The only limit is yours and your child’s imagination!


1 pkt Wholemeal Lebanese Bread
350grams Lite/Reduced fat Mozzarella or Tasty/Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 bottle, store bought Tomato or BBQ Pizza sauce

Toppings of your choosing, some suggestions are:

  • Ham
  • Pepperoni
  • Cabanossi
  • Salami
  • BBQ Chicken
  • Prawns
  • Capsicum
  • Mushrooms
  • Olives
  • Tomato
  • Pineapple
  • Onion
  • Anchovies
  • Broccolini
  • Eggplant
Preheat oven to 200C (fan forced)

First chop (All ingredients chopped to roughly the same size) and prepare your toppings and place each topping either on a breadboard, tray or in individual bowls and place in the centre of the pizza preparation area.

Place the Lebanese Bread on a baking tray and squeeze the pizza sauce onto the Lebanese bread’s surface, then using the back of a spoon spread the sauce to create an even and liberal spread all over the bread.

Next sprinkle the desired amount of shredded cheese evenly over the sauced bread (placing the cheese on the bottom allows the toppings to melt into the cheese when cooking).

Add Toppings of your choice! This is the fun part! I'll leave the amounts up to you on this one, depending on the age and number of your children. (I find that less is more when it comes to toppings! Too many toppings create a soggy and hard to eat pizza!)

The pizzas are now ready for the oven so place them in the middle shelf of the oven for about 15mins each until cheese has melted and they are golden in colour!

Let them cool slightly and then Bon Apetit! Enjoy your own handy work and watch the kids devour them, vegetables and all!


Miniature Food Mentions

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Food + Jewellery = Cute!!!

I am totally obsessed with anything in Miniature size!

Be it canapes, desserts, toiletries or any other variety of packaging, there is something so exciting about receiving a product at a tenth of its original size. I love the miniature toothpaste in hotel rooms, or the tiny bottles of sauce/ketchup you receive from hotel room service, and especially love the free samples in the letter box of deoderant and shampoo that is an exact scaled down version of it's supermarket parent. I think this stemmed from a childhood obsessed with childrens kitchen play sets of replica supermarket foods and ingredients!

Most of the time I find I will buy a product purely for that reason alone....

So what does girl do when she stumbles upon two of her passions in life, food and jewellery, combined in a new and so damn cute way???

At the Glebe markets the other weekend, whilst lapping up the beautiful winters day on show, Craig, friends and I strolled amongst the endless rows of store holders showcasing their wares of items new and used.

We stumbled upon this store holder who was selling the most precious little jewellery that was made up of miniature replica's of various food items.

And although not made in Australia, they are so cute and
I just had to mention them on here! If only I had a little daughter to purchase them for....
You can find more of these designs Here.

So anyway, in my continued search for inspiration and in keeping with today's miniature theme, I came across a lady's blog who, along with her husband, were inspired to take up a challenge by Martha Stewart and create a tiny version of take-away food. I think the results are self explanatory on how successful they were, and how much effort they went to in recreating what you see below. Check it out

It gets my mind ticking.....


Beef Wellington

Monday, July 13, 2009

Beef Wellington

400g button mushrooms, roughly chopped finely

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

750g piece of prime beef fillet

1-2 tbsp wholegrain/hot English mustard

6-8 slices of Prosciutto

1-2 sheets of puff pastry

Flour, to dust

1 egg yolk, beaten

Cut the mushrooms into small pieces, (Alternatively you can use a food processor and pulse until you have a rough paste.

Place mushrooms into a pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook over a high heat for about 10 mins or until the mushrooms have reduced by about half in size, then spread out on a plate to cool.

Heat in a frying pan and add a little olive oil. Season the beef and sear in the hot pan for 30 secs only on each side. (You don't want to cook it at this stage, just colour it and seal in the juices).

Remove the beef from the pan and leave to cool, then brush all over with the mustard.

Lay a sheet of cling film on a work surface and arrange the proscuitto slices on it, in slightly overlapping rows.

With the back of a fork, spread the mushroom mixture over the ham, then place the seared beef fillet in the middle.

Keeping a tight hold of the cling film from the edge, neatly roll the proscuitto and mushrooms around the beef to form a tight barrel shape. Twit the ends of the cling film to secure.

Chill for 15-20 mins. This will allow the beef to set and keep its shape.

Place the puff pastry on a floured surface.

Remove the cling film from the beef, then lay in the centre. Brush the surrounding pastry with egg yolk.

Fold the ends over, the wrap the pastry around the beef, cutting off any excess. Turn over, so the seam is underneath, and place on a baking sheet.

Brush over all the pastry with egg and chill for about 15 mins to let the pastry rest.

Heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6.

Lightly score the pastry at 1cm intervals and glaze again with beaten egg yolk.
Bake for 20 minutes , then lower the oven setting to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4 and cook for another 15 mins.

Allow to rest for 10-15 mins before slicing and serving with the accompaniments. The beef should still be pink in the centre when you serve it.


Modern Prawn Cocktail

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Modern Prawn Cocktail
The legendary, if somewhat outdated, prawn cocktail generally consisted of shredded iceberg lettuce, cocktail sauce and avocado on the side and could typically be found at any cockatil party in the 1970's. Since it's humble beginnings the Prawn Cocktail is still a favourite and the recipe below is a fresh and tasty spin on a tried and true winner. Perfect for an entree as we did at our dinner party on Saturday night, or as a easy summer lunch!


(serves 4)
16 cooked Prawns de-veined & shelled, with tails on.
2 Avocados, cubed
5 Cherry tomatoes halved
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons chopped Coriander
½ cup diced Spanish Onion

Basil oil
Handful of Basil leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Chilli oil
½ Red Capsicum
Tabasco Sauce (to your desired heat tolerance!)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Basil oil
Hand chop a handful of basil leaves until fine. Place in a bowl and mix with olive oil until completely covered. Alternatively, place in blender with enough oil until it turns to a sauce consistency. Place in fridge to infuse.

Chilli oil
Hand chop the capsicum until diced very small. Place capsicum in a bowl and mix in a teaspoon of Tabasco Sauce, then add olive oil until completely covered. Place in fridge to infuse. (this could also be done in a blender if desired).

Prawn/Avocado Stack
Place the halved tomatoes into the oven for 15mins on 200C. Take out and let cool.

Dice the cooked tomatoes roughly, then loosely mix the avocado, tomato, lemon juice, coriander, olive oil and onion in a bowl being careful not to mash the avocado.

Once well combined, place 3 tablspoons (more of less depending on how much avocado you want) into a biscuit cutter on the centre of a plate.

Press it down gently into the mold with the back of a fork to provide a snug fit. Pull the mold away revealing a self-standing avocado stack.

Arrange 4 prawns on top of the avocado stack.

Place the basil and chilli oils around the avocado on the plate.

Garnish with a sprig of coriander.


Poached Pears with Dark Chocolate Sauce

Poached Pears with Dark Chocolate Sauce

4 William or Beurre Bosc pears
3/4 cup caster sugar
Water to cover pears in saucepan
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon Brandy (or Brandy essence)
200g dark cooking chocolate
½ cup cream
40g butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Peel the pears, leaving the stem intact. Place sugar, water and cinnamon stick in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.

Add pears, cover with baking paper and slowly bring to the boil. Continue to boil for 5 – 7 minutes.

Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Place chocolate, cream and butter in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir until chocolate melts then stir through the ground cinnamon.

Serve one pear drizzled with chocolate and topped with cracked pepper if desired.


Orange and Rosemary Gremolata

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Orange and Rosemary Gremolata
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
2 Sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated orange peel (with as lttle pith as possible)

The key is to end up with all ingredients in more or less the same sized finely chopped pieces.

To do this: pick all the leaves off of the rosemary sprig and place them on the board. Chop them until very fine. Do the same with the parsley.

Use a vegetable peeler to peel the zest off of the orange. Chop the zest until very fine pieces the same size as the rosemary & parsley.

Peel the garlic clove and dice it up to the same size as the rosemary and orange zest.

Mix all finely chopped ingredients together in a bowl.

Sprinkle over the top of your pork or lamb dish after cooking to add a great tangy flavour, or toss some green beans through butter and add the gremolata mixture to coat the beans.


Braised Beef Shin Ragu & Pappardelle

Braised Beef Shin Ragu & Pappardelle

I cooked this for last nights dinner and although there is a bit of preparation and the cooking time is 2 hours, it is perfect for a lazy Sunday night dinner. It tastes absolutely delicious, the meat is so tender and just falls apart as you fork it. It makes for a great and different variation on a spag bol! What's even better is that we still have leftovers of the meat for either a sandwich lunch today or for an easy dinner over idaho potatoes tonight! Try it - you won't be disappointed :)

PS. I used Pappardelle, but any pasta to your liking can be used!

1 kilogram beef shin, off the bone, in large pieces
Flour (seasoned with Salt and pepper)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 red onions, sliced (may seem like a lot but these reduce & disintegrate into the sauce)
100 grams bacon, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped
4 anchovies, chopped (optional but you can’t taste them in the end)
½ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups beef stock
250 grams dried pappardelle pasta
Parmesan to serve

Preheat the oven to 160˚C

Dust the beef with the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.

Using a large non-stick fry pan, heat the oil and brown the flour-coated meat on all sides. (You may have to do this in batches).

Transfer to a plate until next needed.

To the fry pan, add the onions, bacon, garlic, rosemary and anchovies and cook until the onions are soft.

Add the balsamic vinegar and allow it to reduce. It may bubble up, and if this happens then scrape the base of the pan to release any sticky bits.

Stir in the tomato paste and beef stock.

the beef into a large oven-proof casserole dish that has been pre-sprayed with cooking oil. Add any juices from the plate too.

Pour the ingredients in the fry pan over the beef and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Cover with a piece of baking paper, then a tight fitting lid. Cook for 2 hours or until the meat is tender and falls apart when prodded with a fork.

Take out the chunks of meat and pull apart with a fork so you are left with shredded bits of meat. Stir back into the sauce. Cover with Lid to keep warm whilst you cook your pasta.

Cook your pasta in salted water and drain well.

Divide the pasta between warm serving dishes and top with the ragu. Sprinkle with grated parmesan to serve.


Lemon Freeze

Lemon Freeze
I'm sure mum originally found this recipe in some edition from the 1970's of Women's Weekly or Woman's Day. However despite it's origins or seemingly dated ingredients it still proves to be one of our family favourites, with just the right balance of salty, sweet crunch and light, smooth and delicious lemon filling. My nan used to rave about this dessert and whenever mum made one she would always have to make an extra for Nan too! I have resurrected this old chestnut and it still lives up to my fond memories even in the noughties!

4 cups cornflakes
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs, separated
1 1/3 cups sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
3 tablespoons caster sugar

Place the cornflakes in a plastic bag and roll over them with a rolling pin, until they turn into crumbs.

Combine corn flake crumbs, 2 Tbsp sugar and melted butter in a bowl, mixing well until combined.

Line a loaf pan with cling wrap pressed well into each edge. (This will allow you to easily remove the Lemon Freeze from the pan when serving).

Using half the crumb mixture (2 Cups), press with a fork into the base on the pan to make a solid and level base for the soft lemon filling.

Reserve the remaining crumb mixture for the topping.

Beat egg yolks until thick. Combine with condensed milk. Add lemon juice and lemon peel. Stir until thickened.

Beat egg whites until just stiff, then gradually add 3 Tbsp sugar to egg whites.
Fold gently into lemon mixture.

Pour mixture into your prepared pie pan on top of crumb mixture.

Layer the reserved crumbs on top of the lemon filling then freeze until firm.
Remove from freezer 10- 15 minutes before serving.


Good Food and Wine Show, Sydney

Good Food and Wine Show, Sydney
Thursday 2 - Sunday 5 July 2009

On the weekend just passed, Craig, myself and friends headed to the Sydney Good Food and Wine show at Darling Harbour. It was the event de-jour on Friday, Saturday or Sunday for anyone with a love of all things gastronomical. With hundreds of exhibitors promoting over a thousand products from the humble cracker to gourmet confectionary and boutique beers to top shelf liquor, the show had something for everyone.

There were plenty of taste testing products to be devoured and also the chance to buy them at a bargain price and for an extra $20 you had the option to purchase tickets to see a live demonstration by Gordon Ramsay in the celebrity theatre.

As Craig and I had already been to its Melbourne counterpart the month earlier we kind of knew what we were getting ourselves in for, however upon arrival at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre we were not prepared for the crowds that confronted us. Granted it was Saturday and probably the busiest day of the show, we didn’t let it deter us and carried on ahead to see what goodies were on offer.

When we first arrived and entered the show, we shuffled our way a few metres then came to a stand still where the crowd of people became denser and denser. As I am not the tallest person in the world, I stood on my tip-toes and in the distance I could see Gary Mehigan on stage presenting some of his recipes to a crowd of eager onlookers. Realising we would not get any closer we took advantage of the situation and began wandering the aisles of stalls tasting and taking in all that was on offer.

A handful of local chefs such as Toby Puttock (Fifteen), Matt Moran (Aria), Gary Mehigan, George Colambaris (MasterChef) and Ben O’Donoghue from ‘Surfing The Menu’ also delighted patrons by presenting live demonstrations throughout the course of the show and at the Lindemans Early Harvest Restaurant you were able to purchase a meal created by these chefs with accompanying wine for a modest price, which we didn’t do as we were more interested in the wine tasting!

Dozens of Australian winemakers (think: Cedar Creek, McGuigans, McWilliams, Brown Brothers and De Bortoli) were represented, promoting top quality Aussie wines and offering free samples to all and sundry. And with all that all that drinking it certainly builds up quite an appetite and you find yourself in the perfect surroundings to fill those cravings.

The unique aromas of handmade pastries and chocolates, smelly cheeses and exotic spice blends, oriental and Italian delicacies and all added to the heady atmosphere that fuelled our apetite.

Poultry, Game and Farm providores all had their fine produce on offer, and there were producers of organic food, tea, coffee and chocolate as well as suppliers of cutlery and table linen.

All in all it was ultimate place to indulge your senses. And the four of us came a way with a satisfying belly full of gourmet morsels and a few bags full of inspiring produce and wares to recreate and attempt all that we had seen and learnt throughout such a wonderful day.


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