Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Mushroom and Lemon Fettuccini

I’ve recently made the conversion from supermarkets to weekend markets in Chinatown, partly to economise, but mostly for freshness.

This is one recipe born from my market trawls that uses simple and fresh ingredients.


2 large field mushrooms
200g fettuccini
2 – 3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ brown onion, finely chopped
½ cup rocket
2 – 3 tbsp butter
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 - 3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
Salt and pepper, to taste


In a pan, heat butter and cook garlic and onion until lightly browned. Add mushrooms and chilli and allow to soften. You may need to add a little water to help cook the mushrooms (or add more butter).

Bring water in a pot to boil and cook pasta after adding salt and olive oil.

Reheat mushrooms, add lemon juice, dijon mustard and rocket. Toss and add pasta.

Finish by serving with lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. For a creamy pasta, stir in some fresh ricotta.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Radicchio and Crispy Basil Potato Salad with Caramlised Pickling Onions and Pancetta

A quick weeknight assault on your senses. 


Serves 2
250g radicchio leaves
2 -3 potatoes, thinly sliced
100 – 200g pancetta, cut
5 – 7 pickling onions
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp basil
½ lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper, to taste 


Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Thinly slice potatoes and coat in basil, olive oil and pepper. Set aside.

Halve pickling onions, add butter, honey and brown sugar. Place in small baking dish. Cook potatoes and onions together for 20 – 25 minutes.

Fry pancetta until crispy brown and let cool.

To plat, add radicchio, potatoes, onions, remaining caramel and top with pancetta. Make an olive oil and lemon dressing and coat salad liberally. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Homemade Gnocchi with Roasted Pumpkin and Garlic Cream Sauce

The rain was endless yesterday so I decided to make a recluse of myself and spend the afternoon inside with Billie Holiday, wine, a huge bath and a night of making gnocchi. All that is missing from this picture is at least 10 cats, and then I would be a spinster Paddington woman. (I did have a friend come for dinner; it wasn’t a completely lonely affair)

Continuing on my path of destruction with my weekend affair with carbs, I’ve made a homemade gnocchi, with a roasted garlic and pumpkin cream sauce, finished with blue vein and pine nuts.

Serves 2

700g gnocchi (recipe here)
300g pumpkin
1 garlic bulb
¾ cup thickened cream
½ small onion, chopped
Cayenne pepper
Pine nuts, to garnish
Blue vein cheese, to garnish
Olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

For gnocchi, follow recipe in link above. Allow 1 hour to bake potatoes and 1 hour preparation and cooking.

For cream sauce, skin pumpkin and coat in olive oil, a dash of cinnamon, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Bake pumpkin with whole garlic for 30 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius, or until well roasted.

In a pan, heat olive oil and add diced onions. Cook until opaque. Add cream, pumpkin and garlic. With a hand held blender, pulse cream sauce until a smooth consistency.

To serve, combine gnocchi and cream sauce, topping with blue vein and pine nuts.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Grilled Eggplant and Chilli Lemon Pasta, topped with Gorgonzola, Cranberries and Hazelnuts

First of all, apologies for being completely negligent of my food. The last few months have been a time of so much change - the closing of chapters and opening of beautiful French doors into a world of new highs and lows. Ha.

When life gives you lemons, to hell with the lemonade, you put on a spread with those lemons so lavished even the lemons’ eyes will water with bitter sweetness.

I’m in my new home this weekend alone and completely impoverished, so I decided to spend the last of my pay check on an amazing dinner, for one.

This recipe echoes the breath of an antipasto plate in your mouth, with all the benefits (and happiness) of pasta. Starting with a simple olive oil, lemon, chilli and garlic pasta, I add grilled eggplant and Gorgonzola cheese with the sweetness of dried cranberries and the crunch of toasted hazelnuts.

Serves 2
250g pasta
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
½ tsp chilli flakes
½ lemon, juiced
3 Lebanese eggplants
70g Gorgonzola cheese
50g dried cranberries
100g hazelnuts, toasted and crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice eggplants, length ways and cover in salt to sweat bitterness out. Set aside.

Bring water, salt and olive oil to the boil. Add pasta and cook until al-dente. In a hot pan, toast hazelnuts lightly and crush. Set aside.

Wipe off moisture from eggplants, salt and pepper and char in hot pan with olive oil until well browned on both sides.  Add crushed garlic and remove pan from heat. Allow garlic to heat and infuse.

Drain pasta, add to pan with lemon juice, olive oil and chilli. Combine with eggplant and top with Gorgonzola cheese, cranberries and hazelnuts. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Gnocchi with Buttered Crab and Brussel Sprout Leaves

In an ode to one of my favourite restaurants in New York, Tartin, I have braved homemade gnocchi, served with buttered crab and brussel leaves. Tartin remains a West Village institution serving homemade pastries and a masterpiece menu by Chef Thierry Rochard,

My favourite dish on the menu (apart from the classic French onion soup), is the home made potato gnocchi with brussel leaves and smoked mozzarella. While I wanted to honour the dish, I also wanted to add crab, a delicate meat that would pair beautifully with a delicate homemade gnocchi.

I have spent the last week researching the best way to approach gnocchi, which has the potential to be too firm, starchy or even rubbery – a lot could go wrong! So I have found a beautiful compromise between a traditional gnocchi and something a little more Michelin in quality.

So as I started my research, I immediately thought Italian. I have since discovered that gnocchi is of Middle Eastern Origin and made its way through Europe during the Roman Empire expansion. Many European countries have since appropriated their own versions. My recipe is based on a recipe by talented food writer Felicity Cloake, for The Guardian. She offers a fantastic compromise in integrity and ingredients.

Based on my finding and my middle way approach, I have discovered a few tips to making a melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi:

·                Use Désirée potatoes – it is a firm middle ground potato that isn’t too starchy or waxy. They will help your gnocchi keep its shape. If unavailable, look for a creamy potato. Instead of boiling your potatoes, bake them in the oven on a bed of rock salt. As little moisture as possible in your potatoes will make for better gnocchi. The rock salt will dry out potatoes.
·                Use 1 small egg – It is still debated and purists believe that a good gnocchi does not need a binding agent. But let’s face it; a little egg can go a long way in taste, and also stretching an untrained cook’s (me!) seeming dexterity!
·                Flour – The less flour the better! Again, it is an art of less is more to make the perfect gnocchi. A ratio I have found to work is 1 part potato to .30 - .35 flour.
·                Good butter – Butter is the finishing touch on this dish and it has to be GOOD. 

I made a bucket load of gnocchi, and ate A LOT. Traditionally gnocchi is served as a starter, so keep this in mind when cooking. It’s rich and filling, so like its ingredients, less is more.

Serves 4 -5 (as starters)

500g Désirée potatoes
175g flour
Pinch sea salt, finely ground
Pinch nutmeg
1 small egg
Rock Salt (to bake potatoes)
75g good butter
5 – 6 large brussel sprouts, broken up
Crab meat, as desired


Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Start by piercing potatoes all over so they do not burst in the oven when cooking and to extract as much moisture as possible. Bake for 1 hour or so, baking for longer if potatoes are larger.

After cooked, peel and push through a ricer or sieve onto a clean, floured surface. Add about a quarter of the flour, salt and nutmeg. Making a well in the middle, add beaten egg.

Dust your hands in flour and knead dough, adding flour as needed only. Do not over do dough, as this will develop the gluten and will make the gnocchi firm and rubbery.

Set aside dough then re-flour surface. Flatten to about 1.5cm. Cut each row about 1.5cm in width. Roll each strip and cut into 1cm pieces. Each piece should be pressed with a fork and dusted in flour.

In a saucepan, bring salted water to boil and then turn to a gentle simmer. Add half the gnocchi and wait until all pieces rise, then count slowly to ten to remove from saucepan. Set aside and keep warm.

With a little of the butter, add brussel leaves, and salt lightly. Toss only a few times in pan, as they need to brown a little. Add remaining butter and add crab meat. I had bought a fresh crab and cooked it earlier, removing meat painstakingly!

Add gnocchi and serve hot, adding salt, pepper and a little cheese to taste. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Creole Herb Battered Flathead with Parsnip and Wilted Spinach Puree, served with Charred Corn.

Part of growing with my blog and keeping myself interested and not overwhelmed by endless culinary technique is to keep learning myself. Today I learnt the art of the Parsnip Puree.

Parsnip is a root vegetable, closely related to the carrot. It’s creamy, rich and woody in flavour. It’s really complementary with meat and seafood and a perfect way to welcome winter eating.

The key to a perfect parsnip puree is to remove the woody core, which I had overlooked for a very long time. I didn’t even notice there was a core in parsnip, but it came out quite easy. By removing, you stop the puree from being grainy.

The hero of this dish is the Creole style battered flathead. Flathead is a firm, meaty fish without an overly fishy flavour, perfect for battering. Some people would argue that a battered flathead should be flathead in flour and lightly cooked in olive oil, and this is perfectly fine also. The idea of my heav(ier) batter was to pair this with the Creole seasoning, an ode to the warmth and opulence of the Deep South. Finishing the dish with fresh lemon really lightens the meal, however.

Yields 2 servings

Parsnip Puree
2 large parsnips
1 cup chicken stock
¼ brown onion
4 tbsp butter
1 garlic love
2 – 3 tbsp thick cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Creole Battered Flathead
4 flathead fillets
2 tbsp Creole spice mix
¾ cup plain flour
¾ cup ice cold water
½ tsp baking soda (as recommended by Rick Stein)
¾ cup olive oil
Fresh corn, char grilled

Start by cutting each parsnip in 2 halves. Starting from the bottom, with your hands and a knife, remove the core. Finish by cutting into quarters.

Sauté onions and garlic in half the butter, until just softened. Add the chicken stock and parsnips, cooking for 10-15 minutes, or until soft. In a pulsar or blender, add the parsnip and reduced stock with the remaining butter and cream.

In the hot pan, wilt spinach until a dark, emerald green. Add to pulsar and blend until soft and creamy.

In a separate pan, or on a grill, cook corn rubbed in olive oil. Do not turn often, as the corn needs to char. Once evenly cooked and charred, using a knife, shave downwards, taking off corn kernels.

Coat each flathead fillet lightly in flour. Combine flour, water, Creole spice mix and baking soda, mixing well. Coat fillets in batter and cook in heated olive oil on medium to high heat. Depending on the fillets, they do not need to be cooked for too long.

Rest for a minute on paper towels and serve immediately to keep the crunch.

To plate, smear puree on plate, topping with corn kernels. Serve with battered flat head and finish with a generous squeeze of lemon juice. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Roti Pizza with Kale, Anchovies and Bocconcini

I have just returned home from a trip to New York and am withdrawing from NY pizza. There is a beautiful difference in taste between NY pizza and pizza we have here in Australia. Not to mention you can find slices at Papa John’s for $1.00. That’s right, $1.00.

I’m going to share a food story with you that may be akin to food porn, without the violent slapping of salami onto chests and the sort. I had a horrible habit of having ‘pizza parties’ with my other half, the day after a big night, hung over and regretting my choices from the night before. ‘Pizza party’ was really euphuism for this, as the party had well and truly ended. I recall demolishing an 18 inch pepperoni pizza, with a couple of hot wings thrown in for good measure, all in the space of 24 hours.

So, I’ve decided, moving forward there needs to be an alternative solution lined up that’s a little cleaner, leaner and healthier for such times and to keep my addiction at bay. The answer – Roti Pizza.

They are incredibly easy to make, you know the quality of ingredients you’re ingesting and it will cost you a small fraction of the price. You can really chuck anything you have at home spare, onto the pizza.

Yields 7 – 8 pizzas

Roti Dough (recipe from Taste.com.au)                                              
2 cups plain flour
1 cup water
½ tsp salt
30g butter
Vegetable oil (for cooking roti)

Ground Tomato Topping
2 – 3 roma tomatoes
¼ small onion
¼ red chilli
Coarse sea salt
1 garlic clove
3 - 4 basil leaves

4 – 6 kale leaves, without stalk, massaged in olive oil
Anchovies to taste
6 – 8 bocconcini balls
Basil leaves to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Start by preheating the oven at 180 degrees C.

Roti Dough

Start by combining flour and salt in a bowl, making a well in the middle and adding water.  Knead dough for 5 – 10 minutes, adding flour as needed. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Melt butter and divide dough into 7 – 8 even pieces. Flatten each piece out with your hands and brush one side with butter. Role into a scroll shape and complete all rolls.

Heat a flat fry pan to high. Take the first ball, knead again, ensuring butter is worked through the dough. With a rolling pin and extra flour, roll out the dough and drop into frypan with a little oil. Try to keep the oil to a minimum as you want the roti to be charred and cooked without too much help from oil and butter.

Ground Tomato Topping

Finely chop all ingredients and combine with a pulsar or mortar and pestle, adding coarse salt to help break everything down.

Final Toppings

After each piece of roti has been cooked, place the ground tomato topping over each piece, dressing with the additional toppings listed.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until bocconcini is melted.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Lemon and Tarragon Grilled Chicken with Roasted Prosciutto

Pairing simple flavours in summer.

Serves 2
1 chicken breast
2 -3 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped
½ lemon, juiced
1/4 extra virgin olive oil          
100g prosciutto
Salt and pepper. To taste

For the salad
½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
150g cherry tomatoes, halved
50g walnuts
150g  mango, fresh and sliced
2 tbsp olive oil

In a bowl combine lemon, olive oil, tarragon, salt and pepper. Slice chicken breast in two, place in marinade and set in the fridge.

Pre-heat oven at 200 degrees Celsius. Place prosciutto on tray and bake for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, combine salad ingredients, but be sure to add walnuts and olive oil at the last minute, to keep salad fresh.

Take marinated chicken and grill for 10 – 15 minutes, depending on thickness. Be sure to watch the chicken does not dry out.

To plate, serve salad in a bowl and serve chicken sliced, topped with chopped parsley, prosciutto and olive oil. 

Cinnamon Caramelised Fig with Salted Pistachios

'Tis the season for figs! They are becoming more accessible and used in everyday dishes at home, but they have been cultivated for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Middle East.

I’ve had a lot of amazing fig salads over summer and I wanted to match the savoury with a sweet dessert that exploded and enhanced the richness of figs.

I actually found out quite recently that figs are the product of pollination by a special fig wasp. Figs have grown and evolved with these wasps and start out as a flower, pollinated and turned into a fruit that bares a beautiful rich fruit.

I have paired a sweet cinnamon caramelised fig with salted pistachio, served with a bourbon, macadamia, honey and vanilla bean ice cream. The dessert is simple, delicious and takes less than ten minutes to prepare.

Serves 2

3 figs
4 tbsp white sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon, ground
1 small handful of salted and shelled pistachios
4 – 6 tbsp Ice cream

Slice figs in half, length ways and set aside. Place sugar and cinnamon in a non stick pan on medium heat and spread through the middle. Turn heat to medium and after 30 seconds place figs over sugar.

The figs should start to brown and bubble in the sugar turned caramel. Cook the figs face down for no longer than 2 minutes, then turn over and cook for 30 seconds, coating in caramel.

Take figs out of pan and let sit for a few minutes. Lay figs on plate, top with crushed pistachios and serve with ice cream.