Spiced Lamb Kofta

IMG_1869

This is just a quick mid-week post for these delicious and easy to make kofta. I took the photos only at the last minute, as I decided they were too good not to share. However, with a million other things going on at the moment I didn’t get any particular amazing shots. But that doesn’t change how delicious thy are!

You can dress them up or down however you please. Serve them with a tabouli salad and some tatziki for a simple dinner, or add them to your mezze platter for your next get together. We had them with some hummus, spiced olives, roasted capsicum, minted yoghurt and toasted walnut bread. We actually packed it all in a basket and took it down to the beach to watch the sunset on Valentine’s Day. Ultra romance!

IMG_1854

IMG_1870

 

Recipe

Serves 4 as a light meal, with accompaniments

Ingredients

500g lamb mince

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1 large spring onion, white and green part, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

zest of 1 lemon

2 tsp sumac

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

pinch of chilli flakes (or more if you like)

1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped, plus extra for serving

1/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped

2 tbs pomegranate mollasses, plus extra for drizzling

salt and pepper

lemon wedges, for serving

olive oil, for cooking

Method

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and use hands to combine. Cover and leave in the fridge for about an hour.

Remove from fridge and divide mixture into about 8 pieces (or 12 if you want to make them smaller for a mezze platter). Shape each piece into a short sausage shape and push onto or around skewers (or you can just leave the skewer out if you like).

Return to the fridge for another half an hour to firm up, this will prevent them falling apart while coking.

Heat a hot plate or griddle pan to medium high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and cook the kofta, in batches if necessary, turning every couple of minutes, until nicely browned on the outside and just cooked on the inside. About 10 mins.

Place on a serving platter, drizzle with a little pomegranate molasses, sprinkle with extra parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Enjoy!

 

Lemongrass Beef Rice Paper Rolls with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce

DSC_0272

DSC_0309

DSC_0280

 

I will not be defeated! Not by bad moods, heat, humidity, self-doubt, flies, loneliness, crap job, or, floppy, ugly un-photogenic rice paper rolls. This was my second attempt at photographing these delicious, but oh-so un-cooperative, little morsels, and I think I’ve managed to semi succeed in making them look good. Sometimes, the styling part of this blog is quite a big challenge, I never really have a plan and just look around at the last minute for something textural and interesting that suits my mood. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But, I figure it’s really good practice for one day when I work in a really high end magazine and get to cook and style delicious food with an endless array of beautiful props. Haha!!

This was the first time I had cooked with red meat since baking a big ol’ ham at Christmas time and man, was it satisfying. Just this little bit of red meat, beautifully marinated and cooked perfectly, was just what I was craving. I’m definitely not one to enjoy a big thick steak but something like this is right up my ally. It’s a great way to make meat stretch between lots of people too, making it much more cost effective.

The dipping sauce that accompanies a rice paper roll is always a big factor in the end result. Classic sweet chilli is always a winner, but by adding a few little things, you can step it up a little and impress you’re guests with a ‘home-made’ dipping sauce. Cheeky.

DSC_0273

DSC_0294 DSC_0311

 

Recipe

Serves 4 as a starter

Ingredients

250g beef minute steaks

1 lemongrass stalk, white and pale green part, finely grated

1 tsp finely grated ginger

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbs fish sauce

1 tbs dark soy

1 tsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp pepper

peanut oil, to cook

1/4 small green papaya, grated

50g bean sprouts

1/4 red onion, finely sliced

80g vermicelli, cooked to packet instructions, rinsed under cold water

Juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup roasted, chopped peanuts

1/2 cup each of, loosely packed, mint and thai basil leaves, torn

1 tbs sesame oil

1/2 continental cucumber, thinly sliced

12 small rice paper rounds

Dipping Sauce

6 tbs sweet chilli sauce

2 tsp fish sauce

2 tbs tahini

1 spring onion, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

Method

In a medium bowl, combine the lemongrass, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, soy, brown sugar and pepper and stir to combine. Add the beef, use your hands to really mix well and coat the meat in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To make the dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well to combine. Set aside.

Heat a griddle pan, frying pan or barbecue to very hot. Add the peanut oil, and cook the beef, for about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside to rest and cool. When cool, thinly slice arose the grain.

In a bowl combine the papaya, bean sprouts, red onion, noodles, lime juice, peanuts, mint, thai basil and sesame oil.

Half fill a large dish with tap water, one large enough to fit the rice papers.

Working with one at a time, put the rice paper in the water for about 20 seconds, or until slightly softened. Place on a clean work surface. In the middle place 2 pieces of cucumber, a few strips of beef, and about 2tbs of the papaya mixture. Fold the bottom end over the mixture, fold the ends in, and roll up to secure. Repeat with remaining rice papers and mixture.

Serve with the dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Tip: To make them look a little bit pretty, instead of mixing the herbs through with the papaya mixture, keep them whole and lay them out on the rice paper before filling and rolling.

 

 

Empanadas, two ways. Ham, Cheese and Egg or Pumpkin, Basil and Ricotta.

IMG_0958_2 IMG_0971 IMG_0963_2

Empanadas….What can I say…probably one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Especially when bought from a lovely Abuelita on the streets of Buenos Aires, or ordered from the local bar, with a beer, for breakfast at 10am; breakfast of champions!

A recent catch-up with a dear friend, that has been living in Argentina for the last few years, got me reminiscing about the food I tried while I was there. Aside from empanandas; the Asados, Chimichurri, Choripan, and Dulce de Leche, were enough to turn me into a well ’rounded’ foodie. The Argeys certainly know how to relax, and eat well; you wouldn’t expect how well they are able to party after all of this…I guess that’s why you don’t go out until 3am.

The recipes here are far removed from anything typically Argentinian, but since I’ve been on a bit of a budget, I used what I had on hand; leftover christmas ham, and roasted pumpkin being the main culprits. You don’t need to make your own pastry, store bought shortcrust pastry will work perfectly, but, if you have time and you don’t mind a bit of kitchen labour, this pastry recipe is very easy to work with and turns out beautifully. I split the recipe into two bowls and added smoked paprika to one and nutmeg to the other, but, apart from giving the pastry different colours, I couldn’t really taste the spices; so i haven’t included that method here.

Check out my Roasted Pumpkin, Pistachio and Ricotta Dip; perfect for your leftover roasted pumpkin.

Salud!

IMG_0951

IMG_1004 IMG_1001

 

Recipe

Makes about 30

Ingredients

Pastry

160g butter, cold, cut into cubes

250g plain flour

250g wholemeal flour

1 tsp salt

180ml water

olive oil, for kneading

1 egg, whisked with a splash of water, for brushing

Ham, Cheese, Egg and Olive Filling

Olive oil

1 small brown onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

50g olives, roughly chopped

100g ham, roughly chopped

100g tasty cheese, grated

2 eggs, hard boiled, peeled, roughly chopped

pepper

handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Pumpkin, Basil and Ricotta Filling

1 butternut pumpkin, skin cut off, seeds cut out, cut into large chunks

4 cloves garlic, skin on, whole

olive oil

salt and pepper

white wine vinegar

large handful of fresh basil, finely sliced

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted

125g firm ricotta, crumbled

2 tbs parmesan, finely grated

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Method

For the pastry, in a large bowl, combine the flours, salt and butter. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour, working until mixture resembles sand. Add the water and use a spoon to mix until it starts to come together into a dough. Turn out onto a clean, oiled work surface and knead for 10-15mins. Wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate for 2 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees celcius.

For the pumpkin filling, place the pumpkin and garlic cloves in a roasting tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and white wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Place in the oven and cook for about 45mins or until very tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Turn the oven off.

In a medium bowl, combine 300g of the roasted pumpkin and 2 of the garlic cloves, squeezed from their skins. Mash with a fork until smooth. Add the basil, sunflower seeds, ricotta, parmesan, nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine but don’t mix too much, as you still want to have chunks of ricotta throughout.  Store in the fridge until needed.

For the ham filling, in a small frying pan, heat a little olive oil over medium heat. Fry the onion, stirring, for about 8mins, or until soft, add the garlic and fry for a further 2mins. Transfer to a medium bowl and allow to cool for 10mins. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Store in the fridge until needed.

To fold the empanadas. Working with half the dough at a time, on a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the pastry to approximately 3mm thickness. Use a round cutter, about 12cm across, to cut circles out. Keep them covered with cling wrap as you go to avoid them drying out.

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Place a heaped tablespoon of mixture into the middle of a circle of dough. With wet fingers, moisten the edges of the circle. Fold the pastry over the mixture to make a half moon shape. Press the edges together to seal. Use a fork to make a pattern on the edge, or use your fingers to fold along the edge for an alternative pattern. Or do whatever pattern you like.

Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Evenly space the empanadas out on the trays and brush with the egg mixture. Bake for about 30-40 mins, or until golden and crisp on the edges.

Serve with tomato chutney or caramelised onion on the side. You can find a recipe for caramelised onion here.

Enjoy!

M

Steamed Artichokes with Mustard Dipping Sauce

DSC_0501 DSC_0515 DSC_0520 DSC_0566

I’ve  always wanted to try this beautiful looking dish but never have due to it seeming much too difficult and fiddly. Well, guess what! It’s so easy and way more delicious and exciting than I had anticipated! It’s a lovely way to get the party started as you will undoubtedly have to explain to your guests that these beautiful flower like vegetables are actually edible, and then how to go about it. It’s hard to explain, and doesn’t sound great when you do, but once you try it with your own mouth you will see why it’s been a popular way to eat artichoke for centuries. I have even seen it described as the lobster of the vegetable world.  The sweet and tangy mustard dipping sauce works perfectly with the creamy artichoke meat and made even better with a crisp, cold glass of white wine in the other hand. Perfect entertaining food as it’s entertaining in itself, delicious, and won’t fill up any tummys too much before anything else you may have in store.

So, to explain how to eat this funny looking vegetable. Once you have steamed it and allowed it to cool a little (see recipe), simply pull away a ‘leaf’ from the artichoke, dip the meaty end in the sauce and then place in your mouth while still holding the end of the ‘leaf’. Then use your teeth to gently scrape away the meat as you pull the ‘leaf’ back out of your mouth. Once you get to the middle of the artichoke you will see a sort of hairy section, this is inedible, discard it. Under this though is the artichoke heart, depending on the age of your artichoke, it may be firm and able to be lifted out and chopped into pieces to eat, or, if it’s an older artichoke, it will be soft and you will need a spoon to scoop it out. It’s delicious!

DSC_0511 DSC_0505 DSC_0527

 

Recipe

Serves 4 as a snack

Ingredients

2 artichokes

1/8 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/8 cup honey

2 tbs grain mustard

salt and pepper

Method

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, with a steam basket and lid on top.

Trim the stalk from the artichokes, as well as any dark and dry leaves around the base. Cut off the first 2cm from the top of the artichoke as well.

Once the water is boiling, place the artichokes in the steam basket and steam, lid on, for about 45mins to an hour, or until a ‘leaf’ is able to be easily pulled away.

Remove from the steamer and allow to cool. The artichokes can be eaten warm or at room temperature.

For the dipping sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine. Place in a small bowl to serve alongside the artichokes. Serve with a large empty bowl for the scraps. Enjoy!

 

Salt and Spice Herbed Chickpeas


DSC_0537 DSC_0563 DSC_0576 DSC_0566

Beware! These are the most addictive little things you will ever try…be careful not to eat TOO many or the next thing you know you’ll be blaming it on the dog….trust me.

But still, this never deters me from grabbing handfuls of these delicious, salty, spicy, flavourful little gems, so great with a cold beer, wine or cocktail, or even sprinkled over a green salad. I love serving them as a snack at parties or small gatherings, they always get a good reaction, and being vegan and gluten free they are friendly to everyone!

I used to serve these chickpeas at a tiny cafe/bar where we would open for dinner three nights a week. Just me and one of my best friends, creating a little corner of Europe in the middle of Newcastle, NSW, we had such a great time! We would set a tiny bowl down on the table for customers, as soon as they sat down and started reading the menu; instantly making them hungry for more delicious food and thirsty for another cold beverage…sneaky, I know.

I recently made them for some family as an afternoon treat, we also had some Steamed Artichoke with Mustard Dipping Sauce and some cocktails made with homemade syrups…it was a festive afternoon!

You can use any herbs and spices that you have on hand, just make sure they are nice and salty!

DSC_0588 DSC_0554Recipe

Serves 6 as a starter

Ingredients

1/4 cup light olive oil

3 x 410g tins chickpeas, rinsed and drained

A couple of handfuls of fresh herbs, such as sage, oregano, thyme, leaves picked

2 tsp smoked paprika

 

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp fennel seeds

pinch of dried chilli flakes

salt and pepper

Method

Heat the oil in a large, deep sided, frying pan over high heat. Add the fresh herbs (stand back, as they will spit), and cook for 1min, or until starting to crisp. Reduce the heat to medium/high and add the chickpeas, stirring to coat. Add the spices and a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring often, for about 30mins, or until golden brown and starting to crisp.

Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Transfer to a clean plate and serve warm, or at room temperature with an extra sprinkle of salt.

 

Sticky Spiced Apricot Chicken with Quinoa and Stone Fruit and Feta Salad

DSC_0473DSC_0445 DSC_0457 DSC_0464

Who doesn’t love sticky, finger-lickin good, chicken wings? This is a versatile recipe, as you could serve it as a weeknight meal with the family or you could cut the wings into thirds, adjust the cooking time to a bit less and serve them as a yummy finger food at your next barbecue. I love the stone fruit, feta and red onion combination too, it’s punchy and exciting. This is a great summer time recipe, bright and cheerful!

DSC_0409

DSC_0482Method

Ingredients

12 whole chicken wings

2 tbs fresh ginger, grated

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 tbs worcestershire sauce

3 tbs oyster sauce

4 tbs soy sauce (use gluten free soy or tamari if necessary)

1/2 cup apricot jam

2 tsp chinese 5 spice powder

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1/2 tsp pepper

A few good handfuls of mixed mesculin leaves

2 apricot

1 peach

1 nectarine

1 plum

Handful each of parsley and mint leaves, roughly torn

100g firm feta

1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

light olive oil

white wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Cooked quinoa and lemon wedges to serve

Method

In a large non-reactive dish (glass is good), combine the ginger, garlic, worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, apricot jam, chinese 5 spice, chilli flakes and pepper. Add the chicken and use hands to thoroughly cover with the marinade. Cover with cling wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hrs, but overnight is much better.

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Arrange the chicken in a single layer and cover with foil. Bake for half an hour. Remove from oven, remove the foil and drain any liquid from the tray. Brush the chicken with some of the liquid and return to the oven without the foil. Cook for another 20-30mins, brushing with the liquid every 5mins.

For the salad, on a large platter, arrange the lettuce, fruit, herbs and onion and crumble over the feta. Drizzle with a little of the light olive oil and white wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Serve the chicken with the salad, cooked quinoa, lemon wedges and any leftover sauces from the cooked chicken.

Enjoy!

 

Baked Okra with Spiced Stuffing (Vegan, Gluten Free)

DSC_0297 DSC_0276 DSC_0309 DSC_0315 DSC_0326

If you’ve ever heard anything about okra it probably hasn’t been anything good. It isn’t a commonly used vegetable in Australia despite it’s ability to grow well in a very hot climate. In Australia you will most commonly see it in curries or stir fries, which I’ve had a few of and thoroughly enjoyed. However, when they are cooked by this method they release a gelatinous fluid, great as a thickening agent but also a texture that lots of people don’t enjoy. So, to try something different, I started looking into some lesser known ways of preparing them and through some recommendations from friends, and some research, I came across a few recipes for stuffed okra or ‘ Bharwan Bhindi’. Bharwan Bindi is an indian dish of stuffed okra and is usually deep fired and served alongside curries and rice. I wanted to make them a little more healthy and so baked them, and rather than have them as a side, served them alongside other delicious deli goods, dips and flatbread as a kind of middle eastern mezze feast. It was so moorish and delicious. Fun to eat and share at a big table with some drinks and friends.

DSC_0304 DSC_0321

 

Recipe

Ingredients

30-40 okra

4 tbs desiccated coconut

6 tbs chopped cashews

4 tbs sesame seeds

2 tbs chopped parsley

2 tbs chopped coriander

1 long red chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh turmeric, grated

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp each of ground cumin, coriander and garam masala

3 prunes, finely chopped

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

salt and pepper

lime wedges, yoghurt, harissa, olives, hummus, flat breads and any other deli goods, to serve OR, serve alongside a dahl or other curry and some rice, raita and flatbreads. (all optional)

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 Degrees Celcius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Wash the okra with cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Leave on a clean tea-towel to dry while you prepare the stuffing.

For the stuffing, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and use your hands to really mix well and combine the flavours. Test if it’s wet enough by squeezing together in your hand, it should hold it’s shape. If it’s too dry and crumbly, add a little more oil.

For the okra, trim off the tops and cut a slit down one side, lengthways, without going through to the other side. Slide your thumb down through the cut to pry open enough space to put the stuffing in.

Use your fingers to press the stuffing into each okra, you will need about 1 tsp of stuffing per okra. Rub the outside of each okra with the mixture as well, it won’t stick but it will add flavour.

Lay them all on the lined tray, cut side up, and drizzle with a little extra olive oil.

Bake for 25-30 mins or until stuffing is dark golden and okra is tender.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on tray for 5 mins before serving on their own or with your choice of sides.

 

Asian Style Turkey Mince with Pineapple and Sorrel Spinach

DSC_0380 DSC_0423 DSC_0413

I came up with this recipe by chance, it revolved around the fact that I thought I had bought Betel Leaves, when in actual fact they were Sorrel Spinach, I had some Kaffir Lime leaves from a friends tree, a pineapple from the local markets and we’d just caught and killed a fresh bush turkey… (joking).

You have to try this out, it was so easy and quick, but looks and tastes so impressive. It’s also light and healthy and doesn’t leave you feeling full and sluggish. You could serve it as a finger food, an entree or bulk it out with some rice or vermicelli for a main meal. You could also try replacing the turkey mince with chicken, pork, minced prawns or even minced firm silken tofu for a vegetarian option. The flavour combination of the salty mince, the sweet fresh pineapple, the chilli, mint, lime, crunchy nuts and slightly bitter sorrel is out of this world!

I really had no idea what to call this dish seeing as it’s a combination of so many asian flavours and influenced by dishes like San Choy Bow, Miang Kham, and Mar Hor. All beautiful dishes in their own rights and pretty awesome with their powers combined as well!

DSC_0435 DSC_0408

 

Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup desiccated coconut, toasted

1 tbs coconut oil

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

thumb size piece ginger, thinly sliced

2 long red chillies, thinly sliced

3 star anise

2 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced

230g water chestnuts, chopped

500g turkey mince

3 tbs soy sauce (use tamari for gluten free)

3 tbs oyster sauce

1/4 cup mint, chopped, small leaves reserved for garnish

pepper

Bunch of Sorrel spinach leaves

1/2 pineapple thinly slices into triangles

1/2 cup, salted roasted peanuts, chopped

1 lime, cut into 8 wedges

Method

Heat the coconut oil in a medium frying pan over medium high heat. Fry the garlic, 1 of the chillies, ginger and star anise until golden. Add the kaffir lime, chestnuts and turkey mince, working quickly to break up the mince before it cooks in clumps, fry until cooked through, about 5 to 10 mins. Add the soy and oyster sauce and cook for a further 2 mins or until there is no liquid left in the pan. Season with freshly cracked pepper. Add the mint and the toasted coconut and stir to combine, remove from the heat.

To serve, top a sorrel spinach leaf with a slice of pineapple, a couple of spoons of the mince mixture, some chilli, mint, peanuts and a squeeze of lime juice. Enjoy!

Spiced Lamb Filo Cigars with Sumac and Preserved Lemon Yoghurt

DSC_0979 DSC_0964

This is just a quick post for these yummy treats that are perfect for entertaining. They are easy to make and so delicious. I found the Arabic 7 Spice mix in a Middle Eastern grocer in Sydney months ago but hadn’t put it to much use before now. It’s lovely with the lamb mince because it adds a nice touch of sweetness along with the spices. Teamed with the flakey filo pastry and the tart yoghurt sauce, it’s a perfect balance of flavours and texture. The spice mix contains black pepper, paprika, cumin, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom. If you can’t find the mix ready made just google it and you will find a few recipes.

DSC_0978 DSC_0972 DSC_0973 DSC_0975 DSC_0981 DSC_0986

 

Recipe

Ingredients

olive oil

1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

500g lamb mince

3 tbspn arabic 7 spice mix

1/3 cup currants

1 tbspn brown sugar

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

salt and pepper

packet filo pastry

1 cup greek yogurt

1 tspn sumac

2 preserved lemon rinds, finely chopped

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200 Degrees Celcius.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add a good amount of olive oil. Fry the onion and garlic until soft, take care not to burn any of it to avoid bitterness. Add the arabic 7 spice and fry for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Take off heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl place the lamb, currants, brown sugar, mint and salt and pepper and cooled onion mixture. Using hands, massage all the ingredients together until well combined.

Return frying pan to medium-high heat and add the lamb mixture. Cook, continually stirring to avoid clumps forming. Cook until just done and remove from heat to cool completely.

Meanwhile make yoghurt sauce by combining the yoghurt, sumac and preserved lemon. Refrigerate until needed.

To make cigars, lay one piece of filo pastry on the bench with the shorter side facing you. Brush with olive oil and place another piece on top, brush with olive oil again. Cut in half vertically to make two cigars. Place 2-3 teaspoons of mince mixture at the bottom of the pastry and roll up in a cigar shape to half-way. Fold in the edges, brush these with oil and keep them folded in while continuing to roll up the cigar. Continue until all the mince mixture is used. Place finished cigars seam side down on a lined baking tray.

Bake for about 20mins, or until golden and crunchy. You can do this ahead of time and re-heat them when guests arrive.

Serve with yoghurt sauce.