Kalamata Olive and Roast Almond Tapenade

dsc_1431dsc_1335 dsc_1340

Every year I say, I’m not doing anything for Christmas, I can’t afford it, I don’t have time, blah blah blah. But then, every year, next minute, I’m elbows deep in royal icing, fighting off the flies on a 35 degree summer’s day, making gingerbread houses that no-one is going to eat. And I secretly love it.

However, I’m guessing most people aren’t like me, so here is a recipe for an impressive but very easy appetiser for these entertaining times. Will post another one tomorrow for an even easier one!dsc_1371 dsc_1396dsc_1415 dsc_1434

Recipe
Makes about 2 cups
Ingredients
500g kalamata olives
4 anchovies plus 1 tbs of their oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tbs capers
4 tbs olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
1 cup roasted almonds plus a quarter of a cup of sliced to serve
To Serve
4 garlic bulbs, cut and roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper at 180 degrees for about 30mins
Cherry tomatoes on the vine, roasted at 180 degrees for about 15mins
Danish Feta
Fresh baguette (or a gluten free alterna
Fresh basil leaves
Method
To make the tapenade, first roughly chop the almonds in a food processor by using the pulse button so as not to over-chop. Empty them into a bowl.
Place the olives, anchovies, garlic, capers, olive oil, lemon juice and pepper in the processor and process until combined and relatively smooth. Empty into the bowl with the almonds and stir to combine.
To serve, place in a bowl and top with the extra sliced almonds. Place bowl on a platter with the garlic, tomatoes, feta, baguette and basil leaves.
Enjoy!

Bruschetta with Heirloom Tomato, Basil and Balsamic or Marinated Zucchini, Goats Cheese and Mint.

DSC_0316

DSC_0315

We just spent nearly a week in Cairns, I didn’t really want to leave! Life there is so focused on being outdoors, there is a fantastic energy in the city centre, as well as a beautiful relaxed vibe just a few minutes down the road in the smaller, beach side suburbs. We spent days lying in the sun, reading, fishing and putting some final touches on the 4WD.
We have four storage drawers under the bed; one entirely dedicated to spices, as well as a set of shelves on one side, holding all my oils and sauces. A bit ridiculous I know but I’m so inspired by all the beautiful ingredients I’ve been getting that I just have to keep cooking! And considering I had to say goodbye to eighty percent of my cooking equipment and ingredients when we decided to live out of our car, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve still been managing to come up with.
We stopped in beautiful Port Douglas yesterday to meet up with some friends for a picnic. I had been to the farmers’ markets in Cairns the day before and had bought some beautiful produce, including these unbelievably sweet heirloom tomatoes, huge zucchinis and big bunches of fresh herbs.
These bruschettas are so simple, and could easily be jazzed up with some extras like bocconcini or anchovies on the tomato ones and some pine nuts on the zucchini ones. I love the freshness of the quickly marinated vegetables though, i find them so much more delicious than the oily marinated ones you find in delis and from the jar. The key here is good, fresh ingredients, nice bread, well toasted and definitely don’t forget to rub it with the cut garlic clove while it’s still hot; the taste is superb and not to mention the smell!

DSC_0306

DSC_0301

 

Recipe

Serves 6 as a starter

Ingredients
1 long baguette
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half

Tomato Bruschetta
A few handfuls of heirloom tomatoes, sliced into bite size pieces
1/2 spanish onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn, small leaves reserved for presentation
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Zucchini and Goat’s Cheese Bruschetta
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup goats cheese
1 long red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup mint leaves, torn
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Method
Combine the zucchini, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper in a bowl or jar and toss well to combine. Leave for at least 30 mins to marinate.
Combine the tomatoes, onion, olives, basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper and toss to combine. Leave for about 10 mins.
For he baguette, slice into pieces as big as you would like. Toast under a grill, on a bbq, in a toaster, etc. Once golden brown, rub well with the cut side of the garlic clove, you will be able to smell the aroma of the garlic as long as the bread is still hot.
For the tomato bruschettas, top half of the toasts with the tomato mixture and sprinkle with the reserved basil leaves.
For the zucchini bruschettas, spread the toasts with the goats cheese. Top with the zucchini, layered with the mint leaves. Sprinkle with the chilli and drizzle with lemon when ready to serve.

Vegetarian Sausage Rolls with Homemade Tomato Sauce

DSC_0195 DSC_0191 DSC_0167 DSC_0081

This year is flying by so fast it’s scary, so much has happened and is happening at the moment, any time I get to spend sitting around, eating ad drinking with my friends is so treasured. I don’t want to spend all my time in the kitchen either, when friends drop around, so it’s good to have snacks like these vego sausage rolls in the freezer for times like these.

Finding time to do a blog post lately has been difficult as well, so whenever I find a few spare hours free I quickly take stock of what I have in the cupboard and see if I can rustle something up. It was lucky that I had all the ingredients at home to make these delicious morsels, especially as the filling can also be used as a vegetarian alternative in my Spiced Lamb Filo Cigars with Sumac and Preserved Lemon Yoghurt that I posted a few months ago and had a few of my vegetarian friends comment that they wished they could eat them. To do this, make the ‘mince’ mixture from this recipe, without the spices, and use in place of the lamb mince, simple!

DSC_0086 DSC_0121

To be honest, I think my favourite part of this recipe is actually the tomato sauce, I’ve been eating the leftover sauce on everything. It’s sweet and tart and so moreish. And so easy to make, with every ingredient roasted together in one tray and then simply blended. Add extra chilli for an awesome spicy breakfast sauce.

DSC_0127 DSC_0142Recipe

Makes 32

Ingredients

40g walnuts, roasted

400g french lentils, cooked

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 brown onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

500g mushrooms, chopped

4 tablespoons smoked paprika

4 tablespoons ground cumin

4 sheets puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, beaten

Black and white sesame seeds

Sauce

5 tomatoes, quarted

2 small red capsicums, sliced

1 red onion, quarted

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Method

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

To make the sauce, place all the ingredients in a small roasting pan so that the are close together and will steam rather than dry roast. Roast for about 45mins, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables are very soft. Remove from oven to cool slightly and then puree with a stick blender or in a food processor. Place in the fridge until needed.

Meanwhile, to make sausage rolls, heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion until soft, add garlic and mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are cooked. Add the spices and fry, stirring, for about 30 secs. Remove from heat.

In a food processor, combine the cooled mushroom mixture, the walnuts and the lentils with some salt and pepper and process, scraping down the sides as you go, until mixture is well combined. Don’t over process though, as you still want a bit of texture.

Spread out the 4 pastry sheets on a clean and dry work surface. Cut each sheet in half horizontally. Divide the mixture between the 8 halves, along the bottom edge. Arrange into a sausage shape and roll up into a log, sealing with a brush of egg.

Cut each log into 4 and arrange on baking trays, 5cm apart. Brush with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Cook in oven for about 20-30mins, swapping trays halfway to ensure even colouring.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving with the tomato sauce. If freezing, allow to fully cool before putting them in a sealed container in the freezer. They can be cooked from frozen whenever you feel the need!

Chipotle Prawns with Adobo Mayonnaise and Capsicum Salsa

DSC_0565

I haven’t always liked prawns. I remember the first prawn I ever ate. It was at one of my parents’ work christmas parties in some garage somewhere. As is mandatory at every Australian Christmas party, adorning the plastic tablecloth covered trestle tables, were huge platters of prawns with Thousand Island sauce, ready for fingers to get filthy dirty and smelly, peeling those little morsels of apparent deliciousness.

I thought they looked like the most disgusting things I could imagine. The way all the adults were ripping off the heads and then the rest of the shell and then just popping the whole thing into their mouths! My brother and I were horrified!

But Mum wouldn’t let us say we didn’t like something unless we tried it (which I’m grateful for now!) This was a tough one though, a special occasion I suppose. Mum actually bribed us with $2 each just to try a prawn! ($2 back in the 90’s could get you a serious amount of lollies at the newsagent!) So, I went first, after watching Mum rip the head and skin off this gross little worm looking thing, I closed my eyes and popped it into my mouth. It was gross! A yucky salty tough bit of stuff that I chewed as fast as I could and swallowed with watery eyes. Next was my brothers turn (he had to now, seeing as he copied everything I did, haha). I don’t think the prawn lasted more than half a second in his mouth before he spat it across the room! Classic.

DSC_0571

DSC_0583

I think I was scarred by this experience and only ate another one about five years ago. It was at another christmas bash and I only ate it because I didn’t want to be rude. It wasn’t that bad but I’m still not a fan of eating prawns in this way.

Thankfully I have discovered that they are actually delicious if cooked in the right way! Think squid ink pasta with lemon and chilli prawns, or greek prawn saganaki with feta, or prawn tempura with soy dipping sauce. YUM! I’m getting hungry now!

Winter here in Newcastle this year has been very nice to us, I even lay out in the backyard on the weekend and got a bit of a tan! This type of weather has been getting me excited for this summer to come, now that we live in a house with a backyard! I can’t wait to fix up the garden and get a nice little herb garden happening. I also can’t wait to get some furniture out the back, so many warm night, outdoor dinners to look forward to!

This dish will be on high rotation this summer I think! It’s so quick and easy and delicious, I think it’s probably the best way I have ever eaten prawns! Very simple but so full of fresh and punchy flavours!  The Chipotle chillies in Adobo sauce are a star here, but if you can’t find them, use regular chillies and up the amount of smoked paprika.

You can serve these prawns with any of your favourite South American or Spanish types of sides. We have had them with soft tortillas, guacamole and salad, or rice, sweet potato chips and sour cream. You can’t really go wrong.

DSC_0604

DSC_0612 DSC_0617 DSC_0621 DSC_0626 DSC_0631DSC_0633 DSC_0642 DSC_0649 DSC_0654 DSC_0660 DSC_0662

Chipotle Prawns (original recipe)

Ingredients

1kg green prawns, peeled, deveined, tails intact

3 chipotle chillies in adobo sauce, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp smoked paprika

zest of 1 lime

2 tbs lemon oil

salt and pepper

Capsicum salsa

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 small red capsicum, finely chopped

1 long red chilli, de-seeded, finely chopped

2 kumatos, de-seeded, finely chopped

1 bunch coriander, leaves and tender stalks finely chopped

2-3 limes juiced

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

To serve

Adobo mayonnaise (combine whole egg mayonnaise with some adobo sauce from the chillies as well as some salt and pepper, all to taste)

Tortilla chips (brush tortillas with lemon/ olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cut into wedges and bake until crisp)

Baby cos lettuce leaves

Method

If using wooden skewers soak in water until ready to use (at least and hour)

Combine prawns with remaining ingredients and leave to marinate for 1-2 hours.

Meanwhile, for the salsa, combine ingredients and leave in the fridge, stirring often to combine flavours.

Make tortilla chips (if using), and prepare lettuce leaves.

To cook prawns, thread from head end to tail end onto skewers. Pre-heat grill or bbq, cook prawns on high for 1-2 mins per side, or until cooked.

Serve immediately with sides.

DSC_0666