Vegetarian Turkish Lahmacun. Spiced Lentil Flatbreads with Garlic Yoghurt and Pickles.

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I made this dish whilst we were back in Germany, staying with a friend who loves food and loves to eat. It was perfect for me! I had access to her awesome little kitchen the whole time we were there and I had the best time preparing breakfasts, snacks, afternoon teas and dinners for all of us, which, in turn, resulted in lots of lovely hours, sitting around, chatting, eating and drinking. Bliss!

Germany is renowned for it’s Doner Kebabs and there are many (MANY) turkish restaurants. It got me thinking about a dish I had seen, a kind of turkish pizza. I mentioned it to our friend and she said, yes, it’s called Lahmucan, but, she had never been able to try it because it is only ever made with lamb mince and she is a vegetarian. So, I decided to try and make a meatless version of Lahmucan. And, boy did I nail it! The dough was amazingly soft and beautiful to work with, and turned out perfect when baked. The topping was spicy and tasty, especially with a drizzle of lemon and the garlic yoghurt, and the freshness of the parsley and pickles. You have to give this a try!

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Recipe

Ingredients

Dough
7g sachet of yeast
1 egg
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp caster sugar
pinch salt
Olive oil
Spiced Lentil Sauce
Olive oil
100g walnuts, roughly chopped
250g swiss brown or button mushrooms, roughly chopped
400g can brown lentils, rinsed and well drained
1 brown onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, finely chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp sumac
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
Yoghurt Sauce
1 cup plain yoghurt
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1 tbs lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Pickled Radishes
Bunch radishes, thinly sliced on a mandolin
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
3 tbs sugar
Pinch of salt
To Serve
20g walnuts, roughly chopped
Bunch of parsley, leaves finely chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced on a mandolin
Lemon wedges
Pickled peppers

Method

For the dough, combine the yeast with 1/3 cup warm water and allow to stand for 10mins, until bubbles have formed on top.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar and salt together. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and the olive oil. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Add the egg mixture and the yeast mixture to the flour. Stir briefly, until just combined. Cover with a towel and rest for 10mins.
Use olive oil to lightly oil a clean work surface and your hands. Turn dough out onto work surface and knead for 10secs, gently pushing it away form yourself and folding it back over. Return to the bowl and cover with the towel. Leave to rest for 15mins. Repeat this process twice more at 15min intervals. After the last kneading, cover again and leave to rise for an hour.
After an hour, divide the dough into four equal portions. Dust a clean work surface with flour and line two large baking trays with baking paper. With a rolling pin, roll the portions out into 30cm by 20cm rectangles (or whatever shape you manage). Place on the trays and cover with tea towels. Leave to rise for another 45mins.
Meanwhile, make the spiced lentil sauce.
Add the walnuts, the lentils, the mushrooms and some salt to a large food processor. Using the pulse action, process until just finely chopped, try not to turn it into a paste. In a large frying pan, over medium high heat, add a tbs of olive oil and add the lentil mixture. Cook, stirring, for about 10mins. Remove from pan and set aside.
In the same pan, add another tbs of olive oil. Cook the onion, stirring, over medium heat, for 5 mins or until soft. Add the garlic and the chilli and cook, stirring, for a further minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, sugar, and some salt and pepper. Bring to the simmer, turn heat to low, and cook, stirring often, for about 10mins, or until thick and fragrant. Add the lentil mixture and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, combine the yoghurt with the garlic, lemon juice and salt. Stir well to combine. Leave in the fridge until needed.
In a medium bowl, combine the radishes with the vinegar, sugar and some salt. Using your hands, massage the radishes with the vinegar. Allow to sit, stirring every so often, for at least 30mins before serving (you can also make these up to 1 day ahead, stored in the fridge).
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Drizzle the 4 dough rectangles with a little olive oil. Spread with the lentil sauce, leaving about 2cm around the edges. Place in the oven and cook, for about 45mins, or until lentil sauce is dry on top and the edges of the dough are nice and golden brown.
To serve, top with the pickled radishes, sliced onion, parsley, walnuts, a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of the yoghurt and the pickled peppers on the side. (I like to just put everything in the middle of the table and let people top their own)
Enjoy!









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White Asparagus, Spring Onion and Chèvre Tart with Herb and Walnut Salad

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After six weeks in the craziness of Indonesia, landing in Europe has been an amazing experience. Coming from a place where the general hum is the sound of loud scooters and touting stallholders, we have found ourselves in a town so peaceful, even the church bells sound too loud. Although that could have something to do with it being next door….

We landed in Frankfurt and were immediately whisked away to this beautiful little town of Walldorf, the home of our amazing friend and her very generous family. I had to show our new friends here a youtube clip of the old children’s show, Postman Pat, as a way to explain how this town seems to me so far. Rolling green fields, farms selling seasonal produce, small pubs, fresh baked goods from the local bakery, old guys smoking and chatting on a park bench, and friendly ladies in the supermarket who were only too happy to help us choose between all of the different types of sour cream and milk.

It’s asparagus season here at the moment and the locals love it so much there is even an asparagus festival in a couple of weeks, I wish we were still going to be there for that, I could have entered the asparagus peeling contest!

White asparagus is favoured here and is sold in different grades, first grade being the straightest, whitest, not too thick and not too thin. This was, of course, what we bought from the farm that we visited, as well as some new season strawberries and radishes. We also got to go out into the field and have a go at picking some asparagus, it’s not an easy task and I can definitely appreciate why it is one of the more expensive vegetables. Mostly Polish people work the fields, backbreaking work for a couple of months a year, made worth it for them by the good pay. The lady that we met, and who showed us how to dig out the lovely white spears, has been coming here every year for twenty years!

After hardly getting the chance to cook while we were in Indonesia, I was jumping out of my skin with excitement to get back into the kitchen. And so excited to be able to cook for our generous hosts. I love making tarts and this one looked beautiful with the asparagus and the spring onions. You could use green asparagus if you can’t find white, just blanch it quickly rather than boiling it.

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Recipe

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups plain flour

150g cold butter, chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg yolk

1 tbs cold water

400g white asparagus, peeled, ends trimmed off

100g white asparagus, peeled, ends trimmed off and shaved into ribbons

1 tbs white sugar

2 tbs salt

8 spring onions, peeled, cut to about 15cm lengths, and cut in half vertically

olive oil, for drizzling

100g gruyere cheese, finely grated

5 eggs

1 cup milk

100g chèvre (goats cheese), sliced into 5mm thick pieces

Bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves picked

Bunch dill, leaves picked

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Juice of half a lemon

1 tbs olive oil

salt and pepper

Method

For the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, add the butter and use fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until mixture resembles sand. Add the egg yolk and the water. Mix with a spoon until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until just smooth, about 1min. Wrap in cling wrap and rest in the fridge for an hour.

Turn the pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll out to a 3mm-thick disc. Grease and line the base of a round, fluted tart tin, with removable base (or any tart tin that you have). Line with the pastry, trim most of the excess but leave about 1/2cm of overhang to allow for shrinkage. Prick the base with a fork. Place in freezer for 30 minutes to rest.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Line the pastry case with non-stick baking paper. Fill with pastry weights or rice. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove paper and pastry weights or rice. Cook for a further 7 minutes or until golden. Set aside.

Place the spring onions on a lined baking tray, cut side up, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook, for about 20mins, or until golden and soft. Set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the sugar and salt. Add the 400g asparagus and cook for about 10-15mins, until just tender (time will depend on the thickness of the asparagus). Remove and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, gruyere, and milk with some salt and pepper. Pour mixture into tart case. Arrange the spring onions, boiled asparagus, and sliced goats cheese around the tart in a sort of clock design. Place in the oven and cook, for about 30mins, or until golden and firm in the middle. Remove and set aside for at least 10mins before serving.

While tart is cooking, prepare the salad.

In a bowl, place the 100g shaved asparagus and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for a minute, strain, and refresh under cold water. Squeeze out excess water and return to the bowl along with the herbs. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and some salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Only add the walnuts just before serving.

To serve, add the walnuts to the salad and toss to combine. Top the tart with the salad if desired, or serve it alongside.

Enjoy!

 

 

Chilled Cucumber and Sesame Soup with Trio of Noodles

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I made this dish to share with our housemates before we left Australia. I can’t believe that was only a week ago. Feels like so much longer. My mind and body still don’t quite know where we are and if it wasn’t for the fantastic company I’ve been keeping, I’m not sure how I would be feeling! I realised today that I left my full time job over nine months ago and have not slept in the same place for more than a couple of weeks since then. Blows me away a little bit!!

This dish is so nourishing, moorish, cleansing and just downright good. We ate it as an entree on a hot night in Darwin. Having a chilled soup still seems like a good idea to me, being in a warm climate, but, if you’re somewhere where it’s starting to get a bit cool, it would be just as delicious served warm. You could add tofu or chicken to this if you liked, I think that would also be yum! You could also use whatever noodles you like, I just used what I had on hand, which was a delicious combination! I love the difference in textures.

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IMG_3677_2Recipe

Serves 6

Ingredients

4 Lebanese cucumbers, finely sliced

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup tahini

3 cups vegetable stock

4 tbs white miso paste

2 tsp raw sugar

1 long red chilli, finely sliced

4cm pice of ginger, grated

1 clove garlic, grated

100g vermicelli

250g hokkien noodles

250g thick soba noodles

A handful each of coriander leaves and mint leaves

Toasted sesame seeds and roasted peanuts, to garnish

Method

Combine the sliced cucumber in a large bowl with the 1/2 tsp salt. Stir to combine and allow to sit for 30mins.

After 30mins, using your hands, squeeze the liquid from the cucumbers, as much as you can. But don’t discard the liquid. Set the cucumber aside.

Combine the cucumber liquid with the tahini, stock, miso, sugar, chilli, ginger, and garlic and whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning and add a little salt if necessary. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Before serving, cook your noodles according to the packet directions. Run them under cold water once they are cooked, to cool, and stop the cooking process.

Divide the noodles between the serving bowls and pour over the cold soup. Top with the cucumber, herbs, sesame seeds and peanuts.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Scallops with Lap Cheong and Black Rice

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‘The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page’ – St Augustine. I’m not really one for quotes but I thought this one was pretty nice, I found it in a Lonely Planet photo Journal I was reading the other day, getting very excited…

It’s only three sleeps now until our trip overseas starts. I’m starting to feel a tiny bit anxious with excitement and anticipation for what’s to come. It’s been a year and a half since my last trip overseas. Oh, except NZ, but that doesn’t really count…

We haven’t made too many concrete plans, leaving our options as open as we possibly can, incase of meeting cool people, and hearing about cool places, etc. I hate the fact that you even have to book flights out of each country that you fly into, just to prove that you are leaving, I mean, I understand it, but it still really annoys me. Customs always freaks me out, even though I know I’m doing absolutely nothing wrong, they certainly have a way of making you feel nervous. After a couple of friends of friends were recently refused entry into Aus due to lack of funds, it makes me even more nervous. But, I’m sure we will be fine, and all of those things just add to the pleasure once you make it to the breathtaking places; where you find yourself, atop a volcano, in front of an ancient temple or amidst a tropical rainforest and you ask yourself, in awe, what am I even doing here? We are so lucky to have the freedom to travel.

I’ve been wanting to make this dish since way back in November when I started working in the fish market. I had never come across scallops in their shells before, and although they were ridiculously expensive, I had to try them, if not just for the taste but for their beautiful shells as well. So, I thought I’d better give them a go before we left Darwin, who knows when we will be back!

Like I said in my last post, the discovery of Lap Cheong (chinese sausage) since we’ve been up here has been a very very good one. We don’t eat much meat but the asian grocers here are amazing and the local, tropical produce, mostly lends itself to asian cuisine, so I’ve learnt to use it for lots of dishes. The flavour is out of this world and you don’t need much, so a packet goes a long way.

This is a great entree dish, or you could even serve it without the rice, as a canapé. Alternatively, bulk out the rice with some more veggies, like a fried rice, and serve the scallops on top. Delish!

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Recipe

Serves 4 as an entree

Ingredients

2 tbs peanut oil

100g Lap Cheong (chinese sausage), finely sliced

12 scallops on the half shell, without the roe, removed from the shell, shells set aside for serving

3 cloves garlic, finely sliced

20g butter

2 tbs oyster sauce

200g black rice, cooked to packet directions

2 spring onions

1 long red chilli, finely sliced

2cm fresh ginger, peeled and julienned

4 garlic chives, finley sliced

1/4 cup coriander leaves

lemon wedges, to serve

Cracked black pepper

Method

Prepare a medium bowl with water and ice. Cut the spring onions into 4 cm lengths and then finely slice them lengthways. Place them in the ice water and leave for 30mins, this will help them to curl. Drain. (note, this is purely for aesthetics and doesn’t affect the flavour).

Spread the cooked rice onto a serving platter, or onto 4 serving plates. Arrange the half shells on top of the rice, ready for the scallops. Keep warm. (again, this is just for presentation, you don’t need the shells).

Heat 1 tbs of the peanut oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the lap chuong and fry, stirring, for 2mins, add the garlic and continue to cook for a further 1min. Remove from the pan and evenly distribute between the shells.

Add the remaining 1 tbs of peanut oil and the butter, once butter is melted, add the scallops and cook for 1 to 2mins, turn and cook for a further 30secs. Drizzle with the oyster sauce. Place on top of the lap chuong.

Top the scallops with the spring onions, chilli, ginger, garlic chives, coriander, and some cracked black pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Sardine and Olive Scrolls with Herbed Cream Cheese

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IMG_2407 IMG_2391 IMG_2395Since winning a hamper at Christmas time, filled with marinated goodies and antipasto ingredients, I’ve had a jar of marinated sardine fillets, sitting at the back of the fridge, looking lonely and waiting to be used in something delicious. However, having only just learnt to appreciate tinned sardines and anchovies in the last two years (I learnt to like them after trying some delicious real deal ones in Portugal), apart from putting them on a pizza, I haven’t done much else with them. Until now!

I’d spent the afternoon with a friend, hanging out at the local pool (it’s next to the beach, the best we can do in the wet season here in Darwin), and we had organised for Saturday afternoon drinks at her new house. Perfect opportunity for me to make something delicious to share!
I love making dough, we’ve been making all our own bread for the last couple of months now so I felt pretty confident to try this idea. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they worked out. The perfect mix of soft chewy bread with the salty, flavoursome filling, along with the herby cream cheese and sweet fresh tomato. Delicious! I also had some tomato soup leftover from dinner a few nights ago, they went perfectly with this also.
These would also work just as well without the anchovies for a vegetarian option.

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Recipe

Makes 16 scrolls

Ingredients

400g strong white bread flour
300ml luke warm water
1 heaped tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
olive oil

400g pitted kalamata olives, drained and pureed
300g marinated sardine fillets, drained, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
small red onion, finely chopped
2 tbs fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
cracked pepper
handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 large tomato, de-seeded, flesh finely chopped

250g cream cheese
1/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon

Fresh tomatoes or tomato soup, to serve

Method

In a large bowl combine the flour and the yeast. Add the salt and stir to combine. (Adding the yeast and the salt separately is important as the salt can start to kill the yeast with direct contact).
Make a well in the centre and add the water. Stir with a metal spoon until mixture only just starts to come together, no more than 30secs. Cover with a clean towel and leave for 10mins.
Using olive oil, put a little in your hands and on a clean work surface. Turn out the dough and gently knead for about 10secs by pushing the dough away from you and folding it back towards yourself, then turning, horizontally, 90 degrees, and repeating, four times.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with the towel. Leave for 15mins and repeat the same process twice more.
After the third knead, cover and leave in a warm place for 45-60mins or until almost doubled in size.
Meanwhile, heat a tbs of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and the onion and cook, stirring, for about 5mins. Add the thyme and the chilli flakes and cook for a further 1min. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
When cool, add the chopped sardine fillets, pepper, parsley and tomato. Stir to combine.
In another bowl, combine the cream cheese with the dill, parsley and lemon zest. Stir well to combine and keep in the fridge until needed.
Prepare two baking trays with baking paper and a sprinkle of flour. Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees celcius.
When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a well floured surface. Cut in half evenly. Roll each piece out into a 20cm by 40cm rectangle, about 1cm thick.
Divide the pureed olives onto each piece of dough and spread out evenly with the back of a spoon, then sprinkle with the sardine mixture.
From the long side, gently roll each rectangle into a log.
Cut each log into 8 pieces. Place the pieces on the prepared trays, cut side up/down, about 5cm apart. Use your fingers to gently squash/mould into rounds (as cutting them has probably squashed the circle shape a little).
Cover each tray with a clean towel and leave in a warm place for about 45-60mins or until nearly doubled in size. (Be gentle when moving the trays during his time, so as not to knock the air out of the rising dough)
When ready, place the trays (gently), into the oven, and bake for 30-40mins, or until golden and feel hard when tapped with your finger.
Remove from oven and leave to cool for 15mins.
Serve warm with the cream cheese and some fresh sliced tomato. They are also really beautiful with tomato soup.
Enjoy!

Mushroom Bahn Mi

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There is nothing more satisfying than cooking and eating a meal that has been grown, created and cooked by people within a bike ride of where you live. I’ve been so lucky to have so many beautiful ingredients at my fingertips lately, that I’m finding it hard to use anything that isn’t local. Hence, I haven’t really been cooking with meat. I’m not vegetarian, vegan or celiac, but I know many who are and love to be able to cater for everyone. Give this Bahn Mi to a hardcore carnivore and I’m pretty sure they will eat it; and maybe even enjoy it immensely (even if they don’t admit it).
I’ve been buying traditional Bahn Mi rolls at the markets on the weekends here. They are beyond delicious. Traditionally made with a smoky lemongrass laden pork mince sausage, fresh coleslaw, pate, and mayonnaise, on a freshly baked vietnamese baguette. It’s a mix of cultures, bound to tantalise the senses.
Here, I’ve challenged myself to a vegan version. Sorry to the traditionalists. It’s just delicious though.
Aside from the mouth-filling flavour of the mushrooms, the vegan mayo and the mushroom pate are stars on their own. They can be used in many other scenarios and you will have leftovers from this recipe to do just this!
I hope you appreciate this humble looking sandwich as much as I did.

On a side note. It is so hard to take photos of food in this heat, along with flies….near impossible. So, please excuse the haphazard photos!

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Recipe

Serves 2

Ingredients

Vegan Mayonnaise
1 cup raw cashews (soaked in water, in the fridge, overnight, drained and rinsed)
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Mushroom Pate
20g dried mixed forest mushrooms
3 tbs light olive oil
1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
250g mixed mushrooms (I used button and shitake)
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup dry roasted walnuts
salt and pepper
3 tsp olive oil spread

Pickled Carrot
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
pinch salt

Lemongrass Mushrooms
1 tbs peanut oil
2 large or 4 smaller portobello or field mushrooms
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs dark soy
1 tsp sesame oil
1 birds-eye chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, white and first part of green part, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and grated
pinch of pepper

The rest
1 small baguette, halved vertically into 2 serves, each half cut in half horizontally
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
handful each of thai basil leaves and coriander
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 long red chilli, thinly sliced

Method

For the lemongrass mushrooms, cut the mushrooms into quarters or halves, depending how big they are. Place in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour, stirring every so often to marinate, but be careful not to break up the mushrooms.
For the pickled carrot, place all of the ingredients in bowl and stir to combine. Leave in the fridge for at least an hour, stirring every so often.
For the mayonnaise, place all of the ingredients in a small food processor, or a bowl deep enough to use a stick blender. Blend until very smooth. It will take a while, but you want it to be really smooth, no grainy bits. Keep in the fridge until needed.
For the mushroom pate, place the dried forest mushrooms in a bowl with 1/2 cup hot water, leave to soak for at least half an hour. Remove the mushrooms from their soaking liquid. Reserve liquid.
Heat 2 tbs of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Cook the onion, garlic and mushrooms, stirring constantly, until cooked, about 5 to 10 mins. Remove from pan and set aside to cool slightly.
Place the drained forest mushrooms, cooked mushroom mixture, parsley, walnuts and remaining olive oil in a small food processor, or a bowl deep enough to use a stick blender. Blend until very smooth. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
Place into one large dish or 2 small ramekins, smooth the tops and place in the fridge to chill for at least 20mins.
Meanwhile, melt the olive oil spread and add 3 tbs of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid. Pour on top of the mushroom pate and keep in the fridge to set.
Once everything is ready to go, its time to assemble the sandwiches.
To cook the lemongrass mushrooms heat the peanut oil in a pan to high heat. Add the marinated mushrooms, and cook, stirring for about 5 mins, or until cooked and slightly caramelised. Set aside.
To assemble the sandwiches, spread the bottom halves of the baguettes with a good layer of mushroom pate, and the top halves with the vegan mayonnaise.
Top each half with the cooked mushrooms, pickled carrot, sliced cucumber, herbs, spring onions, and chilli. Top with the mayonnaise half of the baguettes.
Eat and enjoy!
Tip: they are also delicious, assembled and toasted in a pan, sandwich press, or bbq.

Seafood Laksa (kind of)

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This is another favourite from the weekend markets here in Darwin, each stall has their own recipe; all equally delicious. I wouldn’t ever claim this to be anywhere near an authentic replica, I used a lot of what I had on hand, and also tried to use a little less oil compared to the traditional recipes. I love this dish for that reason though, so long as you have a few of the key elements, you will no doubt be able to produce a delicious meal.

Another awesome part about this dish is that half of the elements don’t even get added until the very end, so, by putting all of these ingredients out on the table, you not only make for a colourful and exciting table full of food, you also allow people to top their soups in whichever way they choose. This is a great way of catering for a mix of, meat eaters, seafood lovers/haters, and vegetarians. To the list of toppers I have included in this recipe, you could also add; shredded chicken, boiled egg, cucumber, carrot, cabbage…anything you think might be nice.

One more awesome thing…. it’s incredibly delicious as a cold dish the next day; if you manage to keep any leftovers that is!

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IMG_1160Recipe

Laksa Paste

Ingredients

1 1/2 tbs dried shrimp, soaked in 1/2 cup boiling water for 10 mins

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp turmeric

2 long red chillies

2 birdseye chillies

3cm piece fresh ginger, peeled, diced

1 red onion, peeled, diced

2 stalks lemongrass, white and pale green part, diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled, diced

10 roasted cashews

2 tsp roasted shrimp paste

1 tsp peanut oil

Method

In a frying pan, over medium high heat, dry fry the spices for about 1-2mins, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind into powder.

Place the spices and the soaked shrimp, along with the soaking water, and all the remaining ingredients into a small food processor or a bowl deep enough to process with a stick blender. Process until a smooth paste forms.

Transfer to a jar and keep refrigerated. It will last about 1 -2 weeks.

Seafood Laksa

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 tbs peanut oil

12 large green prawns, peeled (reserved), de-viened, tails left on

1/2 cup laksa paste

6 cups fish/chicken/or vegetable stock

400ml coconut cream

250g firm tofu, cubed

250g green beans, trimmed and halved

1 tsp coconut sugar

1 tbs fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper

500g firm white fish fillet, cut into 4cm cubes

200g vermicelli noodles

200g wide rice noodles

Bean sprouts, spring onion, chilli, coriander, mint, thai basil, fried shallots, roasted peanuts, lime wedges, to serve

Method

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Fry the reserved prawn shells for about 3 mins, until they turn red. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving as much oil in the saucepan as possible.

Add the laksa paste to the saucepan and cook, stirring, for 2-3 mins.

Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium, add the coconut cream and bring to the simmer. Add the tofu, beans, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and some salt and pepper and allow to simmer for 10-15mins.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan of boiling water, cook the rice noodles and vermicelli, cooking the thicker ones first for about 2 mins, then adding the vermicelli for about 1 min. Strain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Add the fish and prawns to the laksa. Turn off the heat and allow to gently cook through for about 5-8mins.

Divide the noodles between the serving bowls. Top with the laksa, ensuring even distribution of ingredients.

Top with remaining ingredients as desired.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salt and Spice Herbed Chickpeas


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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!

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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.

 

Easy Christmas Lunch. Spiced Rum and Marmalade Glazed Ham, Citrus and Fennel Salad and Crispy Sweet Potato Bake

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Here are a couple of easy recipes for Christmas Day if you don’t feel like slaving over a hot stove but still want to impress. Everything is really easy, and really tasty; each dish complements the other and when it’s all put out on the table, looks festive and exciting. I made these dishes for a last minute Christmas dinner with a bunch of our friends here in Newcastle before we head back to Darwin; to a very quiet Christmas day, consisting of just the two of us, three dogs, twelve chickens and hopefully a yummy seafood lunch.

You could serve these dishes as part of a bigger feast (we also had two roast chickens, a greek spinach pie, and multiple salads, all brought by our beautiful friends), but it is also nice just to have a few key dishes and really appreciate them. I find that sometimes at Christmas there is just so much to choose from that the flavours in each dish get hidden by one another; or maybe just by a big slosh of gravy.

I hope you’re all excited for Christmas and have some time off work to enjoy with your friends and family. Happy cooking!

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Recipe

Spiced Rum and Marmalade Glazed Ham

Serves 6

Ingredients

5kg smoked ham leg

2/3 cup spiced rum

1 cup honey

1/3 cup molasses

3/4 cup marmalade

1 tbs fresh ginger, grated

handful of cloves

pepper

Grain mustard and fresh white bread, to serve

Method

Combine all ingredients apart from the ham, mustard and bread in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Bring to the simmer and reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer for about 20mins or until thickened (be careful as it may foam up). Remove from heat to cool slightly. Strain through a sieve, reserving both the strained part and the unstrained.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line a large baking dish with baking paper.

To prepare the ham, cut through the skin around the bone in a zigzag pattern. Use your fingers to separate the skin from the fatty layer underneath (you need this fatty layer to hold the glaze so try not to remove it).

In a criss-cross pattern, score the fat in lines about 2cm apart. Press a clove into each cross section. (traditionally they are pressed into the centre of each square but I think more flavour gets into the ham like this).

Brush the ham with some of the strained glaze and place in the oven. Cook for about an hour, brushing with the glaze every 10mins.

Remove from the oven and cool for 15mins or so before carving. Serve warm or cool. Combine any leftover glaze with the chunky parts left from when it was strained; serve this alongside, as well as the mustard and bread.

Citrus and Fennel Salad

Ingredients

2 baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

6 baby radishes, thinly sliced

1/2 a spanish onion, thinly sliced

3 oranges, peeled and sliced (a mixture of regular and blood is good, if you can get them)

1 red grapefruit, peeled and sliced

A few big handfuls of mixed mescaline leaves

A handful of mint leaves, torn

Seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate

Olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper for dressing

Method

Combine the fennel, lemon juice and pinch of salt in a bowl and toss to combine. Add the radishes and red onion and lightly toss, but don’t mix too much or the colour will leach out of the radishes.

In a large shallow bowl, arrange the mescaline leaves and most of the mint. Top with half of the fennel mixture, then half of the orange and grapefruit, then the rest of the fennel mixture and rest of the orange and grapefruit. Top with the pomegranate seeds and the rest of the mint. Very lightly drizzle with the olive oil and the red wine vinegar, season with salt and pepper.

Crispy Sweet Potato Bake

Ingredients

1-2 large white (purple skinned) sweet potato

6 red rascal potatoes

4 cloves garlic

Handful of fresh herbs, such as oregano, basil, parsley or sage

2 tbs dried mixed herbs

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tbs butter, melted

salt and pepper

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Thinly slice the sweet potato, potatoes and the garlic on a mandolin. (or just thinly slice by hand if you don’t have one, but take your time as the slices need to be very thin).

In a large bowl combine the sliced sweet potato, potatoes and garlic with the remaining ingredients. Use your hands to mix, making sure everything is well coated.

Use your oily hands to grease a baking dish. Arrange the slices of potato in a vertical position, like books on a shelf, filling the gaps with smaller slices and arranging so that the tray is evenly filled.

Sprinkle with a little extra salt and pepper and bake for about 45-60mins or until tops are brown and crispy and underneath is tender.

Enjoy!