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    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Garden Puree for Bruschetta

    This was a recipe from Tyler Florence. I really like his The Ultimate Series” on TV.

    I got 3 meals out of it.
    Lunch: Served on Bruschetta
    Dinner: Tossed into spaghetti
    Dinner again: And as a topping for baked Kumara.
    (You could use baked potatoes, just as successfully)

    What a versatile dish.

    The pasta recipe below I thought would be great for "Ruth's Presto Pasta Night" this week hosted by Pam of Sidewalk Shoes have a look at her site here

    1 cup frozen peas
    200 gms asparagus
    200 gms French green beans
    3 spring onions green tops only
    1/2 cup ricotta cheese
    Extra virgin olive oil
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Take hard ends off the asparagus and peel the stem cut into 2 1/2 cm pieces
    Top and tail beans and cut to same size as asparagus
    Bring a large pot of water to the boil
    Season and add the beans, asparagus and spring onions
    Cook until bright green and just tender about 3 minutes
    Throw the frozen peas in for the last minute.
    Drain into a bowl of iced salted water, to stop cooking
    Salting the iced water keeps the flavour at its peak.

    Drain again and place in food processor

    Add ricotta, drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper
    Whizz, test seasoning and add sea salt if necessary.

    Toast some slices of French or country bread
    Spread with puree.
    Of course I have these superb tomatoes, so I topped the bruschetta with that
    A little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and
    As you can see I couldn’t wait I had to take a bite.
    That night I sautéed some prawns with garlic, chili and lemon zest.
    Squeezed some lemon juice over them and reduced a little

    Cooked some spaghetti
    Drain and tossed with 3 tablespoons garden purée
    Into serving bowl
    Top with prawns and then poured the pan juices over the top.

    A grind of freshly ground black pepper


    Two days later, we had Steak and Roasted Red Onions, accompanied by Baked Kumara topped with the Puree.


    I really liked the steak and onions cooked like the following.

    While I was baking the Kumara, I also baked a medium red onion each
    After 1 1/2 hours at 180C, I removed the onion, peeled it and cut into chunks.

    Meanwhile I seasoned a piece of Rib Eye Beef (300 gms, about 2.5 cms thick)
    Rubbed it with a little olive oil.

    Onto a hot pan 2 minutes 1 side
    Another 2 minutes and into a 200C oven for about 6 minutes.
    Remove steak and set aside to rest

    To the pan, I added a good slosh white wine and a heaped teaspoon French mustard.
    Stir to deglaze pan and bring to boil then reduce a little
    Add the chopped onions
    The beef was a little rare when I sliced it so I tossed it around in the onion mix for a minute or two and then served with the Kumara

    Sorry the steak looks a bit messy but it was fabulous.

    The Garden Puree and Kumara would make a good lunch -– solo.

    Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    Grandma's Awesome Tomato Sauce

    I thought this post with the simple "Spaghettini with Tomato Sauce" was a good entry for Ruth Presto Pasta Night 2nd Birthday this time being hosted by Ben of What's Cooking

    It’s homemade Tomato ketchup time. I have been using over the last umpteen years, tomatoes from an orchard out of town, in Riverhead.

    It only takes 20 minutes on the motorway to get there and it is worth it. It is owned by an older man Steve Jelas who is 82 and still gardening. His particular strain of tomatoes is what I guess they call in USA "heirloom".

    They are divine and they make the best sauce. Look at the colour.
    On the day I came back from the orchard, it was too late to make the ketchup but I did make a delicious sauce for pasta.
    Really simple just to celebrate the taste of the fruit.
    Onion and garlic sautéed in olive oil
    Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
    Sprinkle red chili flakes not a lot just a little taste treat.
    Add chopped tomatoes and cook down only about 5 minutes.
    I love the taste of fresh tomatoes I didn’t want the concentrated flavour.
    Add some fresh oregano
    Taste and adjust seasoning.

    Cook some spaghettini and toss in the sauce.

    So beautiful I didn’t even add any Parmesan cheese.
    Just the wonderful tomatoes. Brilliant.
    So Day Two sauce time.
    I bought enough for 2 batches but I only had enough bottles for one.
    Will have to fossick around for more for tomorrow.
    Look at this sauce.
    I can’t give you the recipe it is a family secret!!! Passed on from my Mother…Actually you need your local pharmacy to provide you with a special essence, which is the signature taste of this ketchup.
    I have to get mine through my friend Anne who lives in another city and has a friendly local pharmacist. It’s a dying recipe unfortunately. Young pharmacist’s don’t seem to be interested in continuing the formula. So we are making the most of it while we can.

    But it is pretty
    I am going to have to drink plenty more wine and gin and tonics to get more bottles.

    But we have had a visitor in our house.
    Yesterday afternoon a baby bird popped in. He wandered around and I opened all the windows for him to fly out.
    It seems he only has one wing and can’t fly. He disappeared later in the afternoon so I thought he had gone outside and I though he had gone but no he had hopped al the way down our stairs to the lower level bedroom. A mammoth task.
    I tried to lure him by laying a trail of breadcrumbs, a la Hansel and Gretel, but he was too cunning for me.

    Sp I left him down there. To our surprise, suddenly he appeared back in the lounge he had hopped all the way up the stairs, What a Champion!
    How clever is that?
    He also found his way outside so now our doors to the courtyard are closed so he doesn’t get back inside. Our carpet doesn’t need to be a bird toilet.
    Of course he is cat fodder, so our plan is to take him to the SPCA today. He is really cute but he has to go.

    By the way I have found enough bottles for the next batch, without punishing my liver!

    Sunday, March 08, 2009

    More Toppings for Bruschetta and Don't Waste That Cabbage

    Two more toppings for Bruschetta
    Friday we ate Italian at our local, Portofino, which is our favourite
    Eatery in Parnell.
    I had Spaghettie alle Vongole with some yummy garlic pizza bread.
    Dale had pizza.
    So dinner was just a light salad.

    Saturday dawned and out for lunch again.
    This time Prego in Ponsonby… another excellent Italian restaurant.
    Lasagne for me
    Snapper on Risotto for Dale.
    So we didn’t get our Bruschetta for lunch.
    But that’s OK.
    I was really keen on this Shrimp recipe from my friend Mario.
    (Sorry I don’t mean to be pretentious, but I feel I know him)
    He ate this in a seafood trattoria in Atrani called da Zaccaria
    It was a topping for Bruschetta but we had had enough bread for the day.
    Instead I served it on potato slices, sitting on a green salad.
    Succulent and really tasty. Loved the addition of Limoncello.
    Sweet and tangy at the same time.
    For two people
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
    As many shrimp as you can eat peeled and deveined
    Juice and zest of 1 lemon
    50 mls Limoncello
    1/2 cup white wine

    2 medium potato boiled and cut into 1/4 slices
    1 spring onion sliced thinly or chives
    Salad greens
    Zest of lemon for garnish

    In a sauté pan heat olive oil over medium heat until just smoking
    Add garlic toss quickly cook until it turns light brown
    Add shrimp and cook without turning for 2-3 minutes until pink
    Turn shrimp over and cook for 1 minute

    Transfer the shrimp to a plate
    Add lemon juice, zest, Limoncello and wine to the pan and bring to boil

    Boil sauce about 3-4 minutes

    To serve lay salad greens on plate
    Layer potatoes then
    Pour over juices
    And garnish with zest and spring onion or chives

    Now this is a signature dish from Mario’s restaurant in New York, Po
    White Bean Bruschetta
    Couldn’t be easier and really tasty

    1 cup cooked Cannellini Beans (I used canned, rinsed and drained)
    2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
    2 tablespoon fresh basil leaves cut in thin strips
    1 clove garlic think sliced
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    1/4 inch slices of country bread toasted
    Slices prosciutto for garnish

    In a mixing bowl gently stir together
    Beans, Extra virgin olive oil Olive oil
    Balsamic, Chili flakes basil and garlic.
    Season to taste

    Leave to sit about an hour for the flavours to meld
    Spoon over toasted bread place a slice of prosciutto and devour.
    It is still really good the next day (in fact, finished it off today.)
    I was reading the excellent blog Chocolate and Zucchini
    Written by Clotilde
    Like Clotilde, (check out this post) I too had a cabbage in the fridge, it had been there for a while.
    I have to cook this… so I removed the outer leaves and of course underneath was lovely moist crisp cabbage. Those outer leaves are a great protector.

    I also had a butternut squash so emptying the fridge was a good option.
    I made an interesting Honeyed Squash and Goat’s Cheese Salad
    a while ago and took my inspiration from that
    Didn’t have any grapes, so I used mango and I also added a lovely little red chili from my friend Debbie’s garden

    2 cups sliced cabbage
    5 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
    1 large teaspoon Dijon mustard
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    With a fork whip mustard and vinegar and then stir in olive oil, season to taste

    Blanch cabbage just a minute or two,
    cool and dress with vinaigrette

    1 x Butternut Squash
    2 tablespoons Olive oil
    1 chili finely chopped
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 1

    1/2 mango
    2 tablespoons pine nuts lightly toasted
    Knob butter
    1 tablespoon honey
    1 tomato seeded and sliced
    75 gms feta crumbled
    Parsley finely chopped

    Peel and cube butternut squash
    Toss with olive oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper and chili
    Bake in 180C oven for about 20 minutes until soft

    Add butter, honey, tomato and pine nuts
    Toss lightly

    To plate
    Add cabbage salad
    Top with butternut mix and crumble feta on top
    Sprinkle parsley to finish.

    Saturday, March 07, 2009

    Courgette Risotto - Bruschetta with Eggpant

    So of course we are trying to keep to the Italian Concept. Which is only eat Italian for all of March…I was looking after the baby Cleo on Tuesday, so I ate some of her vege for lunch and Dale ate the leftover salmon.
    So he was faithful. Can you say mashed vege is Italian? I guess that pushing it a bit.
    But back to dinner on Monday
    I made a really nice risotto using Debbie’s courgettes.
    Now I had seen a programme on TV where they made a courgette slice, so a great opportunity for 2 meals in one. Just make enough risotto for extra.
    Very simple

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
    Slosh brandy (no wine open)
    3 cups hot chicken stock
    2 courgettes grated
    8 cherry tomatoes cut in half
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    2 tablespoons butter
    Some grated Parmesan cheese

    Add rice to olive oil
    Cook a few minutes just to toast the rice
    Add brandy and let it absorb

    Start adding hot stock by the ladleful till the rice is al dente.
    Add grated courgettes and cherry tomatoes let them reduce down
    Test seasoning and adjust if necessary
    Pop butter on top in pieces and stir it in
    Finish off with some grated Parmesan

    Now with the leftovers
    Put them in a baking dish
    Lay it flat and cover with plastic wrap.

    Into the fridge overnight.
    Next night take it out of the fridge
    Cut into squares and dust with flour, top and bottom

    Fry in a dash of olive oil till golden brown.

    Serve with a salad of mixed greens with a tangy dressing
    Good use of left overs.
    Economical too!

    Back to Bruschetta

    This was a real hit with us.
    The recipe called for fresh mozzarella but I am not over keen on it. It’s too milky for me.
    So I bought the mozzarella (pictured below) which is really quite tasty.
    Hint if you are using the aged Mozzarella
    add while the mixture is luke warm
    it softens the cheese, makes a better texture.

    The aroma when you add the vinegar…divine
    Important…Make sure the eggplant is properly cooked it is “horridable”*, undercooked.

    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 medium red onion sliced thinly
    1/2 eggplant sliced thinly
    2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    125 gms mozzarella cheese (Fresh if you prefer)
    8 basil leaves sliced finely
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    4 large slices Italian bread or sour dough

    4 slices prosciutto

    In a sauté pan heat the olive oil
    Add the onions and sauté till soft
    Add eggplant and continue to cook until the eggplant has darkened and soft
    Add vinegar and remove from heat and cool

    Cut mozzarella into 1/4 inch cubes and add with basil
    Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Grill or toast the bread on both sides
    Spoon a generous amount on top of the bread
    Top with slices of prosciutto

    (or in My husbands case, as he doesn’t eat pork meat)…Smoked salmon.We are lunching really well. It's great.

    N.B.*On re-reading (to my granddaughter Mia) "BadJelly the Witch" last night, I rediscovered horridable
    Thank you Spike Milligan …I am going to use it all the time

    Monday, March 02, 2009

    Salmon Tartare on Green Olive Crostini-Parmesan Wafers

    Its time I lost some weight, which is very difficult when living on the boat.
    It’s always aperitif pre-lunch, wine with lunch, pre-dinner drinks and wine with dinner and this is 7 days a week.
    We have just been on the boat for 8 weeks. Do the math!
    Plus the salt sea air stimulates the appetite. (That’s my excuse for greed)

    I was lucky enough to be given a pile of cookbooks from a good friend.
    I was browsing through Mario Batali’s “Simple Italian Food.”
    The food was very mouth watering I only got as far as the Antipasti
    and I thought, why not have a week of eating Italian….Cut down on the wine and with all of this healthy food the pounds might just fall off.

    Off I went to the supermarket to buy the ingredients…Bruschetta for lunch and various fish, meats, pasta and salad for dinner.

    So Monday
    Salmon Tartare on Green Olive Crostini
    This serves 4

    1 tablespoon capers rinsed and drained
    Juice and zest of I lemon
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
    2 tablespoon black mustard seeds (I could only get yellow)
    Check out about mustards seeds here.

    8 oz Salmon filet, skin and bones removed
    Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
    8 1/4 inch thick slices of Baguette or sour dough bread

    toasted in oven 200C for about 4 minutes

    1/4cup green olive pesto see below
    2 scallions thinly sliced on diagonal for garnish


    1 1/2 cups large green olives pitted
    1/2 re4 onion chopped
    1/4 cup Pine Nuts
    1 clove garlic thinly sliced
    1/2 extra virgin olive oil approx

    In a food processor
    Combine olives, onion, pine nuts and garlic
    Blend for 1 minute
    With motor running slowly add the olive oil until it forms a paste

    Allow to stand at least 1/2 hour before using

    Now the salmon

    In a blender combine capers, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, mustard and 1 tablespoon of mustard seeds for about 1 minute

    Dice the salmon into 1/4 inch dice and place in large mixing bowl
    Add caper mixture and stir to mix well
    Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper
    (I found it didn’t need salt, so be careful)

    Spread each piece of bread with 1 1/2 teaspoon pesto
    Top with 2 tablespoon of salmon mixture
    Garnish with scallion slices and mustard seeds.

    So Day One Lunch

    Keeping with the Italian theme, my friend Debbie arrived on Saturday, complete with a lovely bunch of fresh produce from her garden. Look at those herbs and courgettes

    I needed to make a contribution to family dinner on Sunday and these little
    Parmesan Basil and Lemon Wafers
    inspired by Giada de Laurentiis were a great opportunity to continue use the fabulous fresh herbs.

    So so simple this one.
    Heat oven to 200C
    Prepare oven tray with sheet of baking paper or a silcon sheet if you have one

    1 cup finely grated Parmesan
    2 tablespoons finely sliced basil
    ½ tablespoons grated lemon zest
    Good grind of freshly ground black pepper
    Mix together

    Put onto tray in dessertspoonfuls
    It makes 10-12
    Bake for 3-5 minutes until golden and crisp
    Don’t try and move from the tray till they cool
    They are very hot little numbers
    Serve with drinks…everyone loved them at family dinner.

    I need to make a second batch for quantity and this time used the lovely fresh sage.
    The lemon flavour really came through and both were equally successful.
    A quick and easy canape.