Category Archives: Mains

Girls Night

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If you’re going to host a girls night you should go all out. Bubbles, treats for dinner, taking silly photos and face masks and Destiny’s Child. And of course, make sure you have great company. This night lead to shennanigans and blasting ‘Say My Name’ so loudly that I’m sure every one of our neighbours could hear all the lyrics.

Here are the basic recipes for what I made that dinner:

Broadbean, Pea and Avocado dip: From Dish magazine issue 34, 2011

In a food processor blend together 2 cups cooked and shelled broadbeans, 1 avocado, 2 cups of cooked frozen peas, the juice and zest of a lime, a big handful of basil, 1/3 cup of thick plain yoghurt, 1 clove crushed garlic, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve with something crispy and more-ish.

 

Asian style steak salad: From Dish magazine issue 34, 2011

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In a small saucepan bubble together 1/4 cup rice vinegar and 1/2 cup brown sugar. When syrupy, tip into a bowl and mix with 2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 clove of crushed garlic, 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce and 1 tbsp rice bran oil. Place steak into a shallow dish, pour over half of prepared marinade, cover and let sit for at least an hour.

Place a pan on a high heat and fry the steak for 2 minutes on each side. Slice the steak thinly and toss with chopped cucumber, baby spinach, thinly sliced carrot, mung beans, sliced spring onions and top with crispy fried shallots. Dress with some of the reserved marinade.

 

 

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pudding:

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Link here. Seriously, make this pudding it is crazy good.

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Chicken Noodle Soup

In these days of Southerlies, a flat so cold I can see my breath when I wake up in the morning, and frustrating assignments, there is only one thing that can keep me going: Chicken Noodle Soup!

Here’s the good news: If you can boil water in a pan, you can make this soup! Seriously, that’s pretty much all it takes. Also, this makes HEAPS, yay, which meant that I could have chicken noodle soup for lunch and dinner the following day and the next day too, happy, frozen girl. The recipe I used had no vegetables, so I added some, because it feels bad bad bad to have a meal without veggies. I urge you all to make this and keep warm and rugged up.

Chicken Noodle Soup Adapted from Made by Hand by Julie Le Clerc

serves 6

1L liquid chicken stock

750 mL water

350g (ish) chicken mince

250g rice vermicelli noodles

2 bunches of bok choy, washed and chopped

3 spring onions, sliced thinly

Good handful of coriander, roughly chopped

Chili sauce (I used Huffman’s Hot Sauce- hooray!), soy sauce and lemon wedges to serve

Put chicken stock and water in a large pan or wok and bring to the boil. Once boiling put in chicken mince and boil for 5 minutes, breaking up the mince if it goes clumpy. In the last couple of minutes of cooking add in the rice vermicelli and the bok choy. When cooked, divide into bowls, sprinkle with spring onion and bok choy. Serve with soy sauce, chili sauce and lemon wedges, let people add as much or as little to their taste.

The chili gives some heat and the soy sauce adds to the depth of flavour and I love that the spring onion, lemon and coriander give a little ray of lightness, dee-lightful. This soup is so warming, nourishing even. It warms you from the inside out (effect is heightened of course if you add lots of chili harhar), I think at this time of year we all need some nourishment, so grab some soup, wrap up in a blanket and grab your favourite book- wonderful.

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Chickpea Curry

This week was one of those times where you realise that you have no. money. what. so. ever. So how do you cook dinner for your flatmates when this happens?

Answer: buy things in cans and cook them with spices then serve with rice. Done and done.

What a happy coloured dish! All up I think this cost under $10- boom! Plus it’s seriously quick, on the night in question I cooked this for my flatmates and then also managed to cook for my family and no one ate too late (this included about an hour on the bus in rush hour). Nigella eat your heart out.

Chickpea Curry- Recipe by little ol’ me

Serves 5ish

2-3 tsp rice bran oil

1 onion, chopped finely

3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

2 large red chillies, chopped roughly

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp Garam masala

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp turmeric

2x cans of tomatoes

2x cans of chickpeas

salt, sugar to taste

1 small can of coconut cream

Pop the rice bran oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Throw in onion and a pinch of salt, cooking until the onions are soft. Add garlic and chillies and cook for a futher couple of minutes without browning. Add spices and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes until spices are fragrant. At this point drain and rinse chickpeas and pop them in the pot with the cans of tomatoes, salt and sugar. Simmer on a low heat for 15-20 minutes, until curry has reduced and looks saucy not soupy. Taste and adjust seasoning, then stir in coconut cream and cook for another couple of mins. Serve with fluffy rice.

So, I have a bit of a reputation for not really measuring spices and inadvertently making things to spicy to eat, this dish sorta toed the line, but it was still pretty yum! The coconut cream makes it rather velvety, which is definitely needed to balance out the spice.

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Perfect Beef Fillet

Hi friends, are you drooling? You probably should be. I’m going to share with you a recipe from my Aunt and cousins on how to get a perfect fillet of beef every time, without hassle, without strife.

Simply take your fillet and marinate it in a mixture of balsamic vinegar and horseradish for a couple of hours. Preheat your oven to 200°C, then heat up a large, heavy fry pan til it’s really rather hot and sear your beef quickly on all sides then place in the oven for half an hour. Remove from the oven, place on a serving plate and rest for at least 20 minutes. Slice thinly and serve with potatoes, a green salad and plenty more horseradish.

This dish, I must say, is an ex-vegetarians dream. The beef absolutely melts in your mouth and the marinade lends a subtle sweetness.Very rich and very let’s-have-seconds. Would be fantastic the day after in a crusty sourdough roll with strong mustard and rocket.

That night we also roasted some tomatoes, which turned into little, succulent sauce-bombs.

And since we were celebrating Mum’s birthday, I made up the salad below according to her request.

Fennel and Radish Salad

Thinly slice 3 washed radishes and one trimmed fennel bulb. Place in a bowl with a mix of rocket and other lettuce that takes your fancy. To make the dressing combine 2 Tbsp of oil, 1 Tbsp of balsamic vingear, 1 peeled clove of garlic, 1 tsp of wholegrain mustard and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Whisk together with a fork and pour over the salad. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days.

This salad tastes as pretty as it looks. The warm acidity of the balsamic combined with shards of crunchy fennel and peppery radish is an absolute delight. I was not a fan of raw fennel, but this salad has converted me. That aniseed flavour (a flavour I completely and utterly despise) is not too overpowering and is counteracted to some extent by the dressing.

Also, it made my wee heart sing to see that people have signed up to follow my blog! You have all made this girl very, very happy and I treasure you wonderful people who listen to my ramblings.

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ANZAC day family dinner

Today being ANZAC day was a great opportunity to spend some time with the family. After a busy, but fantastic morning singing at two services (complete with 180 Australian sailors- what a rendition of ‘Advance Australia Fair’!), I was rewarded with brunch cooked by Dad. I had called up Mum the day before and told her I would like to make them dinner on the Wednesday and I told her that I would like to make pasta from scratch.

Mum said “Oooo, that’s a big undertaking, Claire, are you sure?” to which I replied yahuh…. She may have been kinda right because we didn’t eat until about 9.30pm, BUT it was so much fun making the pasta and the satisfaction of knowing that I had made the pasta (yay meeeeeee) was very much worth it.

My flatmate made this cannelloni recipe last week and it was so good I just had to make it again. I used Jamie Oliver recipes for both the pasta and cannelloni, because we love Jamie very much and because he makes making pasta look easy as seen here. I thought “piece of cake!” I shall take photos of the process while I experience for myself this delightful easy process….

NOT SO

First bit= incredible amounts of fun!

Look at that! You get to make a mess (especially because I was practicing cracking eggs with one hand, a technique I have yet to master… explode-o eggs) and you get to play with your food eee! So, you take your eggs and flour and mix them together into a dough, then you knead the dough for a few minutes until it’s smooth and lovely, then stick it in the fridge for a bit et voilà!

There, you have your pasta ready to go into the machine. Then, the calm and lovely attitude goes out the window. Then you develop a really bad relationship with pasta machine. You are both behaving unreasonably and it’s not pretty. Basically, the pasta machine we have does not attach to the bench well and it slips around while you are trying your darndest to roll out pasta which requires THREE hands anyway, yup three, not two. This lead to difficulties, because I, like most humans, have but two hands.

Pretty much you need one hand to feed the dough in, one hand to turn the handle and one to catch the pasta as it comes out so that it doesn’t fold in on itself and stick to itself. I would sorta get the hang of it and then the pasta would stick to itself, or the handle would fall out of the machine onto my ready, waiting foot or I would run out of bench space for the long, elastic lengths of pasta. Not a happy bunny and I wished for the thousandth, hungry time that I had just bought some pre-made lasagne sheets. Look what happened though.

Wee cannelloni, just waiting to be joined with sauces and baked! What really helped with the pasta making was dusting it after each pass through the machine with semolina flour and lots of it. Would have been handy if i had dusted the bench as well before laying down my fat, filled cannelloni, made getting them off the bench unpleasant and bugger my new favourite word.

After all this unpleasantness, I was able to swan into the living room circa. 9pm and say “Dinner is in the oven!”.

Boy, was the wait worth it. There is cheese everywhere, which should be recommendation enough for any dish, but here the combination with the rich, deep tomato sauce and the delicate marjoram that went in with the spinach was to die for. If you don’t make the pasta, this is most definitely a recipe worth trying. There are lots of parts to it, but all simple enough. Dear Jamie, you have once again outdone yourself.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni Adapted from this recipe from Jamie’s Dinners

4-ish Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

a handful of marjoram, chopped

about 8 bunches of spinach, washed

1/2-1 tsp grated nutmeg

salt and pepper

400g ricotta

2 handfuls of parmesan

2 400g cans of chopped tomatoes

splodge of red wine

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 heaped tsp dried oregano

1 tsp sugar

200g mozarella

12 squares of fresh pasta about the size of a postcard

250g tub of crème fraîche

3-5 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

Take a large roasting tin, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and put on a moderate heat. Add one of the sliced garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, nutmeg and the marjoram. Then add the spinach and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes until the spinach is wilted, but still green and vibrant. Place the cooked spinach in a bowl with all the contents of the pan, including juices and allow to cool.

Place the pan back on the heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil if you need it. Add the other sliced garlic clove and cook over a moderate heat until the garlic is soft. Then add the cans of tomatoes, half of one of those cans filled up with water, red wine, tomato paste, oregano, salt and sugar. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the sauce is reduced, but still sloppy. Remove from the heat. Preheat your oven at this point to 180°C.

Take your cooled spinach and roughly chop it, then return to the bowl with ricotta and parmesan, mix together. Take your pasta squares and dollop a couple of tablespoons of the spinach and ricotta mix into the middle and nudge it into a niceish, fat line. Brush one of the edges with water and roll up towards that edge to seal. Once you have done this with all 12, place them in the pan with the tomato sauce, mix up the crème fraîche, anchovies and other handful of parmesan with a wee bit of water to make a pouring consistency and pour over the top. Sprinkle the cannelloni liberally with mozarella, parmesan and a good drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 20-30mins or until bubbling and starting to brown.

Oooo, also, if you haven’t already, you should definitely go and see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I nearly skipped out of the movie theatre afterwards.

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Brown rice pilaf with olives, spinach and lemon

This is what I made for dinner tonight from this wonderful blog Lottie+Doof. I changed it a bit to use leeks, because I really, really love leeks (sweet and oniony and fantastic) and I upped the veggie content with some beautiful spinach. It’s warm, it’s healthy as and it’s downright delicious. Essentially this dish is kind of like risotto without all the stirring and cheese. The olives give a really moreish saltiness and the brown rice gives a wonderful nuttiness. Good comfort food and super super easy.

I love leeks!

Brown Rice Pilaf with olives, spinach and lemon Adapted from this recipe from http://www.lottieanddoof.com

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 leek, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 1/2 Cups chicken or vegetable stock

3 1/2 Cups water

1 1/2 Cups brown rice

1 bay leaf

1 heaped tsp dried thyme (or a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme)

1 tsp salt

a couple of bunches of spinach, chopped

3/4 green olives, pitted and chopped

zest and juice of one lemon

basil and shaved parmesan to garnish

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan and add leek, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook over a moderate heat, stirring occasionally until the leeks are soft about 6-8 minutes. Add the rice, stock, water, thyme, bay leaf and bring to the boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat, cover and leave for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, stir in 1 tsp salt, return to the heat and simmer, stirring from time to time for about another 30 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed. In the last 5 minutes of cooking stir in the spinach. When cooking is complete, remove from the heat and stir in the olives, lemon zest and juice. To serve, ladle into bowls and top with basil and shaved parmesan.

 

 

 

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