Saturday, January 31, 2009

bagna cauda

An excellent garlic dip that is easy to make with just a few ingredients. Serve .warm with Italian bread and vegetable crudites

what you need
355 ml extra virgin olive oil
55 g butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
30 ml heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper to taste

what to do
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the olive oil and butter. Season with black pepper. Heat until butter melts, then add garlic. Cook until garlic has softened but not browned. Remove from heat, and stir in cream.

baked vidalia onion dip

A dry onion grown mostly in Georgia that is well known as a popular variety of a sweet onion. Mildly sweet in flavor, the onion has a yellow to tan outer skin covering a white inner flesh. Sweet onions, such as Vidalias contain a higher water content but a lower sulfur content making them less pungent than other varieties of onions. Most often this type of onion is eaten raw to enjoy the most flavor or only lightly cooked.

what you need
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 large Vidalia onions coarsely chopped
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 cups mayonnaise
225gm tin sliced water chestnuts drained and chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

what to do
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add onion, and saute 10 minutes or until tender.
Stir together shredded Swiss cheese and next five ingredients; stir in onion, blending well.
Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish. Bake at 180C for 25 minutes, and let stand 10 minutes.Serve with corn chips or crackers


Chermoula a herb and spice marinate used in the North African cuisines of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, it comes in all kinds of different variations and flavours. This particular recipe, is well suited for seafood, fish or poultry and the use of fresh and dried coriander gives it such a great fragrant "kick". It is also great for basting onto your BBQ meat, as an dip for grilled poultry and fish.

What you'll need
30 g (1 oz) fresh coriander leaves, picked
20 g (2/3 oz) fresh Italian (flat) parsley leaves
50 ml (1 2/3 fl oz) good quality olive oil
6 g (1/5 oz) coriander seeds
6 g (1/5 oz) cumin seeds
3 g (1/10 oz) black pepper corns, crushed
10 g (1/3 oz) garlic
5 g (1/6 oz) red chilli, de-seeded
15 g (1/3 oz) preserved lemon - This can be bought in most oriental stores

Recipe makes approximately 1/2 cup

What to do
In a fry pan, lightly toast the cumin, black pepper and coriander seeds either in the oven or over a low flame.
Combine with all other ingredients in a blender and mix to a smooth paste adding the olive oil gradually at the end of the process.

Linguine with baby clams

A great dish inspired by, of course, the Ocean and the Italians. Sadly I have been to a number of so called “Italian” restaurants that come nowhere near to getting this dish right. I’ve had it with more sand than the local beach and garlic raw enough to ward of demons. If you follow this recipe to the letter you will end up with Linguine Vongole better than most places around.

What you need
750 grams (1.5 lbs) fresh vongole (baby clams)
500 grams (1 lb) fresh linguine
5 cloves of garlic (chopped)
A few sprigs of flat leaf parsley (chopped)
2 red birds eye chillies chopped (chili peppers) (optional)
2 lemons
Extra virgin olive oil
White wine
Sea salt flakes
Cracked black pepper

What to do
Place the clams in a strainer, then set that in a large mixing bowl and with the clams completely submerged, run cold water over them for about 10 minutes.
Lift the clams out of the water by hand and you should find a fair bit of sand in the bottom of the bowl.
Cook the pasta until al’dente and rinse until cold.
Arrange 4 serving plates or bowls.
Place a pot of boiling salted water on to boil.
In a liberal amount of olive oil sauté the garlic for about a minute and add the chilli.
Once the garlic is very lightly browned immediately remove the contents of the pan into a large mixing bowl.
Wipe the pan clean and return it to the heat.
Add the clams and a splash of wine.
Keep the pan moving and as soon as the clams open remove them to the bowl of garlic one at a time with some tongs.
Once all the clams have opened, plunge the pasta back into the water.
While the pasta rewarms place pan back over the heat and add the clams and garlic back in, sprinkle with chopped parley, more olive oil if needed and a splash of wine.
Drain the pasta, taste the pan contents for one last final seasoning and combine everything for one last time and toss with the juice of one or two lemons, serve and garnish with a little more parsley.

Enjoy with crusty white bread

Thursday, January 29, 2009

greek style lamb rack

Why wait hours for a leg of lamb to roast when you can have a great tasting rack of lamb with crispy potatoes on the table in less than an hour! "it's true"

what you need (serves 4)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
2 tbs chopped rosemary leaves
1 lemon, sliced
4 x 4-cutlet lamb racks
10 chat potatoes
150g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes
1 cup (160g) pitted kalamata olives
what to do
Combine garlic with 2 tablespoons of the oil, rosemary and lemon in a bowl. Add lamb, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Marinate for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Meanwhile, part-cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for 5-6 minutes, then drain.
Flatten each potato with a potato masher and place in an oiled roasting pan. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season well. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden.

Meanwhile, heat a large frypan over medium-high heat. Sear the lamb on all sides. Place lamb and any pan juices on top of the potatoes with lemon slices and roast for 10 minutes (for medium-rare, or longer until cooked to your liking). Remove lamb, cover loosely with foil and rest for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and olives to the potatoes, then return pan to the oven for a further 5 minutes until tomatoes soften. Serve the lamb on the potato mixture, with mint sauce if desired.
Resting is the most important factor when cooking meat, it allows the meat to relax, which in turn holds all the moisture and juices in, ever noticed when you carve your roast straight out of the oven and the juices run everywhere, thats what happens when you don't rest your meat.
The larger the piece of meat the longer you need to rest it. You won't belive the difference resting makes.

parsley, fetta & pinenut dip

what you need
2 bunches fresh continental parsley, leaves picked
1 garlic clove, crushed
80g (1/2 cup) toasted pine nuts, finely chopped
100g feta, chopped
125ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
60ml (1/4 cup) fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Toasted pine nuts, extra, to serve

what to do

place the parsley, garlic and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the feta, oil and lemon juice and process until well combined. Taste and season with pepper.

spicy chickpea dip

A very simple and fast dip that you can whip up in less than 10 minutes

2 x 440g cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained
125ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
125ml (1/2 cup) fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 long fresh red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, extra, to serve

what to do
place the chickpeas, oil, lemon juice, garlic, chilli and cumin in the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

basic homestyle egg mayonnaise

For a creamy delicious mayonnaise, this creamy dressing is hard to beat and easy to make!
Makes 1 1/2 cups

what you need

4 egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice
200ml (7fl oz) light olive oil
200ml (7 fl oz) olive oil
white pepper

Place egg yolks, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Process until mixture just starts to thicken.
Combine oils in a jug. With the processor motor running, add oil mixture in a thin, steady stream, scraping bowl with a spatula occasionally, until mixture is thick and creamy. Add remaining lemon juice (see notes & tips). Season with pepper. Process to combine.
Transfer mayonnaise to a small, airtight container. Place plastic wrap on the mayonnaise surface to prevent a skin forming. Cover and keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Notes & tips
For a less 'tangy' mayonnaise, reduce the amount of lemon juice in step 2.

For a less richer taste use all vegetable oil

eggplant and red pepper bruschetta

Bruschetta (pronounced "brusketta") is a traditional italian antipasto, where ‘bruscare’ means ‘to roast over coals’. it is then rubbed with fresh garlic and drizzled with olive oil. Most people think the word ‘bruschetta’ refers to the topping itself and not the dish.

what you need
2 large eggplants sliced
1 red pepper sliced
garlic crushed
170ml olive oil
juice of one small lemon
salt and cracked pepper to tatse
4 slices bruschetta
grilled dense bread that has been rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil

what to do
Heat a char-grill or pan and place a few pieces of eggplant at time and cook till browned and soft. repeat till all eggplant is cooked.
grill red pepper strips as above
Place egplant and red peppers in a bowl and combine with all other indredients, season to taste.

Top four slices with the bruchetta mix and drizzle a little extra olive oil over
This is great as an entree or part of an antipasto platter

crispy fried whitebait

what you need
150gr plain flour
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 cup chopped basil
500gr whitebait
vegetable oil for frying

what to do
Combine flour basil and garlic salt in a large bowl
Toss whitebait in batches until all coated
heat oil in a large saucepan to approx 180 degrees celcius. deepfry white bait till golden brown and cooked through.
drain on absorbent paper.

Serve with lime ailoi as astarter ot part of a larger platter

lime aoili

what you need
2 limes
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoons seeded mustard
250mls (1 cup) light olive oil
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

what to do
Finely grate the rind of 1 lime, juice the fruit and measure 1 1/2 tablespoons. Place egg yolks, mustard and lime juice in a food processor bowl. With the motor running, add olive oil, pour in a slow stream until mayonnaise thickens and is well combined. Add garlic and grated lime rind and process to combine. Season to taste.
Notes & tips
A wonderfully tangy dip to serve also with fesh king prawns and hand cut potato wedges.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

fried baby courgette flowers

Zucchini flowers can have a baby zucchini attached, While others are just the male flower of the plant and just have a stem attached instead of the zuchini. I must admit, you can't beat freshly picked courgette flowers, crisply fried in batter, great on a antipasto platter.

what you need
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup beer
Sea salt
1 egg white, whisked
8 baby courgettes (zucchini) with flowers
Vegetable oil for frying
Sea salt
2 red chiles, finely chopped, seeds removed A handful of fresh mint leaves, finely sliced
A drizzle of good quality herb vinegar

what to do
Mix the first 3 ingredients for the batter together in a bowl. Whisk the egg whites until firm and fold into the batter.
Heat oil for deep frying to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Dip each courgette with its flower into the batter, and fry in the oil until crispy and golden brown. Drain them on kitchen paper, then place them on a serving plate, sprinkle with salt, chiles and mint, and drizzle with vinegar.

If you want to go one step further and want something really special why not stuff the flowers first, just mix 80g (4oz) creamy goats cheese (or ricotta if you prefer), 1 pinch of fresh thyme leaves, 1 small clove garlic and crushed black pepper. then dip in the batter and fry.

This recipes works the same for pumpkin blossoms

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

olive tapanade

what you need
2 cups good-quality kalamata olives, pitted
4 anchovies, drained
1/2 small garlic clove, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced

what to do
Place olives, anchovies, garlic and capers in a small food processor. Process until mixture is almost smooth. With the motor running, slowly add 2 tablespoons oil, in a thin steady stream, until mixture forms a thick, smooth paste (adding oil slowly prevents the tapenade from separating).
Transfer tapenade to a small bowl. Stir in 2 teaspoons lemon juice, or more if desired.
Season with pepper. Transfer to a sterilised glass jar or container.
Pour remaining 2 teaspoons oil over tapenade to cover surface. Store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Tapanade can be made with green olives for a milder flavour, Great spread over crusty bread

basil pesto

what you need
45g (1/4 cup) pine nuts
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 small garlic cloves, halved
60g (3/4 cup) shredded parmesan
5 tbs olive oil

what to do
Preheat oven to 180°C. Spread the pine nuts over a baking tray. Bake in oven for 5 minutes or until toasted.
Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes to cool. Place the pine nuts, basil, garlic and parmesan in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped.
With the motor running, gradually add the oil in a thin steady stream until well combined.
Place pesto in a container and cover with oil, it will last up to three weeks. Bring to room temperature before serving to bring out all the flavour.
For something different try replacing the basil with rocket or rosemary (great with grilled lamb), or adding 1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes.

Monday, January 26, 2009

marinated wild mushrooms

Picking, cooking and eating wild mushrooms is something of a pastime in Italy, wild mushrooms (fungi) grow allover Italy especially in the mountain valleys. The types of wild mushrooms include porcini, chantrelles, morels and shaggy inkcaps. All are equally as good as each other and can be used in any recipe calling for wild mushrooms.

what you'll need
1/2 cup olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
1 kg (2.2lbs) assorted mushrooms, stems trimmed (the more varieties the better)
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves

what to do
Warm oil, add garlic; sauté until golden, about 6 minutes. Discard garlic. Increase heat to medium-high. Add mushrooms and parsley; sauté until mushrooms are golden, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Cool to room temperature. Transfer to container; cover and chill until cold. Drain to serve
Why not try them on top of some bruschetta or toasted focaccia


what you'll need
3½ cups (875ml) chicken stock
40g (1.5oz) butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1½cups arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
1/3 cup grated parmesan, plus 1 tablespoon extra
2 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
60g (2.25oz) button mushrooms, finely chopped
1/2 cup peas
1 garlic clove, crushed
200g (7 oz) lean beef mince
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
vegetable oil, to deep-fry

what to do
1. First make risotto by heating chicken stock in a saucepan, until simmering. Keep hot. Melt butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes, stirring, until softened. Add rice and stir for 1 minute, until translucent. Add wine and stir until evaporated.
2. Add one ladle of stock, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Repeat with remaining stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly for 15-20 minutes, until all stock is added and rice is cooked. Remove from heat and stir through parmesan and one lightly beaten egg. Season to taste. Spread rice onto a baking tray lined with baking
paper to cool completely.
3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a frying pan on high. Cook mushroom and garlic, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add mince and cook for 5 minutes, until browned and moisture evaporates. Stir in parsley, peas, remaining egg and extra parmesan.
4. Divide cooled risotto into 12 portions. With wet hands, take one portion in your palm and make a small well in centre to form a cup. Place 1 tablespoon of mince mixture in centre of rice. Fold over rice to enclose mixture and shape into a ball. Repeat with remaining rice portions and m
ince mixture. Roll balls in breadcrumbs and set aside.
5. Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan on high until a cube of bread sizzles on
contact. Deep-fry rice balls in batches for 4 minutes, turning, until golden. Drain on paper towel and serve immediately.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

about antipasto

When it’s done right, an antipasto plate will bring a relaxed spirit and friendly, casual conversation to your meal. No matter the occasion, serving antipasto is the perfect way to slow things down and savor great food at a dinner, picnic, cocktail party—you name it.

From the Latin word meaning 'before the meal', antipasto is a combination of cold or warm savoury snacks traditionally served in Italy as an entree.

The typical antipasto platter features small amounts of flavoursome cured meats, cheeses and vegetables preserved in oil.

Basic Antipasto Rules
Unless you’re planning a party with lots of guests, keep the antipasto simple so you don’t crowd out the main meal.
No matter how basic or lavish, antipasto should simply complement the meal you’re planning.

The fragrance and appearance of the food that you serve is important, so blending flavors, aromas and colors will make for the most interesting antipasto plates.
I will adding my favourite antipasto dishes shortly