Tuesday, December 27, 2011

pannetone french toast with fresh ricotta

At this time of year, pannetone is always given at christmas and this year I recieved 3 loaves. It is great toasted and topped with fresh ricota and Grilled peaches (pictured). But for something a bit special why not make french toast and serve it with fresh ricotta, and add the peaches as well.
what you need
200g fresh ricotta
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 chocolate truffles, chopped
11/2 tsp ground cinnamon
8 slices panettone (see note)
1/3 cup (110g) jam (we used cherry)
3 eggs
1/2 cup (125ml) thickened cream
2 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs icing sugar

what to do
Combine the ricotta, vanilla, chocolate and 1 tsp cinnamon, in a bowl. Spread 4 slices panettone with the ricotta mixture and spread the other 4 slices with jam. Sandwich the slices together.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and cream together. Soak panettone sandwiches in the egg mixture for a few seconds each side so they can absorb the batter.
Melt half the butter in a large frypan over medium heat until bubbling. In batches, cook panettone for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through. Remove and keep warm while you cook the remaining French toast.
In a small bowl, mix together the remaining cinnamon and icing sugar.
Dust the French toast with cinnamon sugar, then serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ricotta gnocchi with eggplant sauce

Eggplant Sauce
What you need
1 large eggplant, cut into 1.5cm dice
2 tablespoons table salt
¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
400g can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
What to do
Season eggplant with salt and set to one side.

what to do

heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add garlic, tomatoes, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 8 minutes or until thickened. Stir in basil.

Heat remaining olive oil in a medium frying pan. Wash salted eggplant and pat dry. Panfry eggplant for 5 – 6 minutes until golden brown. Remove and place onto a paper towel-lined plate.

Stir egglant into sauce mixture

Ricotta Gnocchi
what you need

250g fresh ricotta
200g romano cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup plain flour, plus extra for dusting

what to do
For gnocchi, combine ricotta, romano cheese, egg, nutmeg and ½ cup of the flour. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Using your hand, mix ingredients together to form dough like consistency. Add remaining flour and mix to form a stiff dough.

Transfer dough to a floured surface and roll into 4 cylinders. Cut and roll into 1cm balls. Using the back of a fork, pull along ball of dough to make gnocchi shape.

Place gnocchi into a large pot of boiling water. As gnocchi rises to the top, remove and place in a colander to drain.

Toss gently in the eggplant sauce, serve with freshly greated parmesan.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

lamb risotto

what you need

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 lb lamb, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup red onion, finely diced

1 cup Arborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

2oz feta (about 1/4 cup), crumbled

what to do

Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium heat, add lamb, salt, pepper and garlic. Cook for 4-5 minutes Use a slotted spoon to remove lamb, set aside.

Bring stock to a boil in a medium sized pot then simmer and maintain over low heat.

In separate large saucepan heat oil over medium heat, add onion and sauté until onions are soft. Add rice, stir until each grain is well coated with oil and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add wine, stir until absorbed.

Add stock one ladleful at a time, stirring frequently after each addition. After about 4 cups of stock, check to see if the risotto is done. If it’s still firm add another 1/2 cup broth and check again. Continue until risotto is tender. When done remove from heat and add lamb and Feta. Mix well.

Garnish with crumbled feta if desired.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lemon Semifreddo

what you need

Oil, to brush

4 savoiardi sponge-finger biscuits

80ml Vin Santo or dry marsala*

4 eggs, separated

2 lemons, rind grated

110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

500ml (2 cups) thickened cream, whipped

Candied lemons

2 lemons, sliced

110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

what to do

Lightly brush a 24 x 10cm terrine with oil and line with plastic wrap.

Roughly break up the sponge fingers and place in a bowl with the Vin Santo. Beat egg yolks, lemon rind and sugar until pale. In a separate bowl, beat the eggwhites until soft peaks form. Fold together sponge fingers, egg yolk mixture, eggwhites and cream, then pour into prepared terrine. Freeze overnight.

To make the candied lemons, place lemon slices in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, cook for 1 minute then drain. Discard the water and set the lemons aside.

Place the sugar and 425ml cold water in the saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then add the lemon slices and simmer for about 30 minutes (the lemons should be translucent and the liquid well-reduced). Drain the lemons on a rack over a tray until cool.

Allow the terrine to soften in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour. To serve, slice the semifreddo and serve with the candied lemons and cream, if desired.

chef’s note

* Vin Santo is Italian wine and is available either sweet or dry. If unavailable, use a good-quality dry marsala

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spinach Pesto

Spinach Pesto a wonderful fresh variant on the more traditional basil pesto, and is a combination of spinach, garlic and with a hint of basil that is great as a topping for bruschetta, stirred through pasta or with grilled chicken

what you need
8 cups fresh spinach
1 cup fresh basil
½ cup toasted pine nuts
1 garlic clove
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

what to do
Put small amounts of spinach, basil, pine nuts and garlic into a food processor or blender. Pulse and continue to add the remaining ingredients until all of them are able to fit in the blender.
Add olive oil and continue to process until the mixture is creamy.
Transfer to a bowl.

Stir in the grated cheese, salt and pepper, and it's ready to serve.

Place the pesto in an airtight container and ensure it is covered with olive oil, this will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

beetroot risotto

what you need

3 large fresh beetroot

1 tbs olive oil

30g butter

1 onion, diced

2 cups arborio rice

4 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

100grs grated parmesan

2 tablespoons butter

what to do

Peel the beetroot and cut into julienne strips. Wash the beetroot tops and chop into 7cm pieces.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large heavy saucepan, saute the onion for 3 mins or until soft. Add the beetroot and cook stirring over a moderate heat for 2 mins. Add rice and stir until translucent.

Add a ladle of stock at a time to rice and stir until absorbed. Continue stirring in the stock, gradually, until the rice is just cooked. This process should take around 20 mins.

Season to taste with salt and pepper

Stir in butter and parmesan. let stand for 5 minutes. Then serve topped with diced beetroot and shaved parmesan.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

chilli and chive baked ricotta

what you need

Olive oil, to grease

500g fresh ricotta

2 eggs, lightly whisked

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh chives

1 tsp chilli flakes

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

what to do

Preheat oven to 180°C. Brush two 250ml capacity ramekins with oil to lightly grease.

place ricotta in a clean cloth and suspend over a bowl to drain four at least an hour.

Combine ricotta, egg, chives and chilli in a bowl.

Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon ricotta mixture among ramekins and smooth the surface.

Place on a baking tray.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden and set. Set aside for 30 minutes to cool.

Turn onto a cheese board. Serve with a fresh crusty baguette

Or refrigerate then slice and use as required

dried feta stuffed olives

what you need

1/3 cup plain flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbs milk

1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs

1 1/3 cups finely grated parmesan cheese

Pinch of cayenne pepper

400 gr Spanish feta stuffed olives, rinsed, drained *

Extra-light olive oil, to deep-fry

what to do

Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Place the flour on a plate. Combine the egg and milk in a bowl. Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan and cayenne pepper in a bowl.

Dip olives in flour and shake off excess. Dip in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing to coat. Place on lined tray. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill.

Add enough oil to a large saucepan to reach a depth of 5cm. Heat to 190°C over medium-high heat (when oil is ready a cube of bread will turn golden brown in 10 seconds). Add one-fifth of the olives to the oil and cook for 30 seconds or until golden. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat, in 4 more batches, with the remaining olives, reheating oil between batches. Place in a serving bowl and serve.

*feta stuffed olives are available from most continental delis

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

chocolate tart

what you need
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons cold water
170 grams bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Chocolate shavings (optional)

what to do
To make the crust, thoroughly mix flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Cut butter in chunks and add to bowl. With two knives or pastry blender, cut butter into flour, tossing to coat with flour until largest pieces are the size of pine nuts and remaining pieces resemble coarse breadcrumbs.

As you work, scrape flour up from bottom of bowl, and scrape butter from knives or pastry blender. Do not let butter melt or blend completely into flour. Drizzle 1-1/2 tablespoons cold water over flour mixture while tossing and mixing, until just moist enough to hold together when pressed.

Add remaining water if needed. Turn out on plastic wrap. Gather into a flat disc, pressing together any loose bits. Wrap in plastic; refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 3 days.

Position rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees celsius). Let dough stand 30 minutes at room temperature, or until pliable enough to roll without cracking.

On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 14- by 9-inch (35cm - 23cm) oval, about 1/8-inch thick (3mm), rotating and dusting with flour to prevent sticking.

Brush excess flour from dough; fold in half to transfer to a piece of parchment slightly larger than dough. Unfold dough. Loosely fold and roll edge, without pressing, to form rimmed crust. Place parchment with pastry on baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until light golden brown (crust edge will be a little raw inside).

Meanwhile, for filling, melt chocolate in microwave on 50 per cent power (medium) about 2 minutes. Stir frequently until chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove from microwave. Stir until melted; set aside.

In bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Beat until whites are stiff but not dry. Pour pecans and melted chocolate over whites; fold with spatula until batter is uniform colour.

Remove crust from oven. Reduce oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees celsius). Dollop filling on crust. Spread to 1/2-inch (1.2cm) thick. Bake 10 minutes, or until surface looks dry and slightly cracked (fudgy inside).

Cool on baking sheet on rack. Serve warm or cool. Cover and refrigerate after two hours or up to 24 hours. To serve, top with chocolate shavings.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

peasant style chicken, potatoes & chorizo

This would have to be my daughter, Alexia's favourite dish, a very simple one pan dinner that is so easy to make and perfect for a sunday night dinner.

what you need
1 whole large free range chicken cut 1/2
2 chorizo sausages sliced
200mls chicken stock
1 kg potatoes quartered lengthways skin on
1 large onion sliced
2 gloves garlic finely chopped
fresh rosemary chopped finely
fresh oregano chopped finely
olive oil
sea salt & cracked pepper

what to do
Lay potatoes in the base of a heavy roasting dish, top with the sliced onions.
Rub the chicken with some of the olive oil, chopped herbs and garlic, and place on top of the Potatoes and onions.
Place chorizo around the chicken
Pour in chicken stock , and season well with the sea salt and cracked pepper.
Roast in a moderate oven till the chicken is well browned and cooked to the bone

chilli crab

  • Nothing like fresh crabs, Paul and the boys decided on a quiet Friday night to drag the boat down to the swan river. After may hours, with all the nets down they pulled up 8 monster blue swimmer crabs, and what better way to cook them than in a thick hot chilli sauce.
I think it was more fun watching these three guys dig into the large bowl of chilli crab, dipping the crusty bread and slurping up all that hot spicy sauce. On the down side was now having to clean the walls and windows that are now have red spots all over them.

  • what you need
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 4 green (uncooked) blue swimmer crabs
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 fresh long red chillies finely chopped
  • 1 tbs finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tbs sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 tbs dry sherry
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 6 spring onions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced diagonally
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Crab linguine with chilli, lemon and garlic

what you need

  1. 100ml olive oil
  2. 1 medium-hot red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  3. 1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
  4. 3 pared strips of lemon zest, finely chopped
  5. 450g linguine - fresh if possible
  6. 2 tbsp lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve
  7. 225g freshly cooked white crab meat
  8. 2 tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

what to do

  1. Put the olive oil, chilli, garlic and lemon zest into a small pan and put over a gentle heat until it begins to fry. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of well-salted water to the boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente. Drain well and set aside.
  3. Tip the chilli and lemon mixture into the pan the pasta was in, then add the lemon juice and season. Heat until sizzling, then add the linguine and crab meat to the pan and toss gently over a medium heat to warm the crab through.
  4. Add the parsley, season, and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Monday, January 3, 2011

baked gorgonzola figs with macadamia, honey, balsamic dressing

what you need

8 fresh ripe figs

50gr gorgonzola cheese

1/3 cup toasted, finely chopped macadamia nuts

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Fresh dressed mixed greens

2 tablespoons full flavoured honey

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

what to do

Trim off the stem end of the figs, and using a sharp knife cut an X into the top of the fig 3/4 of the way down leaving the bottom of the fig attached.

Roll some of the gorgonzola into small balls about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in size, then roll the balls into the macadamia nuts gently pressing them into the cheese balls. Place the figs on a baking sheet, then place a cheese ball into each fig. Gently squeeze the fig to enclose the cheese inside. Brush the figs lightly with a little olive oil and place the figs in a preheated oven, until the figs are heated through and the cheese is just beginning to melt.

While the figs are heating, divide the greens on top of each of four plates. Mix together the honey, balsamic, and olive oil. Place the figs on top of the greens and drizzle the figs with a little of the honey, balsamic dressing. Serve immediately.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Risotto Milanese

what you need

4 cups chicken stock
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced finely
1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 large pinch saffron threads
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)

what to do

Bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Lower heat, keep warm.

In the risotto pan, add the olive oil and onion. Cook the onion slowly for several minutes, until soft but do not brown. Add the rice and cook the rice for a couple of minutes. Add the saffron. Add the white wine and cook for a couple of minutes until the liquid has cooked off.

Start adding the stock. Add a couple of ladles initially and stir. Use a rubber spatula instead of a spoon. This really is the best tool - you can really lift the rice off the bottom of the pan. When you begin adding the stock, start timing the risotto. It should take between 20-25 minutes. You should stir the rice as much as you can, not allowing it to stick to the bottom of the pan. Do not boil the rice, just keep it on a simmer. As soon as the liquid has cooked off, keeping adding the stock by the ladleful.

After about 20 minutes, taste the rice. It should be soft, but still retain a little firmness (bite). When you think it is done, do not add any more liquid. Four cups of stock is usually just right. When the rice has absorbed the liquid, turn off the heat and add the parmesan. Serve hot and add more grated parmesan to the top if you like.

Sicilian stuffed arancini

what you need
5 cups chicken broth
pinch of saffron
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 small onion, diced
2 cups Arborio, Carnaroli or Aquerello rice
a rind of Parmigianno Reggiano cheese (if you have it) or 2 tablespoons grated cheese
2-3 egg whites
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (you can also use panko)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup (approximately) of meat sauce, bolognese, or ragu
vegetable oil (I used Canola) to give you about 4 inches of oil in your pot for frying

Make the risotto:

Heat the broth, add the saffron to it and keep it warm in a pot next to the pot in which you want to make your risotto.

In a medium size heavy pot, heat the olive oil and butter. Saute the onion with a pinch of salt gently for a few minutes. Do not let it brown. Add the rice, raise the heat a little and toast the rice for a couple of minutes. Add a couple of ladlefuls of broth and stir the risotto. Add the cheese rind. Lower the heat a little - you do not want the mixture to boil, but just to simmer gently. When the rice has absorbed the broth, add two more ladlefuls. You can tell when to add the broth by running your spoon through the mixture. If the liquid immediately fills in the crevice you make, let it cook some more. If it remains clear, it is time to add more broth (see photo in post for an example). Keep adding broth and stirring, repeating until rice is tender, about 25 minutes. You may not use all the broth. If you don't have enough broth, continue with plain water. If you don't have a cheese rind, at this point add the grated cheese and mix. Pour the risotto onto a baking sheet and let cool. You can refrigerate it to let it cool.

Line a baking tray with a sheet of parchment or wax paper. Place the egg whites in a small bowl and beat a little with a fork. Place the bread crumbs in a small bowl. Place the meat sauce into a small bowl.

Scrape the cooled risotto into a bowl and add the whole beaten egg. Mound some risotto into your hand using a quantity a little smaller than what size you want the finished arancini. With a spoon or your hand, make an indentation in the risotto. Place about a tablespoon of meat sauce in the indentation, add some risotto over the top and gently mold the whole thing into a ball. Roll the arancini in the egg whites and then in the bread crumbs. Place the arancini onto the wax paper. After they are all done, place them in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Heat about 4 inches of oil in a small pot or use a fryer if you have one. When the oil becomes hot enough to fry, lower the arancini one at a time into the oil with a handled strainer. Let fry for a few minutes, checking the color so they do not burn and gently rotating them with the strainer. When they are golden brown, remove with the strainer and place on paper towels to drain.

Italian stuffed mushrooms

18 large (about 2 lbs.) white mushrooms
Extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup Marsala wine
1 ½ cups, fresh bread crumbs (can substitute with gluten free crumbs!)
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
Aged balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove stems and coarsely chop them, reserving the caps. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, deep, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped mushrooms to the heated oil, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally. Cook until mushroom mixture is dry, about 5 minutes. Slowly add Marsala. Cook until Marsala has evaporated, about 2 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in the bread crumbs. Set aside the bread crumb mixture to let cool, and then add Pecorino Romano, parsley, and garlic. Mix thoroughly.

Place mushroom caps in a single layer (rounded side down) on a greased cookie sheet. Spoon mushroom filling into caps, drizzle with olive oil, season with pepper, and bake until golden brown, about 30-45 minutes. Arrange mushrooms on serving platter and drizzle with a little aged balsamic vinegar