Sunday, May 26, 2013

braised lamb shoulder with figs

what you need 
½ cup dried figs
4 fresh figs halved (if available)
½ cup warm water
I boneless lamb shoulder trimmed of excess fat
Salt and ground black pepper
1 small onion diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 pickling onions whole
2 small garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, with their juice
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

what to do
Place the figs and water in a bowl and soak for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the water. Cut the figs into half and set aside
Sprinkle the shoulder with salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy-bottomed large pan over medium-high heat and cook until browned on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove from the pan and set aside.
Pour off the fat in the pan,
Return the pan to medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add onions and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the reserved soaking liquid from the figs and simmer until reduced by half, scraping the browned bits from the pan bottom with a wooden spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, honey and reserved figs, then return the shoulder to the pan, add whole onions cover and place in a moderate oven until the shoulder is cooked through and starting to fall apart, approx. 2-2.5hrs. 30 after 2 hours add fresh figs if available and cook for further 30 minutes.

Place the shoulder  on a serving dish, stir the parsley into the braising liquid, adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, spoon the sauce over the shoulder, and serve 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

italian meatball soup

what you need
500g lean beef mince
1 small red onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
1/3 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
700g bottle (2 3/4 cups) tomato pasta sauce with basil
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup risoni
1 tin cooked white beans 
2 zucchini, diced
150g green beans, trimmed, cut into thirds
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese and
crusty Italian bread, to serve

what to do
Combine mince, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, basil, parmesan and egg in a large bowl. 
Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. 
Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls. Place on a large plate.
Pour tomato sauce, stock and 2 cups water into a large, deep saucepan. Cover. Bring to the boil over high heat. Skim froth from surface. 
Add meatballs. Return to a gentle boil.
Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. 
Add risoni and cook for a further 5 minutes. 
Add white and green beans. Cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Ladle soup into serving bowls. 
Sprinkle with parmesan if desired and serve with crusty Italian bread.

Friday, May 17, 2013

leek & pumpkin barley risotto

what you need
butternut pumpkin, 500g, peeled, seeded, chopped
olive oil, 2 tablespoons
leek, 1, trimmed, rinsed, sliced
rindless bacon, 2 rashes, chopped
garlic, 1 clove, crushed
button mushrooms, 200g, halved
pearl barley, 1 1/2 cups
vegetable stock, 5 cups
parsley, roughly chopped, 1/3 cup
bread, to serve (optional)

what to do 
Preheat oven to hot, 200C.
 In a baking dish, toss pumpkin in half oil. Season to taste. Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden and tender.
Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan on medium. Saute leek, bacon and garlic 2-3 minutes, until leek is tender. 
Add mushrooms and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring, until golden. 
Stir in barley to coat in oil. Pour in stock and bring to boil. 
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20-25 minutes
.Remove lid and simmer a further 10-15 minutes, stirring, until barley is tender and liquid completely absorbed. 
Season to taste.Carefully stir pumpkin through. Serve sprinkled with parsley, accompanied with bread, if liked.

my tip
Pearl barley is higher in fibre than white rice and contains antioxidants. Try brown rice for a gluten-free fibre hit

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

tuscan rabbit with pancetta

1.6kg whole rabbit  jointed
2 tbs plain flour, seasoned
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 onions, finely chopped
6 slices flat pancetta (see note), chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup (250ml) white wine
1/3 cup (80ml) balsamic vinegar
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can cherry tomatoes (see note)
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves chopped
2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
Cooked soft polenta, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Dust rabbit in flour, shaking off excess. 
Heat 2 tbs oil in a frypan over medium heat and cook rabbit, in batches, for 2 minutes each side or until golden. Place in a baking dish. 
Heat remaining 1 tbs oil and cook fennel, onion, pancetta and garlic, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until soft and golden. 
Add wine and half the vinegar, and simmer for 3-4 minutes until reduced by half. Add tomatoes and rosemary, season and bring to the boil. 
Pour over rabbit, cover and cook for 11/4 hours or until rabbit is tender.
Stir in remaining 2 tbs vinegar and scatter with parsley. Serve with polenta.