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Australian Recipes

28 February 2010

Crab and barramundi-stuffed zucchini blossoms

Crab_stuffed_zucchini_blossoms

A few weeks ago as part of my cheffing course I did two days of work experience in a local Italian restaurant famed for it’s house-made pastas and bread and simple, rustic fare.

I was pretty nervous on my first day having no real restaurant experience and conscious of the fact that the kitchen was tiny and I’d more than likely be a hindrance than help.

Despite the size of the kitchen and the erratic environment the head chef was patient, attentive and a brilliant teacher. I walked away from my brief stint excited, inspired and dying to try out some of the dishes at home.

One of my jobs over the two days was to stuff the ravioli. Sounds a little dull perhaps but I reveled in the task. The filling was a mixture of blue swimmer crab, snapper, mascarpone and chives.

The paper-thin ravioli was served simply dressed with extra virgin olive oil and garnished with peppery rocket punctuated by salty shavings of dried mullet roe. Gorgeous.

I recently re-created the dish at home sans roe. And since my pasta machine is still in storage (yes, it’s been almost a year) I cheated and used wonton wrappers. A good substitute if you’re in a rush. It was divine. I’ll be sharing the recipe in my next post.

I made a little too much filling and decided to use it to stuff zucchini blossoms. A good decision. I used barramundi as opposed to snapper as it was half the price but beautiful nonetheless. The zucchini blossoms were coated in a light batter and then fried for about two minutes. It’s a wonderful appetizer but one that needs to be eaten straight away to appreciate the delicate crunch and oozing filling.

For a refresher on how to stuff and fry zucchini blossoms, click here.

Continue reading "Crab and barramundi-stuffed zucchini blossoms" »

27 January 2010

Sicilian Anchovy Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs

Anchovy_Breadcrumb_egg_pasta3

I haven’t had the pleasure of exploring Sicily yet however it’s on my ever-expanding list of places to visit.

When I do go, I’ll be eagerly seeking out ‘pasta c'anciova e muddica’ – anchovy pasta with toasted breadcrumbs.

I've recently introduced a new addition to the pasta -- the poached egg. And it's here to stay.

The rustic recipe features in my household at least once a week. Even when I’ve run out of most basic of fridge staples like milk and bread, I know I’ve got jars or tins of plump anchovies, bread crumbs and chili flakes at hand.

I have to admit however that my love for the anchovies is rather recent. For many years, my feelings towards anchovies were dominated by teenage memories of my tongue being assaulted by the vile little fish often found scattered over other people's pizzas.

Now it’s hard to imagine my kitchen without them. Whether used in Sicilian pasta, a Caesar salad or a creamy mayonnaise, good anchovies lend that burst of sweet, salty pungency that’s hard, if not impossible, to substitute.

I read somewhere once that physically, anchovies can be treated much like garlic. They can be finely chopped and stirred into a vinaigrette or compound butter. Pounded into smooth paste to intensify a creamy risotto or sautéed whole with onions and garlic to form the delicious base of a pasta or stew.

Good anchovies should taste of the sea but not be overly fishy. They come salt or oil-packed in jars or tins. After sampling many different brands, I have found the best-tasting anchovies to hail from the coast of Spain. I opt for fillets stored in extra virgin olive oil. They are more intensely flavoured without the piercing saltiness of salt packed anchovies.

Continue reading "Sicilian Anchovy Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs" »

04 October 2009

Cumquat Marmalade

Homemade_Cumquat_Marmalade

It’s been a long time since my last post. Thank you to those of you who have written to me to see if I’m still alive. I am. More than ever.  But busy. So, so busy.

I recently started studying to become a chef. While it’s a lot of fun, it’s also all consuming, so posts will be less frequent for a little while.

While I haven’t had much time to spare I did manage to attend a country wedding in a town called Wombat in south west New South Wales. I had hoped the town would live up to its name with constant sightings of the furry little creatures. While I never saw a wombat, the scenery didn’t disappoint. It was magical.

The wedding ceremony was held at the couples’ property amongst an orchard of blossoming cherry and apricot trees. I was suspicious. The blossoms were too perfect – like strategically placed props from a movie set.

I left Wombat in verdant daze lovingly clutching my gift from the bride and groom – a bottle of homemade apricot jam “made with love” from their own trees. That was it. I was moving to the country to grow my own fruit, harvest my own vegetables and bottle-feed lambs.

Two weeks later, I’m firmly ensconced back into city life but the dream of one day having my own patch of land, even a small backyard, is firmly lodged in my heart. And while I don’t have my own plot of land, I am living in a rather expansive, green urban haven with its own orchard of sorts.

Homemade_Marmalade

Continue reading "Cumquat Marmalade" »

28 July 2009

Bacon & Egg Tarts

Bacon_Egg_Tart

Sydney is a breakfast city. It does lunch well and perhaps dinner even better, but breakfast best fits its collective psychology.

When the weekend arrives cafes spill out on to the pavement with hungry customers vying for tables in anticipation of breaking their fast.

While I love going out for weekend brekkies, I can't stand the thought of lining up. It's been over 12 hours since my last meal. It can go one of two ways. One -- I faint. Two -- I turn violent.

For me, and those poor souls around me, hunger and queues are a potentially lethal mix. So the safest bet is to whip up something at home.

Last weekend I made these dainty little bacon and egg tarts spiked with a little Parmigino Reggiano for a sharp bite. The tarts are easy to make and are delicious served hot or cold. They're also quite nice with the addition of little baby spinach or wild rocket (arugula). 

Continue reading "Bacon & Egg Tarts" »

14 May 2009

Passionfruit Sponge Roll

Passionfruit-Sponge-Roll2

The sponge cake roll goes by many names. In France it’s known as a ‘roulade’ and can be seen at Christmas time as the elaborate Bûche de Noël or ‘yule log’ covered in thick chocolate icing and miniature meringue mushrooms.

Also known as the Swiss or jelly roll, the sponge cake roll is a thin layer of sponge baked in a sheet pan. Cooled on a kitchen towel, the sponge cake is then spread with a filling such as freshly whipped cream or in this case, cream and passionfruit butter, and then rolled and sprinkled with icing sugar. When sliced, the sponge cake has a beautiful pinwheel pattern.

Passionfruit-Sponge-Roll1

Most of my experiences with sponge rolls have been with the packaged variety. This translates to preservative-laden cake filled with fake cream, and pales in comparison to the real thing.

Continue reading "Passionfruit Sponge Roll" »

03 March 2009

Chocolate Melting Moments

Chocolate-Melting-Moment-Cookies

My first melting moment seems a long time ago. I was sitting in a cafe in Australia when I ordered this shortbread sandwich. It was lemon and passionfruit and I've never forgotten it.

True to its name, the cookie melted on my tongue. Its texture is different from regular shortbread. It's crumbly yet it's moist. It's buttery yet it's dry.

What gives them their soft texture is the addition of cornstarch, also known in Australia as 'corn flour'.

In this chocolate melting moment recipe, I use a little pure vanilla extract to enhance the icing however you could also use peppermint, coffee or even raspberry extract.

Continue reading "Chocolate Melting Moments" »

25 May 2008

The Little Green Puy

Vegetariancottagepie

The delicate Puy Lentil was an excellent substitute for beef in this cottage pie recipe. While delicate in flavour, Puy lentils are thought by some to be the best of their kind for their ability to keep their shape when cooked over long periods.

Considered the 'pearl of central France", the lentils are cultivated in the Le Puy region where they were introduced from the Mediterranean by the Gauls. So loved are the little lentils that a group of locals established the Confrérie de la Lentille du Puy (The Brotherhood of the Puy Lentil).

The group takes part in annual food events and parades where members don slate-green coloured robes embroidered with lentils and wear lentil-shaped hats. All the while singing songs about little green lentils. If this isn't a testament to their greatness, then I don't know what is!

I threw in whatever ingredients I had handy including squash, okra, carrots, celery and canned Roma tomatoes. I used some parsley and cilantro freshly picked from our windowsill herb garden. I also added a dash of dried chili flakes. The filling was topped with a creamy topping of mash potatoes and Parmesan cheese.

The cottage pie was scrumptious. The lentils soaked up the flavours of the vegetables and herbs while still retaining their distinct pepperiness. While I do love the traditional beef-filled cottage pie or lamb-filled shepherd's pie, I think the little green Puy has a new place in my heart.

I'm submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this week by Cate at Sweetnicks.

Whblogo

Continue reading "The Little Green Puy" »

26 April 2008

...and now for something completely different

Aboutaustralianewzealand

I'm really excited to tell you that today I officially became the About.com Guide to Australian & New Zealand Food.

In my new role I'll cook traditional and modern Aussie/Kiwi recipes and write reviews and articles on all things food.

On my guide site, you can discover how to get the most out of your barbecue, how to cook a great lamb roast, or find out how to make the perfect Pavlova with easy step-by-step photos.

But Aussie food isn't just all Pavlovas and Meat Pies (although there is a pretty delicious steak and mushroom pie waiting there for you). Australian & Kiwi cuisine has evolved into some of the most innovative and exciting in the world. Australian chefs and restaurants are constantly pushing boundaries, winning awards and dazzling taste buds.

The picture above is a little taste of some of my recipes. There's a Kumara and Crab Bisque, the humble Lamington, Macadamia Nut Pesto, Thai Chicken Sausage Rolls, Barbecued Prawns and a Passionfruit Soufflé.

Taste Buddies will continue as usual. From time to time, though, I will feature something delicious from the new site on Taste Buddies.

I hope you enjoy it!

24 April 2008

ANZAC Biscuits

Anzacbiscuits1

Anzac Biscuits (cookies are called biscuits in Australia and New Zealand) represent something special. On 25 April 1915, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) landed at Gallipoli in Turkey where thousands lost their lives.

The soldiers' bravery in that campaign has become legendary in both countries. I am not one for patriotic fanfare, but, if you're a Kiwi or an Aussie, you can't help but feel the emotion of this story.

ANZAC Day is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand every April 25. Each year we reflect on the valour these young men showed as they were "going over the top". And, as always, you cannot but be struck by the staggering waste of life and the wretched futility of war.

Anyway, this post is about biscuits. It is believed that ANZAC biscuits were made by soldiers' families and wives during the First World War. They were specifically made to endure the long journey at sea to the troops. The recipe has changed in the intervening century to now include butter and coconut.

ANZAC biscuits are baked and enjoyed all year round, although they have a special significance on April 25.

The biscuits themselves smell great - even while you're mixing the dough, it's hard to be restrained. They are buttery and have the perfect combination of sweet and salty. The coconut is perfect for them and it's hard to stop at eating just four... or five.

Continue reading "ANZAC Biscuits" »

24 February 2008

The Pavlova: Queen of Desserts

Thepavlova_3

I revisited an old recipe that I made last year: the Pavlova.

It is my third time making one. The last time I made it, the meringue sank when I opened the oven door. The same thing happened again today. But it wasn't the end of the world and this time my heart didn't drop when I saw the meringue slowly deflating before my eyes.

To remedy matters, I just put a little extra whipped cream where the hole was and piled on loads of strawberries to give the Pav a little extra height. So despite the hole, I still had a very successful dessert.

I cooked the meringue slightly longer this time by about 10 minutes. This gave the base a delicious, almost caramelly chew to it.

There are only four ingredients in the meringue: egg whites, castor sugar, cornstarch and a little bit of white vinegar. When I was beating the egg whites, I was thinking about how amazing the chemistry of food is. The transformation of the egg whites with the addition of sugar into a thick, glossy substance like shaving cream, is quite amazing to watch.

Meringuemixing

Another thing that crossed my mind was, how in the world did people make the Pavlova or meringues before the time of electric egg beaters?

It must have been a terrible ordeal but at least you'd have strong arms! I thought that if I'd been alive in pre-beater times, I would have invented a bicycle-ilke contraption so my legs would do all the work instead of my poor little arms.

Pavlovafruit

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