Friday, 15 October 2010

Paper Chef #57 - Chicken Roll

Sometimes Paper Chef throws a combination of ingredients at you that leaves you wondering how you can possibly combine such diverse into one dish. This was the case this month.
The random ingredients selected by Sarah from Simply Cooked left me a bit worried. How could I pull Dried Dates, Currents, Bread, & Kale into a dish????????
Firstly I had to find a substitute for Kale (wrong season) so something from the same family to keep it similar - cavoelo nero was the choice.
Next: What to create.
Thinking about the different flavours, sweet for the currents & dates; neutral with bread (well most types); & savoury cabbage... Hmmmm.
For what ever reason (& I still don't know where it came from) I decided to do a chicken roll or stuffed chicken.
A chicken breast, flattened, with a cavolo nero (or kale), date & current layer, rolled & steamed.
Actually sounded quite nice, and tasted great, but didn't photograph well at all...

2 tbls chopped currents
2 tbls finely diced dates
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 stp chili powder
2 tbls butter
1 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
Handful cavolo nero leaves (no stems)
2 chicken breasts
Clean & remove any stems from the cavelo nero - you only want the tender leaves - & place into a steamer.
Steam until very tender & remove to cool.
When cool enough to handle, finely chop.
Melt butter in a saucepan over a low heat.
When starting to bubble add the garlic & cook until starting to go translucent.
Add dates, currents & chili, & cook for a few minutes.
Add bread crumbs & gently stir allowing them to absorb all the butter.
Add tarragon & remove from heat and allow to cool.

Pound the chicken breasts into a flat roughly rectangular shape.
Place each flat breast on a piece of cling film - hindsight is amazing.
Spread a layer of the chopped cavolo nero over each breast.
Layer the sweet bread crumb mixture over it & season with salt & pepper.

Messy part now.. Tightly roll the chicken & hope the stuffing doesn't fall out too much, use the cling film to help roll it.
Wrap tightly in 2 layers of cling film.
Steam for about 8-9 minutes, just enough to cook the chicken & warm the the centre.
Gently remove the cling film - I used scissors rather than trying to unwrap.
with a Sharp knife, cut slices on an angle.
This was served with a verblanc.

Monday, 6 September 2010

56th PaperChef entry

Ahhhhhh. Asa from Miss Meister's mat med mera looks like she loves to set a challenge so this month's Paper Chef had a theme, as well as the 4 random ingredient. Life is fun
So what were the ingredients & theme?
and the theme: Vegetarian
To say it was a diverse range of ingredients is an understatement. What to do...
I thought something a bit different was in order, so a Pumpkin Tagine was born, with Couscous & a Parsley & caper Salad (the salad is based on a Nigella recipe) would work nicely & it did!

1 400g can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tblsp finely chopped coriander root
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
400g pumpkin, peeled and cut into large pieces
2 waxy potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters
4 yellow squash, quartered
8 cherry tomatoes
1/2 red capsicum, peeled & sliced
1/2 a preserved lemon, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup vegetable stock

100g couscous
3 large dried peaches, chopped
20g slivered pistachio
125ml water or vegetable stock
1 stalk leomongrass
20g butter

Parsley Salad
1 bunch curly leaf parsley
2 tbls capers, soaked & well rinsed
1/2 spanish onion
olive oil
lemon juice

1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup coriander leaves

In a large pot, heat the oil and butter and cook the onion and garlic until soft and lightly golden.
Add the spices, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the chickpeas, pumpkin, potatoes, tomatoes, stock & just enough water to cover.
Season with salt and simmer gently until the potatoes are almost soft.
Add the squash and preserved lemon and cook for 5 more minutes or until the potatoes and pumpkin are soft (but not mushy).
Place the stock or water into a saucepan over a low heat.
bruise the lemongrass stalk & place into the liquid & bring to a low simmer.
Simmer for 5 min to allow the lemongrass to infuse the liquid.
Remove the lemongrass & add the butter & allow to melt.
Remove from the heat & add the couscous & cover.
Leave for 10min.
Add the diced dried peaches & pistachio, & fluff with a fork.
Finely slice the onion & soak to remove some of the harshness.
Remove any large stalks from the parsley & roughly run a knife though it.
drain the onion & capers & toss with the parsley.
Drizzle with oil & lemon juice
To Serve:
Sprinkle tagine with coriander & serve with yogurt on the side.
The flavours of each individual dish meld together nicely.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Paper Chef #55

Its been a while since I've had the time & motivation to post a recipe, but I forced myself to do this month's Paper Chef Challenge.
As soon as I saw the ingredients that had been posted by Alessio from Recipe Taster I knew what I wanted to make - some type of fruit buns. With the random ingredients of Dried Dates, Cranberries, Flour, & Candied Orange Peel it was just a matter of what type sweet bun to make.
I settled on a type scroll, something I hadn't done before to give me a bit of a challenge. With this recipe you can change the types & proportions of dried fruits that you use. As I'm not a fan of the candied orange peel, there was significantly less of it....

Spiced Fruit Scrolls
2 cups self-raising flour
pinch salt
90g butter
2/3 cup milk
60g butter
3 tbls brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
200g finely chopped dried fruit (in this case dried cranberries, dates & orange peel)
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tbls hot water

Preheat oven to 210c.
Sift flour & salt into a bowl.
Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips.
Add most of the milk mixing lightly, to form a soft dough, add more milk if needed.
Knead the dough lightly & roll out into a rectangle 25x40cm.
Beat the butter, sugar & spices until light & fluffy.
Spread evenly over the rolled out dough.
Scatter the dried fruits evenly over the butter mixture.
Firmly roll up the pastry from the long side.
Cut into 3cm slices and place cut side up on a lightly greased tray. Be careful not to put them too close together (like I did) or they will turn into one solid pastry.
Bake for about 12min or until golden brown.
Mix the icing sugar & water to form a runny syrup.
When the scrolls are ready remove from the oven & place on a rack to cool.
As they are cooling brush with the glaze.

Thursday, 5 August 2010


The good thing about a multi-cultural society is that you have access to a wide variety of produce & spices. European, Asian, Indian, Native Australian, & to a lesser extent Central & Southern American goods are now readily available, relatively affordable & of a high standard. Take this Mace for example. A large bag of it bought from our local Indian store just around the corner. Not some crushed up dried out leftover husks, but full pungent shells begging to be used. Love it :)

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Vodka cured Salmon on Potato & Thyme Pikelets

This post was supposed to be my entry into the PaperChef Challenge #53, but due to workload & lack of time it didn't get written up in time :(
The ingredient were selected by Cathy from
ShowFood Chef
They were:
Dried Mushrooms
& her selection of Salmon.
As soon as I read that I knew what I wanted to do: Vodka cured Salmon, thyme potato pikelets & a mushroom paste.
The vokda cure is very simple & easy, but needs at least 24hrs curing time.
Simply mix 2tbls sugar, 2tbls sea salt, 2tbls (unflavoured) vodka, 1 tsp English mustard, 1 tbls fresh black peppercorns crushed (they were in season so why not). This amount of cure covers a 500g piece of salmon. rub the paste into the salmon & then place the fish skin side up on a bed of dill. Pour all the remaining paste over the fish & cover it with cling film, place a weight on the fish & leave it in the fridge to cure.
Paul created a mushroom "caviar" using the dried truffles that have been hiding in the back of the cupboard. The potato & thyme pikelets were a quick & simple recipe on which to serve these little canopes.

Sunday, 6 June 2010


Who said food isn't mathematical? Someone forgot to tell this Romanescu brocoli.
Oh & it tastes good too!!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Nindigully Road Train Burger

Everyone gets them.
The emails that circulate around the office, whether they be the funny, the spam or the interesting ones, everyone receives them.
This is one of those emails.
Read on if you dare........


The tiny township of Nindigully is located on the edge of the Queensland outback - 160km west of Goondiwindi, about 530km west of Brisbane, and approximately 70 km north of the Queensland/New South Wales border.
Nindigully Pub is Queensland’s oldest hotel, located in its original condition and position on the banks of the Moonie River. The licence was issued in 1864 after operating as shearers accommodation for the Nindigully Station.
The "boom" town has now been reduced to just two houses, the pub, the old general store and the town hall, with a population of six!
Nevertheless, it was voted the Best Country Pub in Australia in 2006 by 44 Australia magazine, and you can see why - it has become famous for its truckies feed of the Nindigully Road Train Burger this giant hamburger is served with French fries, onion rings and a selection of sauces, says it will feed 1- 4 people, and costs $36 - the meat patty alone is 1.2kg!

Makes those "super" burgers from McDonalds & Burger King look small...

Saturday, 13 March 2010


Do you ever find yourself flipping through a cookbook just because you're bored? Sometimes nothing catches your eye, other times a recipe will jump out at you screaming "COOK ME!".
This is what happened yesterday. Flipping through one of Paul's cook books, Regional Foods of Southern Italy by Marlena De Blasi, I came across a simple dish - Pesce Spada di Bagnara (swordfish in the style of Bagnara).
It sounded interesting, marinating the steaks in red wine, bathing it in a chili & Bay oil, & cooking it over charcoal. I thought I'd give it a try. Living in an apartment I don't have access to a charcoal fire so the pan had to do.
The portions here are one third of what was in the cookbook, with the method changed to allow for the lack of a charcoal fire.

1x 400g or 2x 200g swordfish steaks
2/3 cup red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
1/3 cup olive oil
3 bay leaves crushed
1/4 tsp dried chili
Black Pepper
Rosemary sprigs

Place the fish into a non-corrosive bowl & add the wine.
Cover the bowl & let the fish marinate for an hour or so, turning it occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat the oil till its almost simmering, then remove from the heat & add the bay leaves & chili.
Cover and let it cool & infuse.
Remove the fish from the wine & discard the wine.
Pat dry the fish with paper towel.
Pour half the cooled oil over the fish & massage the oil into the flesh.
Season well on both sides with salt & pepper.
Heat a heavy based fry pan.
Bruise the rosemary sprigs to release the oils.
place the fish into the fry pan and lay the rosemary sprigs on top.
Cook the steaks for no more than a minute, then remove the rosemary, turn the fish & replace the rosemary on top.
On a plate pour the remaining oil.
Remove the fish from the pan & place onto the plate, allowing it to absorb the oil.
Can be served immediately or allowed to cool.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Paper Chef: 50th

Sometimes things just work. I like it when that happens. Sometimes there are hiccups.. as was the case with this month's Paper Chef.

Kathy of
Prospect: The Pantry had selected the ingredients of: Honey, Ricotta, Dill & Eggs.
Very early on I had decided to do Ricotta Fritters with a honey mayonnaise, wasn't sure where I was going to incorporate the Dill, but a quick surf of the web lead me to believe that the Dill would work in the honey mayonnaise.

Being a Saturday we headed off to the Markets on the trusty route 79 tram.
Then all hell broke loose. Melbourne was hit with a hundred year storm. Our trusty tram became an island on what was a busy street.

An hour later we were able to get off the tram with dry feet & do our shopping, only to find that both the trams & trains weren't running & we were left with a walk home. Needless to say my creative mood wasn't there by the time we got home...

Take 2 on Monday. The Fritters were nice light & fluffy (they sank a bit in the pics), & the mayonnaise very tasty!.
Paul suggested that it would have worked well with some smoked salmon on top, which I'll try next time!

Ricotta Fritters
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1 cups Ricotta
1/2 cup Plain Flour
1/4 tablespoon Baking powder
1/3 cup Milk
Sift dry ingredients into a bowl
In a separate bowl mix yolks and milk
Slowly add this to dry ingredients
Break up ricotta and add to the mix
Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks and fold through the final mix.
Heat a frying pan over a low heat and spoon in a large table spoonfuls of the mix.
When the top starts to firm up, flip over and finish until golden on both sides then place into an oven while you prepare the remainder.

Honey & Dill Mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
100ml peanut oil
25ml olive oil
1 tbl lemon juice
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon dill
whisk the egg yolk until light & fluffy then slowly add the oil a teaspoon at a time whisking until its all emulsified.
add the lemon juice.
whisk in the honey & season to taste.
just before serving finely chop the dill & add to the mayonnaise.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Dinner for One (Me)

Its not often that I get to have a night to myself, but when I do I make the most of it. A DVD that tickles my fancy, usually something B-grade sci-fi, and cook something interesting for myself.
I wondered off to the shops on Carlisle St and came back with a chicken maryland half dozen baby desiree potatoes, some salad leaves, a bottle of white & the B-grade DVD: Lost In Space.
Some rummaging in the fridge revealed fresh tarragon, thyme, garlic & butter.
So here is my dinner for 1: Roast Tarragon chicken with Roast Thyme Potatoes.

1 chicken maryland, skin on
5 or 6 baby potatoes
1/2 tbls tarragon
1 tsp thyme
1 small clove garlic
1 tbls butter
2 tbls olive oil

Pre heat the oven to 230c
Peel & steam the potatoes until they are just cooked, easily pierced by a skewer.
Chop the tarragon roughly & place in a small bowl.
Peel the garlic & finely chop or microplane, add to the tarragon
Add about 1/2 tsp salt, & pepper to taste
Add the butter & combine thouroughly.
Place half the mixture under the skin of the chicken & rub the remainder over the top of the chicken.
Place into an oven proof dish just big enough to hold the chicken, skin side up.
Place the olive oil into a bowl & add the thyme leaves, pepper & salt.
When the potatoes are ready rough up the outsides with a fork and add to the bowl containing the thyme & oil, and toss coating the potatoes.
Place into a separate roasting dish from the chicken & scoop out any remaining oil from the bowl. Add a little more oil to the pan if it looks a bit dry.
Place both dished into the oven for about 30min, basting occasionally. Don't over cook the chicken!
Serve with a nice side salad and a fresh bread roll to soak up the juices.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Paper Chef #49

Everyone has a creative streak in them somewhere, whether its a big streak or just a small gnawing urge to create.
Its there.
Its to be human.
& it needs to be fulfilled.
Otherwise you'll whither away, & you won't grow.
My little bit of creativity is cooking. I like cooking & creating something. Maybe its based on a recipe I read somewhere, or food I tasted somewhere, or in this case, the Paper Chef Challenge.
Not all of my attempts have been successful, tastewise or lookswise, but they have helped satisfy that creative urge.
This month's ingredients were selected Cath from
ShowFood Chef. With the help of her son she selected Prawns, Sweet Pepper, & Fennel randomly from the list, and her fourth ingredient was actually a theme: Passion (I guess its because its almost Valentine's Day....)
As soon as I'd read the ingredients the first though that sprang to mind was "rice paper rolls". From past mistakes I've learnt to go with the first idea, sometimes too much thinking can be your downfall.
So here are my Prawn & Fennel Rice Paper Rolls. My creative streak shone through & I had to use one of my favourite native ingredients, Finger Lime (see here for what they are). I thought they worked in the rolls, but Paul didn't like the bursts of acidity from the popping vesicles. They were served with Kecap Manis, a dark sweet soy like sauce for dipping.

Ingredients: (for 12 rolls)
50g rice vermicelli
1/2 fennel bulb
sweet pepper, peeled & sliced into fine strips
small handful coriander leave
small handful mint leaves
small handful fennel sprigs
6 peeled raw prawns
1 finger lime
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
12 rice paper sheets

Skewer each prawn on a bamboo skewer (this is to keep them straight as they cook).
Place the skewered prawns into a steamer & steam over boiling water until just done (if you over cook the prawns they end up very dry).
Remove from the steamer & allow to cool, then slice each prawn in half lengthwise.
Prepare the vermicelli as per the packet instructions (normally soak in hot water until soft & clear), allow to drain of all water & then place in a bowl.
Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, vinegar & lime juice to the noodles & toss to coat them, adjust the balance to taste.
Finely slice the fennel, use a mandolin if you have one.
Roughly chop the herbs & add to the noodles along with the fennel .

Briefly soak each sheet of rice paper in hot water, soak it too long & it becomes a soggy mess.
Lay it out on a kitchen towel.

Place a halved prawn on the power 1/3 of the rice paper and place a couple of pepper strips either side.
Place a generous spoonful of the noodle & fennel mixture on top.
If you wish you can also add a sprinkling of crushed unsalted peanuts.
Fold the sides of the paper in, then fold the bottom up & tightly roll. Don't be upset if the first couple look wrong - it takes practice. The first few that I usually make I end up ripping open & starting again..
Repeat until all have been made.
Place some Kecup Manis in a serving dish. If you wish you can also have sweet chili as a dipping sauce.
Serve & enjoy.


... to be who I am.

Celebrating Melbourne Midsumma Festival & Pride March 2010.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Paper Chef.....

...or: how to stuff up a dish!
OK, I should have waited.
Paper Chef time is about the only time that I get really creative (much to Paul's distress). This month's ingredients were selected by Ilva from Lucullian Delights who also happens to be the driving force behind Paper Chef.
Her selected ingredients were: Red Cabbage, Rosemary, & Tuna, with the fourth ingredient being a theme this time: New! New for a new Year, or ingredient or just something new!
Paul was making pizza for dinner, so I pinched some of his dough and decided to create a Caramelised Onion & Red Cabbage Pizza with Tuna. I was basing this on the traditional Pissaladiere. I was planning on using thin strips of fresh tuna that had been marinated in some olive oil & rosemary, but the markets did not have any fresh tuna that looked appealing! So I thought I'd just use tinned tuna - and this was THE mistake....
- Paul's pizza dough - beautiful
- Caramelised onion & red cabbage (I also added rosemary to it) - tasty
- Favourite brand of high quality tuna - usual standard

- Looked good prepared before going in the oven
- Looked good out of the oven
- The aroma out of the oven - epic FAIL
The roasted tuna was not a nice aroma at all, quite gross actually. So while it dose look good, looks can be deceiving! In hindsight I could have waited for some fresh tuna & stuck with my first idea, draping the fresh marinated strips of tuna over the hot pizza - or created something else!
& the "new" ingredient/theme?? Rosemary flowers - the start of a new cycle of life :)

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


.... Leading somewhere..

Sometimes straight

Sometimes twisted

Sometime obvious

Or maybe hidden