Thursday, 17 December 2009

Marinated Vegetable Salad

My favourite salad... a pile of green vegetables, marinating in a perfect dressing....

This recipe has been adapted from the original "Fit for Life" book by Marilyn & Harvey Diamond - it is a book which has lived on my bookshelf for a good number of years and I still remember when I first bought it and how exciting it was to have found a book offering great ideas about food combining and new recipes to try...... come to think of it, that was a very long time ago, must of been the late 80's when I first started eating in the 'fit for life' manner!!

Anyway, let's talk food.... this recipe was originally a pasta recipe but I prefer it without the pasta (because pasta doesn't like me) so vegetables it is......

this salad can be served with a good portion of protein - salmon is good, lamb chops or chicken will do just as well!

1-2 cups x Broccoli - small florets
1-2 handfuls x String Beans AND/OR
Asparagus (keep the length or cut in half)
1-2 x medium Zucchini/Courgette OR
7-10 x baby zucchini  - cut into rounds
1 x Red Capsicum/Pepper OR
1/2 cup x Sun-dried tomatoes - cut into strips
2-3 x Spring Onions
2 cups x Mushrooms - sliced - if small cut into quarters
Green or Black Olives (Optional)

Olive oil
Lemon juice
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Sugar/Honey (optional)
Oregano fresh or dried
Basil fresh or dried
Parsley fresh
1-2 cloves x Garlic

Steam broccoli, zucchini, beans (or asparagus)

- just enough to be tender but still a bit crisp.  You can cool the vegetables in cold icy water to stop the cooking process.

Place in large salad bowl.

Cut the red pepper into strips and toss in the fry pan with a little bit of olive oil - cover and steam for a few minutes then remove lid and let the red pepper brown a little bit for a chargrill flavour.

Add to salad bowl.

In fry pan add a bit more olive oil and toss in chopped spring onions and mushrooms; saute for a few minutes but keep the mushrooms crisp, then add the lemon juice.  Pour the lot into salad bowl.

Prepare the dressing:
This dressing is more than you will need for the salad - keep the remainder for use on other salads.
1 cup olive oil, juice of half lemon, 2-3 tspns fresh oregano, 2-3 tspns fresh basil, 1-2 cloves crushed or sliced garlic, pinch sea salt, cracked black pepper and a pinch of sugar.  Mix well.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Add enough dressing to salad to coat the vegetables and gently toss.

Cover the salad bowl and leave to marinade in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

Before serving sprinkle with handful fresh chopped flat leaf parsley and olives and toss again to stir through the dressing.

Note:  This salad is also very tasty served up straight away whilst the vegetables are still warm.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Pot Roast Leg of Lamb

Main Course - I wanted to experiment with some new recipes, so my Sunday birthday lunch was the perfect time for trialling them and using my guests (family and friends) as the judges.

We had decided on a roast and of course it had to be a lamb roast (because it's just such an Aussie thing to do) yet I wanted to try something different for a change, because cooking the same thing over and over can get a bit boring!  I enjoy experimenting with new recipes - it can be exciting, stimulating and nerve-racking - and you are just never quite sure how it's going to turn out and what bits need tweeking !

Another charity shop cook book provided the perfect recipe - a pot roast leg of lamb - with rosemary and onion gravy - the book is "Weekends with Friends" by Maxine Clark.

This pot roast is cooked on a bed of rosemary and onions until it is completely tender all the way through and the onions are melting into the rosemary gravy.

1.5kg leg of lamb
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
3 large rosemary sprigs
2 fresh bay leaves
4 large onions, thinly sliced
300ml dry white wine
2 tspn Dijon mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a casserole in which the lamb will fit snugly. Add the lamb and brown it all over. Remove to a plate and let cool.

Crush the garlic and chopped rosemary together with a mortar and pestle. Using a small sharp knife, make little incisions all over the lamb. Push the paste well into these incisions. Season well with salt and pepper.

Put the rosemary sprigs, bay leaves and onions in the casserole and put the lamb on top. Mix the wine with the mustard, then pour into the casserole. Bring to the boil, cover tightly, then cook in a preheated oven at 160C (325F) Gas 3 for 1.5 hours, turning the lamb over twice.

Raise the oven temperature to 200C (400F) Gas 6 and remove the lid from the casserole. Cook for another 30 minutes. The lamb should be very tender and completely cooked through.

Carefully remove the lamb to a serving dish and keep it warm. Skim the fat from the cooking juices and remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs. Add a little water if too thick, then bring to the boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix in the sediment. Pour the sauce into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the lamb.

  • I used 2.2kg leg of lamb
  • And increased the other ingredients accordingly.
  • I cooked the lamb a bit longer according to its weight - 30mins for each 500g - I am sure less time would have cooked it just as well. The meat was literally falling off the bone, so we did not have slices which held together.
  • Next time after turning the oven temperature up, I would probably only cook for another 15 minutes, it really didn't need the extra 30 minutes.
  • I still served my own Mushroom Cranberry Gravy (see recipe in an early post) as well as the Rosemary Onion Gravy
  • I do not have a casserole dish with lid to bake a huge leg in - so used a roasting dish covered tightly with foil.

Salmon Pate (Rillettes)

For a recent Sunday lunch with friends and family and to celebrate my birthday, I decided to try out some new recipes.

And as I love salmon and had in my mind the idea of trying to find a recipe for a starter which combined my favourite two salmon ingredients - cooked salmon and smoked salmon.

I just couldn't believe my eyes when there in one of the cook books (which I had picked up for a mere £1 from a local charity shop) was exactly the type of recipe I was looking for and I had all the ingredients on hand (which is always a bonus).

The recipe is actually a pate, but because of it's texture it has been called rillettes.

Rillettes are usually made from pork, duck, goose, chicken, game birds or rabbit and less commonly from fish such as tuna, anchovies and salmon.

So, the cook book is "Two Fat Ladies - Obsessions" and the recipe is 'Salmon Rillettes'.

The recipe turned out so well and was totally enjoyed by all, that I am going to make another batch to take to our family Christmas Day celebrations in Little Hampton.

2 tbsp x olive oil
1 small clove of garlic, cut into 3 or 4 pieces
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme plus a little extra to garnish
175g/6oz salmon, boned, skinned and cut into cubes
25g/1oz butter
55g/2oz smoked salmon, cut into matchstick pieces
2 tbsp fromage frais or Greek yoghurt
Lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pour the oil into a frying pan and add the garlic and thyme. Heat very gently and just sizzle for about 10 minutes. Do not let the garlic colour or it will leave a bitter taste.

Remove the garlic and thyme from the pan, and add the fresh salmon to the oil. Stir for a minute or two until it is just cooked. Pour the contents of the frying pan into a food processor.

Melt the butter in the pan and add the smoked salmon. The moment it starts to change colour, take the pan from the heat.

Add the fromage frais or yoghurt to the food processor. Process very briefly, just to mix everything. Add the smoked salmon, lemon juice, plenty of pepper and a pinch of salt. Process briefly again, remembering that you want a coarse result at the end. Adjust the seasoning.

Turn into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Garnish with a little more thyme before serving.

  • I used crème fraiche - because that's what I had in my fridge (I am sure you could use sour cream)
  • I was not sure what to do with the garlic and thyme after you remove it from the pan so I added it to the food processor (seemed like a waste to throw it away).
  • I used unsalted butter (because it is the only kind of butter I have in the house)
  • The recipe does not say how much lemon juice to use so I just squeezed the juice from half a lemon and added as much as I thought it needed by taste
  • I did not want to salt it too much - preferred to increase the lemon juice instead
  • Also, I wanted to make more than the recipe - I used about 300g salmon - and adjusted the other ingredients to that.

  • I refrigerated it overnight.

    Hope you all enjoy it as much as we did and I am so thankful to the Two Fat Ladies !!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Mushroom Cranberry Gravy

This is our favourite gravy when we have a lamb roast, but you can have it with beef as well.
There are a few ingredients in this gravy but the result is very satisfying!
It is a 'make ahead' gravy - save yourself the hassle of preparing the gravy after the roast has been cooked.
You can make this gravy whilst the roast is in the oven or make it the day before or anytime you wish and freeze it until it is needed.
Then just reheat, add the juices from your roast, omit the fat, and you have an amazing, delicious gravy.

2 x medium red onions
1 x garlic clove
120g x chestnut or portobello mushrooms (small size)
1 tspn x seeded mustard
3-4 tbspns x cranberry sauce
1-2 tbspns x tomato paste
150-200ml x red wine
1 x chicken stock cube
1 x bay leaf
Fresh or dried thyme
Black pepper
Olive oil
20-50g x Butter
150ml x Water

In a deep fry pan, splash some olive oil and add your chopped onions, saute under a lid for 10 minutes without browning.
Add half the butter and sliced mushrooms, replace lid and continue to saute for another 10 minutes.
Now add the remainder of the ingredients, except for extra butter, add it towards the end before you serve, if you are watching your fats intake you can omit it.
Stir well and bring to a fast simmer, turn down the heat and replace the lid.
Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
Then remove the lid, and continue to simmer the sauce until it starts to thicken.
Once you have the consistency you prefer turn off the heat.
Add your roasting juices and stir, pour into a gravy boat and serve with your roast.
OR allow it to cool and put in freezer/fridge container and store for later use.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Christmas History in Britain

A Victorian Christmas - christmas celebrations and traditions
An interesting article on the beginnings of Christmas traditions and celebrations in Britain.
Before Victoria's reign started in 1837 nobody in Britain had heard of Santa Claus or Christmas Crackers. 
No Christmas cards were sent and most people did not have holidays from work. 
A bit of light reading whilst you prepare for your Christmas celebrations and feasting ! 
Just click on the heading for the full story.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Simple Baked Salmon

I just LOVE salmon - whether it be raw, smoked, grilled, pan-fried, baked, steamed - just dish it up and I will eat it!
So on that note, here is another salmon dish - very quick and very easy - and very delicious - initially it was something my daughter Hanna came up with and we used to cook it in a fry pan - but we now do it in the oven because the smell of salmon oil does not permeate through the whole house and it is a lot less messy!
The recipe is written for two people but it can easily be done for 4, 6, 8 - or even a whole salmon.  Enjoy!

2 x salmon fillets  (fresh or thawed from frozen)
1 x spring onion (or red onion)
1 tspn capers
1 tspn seeded mustard
a splash of white wine (or not)
80-100ml single cream (or omit the cream and use more butter instead)
Sprinkle of Fresh or dried dill
1 tspn unsalted butter

Add all ingredients, except salmon fillets and butter,  to a baking dish (glass or ceramic preferred) mix well.
Place the salmon fillets side by side into the mix and chop the butter into 4 pieces, and place 2 pieces on each fillet.
Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminium foil.
Place in moderate oven 180 degrees Celsius and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven immediately after 15 minutes and check middle of thickest part of salmon fillet, it should be cooked, and if still a little bit pink just let it sit with aluminium foil replaced, it will keep cooking from the heat of the dish and under the foil.

Serve with garlic string beans, and boiled waxy potatoes
OR a fresh green salad.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Chicken Soup

This recipe has been handed down from generation to generation - it is a reflection of my Polish roots.  Thanks to my mother Janina, this was always and still is my favourite soup - enjoyed at any time during the year but most appreciated on a cold and wintry afternoon.
It is a very basic chicken stock soup, served with noodles (I don't make the noodles - but my grandma used to make the best).
May you enjoy it as much as I do !

2 x brown onions
3-4 x carrots
2 x parsnips
2 x sticks celery or some celeriac
Small handful of sliced dried mushrooms
1-3 cloves garlic
1 x bay leaf
10 x black peppercorns
Sea salt
Dash of olive oil
2-3 organic chicken stock cubes
Fresh or dried Parsley
Fresh or dried Dill
Whole large chicken or chicken pieces eg. 4-6 chicken thighs and 4 drumsticks

In a large stock pot, add a dash of olive oil, add the onions cut in half cut side down.
Brown the onion - this brings flavour to the soup.
Add peeled carrots and parsnips cut in half.
Cut the celery sticks into 5 inch pieces and add to the pot.
Place the lid on and saute for 5 minutes.
Add the chicken pieces or if using a whole chicken cut it up into pieces leaving the carcass intact.
Add enough cold water to cover all the ingredients.
Add the garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns, a pinch of sea salt, stock cubes, parsley and dill.
Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat.
Allow the soup to bubble away slowly for approx 1.5 -2hrs.
Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve with best egg tagliatelli or make your own homemade noodles.
Sprinkle some fresh cut dill before you serve.

A perfect first course
the perfect main course - served with a piece of chicken, and whatever vegetables you have in the stock = carrot, parsnip, mushroom, onion and cabbage (oh yes cabbage - if you happen to have some on hand add it to the stock).

Not only absolutely delicious and filling but also "the best remedy" for first stages of cold or flu.

Friday, 4 December 2009

MiBerry Delight

MiBerry Delight is the simplest desert ever!

Can be added to nearly anything! well maybe.
I have added it to smoothies, eaten it with natural yoghurt, with custard, with muesli, and ...... basically use it as my berry fruit treat!

The photo is of wild blackberries we picked in August and brought home to make into our favourite berry delight!

This is a 'throw together' recipe - nothing is exact - I have been throwing various amounts of ingredients together over the years and it always works and often tastes slightly different - which is OK because we are not after an exact taste/flavour - and it is always a fabulous treat!

1-2 x cups Fresh or frozen berries (mixed is best for a good variety of berries but when in season one kind of berry is good too)
1-2 x tablespoons Sugar or honey(depends on berry - if using sweet berries eg. blackberries; use less sugar - if using berries which are more tart eg. raspberries use more sugar)
1 x Vanilla pod or few drops of Vanilla extract
pinch of Cinnamon
Lemon or orange rind (just peel off a couple of strips with sharp knife - no pith)
pinch of Mild Chilli powder or Ginger powder (or use fresh ginger - just slice a couple of pieces the size of 10 cent piece)
Dash of vodka (adds a nice background flavour)
A splash of orange juice (if you need extra liquid)

Place everything into a saucepan and slowly bring to a gentle boil.
Turn down the heat and allow to simmer gently for about 10 minutes.
Take off the heat and allow to cool in saucepan.

Can be served at room temperature with custard; or natural yoghurt; or plain sponge and whipped cream; or with crushed meringue and sour cream; add to a yoghurt smoothie with banana; add to breakfast cereal; especially nice with homemade muesli; and I am sure you will think of other ways to eat it! Enjoy!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Spinach and Salmon Frittata

Spinach and Salmon Frittata
This recipe was created using the basic frittata ingredients - that is: cream, eggs, cornflour, cheese - and I have added other ingredients - for example: spinach and salmon - but it is also a recipe that can have other substitute ingredients - such as: broccoli, pumpkin, mushrooms - but more about that later for now let's focus on my favourite ingredients - Spinach and Salmon.
Bon appetit!

1 x 440gms tinned salmon or fresh poached salmon
1 x 300ml single cream
1 x 250gms cottage cheese /quark and/or 1/2 feta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 tblspn cornflour
6 eggs (med-large size)
250-300gms frozen spinach
1 spanish onion or 2-3 spring onions
Fresh dill
Black pepper cracked
Pinch of sea salt or not if using feta cheese
Knob of butter unsalted
Dash of olive oil

Chop onion and saute in a dash of olive oil;

Add defrosted spinach and continue to saute until all liquid is evaporated.
Place on flat plate to cool - you can through it into the freezer for about 10mins.

Prepare a ceramic or glass baking dish - with knob of butter, cover bottom and up sides.
Sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese to coat the inside of the baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, place cornflour, and add some cream, stir briskly, until lumps are gone.

Add the rest of the cream, add eggs, give it a whisk by hand, then add cottage cheese/quark and the remainder of the parmesan.
Gently flake the salmon and add to mixing bowl along with other ingredients.

Add pepper, salt, and chopped capers and dill and finally add the cooled onion and spinach.

Give it all a good stir, distributing all ingredients evenly but being careful not to unflake the salmon too much.
Pour into the prepared baking dish and cook in fan-forced oven on 170C for about 25-30mins.

Check to make sure the centre of the frittata is set.
Use a sharp knife inserted into the middle, if it comes out clean the frittata is baked through.

Turn off the oven and let the frittata sit in oven for another 10 mins with door ajar.

Then bring out and rest for at least 20-30 minutes before serving.

Serve with a fresh baby cos lettuce and rocket salad, sprinkled with baby tomatoes and cucumber.