pumpkin, prosciutto & ricotta lasagne with chilli

pumpkin, prosciutto & ricotta lasagne with chilli | table twenty eight

pumpkin, prosciutto & ricotta lasagne
with chilli

based on the recipe in the august 2014 issue of delicious. magazine

500g ricotta

1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
¾ cup milk
freshly ground nutmeg
1 ¼ cups finely grated parmesan
500g fresh lasagne sheets
¼ cup olive oil
1kg butternut pumpkin, peeled and finely sliced
150g finely sliced prosciutto
2 red chillies, seeds removed and finely sliced
handful of fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
Preheat your oven to 180°C.

Combine ricotta, finely chopped garlic, milk, a pinch of nutmeg and half the parmesan.  Season well.

Lightly oil a deep baking dish and place a layer of lasagne sheets over the base.

pumpkin, prosciutto & ricotta lasagne with chilli | table twenty eight

Arrange a third of the pumpkin slices, chilli, sage and prosciutto slices over the pasta.  Drizzle with olive oil followed by a quarter of the ricotta mixture.

Repeat these layers twice more, finishing with a final layer of lasagne sheets and remaining ricotta.

Cover the surface with a sheet of baking paper and foil, and bake for 40 minutes.  Uncover, scatter with remaining parmesan and a few pinches of nutmeg,

Bake for a further 20 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

pumpkin, prosciutto & ricotta lasagne with chilli | table twenty eight

lemon & mascarpone baked cheesecake with candied lemons

lemon & mascarpone baked cheesecake | table twenty eight

:: Last week my desk neighbour Mike brought in a bag full of lemons from his tree at home and seeing as it’s been far too long in between lemon desserts, I decided to bake a lemon and mascarpone cheesecake.

The recipe I used was one of Bill Granger’s and it turned out flawlessly.  Cheesecakes really aren’t that arduous to prepare but they do take time and patience to get that light, only-just-cooked, quintessential texture.

I had a vision of candied lemon slices cascading over the top but I’ve screwed up endeavours to make candied lemons in the past sans recipe (just winging it and hoping for the best).

So in the interest of success, I consulted the Pinterest bible and found a superb-looking recipe posted by Melina Thompson on Best Friends For Frosting (prediction: I will be attempting the entire New York-style coconut cheesecake with lemons in future, stay tuned)…

lemon & mascarpone baked cheesecake | table twenty eight

The one thing I would tweak is the amount of sugar used for the candied lemons.  I was hoping for a citrusy, vibrant, rather tart syrup to offset the richness of the cheesecake but a) I think the ratio of sugar to water was too much; b) it needed additional lemon juice to up the tart factor; and c)… I was rather distracted and let it reduce for too long, tipping it over that crucial point to become toffee…

…which is perfectly fine if toffee is your intention but not so great for drizzling stylishly of the top of a cake.

Encouraging viscous toffee to ‘lightly drizzle’ turns out to be about as easy as separating individual sheets of filo pastry without any tears or holes – it’s fiddly, frustrating as hell and everyone’s feelings just end up getting get hurt.

So after the initial experiment, I suggest using only half a cup of sugar and adding the finely strained juice of couple more lemons.

lemon & mascarpone baked cheesecake with candied lemons 007

lemon & mascarpone baked cheesecake
with candied lemons

based on bill granger’s recipe in the february 2011 issue of delicious. magazine

175g digestive or shortbread biscuits

80g unsalted butter, melted
500g cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
4 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
finely grated zest and juice of a large lemon
400g mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract

candied lemons (recipe from best friends for frosting)
1 cup sugar

1 cup water
2 small lemons, thinly sliced and seeds removed

Preheat your oven to 140°C. Lightly butter a 24cm springform cake pan and line the base with baking paper.

Half fill a deep baking tray (or roasting pan) with boiling water and place on the bottom shelf of the oven. This will help prevent the cheesecake from drying out during cooking.

Place the biscuits in a food processor and pulse they form crumbs. If you’re like me and don’t own a food processor, you can always chuck the biscuits in a large plastic sandwich bag or between two sheets of baking paper and bash the hell out of them with a rolling pin (which takes longer, but is rather satisfying).

Add the melted butter to the biscuits crumb and stir through to ensure you have an evenly coated mixture. Press the mixture into the base of the prepared pan. Pop into the fridge until you’ve finished the filling.

lemon & mascarpone baked cheesecake | table twenty eight

To make the filling, place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream together until smooth and well combined. Add the mascarpone and whisk again until smooth. With the mixer running, add the eggs and egg yolk, one at time, whisking gently in between additions. Finally, add the vanilla extract, lemon zest and juice, and whisk together until you have a smooth, velvety consistency.

Pour the filling over the prepared base and bake the cheesecake on the middle shelf of the oven for one hour (it will still have a slight wobble in the centre). Leave the cheesecake to cool in the switched-off oven (with the door closed) for a further hour or until completely set.

Transfer the cheesecake to a wire rack to cool completely. Cover the pan with cling film and chill for at least four hours or overnight.

lemon & mascarpone baked cheesecake | table twenty eight

To make the candied lemons, bring the sugar and water to a boil in a large skillet or saucepan. Stir gently until the sugar is dissolved and when liquid is clear and bubbling, reduce the heat to medium-low.

Add lemon slices, arranging them in one layer with tongs. Simmer (do not let boil!) until the lemons turn slightly dark, about 30 minutes. Remove the lemons and let them cool on a china plate, uncovered, until ready to serve.

Let the syrup cool completely before drizzling over the cheesecake and layering candied lemon slices over the top.

huevos rancheros with frijoles refritos

huevos rancheros with frijoles refritos | table twenty eight

:: It seems to me that the humble egg has become a forgotten source of protein.

Of course there’s the time-honoured (some would say religious) tradition of the Sunday fry-up but eggs are equally as brilliant at the other end of the day for dinner.

The perks – they cook quickly, there’s no prep and they’re extremely versatile. All of which are become a key factor when deciding what to cook after a day in the office.

huevos rancheros with frijoles refritos | table twenty eight

I’ve found a great way to solve the ‘I want dinner in the next 20 minutes or I’m like to eat a bag of chips and a whole wheel of brie but I’m far too tired to cook’ dilemma, which starts with cooking up a big batch of a tomato-based sauce on the weekend filled with lots of good stuff, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, roasted capsicums or aubergines. Get creative and take the flavours to any country you like (add olives or sundried tomatoes for something Italian, or season with sumac and cumin to take it more in a Middle-Eastern direction). At the end of the day, the goal is the packing in as much flavour and vegetables as possible.

Portion up the sauce into single servings and freeze. That way, if you’re in need of an super fast (but most importantly, healthy) mid-week dinner, you can just defrost a portion of sauce, crack in a couple of eggs and put under the grill or in the oven until the eggs are cooked. Crumble over some feta or parmesan and you’ve got a hearty meal with a good dose of protein and vitamin-rich veg.

Huevos rancheros is a Mexican vegetarian dish more commonly associated with breakfast but it works just as well for dinner.

Although black beans seem to be more commonly used in the sauce base, I’ve used refried beans (frijoles refritos) in my version. This is another example of a sauce you could make in advance and freeze in portions ahead of the working week. You just need a few fresh ingredients on hand (avocados, coriander and tortillas), plus of course the all-important namesake –eggs.

huevos rancheros with frijoles refritos | table twenty eight
huevos rancheros

with frijoles refritos

8 eggs

2 avocados, halved and sliced
8 small corn tortillas
1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
fresh limes, halved to serve
cracked black pepper
sea salt

frijoles refritos
3 x 400g tins (approximately 3 cups) kidney beans, drained

2 large onions, finely chopped
3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 – 3 tbsp finely chopped jalapeños
¼ cup olive oil
sea salt

In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan warm a few glugs of olive oil over medium heat.

Add the onions and kidney beans and gently cook for five minutes, stirring regularly to ensuring nothing sticks to the pan. You don’t want to colour the onions and beans (rather sweat them out and flavour them with the olive oil).

Add the garlic, tomatoes and jalapeños to the saucepan. Season well, cover with fresh cold water and bring to the boil.

Turn the heat down to the lowest setting possible and simmer, uncovered, for two to three hours until the beans are soft. As the water evaporates, add more boiling water to keep the ingredients barely covered.

Once the beans are soft, drain off any excess water and mash the beans with a potato masher until the mixture is relatively smooth. Check the seasoning and adjust to your liking.

When you’re ready to start preparing the heuvos rancheros, wrap the tortillas in foil and place in low oven to warm them through.

You can either poach or fry your eggs – it’s entirely up to you. I much prefer poached eggs, done for two and half minutes in boiling salted water (which in my humble opinion makes for a perfect, partially runny yolk).

To serve, place two warmed tortillas on each plate, top with the beans, two eggs and some avocado slices. Sprinkle with fresh coriander, drizzle with olive oil and crack over a few twists of black pepper. Serve with limes for squeezing over the top and some chilli sauce (like Tabasco) for those who like some heat.

Consume with gusto!

crispy calamari with homemade aioli

crispy calamari with homemade aioli | table twenty eight

:: It was about time I ticked off another item from my ‘too difficult and irrationally scary’ list –


I have a vague memory of attempting this years ago but after ending up with a thin, split, oily mess, I threw the whole lot in the bin and have relied on Zoosh or Simon Johnson for all my mayonnaise needs since.

However, I now realise my grave error on that initial occasion was attempting to make mayonnaise in a BLENDER.

The logic clearly stemmed from the fact that I had no inclination to give my old-fashioned egg beaters a thorough workout (not to mention my poor arms)!  But the blender was an unfortunate alternative and entirely the wrong tool for the job.

Instead of lightly whipping the eggs and oil into a smooth, buttery consistency, the blades prevented the mixture from emulsifying and chopped the whole thing into an awful mess.  Blergh.

crispy calamari with homemade aioli | table twenty eight

Happily, my latest endeavour yielded far more successful results. I carefully brought together the mayonnaise in the bowl of my Kitchenaid mixer using the whipping attachment and it turned out wonderfully, with a satiny, delightfully creamy consistency.

A small addition of garlic and voila! – aioli – the perfect accompaniment for a batch of hot, crunchy deep-fried calamari.

crispy calamari with homemade aioli 005

crispy calamari
with homemade aioli

based on jamie oliver’s recipe in the april 2014 issue of delicious. magazine

400g squid, cleaned and tentacles reserved

¼ cup plain flour
2 tsp smoked paprika
sunflower oil, to deep-fry
sea salt

2 egg yolks

1 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 – 2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 cup light olive oil
juice of half a lemon, plus wedges to serve

To make the aioli, whisk the egg yolks until creamy (either with a hand beater or in the bowl of an electric mixer).

Stir in the mustard and gradually pour in the extra virgin olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly for about 5 minutes until thickened.

Stir in a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and gradually pour in the light olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly until you have a thick mayonnaise.

Stir through the garlic, season with sea salt and lemon juice to taste, adding more vinegar if needed.

Store the aioli in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to a week.

crispy calamari with homemade aioli | table twenty eight

To prepare the squid, slice the hoods lengthways to open them up. Score the insides with a criss-cross pattern and cut into triangles.

Mix together the flour, paprika and sea salt in a deep bowl and toss through the squid pieces, including the tentacles.

Fill a large saucepan or wok one-third full with sunflower oil and heat it until a pinch of flour sizzles when it hits the oil.

Shake off any excess flour from the squid pieces and fry in batches for about a minute until golden. Drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle the calamari with sea salt and serve with the aioli and lemon wedges.


pecan & maple ice cream

pecan & maple ice cream | table twenty eight

:: I’ve fallen into the blissful routine of the heading to the beach every morning for a run and a swim, followed by a leisurely spot of coffee at my favourite local joint.

With my last swim being in June and my first swim of the season at the beginning of September, it goes without saying that we are incredibly blessed with our beautiful beaches and sunny skies.

Interestingly – though the sunshine is out – the coastal landscape is not quite back to its usual summer form, with the tide line still marching towards the dunes and swallowing much of the beach itself.

On one of my early morning expeditions to (for which I luckily had my camera handy), large tidal pools had formed all along the stretches of wet sand, creating a lovely rippled aquatic vista.

swanbourne beach | table twenty eight

swanbourne beach | table twenty eightswanbourne beach | table twenty eight

swanbourne beach | table twenty eightswanbourne beach | table twenty eight

swanbourne beach | table twenty eight

Ice cream seemed the perfect homage to the weather and my love of the sand and surf – especially with the kiss of salt on the caramelised pecans.

Thanks to the ladies of Have a Yummy Day for the recipe inspiration.

pecan & maple ice cream | table twenty eight

pecan & maple ice cream

inspired by the recipe featured on ‘have a yummy day’ blog

caramelised pecans
180g pecan nuts

4 tbsp raw sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp water
sea salt

maple ice cream
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped

1 ¾ cups milk (whole fat)
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
¾ cup raw sugar
4 tbsp maple syrup, plus additional for serving

For the caramelised pecans, place the sugars and water in a saucepan over medium heat.

Whisking constantly, bring the ingredients to the boil (don’t worry if some of the raw sugar remains undissolved – this adds to the texture). Quickly add the nuts to the saucepan, swirl to coat with the caramel and then spread out in a single layer on a sheet of baking paper.

Sprinkle with sea salt, allow the nuts to cool and chop about two-thirds into rough pieces. Reserve the remaining whole pecans for serving.

caramelised pecans | table twenty eight

To make the maple ice cream, place the milk, cream, vanilla pod and seeds in a stainless steel saucepan and bring to the boil.

In large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick, pale and almost fluffy.

Add the maple syrup to the hot cream mixture and pour over the yolks.

Pour everything back into the saucepan and – whisking continuously – let the mixture simmer to 85°C or until it starts to thicken.

Remove the saucepan from the heat before it reaches boiling point. This is a particularly crucial bit, as the mixture will split if it’s allowed to boil.

Pour the cream mixture into a large bowl and refrigerate until cool.

pecan & maple ice cream | table twenty eight

Pour through a sieve to remove any remaining solids and churn in an ice cream maker according to the machine’s instructions.

Add the chopped pecans to the ice cream, fold through and transfer to an airtight container. Freeze for at least two hours or until solid enough to scoop.

Serve topped with the additional caramelised pecans and drizzled with maple syrup.

beetroot ravioli with sage & brown butter

beetroot ravioli with sage & brown butter | table twenty eight

:: After what feels like an impossibly hectic blur of a year, I’m now on leave for two glorious weeks.

Work has been all-consuming of late, as we’re mobilising a huge piece of kit from the other side of the globe within a very tight time frame.  While it’s been a great experience to be part of such a massive logistical challenge, it’s meant long hours in the office with little time or energy for anything else.

Domestic life became rather haphazard as a result – laundry overflowed and threatened to instigate a mutiny; grocery shopping was an entirely forgotten exercise (dinner being relegated in priority after HOT SHOWER and BED); and after one particularly intense day, I was so distracted I found myself trying to open my front door with my security pass…

The timely delivery of a menu flyer from the new pizza joint around the corner meant I got to know their driver rather well (the number of times I called there for takeaway was getting embarrassing).

And on top of my own neglectful dietary habits I kept forgetting to buy cat food, so fur child was living on rations of whatever I could find in the fridge – chorizo, smoked edam, canned tuna with ginger and soy – and one night I even cooked him an omelette.

Ironically, in the face of these more than usual gourmet offerings, I was treated to questioning meows wanting to know where the real cat food was hiding and blatant rejection of aforementioned dishes (I’m sure parents of fussy children everywhere can relate to such rebuffs).

bailey | table twenty eightbailey | table twenty eight

But I finally made it to freedom, oh sweet freedom!

Being able to move at my own pace…  Taking time for a cup of tea in the morning… Sitting in the sunshine with Bailey and reading a book… Listening to Pink Floyd whilst cataloging photos from my holiday from last year…

These are the small pleasures I’ve been able to embrace.

And of course it also means I can get back into the kitchen at long last.

I’ve had this dish bookmarked for a time when I could set aside a few leisurely hours for pasta-making.

The salty, caramalised butter works wonderfully with the earthy beetroot and herbaceous, fragrant sage – and it’s also a visually lovely dish with those distinctive little magenta pillows.

beetroot ravioli with sage & brown butter | table twenty eight

beetroot ravioli with
sage & brown butter

adapted from the july 2014 issue of delicious. magazine

8 small cooked beetroots, peeled and cooled

2 large pontiac or desiree potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup smooth ricotta
1 garlic clove, chopped
½ cup grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
125g unsalted butter
20 fresh sage leaves
white pepper
sea salt

pasta dough (jamie oliver’s recipe here)
500g plain flour

5 eggs

Start by preparing the pasta dough, so it can rest while you make the filling.

Place the flour on a clean, dry surface or in a large bowl, and make a well in the centre.

Crack the eggs into the well and beat with a fork until smooth.

Using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the surrounding flour, incorporating a little at a time until everything is combined.

Alternatively, you can make your dough in a food processor if you have one.  Whiz the two ingredients together until the flour looks like breadcrumbs, then tip the mixture on to a work surface and bring the dough together into one lump using your hands.

Once you’ve made the dough, it’s time to knead and work it with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour.

When the pasta starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury, it’s done.

Wrap the single piece of dough in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour before you use it.

beetroots | table twenty eight

For the ravioli filling, start by puréeing the beetroots and garlic in a food processor.

Cook the potato in a saucepan of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes until tender.  Drain, mash and cool slightly.

Combine the beetroot purée, mashed potato, ricotta and parmesan, mixing thoroughly with a fork until you can no longer see traces of white ricotta.  Season well with white pepper and sea salt, and set aside while you roll out your pasta dough.

Divide the dough into four pieces.  Set your pasta machine to its widest setting and roll a lump of pasta dough through it, lightly dusting the pasta with flour if it starts to stick.

Run a piece of dough through a few times, folding in half each time until you reach a smooth, even consistency.

Keep rolling the dough through all the settings on the machine, from the widest down to the thinnest, lightly dusting the pasta with a little flour every time you run it through.

You should end up with four long, thin sheets of pasta.

Fresh pasta dries out very quickly, so don’t leave it for more than a minute or two before cutting or shaping it.  Lay a damp tea towel over the top to help stop it from drying out.

beetroot ravioli with sage & brown butter | table twenty eight

Cut the sheets into 10cm squares and place one teaspoon of filling in the centre of half of the squares.

Lightly brush the edges around the filling with a tiny amount of water and place another square over top.

Press down the edges to seal the ravioli and make sure that any air is pushed out as you go.

Neaten and trim the edges as required and then transfer to a tray generously dusted with plain flour.  Set aside for 15 minutes to dry out a little.

Melt the butter in a frypan over medium heat.

Add the sage leaves until the butter is brown and the sage leaves are crisp.

Cook the ravioli in batches, in a large pot of boiling salted water until they float to the surface.

Remove with a slotted spoon, distribute between serving plates and drizzle the brown butter over the top.  Serve with extra parmesan.

beetroot ravioli with sage & brown butter | table twenty eight

red wine poached pears with lime mousse

red wine poached pears with lime mousse | table twenty eight

:: When I was young, one of my favourite desserts was my grandmother’s poached pears.

She would poach the pears until only just cooked through – al dente – with reams of whole lemon peel and a modest splash of red wine that turned the poaching liquid a lovely rose colour.

I remember they were delicious by themselves but Grandmama often served them with a dollop of thick greek yogurt and the rosé-hued syrup spooned over the top.

red wine poached pears with lime mousse | table twenty eight

This recipe is sort of the grown-up version, with a rich, velvety syrup reminiscent of mulled wine and fruit destined for far greater things than being spooned over one’s morning muesli.

The lime mousse is a wonderful culinary discovery that I’ll be keeping on file for future desserts. The infusion of citrus makes a nice alternative to regular whipped cream and provides a lovely lift to the sumptuous, spiced pears.

red wine poached pears with lime mousse | table twenty eight

red wine poached pears
with lime mousse

from the december 2011 issue of delicious. magazine

6 firm pears (such as packham or corella)

2 cups red wine
400g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 cinnamon quill
2 star anise
½ cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

lime mousse
2 titanium-strength gelatine leaves
150ml lime juice (from about 4 limes)
125g castor sugar
300ml thickened cream, whipped to soft peaks


Peel and core the pears and then cut into quarters.

Place the pear quarters, red wine, caster sugar, vanilla pod and seeds, spices and two cups of water in a large saucepan.

Bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar.

Cover the surface closely with a piece of baking paper cut to fit and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the pears are soft. Remove from the heat and allow the pears to cool in the poaching liquid.

red wine poached pears with lime mousse | table twenty eight

Meanwhile, for the lime mousse, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for five minutes.

Combine the lime juice, sugar and one cup of water in a pan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

Squeeze the excess water from gelatine and stir into the warm lime syrup until completely dissolved.

Pour the liquid through a fine sieve to remove any small solids and refrigerate for about 40 minutes. Once cool, fold the whipped cream into the lime syrup in three batches.

To serve, remove the pears from the poaching liquid.

Arrange two pears in the base of each serving glass and divide half the mousse between the glasses.

Repeat the layers and scatter the toasted hazelnuts over the top.


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