:: Growing up in our household meant the weekly Sunday dinner ritual of fish and chips.
Mum would usually buy the fish fresh from the Fremantle Markets and grill it herself, but we’d pick up a family serving of chips (which in those days was the bargain price of $2.50) from the local chippie.
I remember as a kid going along for the drive to pick them up, clutching the steaming paper parcel to my chest to keep them warm, and inhaling the irresistible scent of hot chips and salt.
Mostly fish and chips would consist the entire meal but when occasionally a side or salad was added to the equation, it was normally homemade coleslaw.
I’m not sure whether this is a customary pairing, as I’ve mostly seen it served elsewhere with barbequed meats or chicken… But thanks to that Sunday tradition, I’ll always associate coleslaw with fish and chips.
This is my new twist on it – and trust me, it’s a cracker. The inclusion of tarragon and fennel just takes it to a new level and makes a perfect accompaniment to seafood (make sure you use fresh herbs, as this will make all the difference to the flavour).
I used a mixture of grated golden beets, carrots, cabbage, fennel bulb and shallots but you could mix it up with heirloom carrots, regular beets or celeriac.
It’s also a great way of using up odds and ends of vegies that need eating.
2 golden beetroots, peeled 2 medium carrots (no need to peel) 1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded white cabbage 1 fennel bulb, finely sliced and fronds set aside 2 shallots, finely sliced ¼ cup finely chopped fresh tarragon ½ cup greek yogurt ¾ cup mayonnaise 1 tbsp dijon mustard juice from 1 lemon
Start by grating the beetroots and carrots, and placing in a large mixing bowl.
Add the cabbage, sliced fennel and shallots to the bowl and toss everything together.
To prepare the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, tarragon and lemon juice. Finely chop the fennel fronds and this to the mixture. Stir well, then taste and season if required.
Pour the dressing over the vegetables, mixing thoroughly to ensure everything is evenly distributed.
:: Hello everyone… Sorry for the radio silence, I haven’t been in the best of health the past month and creativity and motivation have suffered as a result.
So forgive me for the brevity of this post, as I get back into the swing of things…
This is a lovely, easy recipe that requires minimal actual cooking and simple preparation.
You could even bring everything to the table and let everyone assemble their own rolls.
It’s light and fresh and perfect for the summer ahead of us.
16 x 22cm rice paper wrappers 800g skinless chicken breasts 1 cup thinly sliced iceberg lettuce 2 x lebanese cucumbers, cores removed and cut into matchsticks ¼ cup mint leaves, shredded ¼ cup coriander leaves, shredded
lemongrass marinade ⅓ cup chopped lemongrass (white part only) 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped 3 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp palm sugar 1 tsp sea salt
sweet and sour dipping sauce ¼ cup fish sauce 2 tsp castor sugar finely grated zest of a lime 2 tbsp lime juice 3 tbsp chilli sauce 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 1 tbsp finely chopped spring onion
Firstly, prepare the marinade for the chicken. Place the lemongrass, chilli and garlic in a mortar and pestle and bash until the ingredients begin to break down and form a paste.
Add the rest of the marinade ingredients and continue to bash together until combined.
(Alternatively, you can whizz all ingredients together in a food processor).
Place the chicken breasts between two sheets of baking paper and using a meat tenderiser, flatten until the chicken pieces are about 1.5 centimetres thick.
Pour over the marinade to coat each piece evenly and marinate for at least an hour, allowing the flavour to infuse.
Heat a ridged grill pan over medium heat and grill the chicken until cooked through and the coating is caramelised and charred.
Set aside to cool and cut into thin slices.
For the sweet and sour dipping sauce, place all the ingredients in a bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar and taste to see if any flavours need adjusting.
When you’re ready to assemble the rolls, fill a shallow bowl with warm water.
Dip one rice paper wrapper into the water for thirty seconds and place on a clean flat surface.
Place a couple of chicken slices along a third of the wrapper and top with lettuce, cucumber and herbs.
Roll into a tight spring roll shape, according to the instructions on the packet.
Repeat with the remaining rice paper wrappers and filling.
Slice in half and serve with the sweet and sour dipping sauce.
:: You know you’re getting old(er) when the weekend’s agenda includes traipsing up and down the streets of suburbia, eyes peeled for signs of treasure among the quarterly yard collections.
Ten years ago I had those sort of people pegged as nutty hoarders, collecting piles of other people’s junk that would only end up stashed in a dusty corner of their backyard shed and inevitably, back on the verge at collection time.
But here I was (on a 31°C day no less) systematically pounding the streets and on the lookout for vintage pieces and backboards for my photographs… Look who’s the wacky one now.
By the end of my efforts, I was sweaty, knackered and tempting sunburn but driving home with a trunk full of loot.
Needless to say, I wasn’t up to spending a whole lot of time in the kitchen when I got back, so I decided on a simple but oh-so-tasty dish of creamy fettuccine with prawns and sundried tomatoes from Katie Quinn Davies.
I adapted this recipe marginally from the original, based on what I had in my pantry. Katie uses spring onions instead of chives and vermouth instead of white wine (I used a lovely sauvignon blanc from New Zealand that happened to be open in my fridge).
I also absentmindedly picked up cooked tiger prawns instead of raw from my fishmongers’, so rather than cooking them initially with the garlic I just added them to the sauce at the end.
Adapted from the recipe featured in the October 2012 issue of delicious. magazine
¼ cup olive oil 3 garlic cloves, crushed 750g tiger prawns, peeled and de-veined ⅓ cup finely chopped chives ¼ cup shredded basil, plus extra to serve ½ cup sundried tomatoes, drained and cut into strips pinch ground white pepper 1 cup chicken stock ¾ cup dry white wine 1 cup pure (thin) cream ½ cup grated parmesan cheese 400g fettuccine
Heat oil in a large frypan over low heat and cook garlic, stirring, for a couple of minutes until softened but not coloured.
Add the prawns and cook, stirring, for a few minutes until the prawns are opaque.
Remove the prawns from the pan, cool and then chop in half.
Add the chives, basil, sundried tomatoes, white pepper, chicken stock, white wine and cream to the garlic remaining in the frypan.
Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat for twenty minutes or until reduced by about half.
Stir in the parmesan and cook for a couple of minutes until combined. Return the prawns to the sauce to heat through. Keep warm while you prepare the pasta.
Cook the fettuccine in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain well.
Add the pasta to the sauce and toss together gently with two forks.
Garnish with extra basil and cracked black pepper.
:: The heat of summer really took hold this weekend, the sunlight itself seeming impossibly whiter and brighter.
Even at 06:00am it was searing through my windows and Bailey could be found stretched out luxuriously on top of the sun-drenched lounge.
So by the end of the day, I felt like nothing more than minimal effort when it came to dinner and one of the easiest things I could think of was a omelette – or rather, more precisely, pancakes. Japanese vegetable pancakes.
I was first introduced to okonomiyaki by a lovely Japanese lady I used to work with.
Together with a group of her friends, we once spent a hot summer afternoon under the casuarina pine trees at City Beach, where they cooked an ingenious array of Japanese food on the outdoor barbeques.
I think I’ll always associate vegetable pancakes with that afternoon; the wide expanse of turquoise ocean, capped with tufts of white from a strong sea breeze, the sunshine and glare bouncing off stretches of white sand, the feathery needles of casuarina crunching under foot and the heady scent of salt.
Okonomiyaki are thick, savoury vegetable pancakes made with varying ingredients, which can differ greatly depending on the region.
They are traditionally served topped with Japanese mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce; a tangy, rich mixture which could be described as a cross between barbeque and hoisin sauce.
You can buy specialty Japanese ingredients from Asian supermarkets, though now even the most mainstream supermarkets have a decent range of products.
½ small cabbage, very thinly sliced (about 5 to 6 cups) 4 medium carrots, peeled into ribbons with a vegetable peeler 5 lacinato kale leaves, ribs removed & leaves cut into thin ribbons 4 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced on an angle ½ cup seaweed flakes 1 tsp sea salt ½ cup plain flour 6 large eggs, lightly beaten 2 tbsp pickled ginger, chopped
to serve ½ cup spring onions, sliced on an angle okonomiyaki sauce (or substitute with hoisin sauce) japanese mayonnaise
Toss the cabbage, carrot, kale, spring onions, pickled ginger and salt together in a large bowl.
Add the flour and toss thoroughly so that all vegetables are coated. Stir in the eggs so that everything is evenly distributed.
Heat 2 – 3 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy skillet on medium-high heat.
To make large pancakes, add a quarter of the vegetable mixture to the skillet and spread it out to relatively even thickness.
Cook until the edges begin to brown and you can start to smell cooked omelette, which should take about three minutes. About one minute later, flip the pancake with a large spatula or egg flip.
Cook on the other side until the edges brown and peek underneath to make sure the pancake is golden and crispy. When it’s well-coloured, remove from the pan and place in a low oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining pancakes.
To make small pancakes, use tongs (or your fingers) to grab little piles of vegetable ribbons and depositing them in the hot skillet. You can cook about three or four at a time, depending on the size of your pan.
Press them down gently with a spatula to flatten slightly but there’s no need to spread them too thin. Cook for about three minutes, or until the edges brown. Flip the pancakes and then cook until golden brown and crisp.
To serve, criss-cross the tops of the pancakes with okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise. Sprinkle with chopped spring onions and more pickled ginger, if you like.
:: I realise the irony in posting a recipe here with the prefix, ‘Do not attempt this recipe if you value your sanity’…
I had friends A and J coming over for dinner on Saturday night and as their favourite desserts are lemon tart and cheesecake, I figured I’d split the difference and make lemon meringue pie.
As much as I love eating it, I’d never attempted making it before – so after comparing notes on several recipes, I decided upon famous Australian baker Dan Lepard’s version.
In deference to Mr Lepard – who clearly demonstrates his baking acumen with many awards – something was clearly amiss with my pastry, which was so wet that when I attempted to roll it out the first time, I had to shore it up with cups more flour and then put it in the freezer to try and encourage it to stay in one piece.
What started as an upbeat Saturday cooking session (with David Bowie accompanying on vocals and guitar), quickly descended into all out pastry warfare.
Now I’ve already admitted on this blog that I’m NOT a qualified baker and indeed, from this experience one might label me patisserie-challenged; but in my defense I did follow the directions (this time), only to be rewarded with an incredibly disobedient piece of pastry that broke apart at the slightest touch of my rolling pin.
Midway through the soul-destroying task of getting every one of the raw pastry flakes into my tart case, I not only had the savage desire to punch someone’s lights out but pick up the whole mess and smash it against the kitchen wall (although I didn’t – not wanting to set a bad example to the fur child, who’d cautiously padded over and watched from a safe distance as my continuous swearing punctuated Diamond Dogs and Golden Years)…
‘So,’ you ask – ‘What then are these photos if things went so appallingly?‘
Turns out that persevering with the pastry (which was sheer bloody-mindedness on my part – most normal people would have given up one hour in and nipped down the shops for some pre-made shortcrust) actually yielded very good results.
I don’t know how much I distorted Mr Lepard’s original recipe as I just kept adding flour like a maniac; but the final result was a crisp, golden shell encasing a firm, tart lemon curd and topped with light-as-air meringue. Every component set perfectly and was quite impressive when it finally made its way to the table.
The pie did not defeat me. Not today, sunshine, not today…
Despite the issues, I’ve included the original recipe here. You may want to try another pastry recipe (or maybe it was just me!) but the lemon filling and meringue worked wonderfully and were a breeze to make.
Makes one 20cm lemon meringue pie
125g plain flour, plus extra for rolling ½ tsp salt 25g icing sugar 75g unsalted butter, cubed 1 egg yolk 2 tsp cold water
lemon filling 200ml lemon juice finely grated zest of 2 lemons 50ml orange juice or water 150g caster sugar 25g cornflour 3 egg yolks 25g unsalted butter
meringue 4 egg whites 125g caster sugar
For the pastry, place the flour, salt and icing sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the cubes of butter and rub into the dry ingredients with your fingers.
Add the yolk and water and mix to a soft paste. Wrap well with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Take a 20cm round deep tart case with a removable base and roll out the chilled dough, dusted with a little flour. Roll thinly enough to line the tin’s base and sides with a little overlap to spare.
Press the dough gently into the tin sides and trim the edges then chill until firm.
Heat your oven to 170ºC. Press a sheet of non-stick paper snugly against the pastry in the tin and weigh this down with dry beans or pastry weights.
Bake for about 25 minutes and then remove the paper, baking for a further ten minutes until the pastry is dry and beige. Leave to cool while you make the filling.
Place the juices, sugar, cornflour and yolks in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk until smooth and then add the unsalted butter.
Bring to the boil, whisking carefully and constantly until the mixture thickens. This will happen very quickly, so watch closely.
Spoon the filling into the tart case, leaving a small gap at the top if you can and then leave to cool until it is chilled completely.
For the meringue, beat the egg whites in a spotlessly clean, dry bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
Gradually add the sugar, a third at a time, beating fast for 1-2 minutes in between each addition, finishing when the meringue is thick and glossy.
Heat the oven to 170ºC and pipe or spoon the meringue on top of the chilled tart.
Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and leave to cool before serving.
:: Beetroot and orange is a classic arrangement which appears to have survived many a food trend.
However I can’t say I’ve been a long-term fan, as the handful of dishes I’ve tried over the years containing this combination seem to insist on drowning the poor beets in syrupy sweet orange juice, leaving one to wonder if they’re eating a savoury side or an extremely odd dessert.
But I was caught by surprise when I recently dined at the Gordon St Garage for lunch.
I ordered the beetroot and goat’s cheese salad (one of my favourite flavour unions), neglecting to notice the inclusion of ‘orange’ in the description…
Happy to say, when the dish which finally arrived in front of me and I took my first bite, I was immediately impressed.
The small segments of blood orange gave a noticeable but not overpowering burst of freshness to the earthiness of the baby beets. Their juice isn’t as sweet as ordinary oranges, which means it lends that perfect kick of zest and acidity.
So here we have it – a salad inspired by fare from the Gordon St Garage and a dish showcasing the transition between seasons. A twist on a quintessential pairing.
I think I’ve cracked the secret…
1 bunch of baby beetroots, leaves and stalks set aside 100g goat’s curd or soft goat’s cheese ½ cup toasted hazelnuts 1 blood orange
dressing ¼ cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice 1 tsp dijon mustard 3 tsp olive oil pinch sea salt
Place beetroots in saucepan of cold water over high heat. Bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes or until the beetroot are tender.
Drain and set aside to cool briefly. Pop on some rubber gloves to prevent staining your hands, then peel and quarter the beets.
Thoroughly wash the beetroot leaves to remove any grit and discard any older leaves. Trim the remaining leaves so that only a few inches of stalk remain on each.
Using a sharp knife, cut away the ends and rind from the blood orange to expose the inner fruit. Carefully slice out the segments between the membranes, halve and set aside.
For the dressing, place all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until fully emulsified. Taste and season accordingly.
To assemble the salad, gently toss together the leaves, beetroot quarters and orange segments in a large bowl.
Scatter with hazelnuts and dot with goat’s curd. Finally, drizzle the dressing over the top just before serving.
:: Sometimes you just have to give in to comfort food and let it do its… well, comforting.
Preferably in the form of something hot, cheesy and salty, like these moreish chorizo croquettes.
Last week I was given some wonderful venison chorizo – incredibly smokey and earthy with scents of leather, tannin and spice – from Maverick, who’d picked up a supply from the venison farm in Margaret River on his recent holiday.
The combination of the oozy, creamy filling spiked with chorizo and encased in a golden, crispy outer layer is deliciously warm and cheering.
Serve with some harissa sauce for a tingling hit of chilli (or romesco sauce for something a bit milder) to cut through the richness of the croquettes.
70g unsalted butter ⅔ cup plain flour 2 cups milk 100g chorizo, skin removed and chopped finely 75g gouda, finely grated 2 eggs, lightly beaten ½ cup plain flour, seasoned 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs rice bran oil, for deep-frying
to serve harissa sauce or romesco sauce
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add the flour and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes until combined.
Add the milk a little at a time, stirring consistently, until the mixture is smooth and cook for one minute until very thick.
Remove from heat and season to taste. Leave to cool slightly.
Heat a frypan over medium heat and fry the chorizo until starting to crisp. Remove and place chorizo on absorbent paper.
Fold the chorizo and grated cheese through the sauce and stir until the cheese has melted completely.
Spread the mixture on a flat tray and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours or until the mixture is firm.
Divide the mixture into 18 equal portions and using your hands into five centimetre logs.
Place egg, flour and breadcrumbs into separate bowls. Coat croquettes first in flour, shaking off the excess, and then dip in egg and then breadcrumbs. Place each on a board as you go.
Meanwhile, half fill a deep frypan or wok with oil and heat until a crumb dropped in the oil sizzles to the surface.
In batches, fry the croquettes for two to three minutes until golden and heated through.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper.
Serve croquettes whilst hot, accompanied by harissa or romesco sauce.