Friday, May 29, 2009

Tomato, bean and sausage soup

I have made this soup forever. It is quick and easy to make with canned staples and tastes good for a night when you want a hearty meal with lots of taste but cannot really be bpothered with lots of cooking. Most of the ingredients are replacable for other variations. Try chorizo (if only i could get it here), some mushrooms, chickpeas, basil; there are any number of yummy possibilities.

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
half a carrot, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
1 japanese eggplant, diced
3 gourmet sausages, i used Merguez this time, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 can of brown lentils (it would be better to soak them overnight and pre cook but i can rarely be this organised)
1 can of cannellini beans, or other bean (ditto above)
2 cans of peeled chopped tomatoes
170g (or thereabouts) can of tomato paste (things come in weird sizes here)
1 bunch spinach, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves

Fry up onion and garlic in a heavy bottomed pot till transparent. Add carrot, celery and eggplant and sweat until soft. Add sausages and cook through. Then add all other ingredients (except tabasco and spinch) and about 800mL water. Simmer on lowish heat for about 20-30min. Add tabasco, spinch, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a crusty french baguette.

This makes enough for about 6-8 peeps. Or it freezes well for later.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Choccie caramel slice

Mmmmmmmm yum a good sticky gooey caramel is always a winner in my books. I made this a few weeks ago and have thought about making it just about every day since. I haven't yet, mainly because Arj has demanded to be involved in other baking projects but I'm not sure another week will pass without a new batch

1 cup sr flour
1 cup of coconut
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats (this is optional, I didn't have any last time I made this and it was absolutely fine)
150g butter melted
395g can of sweetened condensed milk
2 tbs golden syrup
30g butter extra
200g dark chocolate
• preheat oven to 180 deg
• combine flour, coconut, brown sugar, oats and butter press into baking paper lined slice tray
• Bake for 10 mins
• To make caramel, add s.c. milk, golden syrup and extra butter in pan bring to the boil stirring, reduce heat simmer for five minutes, stirring until a light brown colour
• Pour caramel over cooked base and bake for another 10 mins, let cool
• Spread melted choc over caramel filling

Enjoy with a lovely cuppa to cure three-thirtyitis.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lamb cutlets, mint salsa and roast pumpkin mash

So for the past couple of weeks John has been making 'joke' comments about wanting a crown roast. You know the type of thing,
Sal "what should we eat?"
John "a crown roast with thrice baked potatoes, truffles and greens tossed in verjuice" (said in his poshest 'Pru & Trude' voice)

So yesterday I saw these lovely organic lamb racks at the supermarket and I couldn't go past them. I didn't really know what to do with them then and there, so just made up this dish with what we had at home. Well John was well impressed, declaring it to be perhaps the best meal I had ever made, high praise indeed! Personally I think he just has a short food memory, but it was pretty tasty, the minty salsa was much better than I expected.


* Lamb rack (size will depend on how many you are cooking for I had just under 500g for 2 peeps)
* Olive oil, salt and pepper to season
* Butternut pumpkin chopped (again, amount depends on peeps)
* splosh of cream
* 1 lebanese cucumber (diced finely)
* almost a cup of mint leaves
* 2 spring onions
* 1/2 an avocado
* 1 tbs olive oil
* 2 tbs balsamic
* 1 tsp sugar

* Start with pumpkin by tossing in olive oil and season with salt and pepper, place in moderately hot oven (200deg) to roast for about 45 mins
* After about half and hour turn the oven down to 170-180 so it is not too hot for the lamb
* With the lamb rack just trim it of any big obvious fatty bits, rub olive oil into it then season with salt and pepper.
* When the pumpkin is roasted and soft, take from oven but keep warm, before serving mash with fork and add a splash of cream if you need a bit more moisture, but you may not need anything.
* Place lamb in (now slightly cooler)oven, and you'll need to cook it for about half and hour for each 500g of meat to have it lovely and moist

Salsa-as I said was a bit of an experiment but lovely, and this is what I did
* Chopped cucumber finely, added finely chopped spring onion
* Stir through olive oil and balsamic (I have pretty good olive oil and divine balsamic and seriously think this is the most important thing for these kind of cold dishes)
* As I was chopping the mint I sprinkled a pinch of sugar over the leaves, then stirred them through the rest of the mixture (adding a leeeetle more sugar at the same time)
* The finely diced avocado was a bit of an after thought so that went in at the very end, but a fine addition

A surprise little bit of gourmet for a thursday night in the burbs. Easy and tasty, Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll

When we were in Sweden, sometimes I craved a good old Aussie sausage roll. Not sure why really, but maybe it was the fact that the sausages, or 'korv' as they are known there were disappointing. close to Germany but so far from wurst it was unbelievable. When I got back here, the craving was well and truly stifled, what with all the other great food to get back into, so I'm not sure that I have actually had a sausage roll until now. We all know the slight worry of what we might be consuming with store bought meaty products like sausage rolls and pies, so as I'm not that into pre-packaged/made/processed food and my herb garden is doing pretty well, I thought I'd give it a go myself and the results were pretty darn good. I did cheat a little this time with frozen puff pastry, but that is easily rectified and will be the next thing to try with this recipe.

300-400g beef (I had some cheapish steak)
1 egg
handful of breadcrumbs
7-8 sage leaves
5-6 sprigs of dried oregano (I had dried a bunch from the garden and just shook it into the mixture but fresh would be good too- just use more if it)
2 tbs parsley chopped
squirt of tomato sauce
1 egg whisked extra for basting
1 or 2 sheets of puff pastry

* Preheat oven at about 180 degrees
* I have some beef left over from the day before so I put it in the food processor to mince
* Mix minced meat with chopped herbs, egg, breadcrumbs and tomato sauce
* Cut sheet of pastry into thirds then place meat mixture in a long sausage down the length of each third and roll up
* Brush top with egg and bake for about half an hour

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Chickpea salad

This has proven to be a BBQ staple for me, as well as an easy meal to whip together when you have very little time but dinner guests so still need something which is semi presentable. There are so so many incarnations of it - this is one that I made last week for my firend Alex who lives in rural Laos and rarely gets western ingredients.


1 onion, diced
2 small japanese eggplants, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced
5 roma tomotoes, diced
handful of green beans, cut into 3cm pieces
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed
100g feta cheese
4 gourmet sausages, any nice sounding variety, although I think chorizo is hard to beat here, chopped into 1 cm pieces
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp chopped parsley


In a large saucepan or wok, fry onions in a good lug of olive oil until transparent. Add eggplant and fry until cooked. Add sausage and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until they collapse and are mushy. If the pan gets dry then add small amounts of water to moisten.

Add beans and cook for further 2 minutes. Add chickpeas, stir through. Take off heat. Add feta and red wine vinegar and mix through. Season with salt and pepper - it should have a little bite from the vinegar but it should not be overpowering. Add parsley, mix up and serve.


I have usually used the same onion, eggplant and tomato base but made many variations.

  • Use brown lentils not chickpeas
  • Add rocket or English spinach at at the end - just stir it through
  • Vary the cheeses - a goat feta works well, as does ricotta
  • If you have time, roast the tomatoes first for a stronger flavour