mushroom barley risotto, roast tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella

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We have some absolutely gorgeous buffalo mozzarella in our fridge this week. The mozzarella comes from a local buffalo farm that we were lucky enough to visit recently. I was amazed at how social the buffalo were, congregating near us to say hello, and how graceful their gait.

This meal was born from a desire to showcase this lovely cheese without relying on my default dish of eggplant parmigiana. Pearl barley has a slight chewiness when cooked and is a delicious alternative to arborio rice. I encourage you to experiment with other additions to this risotto. Chorizo and tomato or bacon and pumpkin would be fantastic substitutions for the mushrooms.

mushroom barley risotto

  • splash of olive oil, knob of butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, diced
  • 6 sprigs of thyme, leaves of
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 doz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1.5 litres stock of your choice (I used cold chicken stock)
  • 2c pearl barley
  • 2/3 c grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
  • a knob of butter
  • 2 balls buffalo mozzarella
  • 2 punnets cherry tomatoes, roasted
  • basil or parsley to serve

In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic and thyme leaves in the olive oil and butter until cooked through and fragrant. Add mushrooms, cook until golden brown. Add the pearl barley, stir through. Add the stock. Cook on a simmer for 15-20 minutes while stirring every now and then. When barley is soft and stock has reduced, remove the pot form the stove and stir through the parmesan and the second knob of butter. Add salt and pepper as desired. Serve, topped with extra parmesan, the roast tomatoes,herbs and torn mozzarella. Serves 6.

 

vanilla pears with baked nutty crumble

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After years of cooking in restaurants and crafting dishes of increasing complexity, I truly get the most pleasure now from recipes as simple as this crumble. A crumble is everything that is good about winter – warm, ripe fruit, a nutty crumble topping and the contrast of cold cream or ice cream.

pearscrumb

This crumble celebrates the natural sweetness of pears and the spiced topping is a mix of whatever nuts you may have in the cupboard. We had this for dessert a couple of nights ago and I have eaten it for breakfast since with some gorgeous Clevedon Valley buffalo milk yoghurt.

crumble

 

nutty pear crumble

  • 4-5 sweet, ripe pears, cored, diced (I used Buerre Bosc pears)
  • splash white wine
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 40g butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 2 tb (40ml) rice malt syrup or maple syrup
  • 1/4c almond meal
  • 1/4c oats (traditional or quick) or quinoa flakes
  • 1/4c coconut flour
  • 1/2c nuts (I used half pistachio, half pine nuts)
  • 1/4c pumpkin or sunflowers seeds
  • 1/4tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1/2 lemon, zest of

Place the diced pears in a saucepan and add a splash of wine and the vanilla. Cover with a lid and cook over medium heat until the wine starts to simmer. Remove the lid and continue cooking until wine has almost evaporated and the pears have softened. This should take only minutes. Pour into a baking dish. Cool to room temperature.

For the topping, place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mix comes together but some of the nuts and seeds are still in large pieces. Sprinkle the crumble evenly all over the pears and bake at 175’C for 20-25 mins until the topping is golden brown. Delicious served with good yoghurt, cream or ice cream. Serves 6.

Note: If you can’t find coconut flour, simply process some dried coconut until a fine powder. This recipe could also be made with apples but you may need to sweeten them if they are more tart than sweet. The topping is gluten free if using certified gluten free oats or quinoa flakes and would make lovely biscuits, I think.

roast chicken in milk with garlic, sage, lemon, cinnamon

sagemilkchicken

This is just a lovely dish that I cannot recommend enough. Chicken legs are cooked in a milk, fragrant with zest, garlic and spice. Add creamed corn and roast potatoes and this is roast chicken heaven.

chicken cooked in milk

  • 4 chicken marylands (drumstick/thigh)
  • 1 lemon, peeled zest of
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 6 cloves of garlic, squashed a little
  • 4-6 sprigs sage, leaves from
  • 2 c full cream milk
  • salt, olive oil

In a hot pan, brown the chicken legs till golden. Pop into a baking dish with the lemon zest, cinnamon, garlic, sage leaves and milk. Cover with foil, bake at 190’C for 20 mins, discard foil, baste, cook 15 mins more. Remove from oven. Drain off milk into a pot. Reduce over med-high while stirring until curds develop (see white lumps in photo?) and the milk is saucy. Pour sauce over chicken before serving.
Serve with creamed corn or polenta and some roast vegetables. You’re welcome. 🙂

lemon pine nut cream and nicoise salad

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I bought a bag of little sweet potatoes at the markets last weekend with plans to make a herby potato salad of crispy bacon, spanish onion, capers and gherkins. However, I had some of this lovely lemon pine nut cream in the fridge and it, and this gloriously sunny winter weather, called for something a bit brighter.

The pine nut cream was left from some gnocchi that we had earlier this week. It is incredibly versatile and and lifts a dish from everyday to elegant. Some inspiration…

  • sweet potato gnocchi, lemon pine nut cream, dill, smoked salmon
  • roast chicken, lemon pine nut cream, tarragon roast potatoes
  • charred brussels sprouts, crispy bacon, breadcrumbs, lemon pine nut cream
  • linguine with peas, leeks, lemon pine nut cream
  • herb crusted-fish, lemon pine nut cream, iceberg lettuce salad
  • stuffed baked onions, breadcrumbs, lemon…       Well, you get the idea.

For the nicoise salad above, I simply combined the roasted potatoes with excellent tinned tuna, green beans, semi-dried tomatoes, olives, spanish onion and chopped anchovy. Topped with the cream and a boiled egg, it was a lovely mid-week lunch.

Kitchen Tip: make a double batch of this sauce and use it through the week to dress up a quick week-night dinner.

 

lemon pine nut cream sauce

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 15ml olive oil
  • 1/3 c pine nuts, processed to crumbs
  • 1/4 lemon, zest of
  • 1/3 c white wine
  • 1c thick cream
  • thyme or tarragon, optional

In a small saucepan, heat olive oil on med-high heat.  Add minced garlic and cook while stirring until fragrant.   Add ground pine nuts and herbs (if you have them) and cook while stirring until fragrant and golden. Add white wine and bring back to boil. Add cream and zest and simmer for 2 minutes .  Add salt and pepper to taste.  I like to puree the sauce after cooking to obtain a silky smooth cream but this isn’t essential. This serves 4 as a garnish.

 

cheesy pulled pork quesadillas

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Toasties. Jaffles. Panini. Quesadillas. Golden and crispy on the outside, warm and melty on the inside. Take some choice leftovers, add bread, toast, serve, repeat.

I had kept some of our pulled pork belly aside for these quick and easy quesadillas. I sprinkled some pulled pork, spanish onion, tomato, coriander, grated cheddar and olives over half a wholemeal tortilla and folded it closed. Flashed into a lightly oiled pan over med-high heat and flipped so both sides are golden brown, this lunch was ready in less than 10 minutes.

 

pulled pork belly, sweet potato skins and avocado

sweetpotpp

There are few things more satisfying to cook and eat than pulled pork. Requiring little effort to get into the oven and yielding to the gentle prod of a fork when done, slow-roasted pork is juicy, smoky, spicy deliciousness. Throw it into a soft bun with coleslaw or toast it in a quesadilla with cheese and pickles. We loved it with black beans, sweet potato and guacamole.

Many pulled pork recipes ask for chipotle and piquillo chilies which are not always easily found. It is not uncommon to see up to a cup of sugar listed as an ingredient. The recipe below is made from things I always have on hand and goes lightly on the added sugar.

porkbellyforkedpork

pulled pork belly

  • 750g pork belly, skin on
  • 1tb fennel seeds
  • 1tb cumin seeds
  • 1tb smoked paprika
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 5 semi-dried tomatoes
  • 1tb rice malt syrup or maple syrup
  • 1tb apple cider vinegar
  • 1 leek or large onion, finely sliced

Oven at 200’C. In a food processor, blend the spices, garlic, tomatoes, syrup and vinegar with a little water to make a paste. Rub all over the pork belly with a good amount of salt. Spread the sliced leek or onion over the bottom of a baking or roasting dish and place the pork on top. Pour half a cup of water in the bottom of the dish. Place in the oven and turn the heat down to 130’C. Roast for 30 minutes then cover with foil. Continue cooking for 5-6 hours until pork falls apart when prodded with a fork. Pull pork apart with 2 forks while still warm. Chop up the skin and mix through the meat. I froze half of my pulled pork.

sweet potato skins

Roast 2 halved smallish sweet potatoes at 200’c for 45-60 minutes, flesh side down. Scoop out the soft flesh and reserve it for another meal (I made gnocchi with mine). Drain and rinse a tin of black beans and mix them with diced onion, tomato and grated cheese. Fill the 4 potato skins with the bean mix, top with pulled pork and pop back into the oven for 10 minutes or until warmed through. Top with avocado puree and coriander.