road trip recovery nachos

nachos

I am living in post-holiday denial. Our bags are unpacked, the washing is done, the fridge has been replenished.  But I am still humming the holiday rhythm of lazy coffees, lunches with a view and no housework. A reality check tomorrow is inevitable. Until then, we shall have nachos and chocolate ice cream for dinner and pretend we have spent the day by the beach.

Nachos

  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • smoked paprika, to taste
  • 1tb chipotle in adobo sauce (don’t fret if you don’t have this)*
  • 1 tin chopped/crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tin kidney beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 tin refried beans

Saute the onion in some olive oil until soft. Add the garlic, capsicum, celery and paprika and continue cooking until soft and fragrant. Add the adobo chilli sauce if you have it. Add the tinned tomatoes, fill the empty tin with water and add that too. Add the beans and stir well. Season to taste and cook while stirring over a simmer until it thickens slightly.

Serves 6 with whatever trimmings you like.

I like our nachos spooned over sweet potato chips, baked tortilla pieces or decent bought corn chips. A light scattering of cheese, melted, and topped with guacamole, home made tomato salsa and some thick yoghurt is perfect. The nacho mix freezes well and makes the easiest, quickest meal in a flash.

*tinned chipotles chilis come in a rich, smoky sauce. This adobo sauce has much less heat than the chili but still imparts the fantastic spiced, smoky flavour of the chipotle. I use half chopped chipotle and half sauce to give the heat and flavour I like but adjust this as you wish.

 

lemon pine nut cream and nicoise salad

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

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.

 

parsnip buttermilk pancakes

 

parsnipfritters

There is such comfort to be found in cold-weather cooking. Creamy porridge, hot soups, hearty stews and warm bread attain medicinal status when it is cold outside. But just as soothing, in my mind, is the way we cook in winter. We take the time needed . We braise slowly, simmer gently, roast until meat falls off the bone and vegetables caramelise.

What to do then, when warming comfort food is needed and time is short? Reach for those root vegetables that you would normally roast and grate them instead. Parsnips make truly delicious fritters – creamy and nutty on the inside and golden brown on the outside. Serve them with avocado and roast tomatoes, prosciutto and a dollop of creme fraiche or hot smoked salmon and aioli.

This lovely recipe is from a blog called “Seasonal Ontario Food”. These pancakes are so delicious that I suggest this recipe makes only enough for a quick breakfast or lunch for 2 or 3 people. The mix can be made the night before.

Parsnip Buttermilk Pancakes

  •  1.5 c loosely packed finely grated parsnip (2 large or 3 small parsnips)
  • 1/4c wholemeal flour (I used spelt)
  • 1/2 tsp salt flakes
  • black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4c buttermilk (OR 1/4c milk and 5ml apple cider vinegar)

Mix the parsnip, flour and seasoning in a bowl so that the flour is evenly dispersed. Make a well in the middle of the parsnip. Add the egg and the buttermilk and mix them and the parsnip with a fork until combined. Cook in a hot pan in a little olive oil until each side is golden brown. Place the cooked pancakes on paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Makes 8 pancakes.

good is good enough – a baked ricotta

 

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

I found these gorgeous flower sprouts at the markets a couple of weekends ago. They are a cross between Brussels sprouts and kale and are soooo beautiful. The size of Brussels sprouts but with purple-tinged, frilled leaves, they inspired so many recipe ideas. The problem was, I thought these little babies were so lovely that not just any dish would warrant their sacrifice into the pan.

A warm salad with hazelnuts and speck?  Tossed with mushrooms and ricotta through buckwheat pasta? Baked into a gratin with gruyere? Nothing seemed perfect.

So my lovely little sprouts sat in the fridge for a couple of days until I stopped letting perfect get in the way of  good. And baked a simple ricotta.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Baked Ricotta, Flower Sprouts, Bacon

  • 2c fresh, full-fat ricotta (500g)
  • 1c finely grated parmesan (about 100g)
  • 2 eggs
  • salt & pepper
  • OPTIONAL: lemon zest, chopped chili
  • 2 bacon rashers, diced
  • 10-12 flower sprouts or Brussels sprouts, core removed and pulled apart into “petals”
  • handful pine nuts
  • handful fresh basil leaves

Mix the ricotta, parmesan and eggs together. Season and add the lemon zest and/or chili if using. Scrape into an oven-proof dish and bake @200’C for 20 minutes or until golden and slightly puffed. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Place the bacon and sprouts on a lined oven tray and bake for 5 minutes. Add the pine nuts to the tray and bake a further 2-3 minutes until bacon and sprouts are cooked and nuts are lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and mix bacon, sprouts and nuts so that the bacon fat coats everything well. Season with salt, pepper, basil and a squeeze of lemon juice and scatter over the baked ricotta.

Kitchen notes: any leftover ricotta is delicious the next day. Crumble it through a salad or slice it and serve as part of an antipasto plate. In fact, I prefer this ricotta at room temperature so feel free to bake this ahead of time.

 

 

lazy braised lentils, ham hock, mozzarella & pesto

hocklentils

This is comfort food in its purest form.  A humble pork hock is slowly cooked in a hearty tomato sauce and finished with lentils and herbs.  Unchallenging to cook and soothing to eat, this simple dish offers delicious variations to enjoy for a warming breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Honestly, the only non-negotiables here are a daggy bag of dried lentils, a bacon or ham hock and tinned tomatoes. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. I had mushrooms and half a bunch of parsley in my fridge but you could just as easily use carrot, celery, thyme, bay or basil. Don’t have a leftover fennel stalk like I did? Don’t worry. Simply throw whatever you have in a pot and let this delicious braise become oh-so-much-greater than the sum of its parts.

Lazy lentils, tomato, fennel & pork hock

  • 2tb olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, diced finely
  • 10-12 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced finely
  • 1 fennel stalk, sliced finely
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2t smoked paprika
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 bacon or ham hock
  • 2 tins diced tomato
  • 4 tins water
  • 500g dry lentils (I used the pretty French-style lentils)
  • 1/4 bunch parsley, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large deep pot that has a lid. Saute the onion, mushrooms, fennel and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add the spices and cook, while stirring, until they are also smelling fantastic. Add the hock and the tinned tomatoes. Using one of the empty tomato tins, add 4 tins of water. Cover with a lid. Simmer very gently until the pork meat is falling off the bone, roughly 2 hours. Remove the hock from the sauce and pull the meat from the bone into bite-size pieces. Add back into the sauce with the lentils and herbs and simmer for 20-30 minutes until lentils are cooked.

Note that I haven’t mentioned adding salt – don’t. The hock is sufficiently salty that you will want to taste the final product before adjusting the seasoning.

What I did next: this dish yields 6-8 hearty serves. I froze 2 serves for a future awesome easy meal. I divided the remaining cooled pork and lentils in half. I put one half into an oven-proof dish and sliced a 125g ball of mozzarella on top. I baked this @ 180’C for 15-20 minutes until the lentils were hot and the mozzarella was gooey. I drizzled pesto on top and served it with a green salad for dinner. We had the other half for breakfast a couple of days later – baked for the same amount of time but topped with 2 eggs, fresh chilli and herbs and served with bread. Delicious!

Instead of finishing the pork and lentils in the oven, you could quite easily heat them in a pot and serve them scattered with toasted breadcrumbs and crumbled parmesan or fresh ricotta and gremolata.

Kate xx

 

roast cauliflower with satay sauce

photo-24

The recipes on this blog truly reflect how I like to cook and eat at home. Simple, one pan creations that don’t require half the day in the kitchen or leave you with a pile of pots to wash when you would rather be sitting on the lounge with a glass of wine cup of tea.

This is in such contrast to my years working as a chef. In a commercial kitchen, you spend hours preparing individual components for dishes, stacking the resulting dirty trays and pots in the sink for the kitchen hand to wash. So while I have NOT brought that workload into my home kitchen,  there are certainly some chef habits that just make my life easier. So each week I write our menu, shopping and prep lists and spend some time organising my mise en place.

At home, my mise equates to having a few things in the fridge that will help bulk out leftovers or turn a tin of tuna into a lovely lunch. Each Sunday night I try to make a loaf of buckwheat zucchini bread, a robust salad and a lovely sauce or puree to get me through the week.

Here I share the simple salad I made this week. Caramelised cauliflower dressed with the easiest satay sauce. Make double the amount of satay sauce and keep some in the fridge. Toss it through rice noodles with some chicken or tofu and mushrooms or use it as a dipping sauce for sweet potato chips.

Satay sauce

  • 1/3 c coconut cream
  • 1/4 c peanut butter (or a mix of any nut or seed butter)
  • 1 tb soy sauce
  • 1 tb rice malt syrup or honey
  • 1/2 lemon, juice of (or the juice of a lime)
  • 3 garlic cloves, roasted and crushed to a paste*

Heat the coconut cream and whisk in the remaining ingredients. Adjust the salt, sweetness and acidity to your liking and maybe add some chilli if that suits you.                                                                                                       *I roast the unpeeled garlic cloves with the cauliflower.

Roast cauliflower satay salad

  • 1 cauliflower, sliced or broken into florets
  • olive oil
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/4 spanish onion, finely sliced
  • 1/4 bunch coriander, chopped
  • satay sauce from above recipe
  • OPTIONAL: toasted coconut, almonds or crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, chickpeas.

While the cauliflower is cooling, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add the cauliflower and toss well.

call me converted (cauliflower pizza)

caulipizzaphoto

Cauliflower pizza is the pizza you have when you’re not having pizza. Because, let’s be honest, it doesn’t bear much more than a passing resemblance to a thin and crispy margarita. It does, however, deserve to be appreciated for its own deliciousness.

A cauliflower pizza carries your favourite toppings beautifully and offers a rich, golden base, crispy around the edges. And if you are trying to eat more vegetables or get your wee ones to eat them, this is the perfect nutrient-dense meal for a quick week-night dinner. The base can be mixed the night before, ready to be baked when you get home from a busy day.

Cauliflower Pizza

Makes 2 large single-serve pizzas.

  • 260g (2c) riced cauliflower, cooked, cooled
  • 60g ( ½c) almond meal
  • 15g ( ¼c) nutritional yeast flakes or ¼ c grated parmesan
  • 1                 egg
  • fresh thyme leaves or dried oregano
  • salt flakes and black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Spread out into 2 circles approx. 16cm diameter. Bake in an oven at 200’C for 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Top with desired toppings and place back in the oven to heat through, another 5 or 10 minutes.

My favourite toppings? Per pizza – 2tsp tomato paste, roast eggplant, Sicilian olives, marinated mushrooms or red capsicum, anchovies, feta.