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.

mushroom ricotta quinoa bake with hot smoked salmon

quinoabake

I do a bake of some sort every couple of weeks.  I love the simplicity of a “one bowl & bake” dinner and the resulting ready-made lunch for the next day. Pasta and rice are obvious choices for this dish but I used quinoa for our dinner last week. You could just as easily use brown rice, freekeh or couscous. Don’t have ricotta? Use sour cream or cream cheese instead. Some bacon, anchovies or chorizo sauteed with the mushrooms would be delicious if you choose. Like most of my recipes, this one is so easily adapted to what you have in your fridge or cupboard so make this meal work for you.

mushroom ricotta quinoa bake

  • 2c cooked quinoa (from about 1c raw)
  • 300g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 sprigs lemon thyme (or chopped parsley or basil)
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 2 big handfuls kale or spinach
  • 1c frozen peas
  • handful of olives
  • 250g ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • about 1/3c grated parmesan (or cheddar)
  • salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 180’c. Saute the mushrooms on high heat in some olive oil until golden and cooked through. Add the garlic, thyme and zucchini and cook until aromatic. Season well. Throw in the spinach and peas and stir over the heat until the spinach is wilted and peas are hot. Tip this mushroom mix into a large bowl and add the cooked quinoa and the olives. Leave to cool a little and adjust the seasoning. Whisk the ricotta and eggs  together and add to the quinoa mixture. Mix until combined. Place mix into a 20cm baking dish, sprinkle with 2 pinches of parmesan and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the remaining parmesan and crisp green salad. We enjoyed this bake all warm and cheesy for dinner and then the next day with hot smoked salmon and a lemon mustard vinaigrette.

deep, dark chocolate beetroot cake

chobeetslice

I am so pleased to share this gorgeous one-bowl recipe with you. This is a special occasion cake, decadently rich with dark chocolate. Even if the special occasion is simply that you made it through a craptastic week, then curl up on the lounge with a cup of tea and congratulate yourself.

The beetroot isn’t here to make you feel virtuous. It adds the earthy sweetness that makes beetroot so beautiful and keeps the cake deliciously moist. This cake can be served topped very simply with creme fraiche but I strongly recommend gilding the lily with a dark chocolate ganache.

beetspoon

I use a rather small (16cm) cake ring for my weekend baking.  This gives me 8 elegant portions and means our weekend treat remains just that. If you are using a larger cake tin (20cm) then increase the recipe below by a third and allow 10-20 mins extra baking time. This recipe is also divine baked as individual gooey-centred chocolate puddings.

deep, dark chocolate beetroot cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c rice malt syrup (or maple syrup)
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 2/3 c beetroot puree   (1 large beetroot, baked in foil until soft, peeled, pureed)
  • 160g chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids, melted
  • 1c almond meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Preheat your oven to 180’C. Whisk the eggs, syrup and olive oil together. Add the beetroot puree and whisk until combined. Add the almond meal and baking powder and mix until combined. Scrape the batter into a lined 16cm cake tin/ring and place into the oven. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 160’C and bake for 30-40 mins. The cake will be ready when an inserted skewer or knife comes away with very moist crumbs – the centre should only be just cooked. Serves 8.

dark chocolate ganache

For a 16cm ring, heat 1/3 c cream or coconut cream with a pinch of salt and pour over 80g chopped 85% chocolate. Whisk until smooth and allow to cool before spreading on top of the cake. For a larger cake, use 1/2 c cream to 120g chocolate.

If the 85% chocolate is too dark for your taste, you could use 70% – but I love the bittersweet intensity of the darker chocolate against the sweetness of this cake.

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

 

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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.

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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

 

spice essentials and chicken with yoghurt, prunes and coriander

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I had a huge spring clean recently and culled my pantry with all the zeal of Martha Stewart on steroids. Amongst some forgotten treasures (ooh, chestnut cream!) and some obscure, barely used ingredients (asafoetida, anyone?), I was appalled by my stockpile of unused spices. Little jars and bags accumulated through the discovery of new dishes but which had sadly lost their magic and fragrance. So I threw out my dusty little collection and replaced them with fresh jars of the spices I use again and again.

My favourite ones are…

fennel seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, black pepper, smoked paprika, coriander seeds, star anise, ground cinnamon, whole nutmeg and cloves.

With these little lovelies, I can flavour Moroccan or Indian dishes, brew a pot of chai tea, make a Chinese master stock or enhance my baking.

Making use of 3 of my essentials, tonight’s dinner was deliciously spiced chicken in a fragrant broth.

Spiced Chicken, Yoghurt, Prunes, Coriander

  • 6 chicken thighs, preferably bone in, skin optional
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice of
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • a thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled
  • ½ bunch coriander, chopped
  • 1 tb olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced finely
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • a knob of butter
  • 1/3 c prunes or dates, chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, sliced into strips
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 2c chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½-1c yoghurt (or coconut cream)
  • 1/4 c toasted almonds or pine nuts

Blend the lemon, garlic, ginger and coriander to a paste in a food processor. Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a deep pot on medium heat. Add the onions, cover with a lid and cook until soft (about 10 minutes).

Add the butter, spices and a big pinch of salt and cook while stirring until fragrant. Push the onions to one side and add the chicken, skin side down. Cook the chicken thighs until golden brown. Turn over, season with salt and pepper and add the coriander paste and the stock. Stir well. Add the prunes (or dates), the capsicum and sweet potato. Simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes or until the sweet potato is cooked through and the chicken is tender. Turn the heat off and stir through the yoghurt.

Serve with fresh coriander, the toasted nuts and an extra dollop of yoghurt if desired.

Make it your own: add a tin of chickpeas when you add the yoghurt for a more robust meal and great leftovers.  I particularly like this dish with wholemeal couscous and wilted spinach but steamed brown rice, barley or quinoa would also be delicious. If you can’t find chicken thighs with the bone in, use marylands, drumsticks or a mix of thighs and drumsticks.