Spinach on the Side

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I haven’t made this side dish in ages which is a shame considering how much we enjoy it. With the spinach looking super fresh this morning at the green grocers, I couldn’t resist.

This can be made with baby spinach and if you like add some pine nuts.

You’ll need:-

1 Tblsp olive oil

A good knob of butter

2-3 cloves garlic – thinly sliced

1/4 cup flaked almonds

1 bunch English spinach – washed and roughly chopped

In a large fry pan melt the butter in the oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and almonds and sauté until golden brown.

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Throw in the spinach and lightly toss until wilted. Season with a little salt and pepper.

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That’s it.

I served it with baked salmon fillets that I marinaded in garlic, ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce along with baked sweet potato and fennel seeds.

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It was a great combination. The left over sweet potato made an excellent addition to garden salad for the lunch the next day.

Enjoy…

Hot Days and Chilled Yoghurt Soup.

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It’s too hot. It’s too humid and we’ve definitely over-indulged over the last few weeks.

Oh by the way…Happy New Year to everyone…

Just about everyone around me ate and drank too much and I know this because I ate and drank right along side them.

My family celebrate on Christmas Eve. All my siblings with their families and some friends that have become part of the family head over to my mum and dad’s around 7ish where there is always too much food.

We spend the night singing (out of tune) way too loudly, we dance way too wildly and we laugh like a bunch of lunatics, and would never change any of it for anything. This year was extra special because my sister, niece and nephew arrived from New Zealand at 7ish on Christmas Eve and are here for the holidays.

I only wish I had some photos to share with you of our crazy night. Maybe next year….

Anyway, too much food and wine time is over for a little while. Time to give the old body some healthy and that’s where this delicious and disgustingly healthy and cooling soup comes in.

Cold Yoghurt and Cucumber Soup with mint and garlic. It’s perfect as an entrée or served with Riz (rice and egg noodle pilaf. Check out the link for the recipe) or grilled lamb or just in a big bowl as it is.

You’ll need:-

350g natural Greek style yoghurt

1 large clove of garlic – crushed

2 lebanese cucumbers – either sliced or diced

some fresh mint leaves – finely chopped

250 ml icy cold water

salt to taste

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Now here’s the really hard bit..whisk together the yoghurt and water in a big bowl then stir in the rest of the stuff and serve.

Perfect…

Enjoy…

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Breakfast in Minutes…Spinach Omelette

Wow. It has been a long time between posts. Lets see if I remember how to do this.

Spinach omelette…

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Another super quick egg based breakfast that can easily be made into a super quick dinner by adding cheese and serving with a salad (or with some bacon or smoked salmon)

Melt a little butter in a small non-stick fry pan then toss in a couple of hands full  of baby spinach. Let them sauté for a minute or so until they’re wilted. In a small bowl lightly whisk 2 eggs with a tablespoon of cream and a pinch of salt and pepper.

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Pour the egg mix over the spinach and let it cook over a medium high heat for about a minute then carefully scrape the cooked egg into the centre allowing the uncooked egg to run to the sides of the pan and cook.

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Once it’s almost cooked either flip the omelette over or top with a little grated cheese and pop under a hot grill to finish of the cooking.

Served with some buttered toast and a few slices of fresh tomato or with some bacon or smoked salmon, this is a super quick and delicious meal.

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Enjoy…

Mmmm…where did I leave my coffee???

Spicy Tomato Soup

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I do try to follow a recipe as it is written, I really do, but the way I see it is a recipe is there as a guideline or idea. You take that idea into your kitchen and let it inspire you to cook something magnificent.

Sometimes that recipe is just what your looking for, except for that one ingredient that you don’t like or don’t have handy. 

For example, I don’t like cooked capsicum. I can easily eat a fresh capsicum and love it but once you add heat to the capsicum, I can’t eat it. Don’t judge me on that, every one has their own little quirks. I just leave it out.

This months The Cookbook Guru‘s chosen book is Neil Perry‘s – The Food I Love and Spicy Tomato Soup was exactly what we felt like for dinner.

Now, I didn’t make any major changes to the recipe, I added a little extra chilli and garlic, and didn’t have any smoked paprika so put in hot paprika and a little cayenne pepper, and of course  some fennel seeds.

The recipe does call for a herby, garlicky paste but it is well worth that little extra effort.

Here’s my version of Neil’s Spicy Tomato Soup:-

For the paste:-

4 cloves garlic – roughly chopped

1/2 red onion – roughly chopped

1 handful flat-leaf parsley

1 handful coriander leaves

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Throw everything in a food processor with a couple tablespoons of water and puree. Set aside.

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For the soup:-

2 Tbls olive oil

2 ripe tomatoes – diced

1x400g can diced tomato

2 celery stalks – diced

1 small carrot – diced

1/2 Tbls sherry or red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar 

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium saucepan and add the celery, carrot and herb paste. Cook for a few minutes, stirring it often so it doesn’t burn, then add the diced tomato, canned tomato, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and 300ml water. Bring to the boil, lower heat and let simmer,covered, for about an hour.

You can serve it as is, chunky style or you can puree it so you get a thick and smooth soup.

 I served it with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt, a generous sprinkle of chopped fresh coriander leaves and some fresh homemade bread.IMG_1308

Super Quick Breakfast II. Onion and Tomato Omelet

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Another quick and super delicious breakie.

All you need to do is melt  a little butter in a small non-stick fry-pan. Throw in few very thinly sliced brown or red onion wedges and let them cook on a medium high heat until soft. Add 1 small tomato that you’ve cubed and stir it around for a couple of minutes until the tomato starts to break down.

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Season with salt and pepper.

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Pour in a couple of eggs that have been lightly whisked with 1/2 Tblsp cream. Gently push the cooked egg from the outside into the centre of the fry-pan and carefully tilt the pan so that the uncooked egg runs to the edges and cooks. (I sure hope that makes sense!!!)

I had a few baby bocconcini in the fridge so I sliced them up and added them just before everything was nearly cooked.

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You can flip the whole thing over if you want the eggs cooked all the way through or shove it under the grill for a minute.

It took less than 10 minutes and breakfast was on the table.

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Now…Where’s my coffee???

Enjoy…

Baked Butter Beans with Onion, Tomato and Parsley

My first choice from The Cookbook Guru book of the month, Tessa Kiros’s ‘Falling Cloudberries’ is a baked beans recipe.

I have been wanting to make my own baked beans for ages, the thing is, I have absolutely no reasons or excuses to offer as to why I haven’t yet.

That’s all about to change.

I borrowed a copy of the book from one of the local libraries though having had a look at it wouldn’t mind owning a copy.

Such a diverse collection of recipes and so well set out. I have little bits of paper poking from between the pages as bookmarks for the recipes I want try and the beans are first off the rank.

Now, I couldn’t help myself and have altered the recipe a little (maybe one day I’ll follow a recipe to the letter, maybe???)

What you’ll need is…

1 x 400g can of butter beans – drained and rinsed well

1 Tbls olive oil

1/2 onion – thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic – finely chopped

1 stalk celery – finely diced

200g canned diced tomato (diced fresh tomato will work too)

2 Tbls bread crumbs

2 – 3 Tbls finely chopped parsley

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Heat the oil in a fry pan and add the onion. Saute until soft and just starting to colour around the edges.

Take off the heat, add the garlic, celery and tomato and season well with salt and pepper.  Stir in 100ml water.

Put the drained beans in a deep ovenproof dish and pour the tomato sauce over it. Give it a gentle stir, cover it with foil and bake at 180oc for 40 minutes then remove the foil and give it a gentle stir adding  a little more water if the beans are getting too dry.

Sprinkle with a couple of dashes of worcestershire sauce (totally optional) and the bread crumbs and return to the oven, uncovered, for another 30 minutes.

The beans should be very tender and golden on top and the sauce should be thick and sticking to the beans.

Sprinkle the parsley on top and it’s ready.

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This makes a great accompaniment to roast or grilled meats or just spooned over lightly grilled sourdough bread.

I served it with grilled lamb chump chops and a mint and garlic yoghurt sauce.

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Enjoy…

Riz ib Fool – Broad Beans with Rice.

So, Happy New Year to all. Hope you had a wonderful New Years Eve and a quick recovery New Years Day.

Every year my husband and I sit on our balcony overlooking huge native fig trees with a mezza spread and a glass (or 6) of wine and beer.

This year we decided to try something different and flew to Adelaide for a few days and spent New Years Eve on a 10th floor balcony looking over Adelaide city.

We got to Adelaide, dropped off our bag and marched ourselves to Adelaide Central Markets.20140104-174036.jpg I absolutely love that place. It has everything you could possibly need from delicious local and overseas cheeses to perfectly ripe fresh fruit and veggies, amazing sour dough breads and all sorts of chocolates, cakes and pastries. It is heaven to me and a great shame you can’t find the same great variety of providores and produce under the same roof in Sydney. That’s not to say we don’t have amazing shops and produce in Sydney, it’s just that you have to visit several different shops to get the same variety. Probably dug myself in a big hole with that comment, but anyway…..ImageImageWe had a wonderful New Years Eve.

We also had dinner at Coopers Alehouse on our first night in Adelaide. What a great place. Lots of beers on tap, a good wine list and something on the menu to satisfy just about anyone.

20140104-180152.jpgAnd so now its time to ease off a little on the holiday food and give our systems a dose of light and healthy.

This dish was just what we needed.

In a small saucepan melt a little butter with a dash of olive oil. Add 100g of lean minced beef and squash with the back of a spoon while browning. Season well with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Next add 200g broad beans (frozen or fresh), stir then pour in 350ml water and stir again. Cover, bring to the boil, turn heat down and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

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Now throw in 1/2 cup of long grain rice, stir, cover and allow the rice to absorb the water (it takes about 20 minutes on a very low heat). Stir it once or twice.

Once the rice is cooked leave the saucepan covered for about 10 minutes then you’re ready to serve.

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Yes..it’s really simple but oh so delicious.

Leave out the mince and you have yourself a delicious vegetarian dish.

We serve this with a good dollop of natural yoghurt, sticks of cucumber, wedges of tomato and some marinated olives.

Enjoy…

and all the best for 2014.

Super Quick Breakfast – Tomato and Kale with Egg.

ImageFancy a quick and healthy breakfast?

Its really easy, chop up a stalk of kale and dice up a small tomato. Throw them into a small fry pan with a small knob of better and a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Sauté on a medium heat for about 3 minutes then pour over a couple of lightly whisked free range eggs.

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Season with a little salt, a grind of pepper and a sprinkle of sweet paprika.

You can either practice your tossing skills and flip over the omelette or simply place it under a hot grill.

Serve with toast and coffee or juice or tea or water or…………

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Enjoy…

Pasta with Eggplant and Tomato…

Eggplant has got to be one of my favourite vegetables. You can do so much with it.

This particular recipe is actually a Lebanese meza dish that I’ve made into a pasta sauce.

The original recipe is cooked and then eaten cold as part of spread of dishes called a meza. Lots of plates with lots of tasty food spread out on a table and shared between family and friends. Its a very social way of eating.Image

And this is a very simple recipe….

To a large fry pan add 2 tbls olive oil and sauté 1/2 an onion that you’ve finely sliced. Once the onion has softened and started to brown a little add some eggplant (one medium sized or two small) that you’ve chopped into large pieces. Let them cook for a few minutes, stirring often so they don’t stick to the fry pan then throw in two diced large tomatoes, 2-3 chopped cloves of garlic and if you like it spicy, a couple of finely sliced chillies.

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Season with salt and pepper, add a couple of tablespoons of water, stir well, cover and let simmer gently for about 20-25 minutes or until the eggplant is cooked.

I like to add a few kalamata olives and a bit of fresh basil in at the end.

Boil up your favourite pasta, stir it through the sauce and serve.

So simple, so delicious.

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Enjoy…

It’s easy eating greens….especially when your mum’s neighbour grows lots of it.

Spinach and Feta Pie

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My mums across the road neighbour has a green thumb and a generous hand to go with it.

No matter what she pushed into the dirt, it grows and so my mum gets all these wonderful freshly harvested veggies.

Last week there was bags of silverbeet, kale and lettuce on my mums kitchen table when I went to visit.

‘Take what you want’ is all I needed to hear and I descended on those veggies with a bag of my own.

And so a wonderful filo pastry pie is on tonight’s menu.

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Unfortunately I didn’t really measure ingredients for this recipe but I’ll approximate.

After washing and draining maybe half a bunch of silverbeet and half a bunch of kale I finely sliced them up and added them to a large bowl with 2 thinly sliced spring onions (mostly the green parts, the whites I put in the salad), 200g fresh ricotta cheese, 120g crumbled goats feta (cows feta works well too), a little sprinkle of salt (the feta can be salty, taste it), 1/2 tbls coarsely ground black pepper(put less if you not a big fan of pepper, we are), 1 tbls fennel seeds (yum), and 4 free range eggs.

Mix really well until thoroughly combined.

Next, melt some butter and brush a sheet of filo pastry with it, cover it with another sheet and brush with butter. Repeat this with another 4 sheets of pastry. Fold the buttered sheets in half and line a buttered deep medium oven proof dish.

Spread the spinach filling over the pastry and butter another 6 sheets as before. Cover the filling and tuck in the sides and edges. Brush liberally with butter and bake in a pre heated 180c oven for 45-50 minutes or until lovely and brown.

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Serve with a fresh salad and for the grown ups a chilled glass of white wine.

Mmmmmm…

Enjoy…