Tuna with caponata

Serves: 4

We love a piece freshly cooked tuna or swordfish, dressed with diced tomato, olives, some balsamic and olive oil. Super simple, super quick, foolproof.

Which means that caponata and fresh tuna – with, let’s say, three-times the effort of the abovementioned – really is where you need to be for that special, healthy, weeknight dinner.

It’s worth the extra effort.

Add some steam greens or a green salad – and definitely a bottle of white wine – and this is an awesome meal for you and friends.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
4 tuna steaks
Extra-virgin olive oil to serve
Lemon wedges to serve
Steam beans or a green salad to serve

Caponata

1/4 cup olive oil
1 small red onion, cut into 2cm pieces
1 large eggplant, cut into 2cm pieces
200gm grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
12 black olives, pitted and halved
1 1/2 tbsp capers in vinegar, rinsed
1 birdseye chilli, thinly sliced

Method

  1. For the caponata, heat half the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add onion and stir until golden and softened (5 minutes). Remove from pan.
  2. Add the eggplant and remaining oil to the pan and stir to coat; add 1/4 cup of water and then cover with a lid and steam until tender (5 minutes). Remove the lid and cook, stirring occasionally until golden (5 minutes).
  3. Return onions to the pan, add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally until tomatoes soften.
  4. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Season tuna and add to the pan and sear, turning once until cooked medium rare (2-3 minutes each side).
  5. Cut steaks in half and serve with caponata, lemon wedges, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil… steamed beans or a salad and definitely that bottle of white!

Pear, Rocket and Parmesan Salad

Serves: 4

Nothing compliments pizza and pasta better than a salad.

This rocket, pear and Parmesan salad is right down the line and reasonably healthy.

You may actually eat it when the pizza runs out!

Ingredients

2 pears (Beurre Bosc if you can), cored and thinly sliced
2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
125gm baby rocket leaves
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Combine the oil, vinegar and a good squeeze of lemon juice, season and whisk well.
  2. Lightly toss together the pear, rocket and Parmesan, drizzle over the oil combination and toss once more.

Ajoy Joshi’s Chicken Dhaniwal

Serves: 4

Ajoy Joshi is the genius behind Nilgiris, a bit of an Indian institution on the Lower North Shore of Sydney.

He also runs a smaller, quite intimate restaurant – Tellicherry – which serves wonderfully contemporary Indian cuisine. Small plate after small plate and even more wonderfully, completely BYO.

It is one of our favourite restaurants and a real treat on the few nights a week it is open.

Anyway, I recently hit the big 40 and Nat organised the best present of all: a long lunch (my favourite), Indian (my favourite) and 30 of my best friends (my favourites):

And she convinced Tellicherry to open especially for it!

As we left – after a cracking meal with cracking service – Mr Joshi gave me a copy of his cookbook (Regional Indian Cooking) – and the next night we did our first curry.

Hands down, it was one of the best curries we have cooked. (It reminded us of the amazing Christine Mansfield 100 Almond Curry.)

In the boy, Ajoy says: “I first tried this dish at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi. I knew instantly that if I ever wrote a book, this recipe would definitely be in it.”

No question.

Enjoy!

(And here is to being 40. The new 30, right?)

Ingredients

1kg chicken thighs, cut into pieces
2 brown cardamom pods
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
3 whole cloves
5 green cardamom pods, crushed
2.5cm piece cinnamon stick
2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt, whisked until smooth
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
Leaves from 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Steamed Basmati Rice to serve

Method

  1. In a saucepan, combine chicken, brown cardamom, turmeric and water. Place over a low heat, bring to simmer and cook until the chicken is almost tender, almost 20 minutes. Remove chicken from stock and set aside. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve and reserve.
  1. In a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat oil over a medium-low heat. Add onions and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are dark golden brown, 20 – 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.
  2. Reheat oil remaining in pan over medium heat. Add cloves, green cardamom, cinnamon, yogurt and garlic. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens: 10 – 15 minutes. Sauce may appear curdled at this stage, but will be fine after further cooking.
  3. Add chicken to sauce in pan and cook, stirring, until sauce coats chicken. Add 1/4 cup reserved stock and cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through and tender: about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in fried onions, coriander and pepper. Serve immediately.

300 calorie: Indian-spiced shepherd’s pie

Serves: 4 

By Nat Beerworth

Not only did we cook this dish twice we cooked it thrice! Its super healthy and super delicious. Good to chuck in the freezer for a rainy day. Takes about 15 mins to prep and 50 mins to cook.

Ingredients

500g pack lean minced lamb
1 onion chopped
2 carrots diced
2 tbsp garam masala
200ml hot stock (beef or chicken)
200g frozen peas
1 can tomatoes
800g potatoes diced
1 tsp turmeric
small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
juice half lemon, plus wedges to serve

Method

  1. In a large non-stick frying pan, cook the lamb, onion and carrots, until the lamb is browned and veg is starting to soften, about 8 mins.
  2. Add the the garam masala and some seasoning and cook for a further 2 mins until fragrant. Pour in the stock, tomatos, bring to the boil, add in the peas and cook for a further 2 mins until the peas are cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Meanwhile, cook potatoes in a large pan of salted water until just tender, about 8 mins. Drain well, return to the pan and gently stir in turmeric and coriander – try not to break up the potatoes too much.
  4. Heat oven to 180 degrees. Transfer the mince to a baking dish and top with the turmeric potatoes. Squeeze over the lemon juice, then bake for 30-35 mins until potatoes are golden. Serve immediately with extra lemon wedges on the side.

Calories: 317

Billy Kwong inspired- Steamed snapper, ginger and soy broth

Serves: 4 

By Nat Beerworth

This dish ventures quite far from what we typically cook but it is fragrant, elegant and classy. Healthy is an added bonus but its definitely not the point.

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What it is supposed to look like. I need to work on my presentation skills. 

Ingredients

2 large knobs ginger, peeled
4 shallots
800ml chicken stock
2 star anise
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp honey
5 drops sesame oil
4x 200g snapper fillets (we used ling)
1 long red chilli, finely sliced
1 bunch choy sum, trimmed and washed

 

Method

  1. Roughly chop one knob of ginger and place in a saucepan with the green ends of the shallots, chicken stock, star anise, pepper, soy, sugar, honey and sesame oil.
  2. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes and strain into a clean saucepan.
  3. Place snapper in a steamer. Finely slice remaining ginger and shallots and place on the fish with chilli. Steam until just cooked, about 5 minutes.
  4. Steam choy sum until bright green and tender.
  5. Place in bottom of four bowls and gently place snapper on top. Pour over warm broth.

Calories: 264

 

Spaghetti Machiavelli

Serves: 4 as an entree

Machiavelli’s – a Sydney lunchtime institute for as long as I can remember – is one of our favourite restaurants.

Full of men in suits – with walls covered in photos of famous men in suits – Machiavelli has plenty of appeal to us. It’s underground and a great place to hide; we get to watch bankers and lawyers and important women and men lunch whilst we spend the whole time talking about our kids and planning our next holiday.

The service is on-point. The food is excellent. There is a real excitement about the place.

Being a business restaurant, the food flies out.

We always order the calamari and gamberi fritti to start and I swear it arrives before the waiter has punched in the order.

Then it is on to the signature dish: Spaghetti Machiavelli.

Which is one of my top 5 favourite pastas ever. And the only main I have ever ordered at Machiavelli’s.

Butter. Fish Stock, Prawn. Chilli.

Stop it!

A few weeks back, we had an Italian cook off at my parent’s house. I found the recipe for the Spaghetti Machiavelli at the back of the Internet and boom.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Spaghetti Machiavelli.

And let me leave you with this:

My mother – who is my cooking inspiration – said it was the best pasta she had ever had.

What are you waiting for!

Ingredients

160gm prawn meat, rough chopped
100gm button mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp fresh garlic, crushed
1 tsp Thai red chilli, chopped
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
300gm Spaghetti
300ml fish stock

To Serve

4 tsp butter
2 handfuls of butter
Salt and pepper to season

Method

  1. Saute the prawn meat, mushrooms, garlic and chilli in the oil until the prawns are half cooked through.
  2. Cook the spaghetti in salted water until al dente. Drain and add the pasta to the prawn mixture.
  3. Add the fish stock and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Toss the butter and basil leaves through, season and serve immediately.

Asian Burgers with Spicy Slaw

Serves: 4 

By Nat Beerworth

Who says being on a diet means you can’t eat burgers? These Turkey burgers are a really nice compromise.

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Ingredients

2 cups shredded cabbage (mixed green and red)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp chives (minced)
2 tsp cilantro (minced)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup fat free mayonnaise
3-4 tsp Sriracha sauce (optional)
500g ground turkey breast
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp fresh ginger (minced)
2 tsp garlic (minced)
4 whole wheat light hamburger buns
1 cup thinly sliced cucumbers

 

Method

  1. In a bowl, combine the cabbage, rice vinegar, chives, cilantro, sugar, salt, mayonnaise and Sriracha sauce (if using). Mix well.
  2. Combine the ground turkey, soy sauce, ginger and ginger. Mix well.
  3. Form the ground turkey mixture into four equal patties.
  4. Grill the patties for 3 – 5 minutes per side, or until the center of the pattie measures 75 degrees.
  5. Toast the buns for 1 minute.
  6. Serve the burgers on the buns, topped with the slaw and cucumbers.

Serving Size: 1 slider | Calories: 283