Thomas John’s Snapper with Saffron Broth

Serves: 4

This is such a delicate, Spanish, summer-lunch: a recipe my mother shared with me.

Seafood, saffron, fish stock and petite vegetables. How could you go wrong?

Open a white wine. Pour the wine. Tear some crusty bread.

Time is on your side.

Enjoy.

(And pour more wine! It’s summer!)

Ingredients

100ml olive oil
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 small leek (white only), thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
12 black mussels, cleaned
2 1/2 tbsp white wine
2 cup fish stock
1 tsp saffron threads
4 snapper fillets, skin scored
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1 potato, peeled, cubed and cooked
20 asparagus spears, blanched
1 bunch English spinach, stalks trimmed
Sea salt and pepper
Parsley sprigs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160c.
  2. Cook the celery, leek and shallots in half the olive oil for 1 minute, increase the heat to high, add the mussels and wine and cover for 3 minutes or until the mussels open.
  3. Strain the mixture and return the liquid to the pan and reduce by 1/3.
  4. Add the stock and saffron and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Sauté the fish skin side down in the remaining oil for 2 minutes, turn over and cook for 1 minute and then place in the oven for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the potato and tomato to the broth and heat through and season.
  7. Add the asparagus, spinach and mussels and simmer until the spinach is just wilted.
  8. Divide the spinach and asparagus among bowls and pour over the broth.
  9. Scatter the mussels, tomato and potato around and then top with the fish and garnish with parsley.

Karen Martini’s Cabbage Salad

Serves: 8

You really can’t go wrong with anything Karen Martini.

This salad is no exception.

We served it along-side some wicked BBQ chicken and lordy, this was a good combination.

And healthy too.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

1/2 cabbage, very finely shredded
6 mint sprigs, leaves picked and torn
6 red radishes, very finely sliced
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ground caraway seeds!
1/2 lemon juiced
100 mls olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

  1. Whisk together the caraway, lemon juice, olive and salt and pepper.
  2. Toss the dressing with the cabbage, mint, radish and onion, and stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Super low calorie Chocolate Chip Brownies

Makes: 32

During Covid, the decision was made that we should be like the Kardashians and always have a stocked cake stand in our kitchen.

The main beneficiaries have been the three boys who now have a permanent patisserie on hand, especially five minutes before dinner: 6.55pm, grab a piece of fudge or a cupcake or a slice of cheesecake, why not?

The issue is that I certainly don’t need a 24/7 patisserie in our house, let alone anywhere I can walk or drive.

A recent honeycomb lasted an evening. As just one example.

Which is why this brownies are amazing.

Cut into 32, these are 23-calories each. Yep.

23.

And even if they were 33 or 43, it’s a patisserie miracle.

And sure, they’d find it hard to duke it out with something full of walnuts and butter, though on their own, they’re great.

And you won’t have regrets the next morning.

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup stevia
1/4 cup milk of choice
2 tbsp egg whites
1 cup fat-free vanilla yoghurt (we used Greek)
1 tsp vanilla extract (or essence)
2 tbsp chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180c. Spray a square baking dish with non-stick spray and line with baking paper.
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate bowl mix the stevia, milk, egg whites, yoghurt and vanilla.
  1. Pour the wet mixture into the dry. Mix to combine and pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Top with chocolate chips. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. All to cool before slicing into squares.

Burmese Chicken Curry

Serves: 6

This is down the line a wonderful, aromatic and quite light curry.

It’s also moorish.

And it is simple to make.

Process the marinade, cook with the chicken, add the bay leaves, cinnamon and stock and reduce.

Simple.

To keep it healthy, substitute some cauliflower rice and you have a cracking weekday dinner.

And what a treat on a Monday night. Something to really look forward to on a cold, rainy Covid Monday which at the time of writing this up, we have plenty more of to go.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1kg chopped chicken thigh
3 tbsp light soy
1/2 tsp turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
600ml chicken stock

Method

  1. Process together the soy, turmeric, some salt and pepper, one of the onions, 3 cloves of the garlic, the ginger and the chilli powder. Pour over the chicken.
  2. Heat the oil, fry the remaining onion and garlic until transparent and then add the chicken and dry for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon and stir in the stock.
  4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and then cover and simmer for an hour or until tender.
  5. Thicken the sauce by boiling, uncovered, at the end of the meal.
  6. Cauliflower rice – or the real deal if it’s that sort of night – and a glass of Pinot and you’re in business!

Ranch, Iceberg Lettuce Salad

Serves: 4 – 6

As soon as Covid hit Sydney, we purchased a Kamado BBQ.

They’re brilliant and I cannot recommend enough.

An ancient form of cooking in a ceramic egg, the heat retention is extraordinary. A pile of charcoal can last several BBQs.

You can cook at 60c, smoking away for a day or take it up to 450c to blast a tomahawk steak in literally minutes.

We’ve cooked pizzas and slapped naan on the roof. We’ve done amazing skewers of chicken tikka. Slow cooked ribs, slow cooked pork shoulder. Lordy.

It takes practice and I recommend one of the many WiFi/Bluetooth heat thermometers, though the theatre, the fun and of course, the incredible flavours make this a very good – and long-term – investment.

Being us, we have recreated a number of memorable meals we have had out. And being Covid, with so many of our favourite restaurants – and countries – closed, we had no choice.

One of our favourite Sydney restaurants is Gowings in the QT.

It is just a great dining room. Warm, buzzing, swift service, down-the-line great mains and great sides.

Nat served this salad from Gowings on one of our Kamado nights and it won the show.

It looks the part, it pairs perfectly with a steak, grilled chicken or a pork schnitzel: and you can prepare it ahead of time.

A bit of extra effort makes the restaurant. And restaurant-quality this is.

Ingredients

1 cup Greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tbsp chopped spring onions or chives
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp vegetable stock powder (you can grate or chop a stock cube)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp yellow or Dijon mustard
6 rashes streaky bacon, cubed
Iceberg lettuce or 3x cos lettuce

Method

  1. Fry bacon until crispy.
  2. Whisk all dressing ingredients in a bowl to combine.
  3. Cut lettuce into 4-6 pieces and lay on a flat plate.
  4. Sprinkle bacon and dressing on top of lettuce.

Lemon & Mint Eggplant Tagine with Almond Couscous (or Cauliflower Rice)

Serves: 4

This year, all of us in the RobbyDog family are observing Meat Free Monday.

Better for the environment and surely better for us. (We’re on a major diet post a major Christmas diet!)

Prior to this dish, I had never had a vegetarian tagine though Lordy, I wish I had!

It is simple.

It tastes wonderful.

It is super-low calorie at 361 calories.

And it is so filling. Like, you’re stuffed so much so that I had to double-check the servings to make sure I wasn’t eating for two.

(I wasn’t!)

We also switched out the couscous and almonds for cauliflower rice, saving a pile of calories in the process: definitely sub 300-calories which is our twice-daily meal target.

Finally, we added a chilli to the yoghurt which is a necessary addition of spice.

Every time we jump into a diet, we can’t stop fawning over how wonderful vegetables are on all the levels described above. We look a bit silly.

Hopefully, by adding many great vegetarian dishes to our repertoire over the next few months of shredding, we won’t forget.

Meat Free Monday is a pretty good way to start.

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped + 1 crushed
1 tbsp harissa
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
200ml vegetable stock
400gm can chopped tomato
1 large eggplant, trimmed and diced
Zest of 1 small lemon
400gm can of butter beans, drained
175gm whole meal couscous
40gm toasted flaked almond
150gm low fat Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp chopped mind
1 red chilli, chopped with seeds

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and softly fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Stir ion the harissa, cumin and cinnamon, cook briefly and add the stock and tomatoes.
  2. Add the eggplant and lemon and then cover the pan and cook gently for 15 – 20 minutes until the eggplant are tender. Add the butter beans and warm through.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the yoghurt, additional garlic, mint and chill=i.
  4. Cook the couscous and then stir in the almonds. Alternatively, prepare cauliflower rice.
  5. Serve the tagine on the couscous (or cauliflower rice) with the yoghurt drizzled over.

Chicken and Lime Salad

Serves: 2

At a certain point over the Christmas/New Year break, all of us yearn for a culinary breather.

An end to the eggnog, ham and Champagne. A meal that isn’t 1,200+ calories (before the wine!).

Which is where – thankfully – this clever salad comes in.

Repent and enjoy.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, poached and thinly sliced
1 Lebanese cucumber, diced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
Juice of two small limes
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp palm sugar
Chopped coriander
Lime wedges

Method

  1. Mix together the lime juice, chilli, fish sauce, oil and palm sugar and correct the flavours.
  2. Mix together the cucumber and tomatoes and arrange on plates. Arrange the sliced chicken over the vegetables.
  3. Spoon over the dressing, garnish with the coriander and serve with the lime wedges.

Jamie Oliver’s Portuguese Fish Stew

Serves: 4 – 6

We’re all told that the answer to long life is in the Mediterranean diet.

We all also know that being middle-aged means an endless battle with calories: that is, don’t waste your calories during the week. Leave the bread and pasta for Saturday night.

And finally… if you’ve cooked Jamie Oliver’s recipes, you’d be across that pretty much everything he publishes is fun and a cracker.

Back to our diet, we decided to make it interesting by only cooking Jamie’s recipes for the week. At 312 calories a serve, this Portuguese Fish Stew was the first up.

A quick scan through the ingredients and you’ll probably have an idea of how this will taste: simple, clean and amazing for it. Right.

Our go-to, simple weeknight dinners are tray bakes with fish or chicken and lots of vegetables.

This dish goes a level above with the sliced potatoes. Use a mandolin for the slicing of it all if you have one, or pour a glass of wine and get your sharpest knife to work.

Add in a few cloves of fresh garlic like we did and a side of sautéed broccolini and you’ll have yourself have a wonderful weeknight dinner.

Setting you in good stead for when the Spaghetti Carbonara and red wine rolls in on Saturday night!

Ingredients

2 onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, skin on, thinly sliced
3 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
Olive oil
500gm white fish fillets, cut into 2cm pieces
1/2 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves finely chopped
500gm white fish, cut into 2cm pieces
1 pinch dried chilli flakes
5 fresh bay leaves

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c.
  2. Prepare the vegetables and heat oil over a low heat in a 30cm heavy, oven-proof pan. Add the onions, garlic and a good pinch of salt and slowly fry until light golden. Meanwhile, parboil the potatoes in a pot of boiling salted water and then drain well.
  3. Remove half the onions from the pan, spreading the remaining onion out into a nice layer. Top with a layer of half the tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Next, layer the fish and season.
  4. Sprinkle most of the chopped parsley on top with the chilli flakes. Drizzle with oil and repeat the layering of the vegetables – onion, peppers and tomatoes – finishing with a neat layer of the potatoes.
  5. Poke in the bay leaves, season and drizzle with a bit more oil.
  6. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and place under the grill for 5 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and crisping up.
  7. Sprinkle over the remaining parsley and enjoy.

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!

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