French, Side, Vegetarian

Braised Peas with Cos Lettuce and Mint

Serves: 4 – 6

This classic French dish is from Karen Martini and swaps out iceberg lettuce for cos.

It makes the lettuce a bit more a feature and the result is just awesome.

It is rich and warm and a wonderful accompaniment: roast chicken or lamb or some chargrilled steaks we served with a herb butter and a onion rings.

It just shows how well peas and lettuce and work.

If you can make the effort, make the effort. It will dial up any meal into a memorable one.

Ingredients

80gm unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove< sliced
2 ½ cups frozen peas
2 baby cos lettuces, trimmed and cut into 1cm pieces
5 sprigs mint, leaves torn
1 tbsp sea salt (or to taste)
2 tbsp castor sugar

Method

  1. Melt half the butter in a very large frying pan over and medium heat and cook the garlic for 2 minutes. Add the peas, lettuce and ¼ cup hot water, simmer and stir for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mint, salt, sugar and remaining butter and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is glossy and syrupy.
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Greek, Side, Starter, Vegetarian

Eggplant dip (baba ghanouj)

Eggplant dip (baba ghanouj)

Serves: 10

Fresh Baba Ganoush is the bomb.

Served with some oiled and grilled Turkish bread, you have heaven.

This straightforward recipe is about as traditional as I can find and we served it across a few days including a family dinner where it was a hit.

The effort is worth the reward.

Ingredients

3 medium eggplants
1 ½ tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 – 2 garlic clove
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sweet paprika
Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Finely diced tomato
Oiled, grilled Turkish bread slices to serve

Method

  1. Grill the eggplants whole over a gas flame, turning with tongs until the skin is evenly blistered and the flesh is soft. Soak in cold water for 10 minutes to cool.
  2. Peel the eggplants and leave to drain for 15–20 minutes.
  3. Place the eggplant in a food processor with the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt and process until well combined and creamy. Add extra tahini, lemon juice or salt to taste.
  4. Scoop into a serving bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the oil into the well and sprinkle paprika, parsley and tomato on top.
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Italian, Side, Vegetarian

Garlic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Garlic Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Serves: 4 – 6

Haven’t brussel sprouts come into vogue?!

They’re the go to as a side in every second Sydney bistro at the moment, especially the sauteed kind with any number of accompaniments including bacon, pistachios, cranberries and of course, lots of garlic.

See you later rocket, pear and shaved Parmesan salad!

This simple take on them is as good as anything you’ll get dining out.

Indeed, experiment with a few additions and make it lunch. Or as a simpler side to pretty much any chicken/pork/whatever dish and you really do have a winner on your hands.

Just make sure to give them the occasionally stir so they don’t char too much on top whilst cooking.

Ingredients

1 kg fresh Brussels sprouts, cut in half (or quarters if sprouts are large)
6 garlic cloves, rough chopped
1 medium red onion, sliced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180c.
  2. In a baking dish, carefully combine all the ingredients and shake the dish until the brussel sprouts are even.
  3. Cook for 20 – 25 minutes.
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Side, Vegetarian

Patate al forno (Italian Oven Roasted Potatoes)

Patate al forno (Italian Oven Roasted Potatoes)

Serves: 4 – 6

I love potatoes pretty much any way you can serve them and potato gratin is one of my favourites.

With a good steak and some bearnaise sauce, you’ve won me.

I also love any new way to do potatoes, especially one that doesn’t require the butter (and cream) that a good gratin demands.

These Italian oven roasted potatoes are just the answer.

You get almost the same effect less the calories.

As a side to a braise or even a robust fish, these are just wonderful.

Ingredients

6 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced (plus 1 additional clove, halved)
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves separated (plus 1 to garnish)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180c.
  2. Rinse and dry the potato slices and mix in a large bowl with a generous splash or two of the olive oil, salt and pepper, rosemary leaves and garlic.
  3. Take a large baking dish and rub the insides all over with the two garlic cloves halves.
  4. Arrange the potato slices evenly in the dish, overlapping slightly and building row upon row. Add enough water to come up to about half the height of the potatoes, being careful not to displace the dressing. Drizzle a little more olive oil and season again with the salt and pepper. Place the additional rosemary sprig on top.
  5. Roast the potatoes for about 45 – 60 minutes, until the water has evaporated, the potatoes are soft and golden on top. Remove the rosemary sprig and serve.
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Healthy, Italian, Salad, Side

Italian Coleslaw

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Just wonderful; creamy thanks to the parmesan; hot thanks to the chilli oil.

Italian Coleslaw

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a really sophisticated little number I pulled from Gourmet Traveller.

It speaks of the thinly sliced, super-fresh vegetables and herbs you throw in and with the parmesan, chilli oil and some seasoning, wow.

We had it with a glazed pork chop and some braised beans it was wonderful; it is hot, fresh, soaked up the rest of the plate and stood its own as a side. The next lunch served with a rare BBQed eye fillet and some hand-cut chips, it got even better.

Slaw is always good and this is a wonderful version of it.

Ingredients

180gm peas (de-thawed peas are fine or if using podded peas, start with 500gm )
¼ white cabbage, thinly sliced
Fennel bulb, thinly sliced
½ Spanish Onion, thinly sliced
3 radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup each (loosely packed) basil, mint and flat-leaf parsley, coarsely torn
¼ cup (firmly packed) watercress sprigs
1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed
40gm parmesan, finely grated
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp chilli oil
2 tbsp lemon juice

Method

  1. If using podded peas, blanch peas in boiling salted water until tender (1 – 2 minutes), fresh and drain. If using frozen, de-thaw completely.
  2. Combine in a large bowl with cabbage, fennel, onion, radish, herbs, watercress, capers and parmesan and toss to combine.
  3. Just before serving, add oils and juice, season to taste and toss lightly to combine.
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Indian, Sauces, Side, Vegetarian

Coconut chutney

Serves: A dinner of dosai, as a side

Dosais are not the least expensive things on your Southern Indian restaurant menu and even then, I doubt they make much money from them.

There are plenty of ingredients that go into the whole show, they take time and technique and importantly, a truly wonderful chutney like this lasts… 24 hours. Time and economies of scale are not on your side.

The silver lining of course is that a good dosai is to die for and this chutney is simply part of the story. It is amazing.

The extra touch that turns the dial from 11 to 12. The addition that completes the meal, taking you into fine Indian cooking territory. The secret weapon in your cook-off that nobody saw coming.

Sure, you have 24-hours to get from bench to plate, though in-between making your dosai batter, your filling and a wonderful side of lentils, you’re signed up to the task right?

And the fact is, you cannot lose any cook-off – or dinner – if you pull the whole thing off.

Tie maybe, but who the hell are you cooking against?!

Ingredients

Half a coconut, grated
2 fresh green chillis
½ bunch fresh coriander leaves
1 tbsp fresh ginger
Salt to taste

Tempering

10ml vegetable oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
¼ asafoetida powder
1 sprig fresh curry leaves

Method

  1. Grind the coconut, chillis, coriander leaves, ginger and salt in a blender, adding a little water if required.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves and temper the chutney by pouring the mixture on top.
  3. Serve as an accompaniment to dosai.

** Enhances colour and flavour and settles the stomach; unless you have it or feel inclined to get it, you can live without.

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Healthy, Indian, Side, Stew, Uncategorized

Sambhar (Indian lentil-stew)

Sambhar (Indian lentil-stew)

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a very popular Southern Indian lentil-stew, especially as an accompaniment to dosai.

It is dead easy to prepare (once you have prepared your Sambhar powder), incredibly healthy and a great way to use up the lentils you probably have left over from winter soups.

Let it simmer and double the recipe so you have plenty leftover for lunch.

Yum.

Ingredients

100gm Yellow lentils or Tour Dal
¼ tsp Turmeric
1 cup Tomato puree (passata)
1 medium-size onion, diced
1 tbsp Sambhar powder*
¼ tbsp Tamarind concentrate
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
Salt to taste

*Sambhar powder (makes plenty; stores for 6-months)

1 ½ cups coriander seeds
1 cup dried red chillis, broken into small pieces
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 ½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
½ inch cinnamon stick
⅓ cup unsweetened dried coconut, shredded
¼ cup firmly packed fresh curry leaves
1 tsp asafoetida powder**

Method

For the Sambhar

  1. Cook the lentils with the turmeric in approximately 2 litres of water until soft and mushy.
  2. Add the tomatoes and onions and cook until they are soft.
  3. Add the Sambhar powder, tamarind concentrate, fresh curry leaves and salt to taste and bring to the boil. Simmer for a bit.
  4. Check the seasoning, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot.

Sambhar powder

  1. Heat small saucepan over low heat. Separately dry-roast coriander, chilli peppers, fenugreek, mustard, cumin and cinnamon until fragrant and only lightly coloured. Place in a bowl.
  2. Toast coconut in pan, stirring, until lightly browned. Add to spices.
  3. Dry-roast curry leaves, tossing often, until crisp. Add to spices with asafoetida. Mix well and let cool.
  4. Place mixture in airtight container until ready to use. (Will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.) Just before using, grind to a powder in spice grinder and use as recipe indicates.

** Enhances colour and flavour and settles the stomach; unless you have it or feel inclined to get it, you can live without.

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