Asian, Mince, Pork, Thai

Pad ka prao (minced pork, fried egg and rice)

Serves: 2

Read the ingredients and don’t over think it.

This is Monday done: street-style Thai.

Ingredients

1 tbsp sunflower oil
500gm pork mince
3 cloves garlic
3 birds eye chillies
1 small brown onion
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp kecap manis
1 tbsp oyster sauce
5 sprigs Thai basil leaves
2 eggs
Jasmine rice to serve

Method

  1. Cook the rice and set aside.
  2. De-seed the chillies and finely chop with the garlic and onion.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium-hot wok and fry the garlic, chillies and onion for 2 minutes. Add the pork and break up, working through until almost cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, fry the eggs until they have a slightly crispy base.
  5. Back to the pork, add the fish sauce, soy sauce, kecap manis and oyster sauce and stir through; reduce the sauces slightly and add the basil leaves. Stir and remove from the heat.
  6. Serve on rice with the fried egg on top.
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Italian, Pasta, Vegetarian

Penne Pasta in Creamy Vodka Tomato Sauce with Mushroom (Pink Sauce)

Serves: 4

We live in Cammeray in Sydney and there has been this hole-in-the-wall pizza joint here since I was a kid catching the school-bus past many, many years ago.

Brick facade, large pizza-oven style window out the front, dark inside.

Until we moved to Cammeray, I had never been into the pizza place though I had always wanted to. Old-school pizza places are the best.

Our first meal there was memorable and for all the right reasons.

And it turns out that the place has been there since I was a kid, run by this Italian who cooked pizzas every night for 40 years or something.

Sadly, he passed away a year ago, though he left the restaurant to his nephew, who, when we arrived, was still finding his feet: cash only, several items on the menu not available, the poor guy cooking and serving and cleaning up.

But wow, his pizza and homemade pasta was just awesome.

And $50 with no corkage.

A real win.

Half-a-dozen visits since and he has found his feet, though the important elements remain. A dark, cosy, pizza restaurant with locals handing over cash for excellent pizzas. There is a second guy in the kitchen and a young girl taking orders and delivering the pasta.

We have mixed it up every time we have been there and last time we had a pasta similar to this one; mushroom spaghetti in a pink sauce: essentially half cream, half tomato.

I didn’t ask for the recipe though I found this one online and it is pretty much on the money.

Ensure you cook the alcohol off and you are left with a really wonderful dinner: pretty much what you would expect from a local, 40-year-old pizza joint that only cooks 6 pizzas and a rotation of the same number of pastas.

Do this some Saturday night and put your feet up.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can tomatoes (400gm)
¾ cup vodka
½ tsp chilli flakes
Handful fresh basil, torn
½ tsp dried oregano
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup cream
¾ tsp salt
500gm penne (we used spaghetti)
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and then add the onion and garlic and slowly saute until the onion softens. Add the tomatoes, vodka, chilli flakes, basil and oregano. Break up the tomatoes if necessary.
  2. Bring the mixture to a medium-heat and then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cream and salt and continue to simmer ensuring that the alcohol is cooked out. Season.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta, drain and add to the sauce. Mix through and season again if necessary.
  5. Serve with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
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Greek, Seafood, Stew

Greek Fisherman’s Stew

Serves: 6

Wow, this is a gorgeous stew and on every level.

It tastes amazing, it is simple to prep and it’s healthy enough. Mopped up with some crusty bread, we loved every bit of it.

I’d go as far as to say this could become one of your favourites.

There is literally nothing not to like. Just make sure you season well.

Surprise yourself with this 10/10.

Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 small head fennel, diced
½ tsp red chilli flakes
2 large ripe, truss tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 tsp sea salt (plus extra to season at the end)
Freshly cracked pepper
1 cup dry white wine
250gm potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 kg firm white fish, cut into 3cm pieces (we used Pink Ling)
12 basil leaves, torn
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp harissa paste (or hot sauce)
Crusty bread to serve

Method

  1. Warm the oil in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft though not brown. Add the fennel and cook for a few minutes until softened. Stir in the chilli flakes and then add the tomatoes and salt and cook on medium for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and 2 ½ cups boiling water, bring to the simmer and cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Check the seasoning and add the lemon juice.
  3. Add the fish pieces and simmer on low until the fish is just cooked through; another 5 or so minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise with the harissa paste (or hot sauce).
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the basil to wilt it.
  6. Serve with a good dollop of the spiced mayonnaise and some crusty bread. And a good glass of cold vino of course.
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Lamb

Herb-Marinated Rack of Lamb

Herb-Marinated Rack of Lamb

Serves: 4

An easy, spring dinner… that looks a bit fancy and tastes just great, like any rack of lamb is prone to do.

I’d consider doing it on the BBQ next time to get a char-grilled crust going, though as a set-and-forget, see you in 30 minutes number, the oven is just fine.

Served with some twice-cooked roasted baby potatoes and a wonderful salad of Bulgar and Pomegranate.

Ingredients

4 garlic cloves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
½ cup fresh basil leaves
Pinch or two of dried chilli flakes
Pinch or two of salt
6 tbsp olive oil
2 well-trimmed racks of lamb (8 bones each)

Method

  1. Combine garlic, mint, basil, chilli, salt and oil in a food processor to form a thick paste.
  2. Coat the lamb in the paste and marinate for a few hours.
  3. Heat the oven to 180c; transfer the lamb to a baking tray ad roast for 35 – 40 minutes.
  4. Rest for 5 minutes and slice the lamb between the bones for individual cutlets.
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Italian, Soup, Starter, Vegetarian

Italian-style Zucchini and Parmesan Soup

Serves: 4

Wow this is a good soup!

Like, wow.

Neil Perry of course and reasonable quick to whip up, Nat and I cooked this for a Saturday lunch as part of a weekend of cooking and we were blown away.

We used a very good and aged parmesan and shaved it in; not the yellow stuff you get in the supermarket. Some warmed, crusty bread and wow.

We were warm and completely satisfied for the entire afternoon.

You must do this!

Ingredients

750gm green zucchini, cut into 1cm-thick pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch basil
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
1½ liters chicken stock
125ml pure cream
40gm unsalted butter
40gm parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve

Method

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-based sauce pan over a medium heat and add the zucchini, garlic, basil and a good pinch of sea salt. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the zucchini starts to soften.
  2. Add the stock, bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 8 minutes.
  3. Pour the soup into the blender and pulse until well pureed though still with a bit of texture; not completely smooth.
  4. Return to the saucepan and stir in the cream, butter and the parmesan.
  5. Serve with a sprinkle of grated parmesan and a good ground of fresh pepper.
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Healthy, Seafood

Mussels in Tomato Basil Wine Sauce

Serves: 4

This is a pretty classic dish and I put it up mainly to remind you that you do not cook nearly enough mussels and should rectify that.

Mussels are cheap, healthy, tasty (well, the sauce) and easy to cook.

Mussels also look pretty fancy and give the impression you have gone to some effort with some level of skill to boot.

We didn’t have these with crusty bread which would have been awesome; though we did make a cracking green salad (asparagus, avocado, cucumber, butter lettuce and a great dijon/white wine vinegar vinaigrette) and some simple, twice cooked potato wedges.

Really fun and really tasty.

Ingredients

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dry white wine
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1.5kg fresh mussels, scrubbed and debearded
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Warm crusty bread to serve

Method

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over a low-medium heat and gently cook the onion and garlic for 10 minutes until coloured. Turn up the heat and add the wine and tomatoes, bring to the boil and then simmer for another 10 minutes.
  2. Add the mussels, cover and cook for 3 – 5 minutes or until mussels open.
  3. Remove the mussels into serving bowls and stir the basil through the tomato sauce. Season and ladle over the mussels.
  4. Enjoy.
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