Creamy Tuscan Prawns with Spinach

This quick prawn dish is delicious on its own or served with rice, pasta or crusty bread. I made half the recipe.

2 Tbs butter or olive oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 kg green prawns (About 500g peeled weight)
½ cup white wine (if preferred use some stock)
100g sun dried tomatoes
3-4 cups baby spinach leaves, or big leaves torn up
1 tsp dried oregano (or 2 tsp fresh)
1 tsp dried thyme (or 2 tsp fresh)
1 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
1 cup cream or coconut cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large frying pan, melt butter and fry garlic and onion until soft but not brown. Add the prawns and cook, stirring, until they turn pink. Add the wine and cook for 2-3 minutes over high heat to reduce a bit. Add sun dried tomatoes, cut into thin strips, spinach, herbs and cream. Cook, stirring for 2-3 mins or until spinach has wilted and sauce has thickened a bit. Season to taste then serve topped with the grated cheese.

Serve with rice, pasta or crusty bread.

Serves 4

Variation: use cubes of chicken breast instead of the prawns.

Steak Diane

Steak Diane is one of my favourite steak recipes. One of those oldies but goodies I’ve been making for decades.

I’m trying to cut down on carbs at the moment and Steak Diane is perfect for a low carbohydrate, also known as a ketogenic, diet.  It’s quick and easy and uses ingredients I always have on hand. Served with a green salad or some steamed green beans, snow peas or broccoli it makes a satisfying meal.

Family members who aren’t avoiding carbs will appreciate a few chips (French fries) on the side. I usually have a packet of bought ones in the freezer and find they crisp up in a very hot oven in the time it takes to cook the steak and veggies. If you want to cut down a bit on the calories use half the amount of butter.

2 Scotch fillet steaks
Freshly ground black pepper
30g butter
1 clove garlic
1 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce
¼ cup cream
2 Tbs finely chopped parsley

Pound steaks to 1cm thick with a meat hammer and season on both sides with pepper. Heat butter on high in a non-stick frying pan and when sizzling add steaks and cook for one minute. While steaks cook on one side rub the crushed garlic into the other side. Turn steaks over, add Worcestershire sauce and swirl steaks around in the sauce. When done to liking – for me pretty much immediately – add cream and parsley, cook for a minute or so to thicken the sauce. Turn steaks over and back again, to coat them with the sauce.

Serves 2

Mango and Passionfruit Ice Cream Cake

The December/January edition of Delicious magazine had a photo on the front of a really quick and easy Mango and Passionfruit Ice Cream Cake which was just perfect for a recent birthday party we hosted.

The recipe uses a bought pavlova so it’s only possible for readers who live in Australia, where you can buy a pavlova base in any supermarket. Readers elsewhere will have to make their own pavlova or modify the recipe and mix 500g of broken up store-bought meringues into the ice cream. The recipe also uses a four litre carton of store-bought ice cream. Easy peasy.

It was absolutely delicious, but a number of variations occurred to me, so I have listed them below. You will no doubt come up with a few of your own.

If you use homemade ice cream rather than store-bought you will need to take the cake out of the freezer 10-15 minutes before serving because homemade ice cream always freezes much harder than store-bought and the cake will be too difficult to slice.

1 x 500g store-bought pavlova base
4L vanilla ice cream
12 passionfruit
A few drops of yellow food colouring (optional)
1/3 cup whisky or water
½ cup sugar
300ml whipping cream
2 ripe but firm mangoes, thinly sliced

You will need a springform cake pan 25cm in diameter with a clip closure – i.e. the same diameter as the pavlova. Choose a flat serving plate which will fit in the freezer. Place the pavlova on the plate then undo the springform pan and take out the base, which you don’t need. Place the ring over the pavlova so it sits down on the plate, then close it.

Spoon the ice cream into a large mixing bowl and let it stand for a few minutes to soften slightly while you add the pulp of 8 of the passionfruit and, if liked, a few drops of yellow food colouring. Mix gently but thoroughly then spread on top of the pavlova, smoothing the top. Freeze overnight – no need to cover.

Place whisky or water, sugar and pulp from the remaining 4 passionfruit into a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, till sugar has dissolved then simmer for 6-8 minutes or until thickened, then cool. Can be made ahead and kept in a jug or jam jar.

To serve, whip cream until stiff and slice mango thinly. Remove ice cream cake from freezer. Briefly hold a tea towel wrung out in very hot water around the sides, run a thin knife around the outside of the cake, then release the clip and lift off the tin. Spread whipped cream over the top, cover with sliced mango and drizzle with passionfruit sauce. Serve immediately.

Serves 16

Four Variations: 

  • Use chocolate ice cream, cover the whipped cream with strawberries, whole or sliced if large, then drizzle with chocolate ganache
  • Use plain vanilla ice cream or Quick Raspberry Ice Cream, cover the whipped cream with fresh raspberries, then drizzle with raspberry coulis
  • Dissolve 4 Tbs instant coffee in 2 Tbs hot water then mix thoroughly into the ice cream, mix about 200g broken up Halva into the whipped cream and drizzle with chocolate sauce
  • Use caramel or salted caramel ice cream, cover the whipped cream with sliced bananas and toasted macadamias or peanuts (optional), then drizzle with caramel sauce

 

Pasta with Prawns and Pepperoni or Chorizo

This recipe comes from my friend Ferne. She’s made it for me twice, once in Canberra and once in Brisbane where she now lives. Both times it was delicious.

Any kind of pasta will work, but my preference is to use fresh fettuccine, sold in most Australian supermarkets in 375g packets.

With a mixed salad and some fresh crusty bread, this recipe will serve 4.

375g fresh fettuccine
20g butter
250-300g pepperoni or chorizo, sliced
350g peeled raw prawns (weight after peeling)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup dry white wine
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
½ a fresh diced chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
Handful chopped parsley
½ cup cream
Extra virgin olive oil to garnish

Cook pasta according to packet instructions then drain. Meanwhile heat butter in a large frying pan and cook pepperoni or chorizo for a few minutes, until starting to brown. Add prawns and garlic and continue to cook, stirring, until prawns turn pink. Add wine and lemon juice and cook over moderately high heat for 3-5 mins, to reduce the sauce by half. Add chilli and seasoning to taste. Mix in the cooked pasta, the parsley and cream. Divide between 4 bowls. Top with extra chopped parsley and drizzle a little oil around each serving.

Makes 4 servings

 

Turkish Green Rice

Cappadocia, in the middle of Turkey is well worth a visit. We stayed in Göreme in a cave hotel which had been carved out of the rock, but was nonetheless very comfortable.

Over the centuries the inhabitants of this region have carved out shelters, houses, churches and monasteries from the rocky outcrops, which are often described as fairy chimneys. The geology and history of the area is fascinating and in order to see the terrain from above we went on a balloon flight at dawn. One hundred and twenty balloons all taking off at about the same time is a sight to behold.

A Turkish passenger on our inward flight asked for a drink which the flight attendant poured from what looked like a two litre bottle of milk, but as he poured I could see it was much too thick to be milk. When I asked if I could “have what he’s having” the flight attendant looked sceptical. He said that usually only Turks asked for Ayran and I might not like it, so he gave me a little to try before filling up my glass. It’s basically plain yogurt watered down to pouring consistency, with a little salt added. Full of probiotics it’s really good you, so I drank it all the time while we were there. Delicious.

This was our third trip to Turkey and we felt perfectly safe. The people are friendly and helpful and the food is simple, but healthy and delicious. Lots of kebabs and grills, as well as vegetable dishes, salads and traditional casseroles cooked slowly in sealed clay pots. Thick yoghurt drizzled with local honey was my favourite dessert.

This rice recipe is from the inflight magazine on Turkish Airlines. It makes quite a lot so you may want to halve the recipe. Serve it with kebabs, hummus, Turkish bread and a salad of diced tomato, onion and cucumber.

2 cups long grain rice such as Basmati
1 packet frozen spinach or 1 bunch fresh spinach
1 onion, finely chopped
50g butter
3 cups water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2-3 Tbs each finely chopped parsley and mint
2 Tbs pistachio nuts or pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry pan

If using fresh spinach, remove leaves and discard stalks. Wash thoroughly. With just the water clinging to the leaves, place spinach in a large saucepan, cover and cook, stirring from time to time, for a few minutes or until wilted. Place in food processor and chop finely. You will need a generous cup or more of this chopped spinach, or use thawed frozen spinach. Quantities are flexible.

Heat butter in a large saucepan and cook onion until soft, stirring from time to time, and allowing it to brown slightly. Add rice, spinach, water, salt and pepper, bring to the boil, then cover and turn the heat as low as it will go. Cook for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked and has absorbed all the liquid. If not quite ready, turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes to continue cooking in its own steam. Stir in the chopped herbs. Check for seasoning and if liked add another knob of butter. Garnish with the toasted nuts.

Serves 6-8

Sweet Potatoes with Almond Tahini

I found this recipe in the Financial Times newspaper which I was reading on a recent QANTAS flight from Bangkok to Sydney. I tore it out as  I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes and although we’re not vegetarian I tend to cook a meatless evening meal at least once a week.

So last night was try-out night and the recipe didn’t disappoint. It said to bake the sweet potatoes on a bed of salt to draw out the moisture. I don’t think this made any difference, so I would leave that out next time.

2 large sweet potatoes
Tahini:
100g whole shelled almonds
Small clove garlic, peeled
3 Tbs vegetable or olive oil
Pinch salt
2 tsp lemon juice
4 Tbs water
Garnish:
2 Tbs almonds roughly chopped (blanched or unblanched, I used slivered)
2 tsp oil
pinch salt
2 spring onions, thinly sliced or 2 Tbs snipped chives
Pomegranate or date molasses (or fig glaze)

Preheat oven to 200°C. Wash and dry the sweet potatoes, but don’t peel them. Line a baking tin with foil and place the sweet potatoes on top. Bake for an hour or until soft and a knife can be inserted easily.

Meanwhile make the Tahini by blitzing the almonds in a food processor until fine then adding the garlic, oil, salt, lemon juice and water. Taste and adjust seasoning. It will thicken up as it sits. If made ahead and refrigerated you may need to mix in a little water when serving.

For the garnish, place nuts in a small frying pan with the oil and salt and stir over moderate heat until golden. Turn off heat.

To serve, cut the sweet potatoes in half horizontally. Squeeze to open up the flesh a bit then top with a couple of dollops of tahini. Top with the nuts, the spring onions or chives and a drizzle of molasses or glaze.

Variation: use pine nuts instead of almonds.

Serves 2-4

 

Cinnamon Doughnuts

Cinnamon doughnuts are a guaranteed winner with kids. You’ll be their best friend for life.

I recently came across this quick and easy recipe based on choux pastry and decided to make them for afternoon tea while the grandkids were staying. Traditional doughnuts contain yeast, which means making the dough in advance and I never seem to get around to it when we have a house full.

You don’t need a deep fat fryer – I just used a wok. The doughnuts don’t come out as perfect rounds, but it doesn’t matter, they taste delicious.

Sixteen cinnamon doughnuts were made and polished off in less than half an hour. You know you’ve hit the jackpot with the grandkids when instead of saying “Try it, you might like it” you’re saying “Okay how many have you had?” in order to work out who gets the last one.

The grown ups liked them too. You could serve them as dessert for “big kids” with chocolate sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Love the half-peeled lurid green nail polish, don’t you?

100g butter
½ tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
1 cup plain flour
4 eggs
About half a litre vegetable oil
To coat the doughnuts:
3-4 Tbs sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Place butter, salt and sugar in a medium saucepan and heat until butter has melted. Remove from the heat and using electric beaters add the flour and mix until combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. If you have time you can refrigerate the mixture for a while at this stage to make it firmer for scooping. I didn’t have time.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a wok or deep saucepan until hot enough to cook the doughnuts – test it by putting a small bit in. Cook about 8 doughnuts at a time, using a large spoon or an ice cream scoop to make them. Cook on one side for a minute or so then then flip them over.

Remove doughnuts from the oil with a slotted spoon and roll them in the mixed sugar and cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Makes about 16

Mango Kulfi

To make traditional Indian or Pakistani ice cream, known as Kulfi, you begin by cooking sweetened flavoured milk over a low heat, stirring continuously to stop it from sticking and burning, until the volume is reduced by half. The milk takes on a distinctive flavour due to the caramelization process and this is the base you use to make the ice cream.

Having read a few articles and recipes online, I decided to replace the cooked milk with what is called Manjar or Dulce de Leche in South America. If you can’t find this use a can of Nestle Caramel Top n Fill, which is readily available in Australian supermarkets.  Kulfi can be made in any flavour, but mango kulfi is very popular in India, so as I had a packet of frozen mango in the freezer I thought I would give it a try.

This method of making ice cream in a food processor with frozen fruit virtually turns your food processor into an ice cream machine. As the frozen fruit breaks up it freezes the other ingredients. As you can see from the photo of the Kulfi when it was ready to go into the freezer, it already had the consistency of ice cream. Quick Raspberry Ice Cream is another recipe on this blog which uses this speedy food processor method. You can use any frozen fruit but the pieces must be fairly small or the motor will struggle.

250g Dulce de Leche or Manjar (or 1 can Nestle Caramel Top n Fill)
300ml cream (thickened, whipping, double)
1kg frozen mango pieces (I bought mine at Aldi)
Ground cardamom to taste
Pinch of salt
Grated rind and juice of 1 lime (save a little zest for garnish)
Lime Syrup to serve (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
Lime zest

Place Dulce de Leche or Caramel topping in food processor with cream. Process until mixed and then, with the motor running, slowly add the mango cubes through the feed tube. Depending on what size food processor you have, you may need to make the Kulfi in two batches. Mine was just big enough. Keep mixing until all the mango cubes have been pureed, stopping to scrape down the sides with a spatula from time to time. Add cardamom (half a teaspoonful then mix and taste and see what you think), the salt and the lime zest.

Scrape Kulfi into a plastic container, cover and freeze for 3-4 hours or overnight. Remove from freezer 15 mins before serving. Scoop into bowls, drizzle with lime syrup and garnish with a little lime zest.

Lime Syrup: Place lime juice, water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat to dissolve sugar. Continue cooking until reduced by a third to a half and syrupy. Cool.

Serves 8-10

Burrata with Rockmelon

The Fine Food Fair was on at the Convention Centre in Sydney last month. It runs over 4 days every September and alternates between Sydney and Melbourne.

That’s Amore Cheese makes Italian-style cheeses in Thomastown Victoria. They had a stand at the Fine Food Fair, with a wonderful selection of their wares on display. The burrata was superb so I made a point of finding out where to buy it in Canberra where I live. It’s sold at the Mart Deli at the Fyshwick Markets and when I popped in just before closing time last Sunday they were selling everything with 25% off and there were just two pots of Burrata left. I bought them both.

Burrata is made from cow’s milk, rennet and cream and is a typical product of Murgia in the south of Italy. The outside consists of mozzarella, while the inside contains stracciatella and cream, giving it a delicious, soft texture.

Burrata goes well with fruit so I came up with this easy dish which combines it with rockmelon. It also goes well with:
  • Sliced tomatoes – use really flavoursome ones from your garden or farmer’s market – drizzle with Extra Virgin olive oil and garnish with basil leaves
  • Grilled figs – drizzle the figs with honey before grilling and serve with burrata as a starter or dessert
  • Grilled capsicums – drizzle with Extra Virgin olive oil and maybe some basil pesto

 

One Burrata cheese (125g net)
Melon balls (or substitute mango, peach or nectarine slices)
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic glaze
Finely shredded spring onion
Salt flakes and cracked black pepper
Crusty fresh bread to serve

Place cheese in the middle of serving plate then arrange remaining ingredients around it, as shown in the photo.

Serves 1 or 2 as a starter or snack

Jerusalem Artichoke and Blue Cheese Salad

We grow Jerusalem artichokes so I’m always looking of new ways to serve them. If you look in the index you will find several recipes.  This is a slightly adapted recipe from Maggie Beer. I made half this recipe to serve two.

1kg Jerusalem artichokes
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs butter, melted
½ cup walnut or pecan nut halves
2 tsp maple syrup and 2 tsp olive oil
1 bunch rocket
100g creamy blue cheese, cut into wedges
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dressing:
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbs verjuice (or substitute white wine or cider vinegar)
2 Tbs walnut (or substitute olive oil)

Wash, scrub and trim the artichokes. Slice thickly or if small cut them in half. Preheat oven to 200°C. Mix artichokes with the oil and butter in a bowl then spread on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. They should be in a single layer, so you may need two baking sheets. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until tender and golden brown.

Place walnuts or pecans in a small frying pan with the maple syrup and olive oil and stir over moderate heat until slightly glazed. Cool, then coarsely break them up. Place dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake well.

Arrange artichokes, rocket and cheese on serving platter. Scatter over the nuts, drizzle with a little dressing and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 as a side dish or starter

Variation: use parsnips or carrots instead of the artichokes