Thrice cooked recipe

Keeping to my love of mushrooms, I have now made this one-pot-wonder mushroom risotto three times and as a sign of success, my man has licked the plate clean each time. With the Junior Masterchef craze about to take off this weekend, Coles has certainly lifted its game in providing shoppers with an excellent variety of mushrooms from the stringy enochi to the crunchy oyster variety to the standard button. Risotto is known to be a bit difficult to cook in terms of getting the balance right with having the right amount of stock, the constant stirring motion and keeping the rice moist and not too al dente and with this quick recipe I can definitely confirm that it makes risotto-making a breeze. Using a heap of whatever combination of mushrooms you desire, brown them in some butter and place into a bowl. With some more butter add 1 chopped brown onion and 2 cloves of crushed garlic to the mushroom pot and stir until soft before adding 2 cups of alborio rice and a dash of dry white wine. Stir briefly before adding 3 cups of hot chicken stock and return the browned mushrooms. Cover the pot tightly with foil and place into a preheated oven at 180 degrees celsius. Bake for 25 mins and just before serving, stir through some chopped chives and a handful of freshly grated parmesan. Season with pepper and you will have guaranteed deliciousness!

Published in: on September 3, 2010 at 7:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Moroccan Morning Glory in Surry Hills

OK, yes I realise this is my second Moroccan-inspired post this week and I am feeling a third post coming on as I ate at Souk in the City on Friday night but I will leave that for later.

I love Sundays as more often than not there is time to get creative in the kitchen and make more than a piece of toast before rushing out the door. And I love when I look at a recipe and discover that I don’t have all of the correct ingredients so am able to improvise and see what the result is. Inspired initially by a recipe in Made in Morocco, 20 minutes later and the result was Moroccan morning glory. This recipe serves two lucky ducks.


1 cup orange juice

zest of a lemon

1 Tblsp olive oil

2 Tblsp slivered almonds

3 tsp cinnamon and

3 ripe figs sliced thickly

1 cup instant couscous

2 Tblsp greek yoghurt

3 Tblsp honey and more to drizzle

2 slices mountain rye bread

1 Tblsp fresh mint (torn into pieces)


Preheat grill to high. Combine orange juice and lemon zest in a small pot and bring to the boil. Add honey, 2 tsp cinnamon and whisk to combine. Put couscous into a small bowl and pour hot liquid over it. Cover bowl immediately with a tea towel and leave for 10 minutes. Put almonds on baking tray and grill for 3 minutes (watch carefully as they can quickly go very brown). Set aside and mix through couscous. Place mountain bread under grill. Spray lightly with cooking oil spray and grill for 2 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon over grilled bread and break into squares.

Fluff couscous with a fork and put two equal amounts onto each serving dish. Put one dollop each of greek yoghurt on top. Place figs on top of yoghurt and scatter mint over this. Drizzle with remaining honey and serve with mountain bread on the side.

Alisdair scored me a 10/10 on this piece of morning glory…enjoy!

Published in: on March 28, 2010 at 2:03 am  Comments (1)  
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Moroccan salad splendour

Given the first part of my blog is dedicated to EAT; be it the art of eating, the food I eat or what I eat with I thought it timely to post my first recipe that is dressed to impress, takes no time at all to whip up and place on the table and is so flavoursome and colourful that it requires one post directly dedicated to it.

For Christmas last year, my niece gave me a book titled Made in Morocco; a journey of exotic tastes and places by Julie Le Clerc and John Bougen. Prior to the gift and apart from eating couscous here and there, Moroccan food was not a type of food that regularly graced my menu nor did I own a tagine. It’s a very beautiful book and on the front cover mounds of red and orange spices and purple and red flowers catch your initial eye. As I flicked through the book the first time I discovered that the ingredients were not too foreign or dissimilar and most were in my pantry already.

However it was having friends over recently that led me to this particular recipe as a request was put in for a vegetarian dinner. After confirming that some white fish could be eaten and some chicken here and there I didn’t want to have to settle with just a tofu dish so set about finding a main that was full of flavour yet still met the criteria. This recipe caught my eye because of the simple ingredients that were somehow placed together in an equation that resulted in a complex explosion of taste and instant salivation. It is great warm, cold, served as a side or as the solo bright-star main. Since the first time when the salad was literally licked clean from its bowl, I have made it a couple more times and the results have increasingly gotten better and better.

And the final clincher that confirmed that this couscous salad was an absolute winner was when I was at a recent cocktail party and the mother of my initial guest pointed at me from the other side of the room whilst simultaneously walking towards me with great purpose. It honestly felt like my hand was stuck in the cookie jar. I had never met her before so as she made sure I was the right person she was looking for and then questioned me in an interrogating but absolutely friendly manner albeit quite loudly “was that you who made the pumpkin couscous salad for my son? The one with those delectable raisins and almonds? Was that you?”

“Uh…..yes that was me,” I replied.

couscous with roast pumpkin, raisins and almonds – serves 6 lucky ducks


half large pumpkin or butternut, seeds and skin removed

olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

one and a half cups  chicken or vegetable stock

one and a half cups instant couscous

half cup raisins

half cup toasted almonds

third cup chopped fresh coriander


Preheat oven to 200 deg C. Cut pumpkin into 2cm cubes and place in an oven pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss well. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing once during cooking, until pumpkin is tender and brown.

Meanwhile heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in large saucepan and cook onion and garlic over a moderate heat for 5-10 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add stock and bring to the boil. Stir in couscous then remove pan from heat, cover and leave to steam for 10 minutes to soften. Remove covering and fluff up couscous with a fork. Season well with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine couscous with raisins, toasted almonds, coriander and hot pumpkin and toss well to serve.

smell, salivate, taste, savour and enjoy!

the missing purple ingredient

So, for the last 9 weeks, I’ve been on what I’ve renamed the Wonder Bride Diet but more commonly known as the Australian Womens Weekly 21-Day Wonder Diet. First up, I had never had skim milk before and I’ve also never been on a fully fledged diet before (thanks to Mum’s genes) and therefore had misconceptions about the value of them and questioned if they really worked? Inspired by wanting to look my best in Vera but by no means in a sacrificial mood or wanting to commit to lent of not eating tasty food altogether, I came across this so-called diet-book at a friend’s house. Her mum had purchased the book at the local shops because first and foremost she thought that the recipes looked good. Flicking through the book, it quickly engulfed me and the next day I bought the book on ebay.

Most of the recipes are fabulous, so tasty you wouldn’t even know they were “diet” food.  I had some girlfriends over for dinner and cooked a fish dish and had them asking me “have you taken a break tonight from the bride diet as this can’t be in the book? !” The basic premise is for 21 days you only eat 20 grams of fat per day with three regular meals and two snacks and the claim is you can lose up to 10 kilos. 30 minutes of exercise per day is encouraged to aid weight loss but is not described as essential. You do need to be somewhat organised to cook the three meals a day as it’s by no means a lite ‘n’ easy route with frozen meals and breakfast in a clear packet but a diet with an abundance of fresh fruit and vegies, a good source of protein and even a bit of carbs as it allows you both pasta and bread albeit it’s rye.

Now, I pride myself on having an extremely well-stocked fridge and pantry most weeks as pre-wonder-bride-diet I often liked to stand in front of the fridge at the end of a weekday and drum up a meal on the spot from the assortment of food available. My man would sometimes roll his eyes as we pushed the trolley around Coles and I placed (what I termed “basics”) in it which could include Plaistowe Dark Cooking Chocolate (in case I wanted to make spur of the moment Caramel slice) or vanilla and chocolate mini meringues (in case people popped around for dinner and an Eton mess dessert was needed). Given my love of cooking I also felt that I had a quite thorough knowledge of most ingredients be it spices, flours, pastas, herbs, sauces or cheese.

So did I feel stumped Week 1 when looking over my shopping list I noticed the word sumac. At first I thought it may have been like semolina or then like a pistachio. Enlightened after a google search I realised that my hunt was to find a purple spice often used in Middle Eastern cooking. My man and I hit up Coles then Woolies scouring the spice aisle trying to find this thing called sumac. We asked bewildered store assistants who queried “is it like cumin” or “is it like basil” and all this left me was feeling even more stumped than before. The recipe said it wasn’t an essential ingredient and could be substituted for something else but this just made me want to hunt it down even more.

It was in a tiny grocer store in Chatswood on a little shelf in a small bag that I finally discovered sumac. It tastes a bit like poppy seed and has a very faint taste but I feel very satisfied that I can now add sumac to my cooking repertoire.

Published in: on March 23, 2010 at 12:06 pm  Comments (3)  
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