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Category Archives: Healthy

Mango and Berry Easy Ice Cream

This is a really simple way to make a “cheat’s” ice cream that is super refreshing, super simple and super good for you! It’s not new – everyone has been doing it, including Jamie Oliver in Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals.

It’s less a recipe than a procedure. Really, it’s just frozen fruit blitzed with yoghurt with a little honey for sweetness, to make a kind of frozen delicacy with a lovely ice cream like texture.

I have listed what works well for me, but find your version by varying the fruit used and the ratio of frozen fruit to yoghurt. My chosen fruit was mango and mixed blueberries and raspberries.

Ingredients 

A quantity of frozen fruit – mango, banana, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, papaya, peaches, nectarines, plums

Yoghurt – Greek yoghurt is nicest, but the recipe works well with low fat yoghurt too.

Runny honey 

Mint leaves, fresh berries for decorating 

Method

To make ice cream for two, or one greedy person, put 3 handfuls of frozen fruit into the bowl of a food processor with 3 tablespoons of yoghurt. Add 1 tablespoon of runny honey, or less, if you want less sweetness.

Blitz in the food processor until you have a creamy frozen mixture. Add more fruit or more yoghurt if you are not satisfied with the consistency and then blitz again.

 I don’t weigh my quantities – I really think you need to judge whether you have the ratio right by the look and texture of the resulting ice cream. 

Serve immediately in glasses, bowls or cones. It will melt quite quickly so speed is of the essence. Chilling the glasses or bowls is a good idea too. You can freeze leftover ice cream, but in my experience it’s a little grainy. Just make enough to eat in one sitting!

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Hot Smoking Salmon

A while back I discovered how easy it was to hot smoke salmon. I love cooking  salmon – grilled or baked – and I love eating traditional smoked salmon, or cold smoked.

Hot smoking is kind of a cross between cooking and cold smoking. You apply smoke during the cooking process to give the salmon a lovely woody, smoked flavour.

I’ve posted a few hot smoking recipes before. Here’s the how-to of easy hot smoking and some of the recipes using hot smoked salmon.

How to hot smoke salmon:

All you need is an aluminium foil container, aluminium foil, a cake (wire) rack, some wood smoking chips, and a barbecue and you are right to go!

Ingredients 
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary and/or sage leaves 

Salmon fillets, skin on

Sprinkle of sea salt

Sprinkle of sugar

1-2 teaspoons chili paste or sambal oelek (or leave out if you prefer)

Olive oil

Method
Preheat your barbecue to high. You will need a large aluminum foil container, readily available at supermarkets. It should be big enough to hold the size of the fish fillets you are going to smoke. You will also need a wire rack, the kind for cooling cakes on, that will fit inside the container.

Line the base of the foil container with wood smoking chips. These chips (usually hickory) are available at barbecue supply stores or hardware stores. Scatter the rosemary and sage over the wood chips.

Place the wire rack inside the container, so it sits about halfway down.

Sprinkle the salmon fillets with salt and sugar and rub with the chilli paste and a drizzle of olive oil. Put the fillets skin side down on top of the wire rack.  

Cover the container with a large piece of aluminium foil, that’s been doubled over. It should completely cover the container. Using a metal skewer, pierce holes in rows across this foil lid. This is to allow the smoke to escape.

Place the container on the barbecue, turn down to a medium heat and put the top of the barbecue down. If your barbecue doesn’t have a top, you may have to cook for a little longer, as cooking with the top down captures more heat.

 Cook for 10 to 15 minutes – the time taken will depend on how well cooked you want your salmon and the presence/absence of a barbecue top. After a couple of minutes the container will start to smoke.

After the 10-15 minutes of cooking, turn the heat off and leave it to sit for 5 minutes before opening the container. This will allow the residual smoke to continue to penetrate the salmon.

You can always check the “doneness” of the salmon by cutting into it, but, like a barbecued steak you risk spoiling the look of it. However if you are serving to fussy eaters who like their fish cooked through, then it’s worth doing.

This is the basic method. You can serve the hot smoked salmon in a myriad of recipes – here a few pics and links to some recipes.

Hot Smoked Salmon Fillet with Jamie Oliver Coconut Rice and Greens
https://thequirkandthecool.com/2014/03/11/hot-smoked-salmon-fillet-with-coconut-rice-and-greens/

Hot Smoked Salmon Pasta: Jamie Oliver 5 Ingredients https://thequirkandthecool.com/2017/09/10/hot-smoked-salmon-pasta-jamie-oliver-5-ingredients/

Hot Smoked Salmon Club Sandwich – Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food https://thequirkandthecool.com/2014/11/09/hot-smoked-salmon-club-sandwich-jamie-olivers-comfort-food/

Salmon Fillet with Spaghetti and Pesto https://thequirkandthecool.com/2014/01/26/salmon-fillet-with-spaghetti-and-pesto/

Hot Smoked Salmon, Pappardelle and Garden Greens Salad https://thequirkandthecool.com/2013/10/12/hot-smoked-salmon-pappardelle-and-garden-greens-salad/

Pasta with Pesto and Spring Greens


This is a super easy pasta dish that you can make in a few minutes, including the pesto!

As its spring in Sydney, there are lots of lovely greens about, and nothing feels better than a bowl of pasta with a zingy pesto and just cooked green veggies.

The dish is versatile – you can choose your own pasta and selection of greens – even the pesto can be varied according to what you fancy.

My version has risoni pasta, sugar snap peas and asparagus, with a rocket (arugula) and walnut pesto. 

Spaghetti, fettuccine or penne for the pasta, broccolini or kale or any other greens for the veggies and traditional basil and pine nut pesto are all alternatives.

Lunch, dinner or supper, it’s a lovely bowl of fresh flavours.

Ingredients

Pesto 

50g walnuts

80g rocket 

50g parmesan

2 garlic cloves

150ml olive oil

1 cup risoni pasta

1 bunch fresh asparagus 

1 ½ cups sugar snap peas

Method 

For the pesto, place the walnuts, rocket, parmesan, garlic and olive oil in a food processor and blitz. I like my pesto still a little chunky, so I don’t over blitz. Season to taste with salt. 

This pesto is quite oily, so, if you’re not an oil fan, perhaps add ¾ of the oil at first, then add more if you think it needs it.

Cook the risoni pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water, for 8-10  minutes or until al dente.

Trim the asparagus ends. String the sugar snap peas, and slice some of them horizontally so that the peas are revealed.

Pile the risoni onto a plate. Spoon over some pesto, and scatter the asparagus and sugar snap peas on top. Drizzle a little more pesto over the veggies.

I don’t think the dish needs additional parmesan, but feel free to add if you like. 

NB I added some beautiful roast garlic from last week’s visit to the Spring Harvest Festival.

Ottolenghi’s Lentils with Roast Eggplant, Cherry Tomatoes and Yoghurt

I’ve recently acquired the new Ottolenghi book Simple. It’s a lovely book, written in such an interesting and useful way. The recipes, while not necessarily with a limited number of ingredients, are all quite ”simple” to prepare. The recipes are full of Ottolenghi’s trade mark Middle Eastern flavours.

I’ve tried some of the savoury recipes and of course I’m keen to get into the sweet stuff soon!

Here’s a relatively quick, and definitely easy to prepare savoury veggie dish, that works well as a salad or side as well as a lighter main.

Ottolenghi goes into detail about how to cook the eggplants. While his method uses the oven at a high temperature, he also describes how you can cook the eggplants directly over a gas flame on the stove top, which he rightly points out is very messy!

I cooked the eggplants on the bars of a very hot barbecue, lid down, for extra heat. This was very successful, and they cooked in about 15 minutes. Whatever method you go for, the idea is to blister the skin of the eggplants so the you can peel it off to get to the softened flesh.

Ingredients

4 eggplants, about 1.1kg, pricked a few times with a knife
300g cherry tomatoes
160g Puy lentils or 350g ready-cooked lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve
1½ tbsp lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, crushed
3 tablespoons oregano leaves – I used thyme which I prefer as a herb
salt and black pepper
100g Greek yogurt

Method

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C or as high as your oven will go.

Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and roast for 1 hour, turning them over halfway through, until the flesh is completely soft and slightly smoky. Or use the barbecue method that I mentioned above. Remove from the oven and, once cool enough handle, scoop the flesh out into a colander. Set aside, in the sink or over a bowl, for 30 minutes, for any liquid to drain away. The skin can be discarded.

Place the cherry tomatoes on the same baking sheet and roast for 12 minutes, until slightly blackened, split, and soft. Remove from the oven and set aside. You can also cook the tomatoes on the barbecue too, but put them on a baking sheet.

Meanwhile, if starting with uncooked lentils, fill a medium saucepan with plenty of water and place over high heat. Once boiling, add the lentils, decrease the heat to medium, and cook for 20 minutes, until soft but still retaining a bite. Drain, then set aside to dry out slightly. If starting with ready-cooked lentils, just tip them into a large bowl and add the eggplant flesh, tomatoes, oil, lemon juice, garlic, 2 tablespoons of oregano or thyme, ¾ teaspoon of salt, and a good grind of pepper. Mix well, then spoon into a large shallow dish. Top with the yogurt, swirling it through slightly so there are obvious streaks. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of oregano or thyme over the top, drizzle with a little oil, and serve.

Zucchini and Halloumi Fritters

Fritters for breakfast lunch or dinner, these simple to make little gems are the mainstay of any meal. There are so many variations and lots of recipes out there. One of the most famous versions is Bill Granger’s iconic Sweet Corn Fritters. They’re on the menu at Granger and Co in London and at the original Bills in my home town Sydney. They are pretty good, wherever you eat them.

I have also blogged in the past Gordon Ramsay’s Halloumi, Zucchini amd Herb Cakes, see here for the post. These fritters are good, too.

But these bright green numbers are so easy to make and really tasty, and are currently high on my list of go-to recipes for lunch or dinner.

They are based on a recipe from Hugh Hamilton Wines, in McLaren Vale in South Australia, although I haven’t been able to find the original recipe when researching for this post. 

What I love about these fritters is that they keep their green colour on the outside and inside. And when you cut them open, the halloumi is still a little bit oozy! Lovely.

Ingredients

2 large zucchini
1 red onion
150g halloumi
Zest of a lemon
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup plain flour
1 free-range egg, lightly beaten

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C fan-forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Coarsely grate the zucchini and red onion using the large holes of a box grater.
Squeeze the grated zucchini and onion to remove excess liquid. The best way to to do this is using your hands, squeezing a handful at a time. Transfer the grated vegetables to a bowl. Now grate the halloumi in the same way.
Add the lemon, thyme leaves and halloumi to the bowl and mix. Stir in the flour and egg, and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Roll heaped tablespoons of the mixture into rough balls and place onto the baking tray. The mixture is quite wet, but don’t worry, as they will keep their shape as they bake. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden and firm. The edges may be a little dark – this just adds to the rustic effect!
Serve with sour cream or Greek yoghurt, and chilli jam or sweet chilli sauce, and a big green salad on the side. Delish!

Sweet and Salty Granola

There are a few recipes that I make on a regular basis, and I love to post new versions on the blog to show you what I’ve been making. Soon I’ll be getting ready to make hot cross buns. I’ll probably wait till March, even though I was shocked to find hot cross buns already in the supermarket after Christmas!

One of my favourite things to make is granola. I make a batch every couple of weeks, as I really need my cereal fix every morning. I’ve posted the recipe a few times already here.

I thought I would add this version as I’m particularly keen on it. But it may not be to everyone’s taste. As the title implies there is salt in this recipe. Quite by accident, I bought salted nuts instead of unsalted for the granola. They were delicious! I love the combination of the sweetness from the dried fruit and honey, with the saltiness of the nuts. And hey, first it was salted caramel and, then salted chocolate, so why not sweet and salty granola?

Ingredients

2 cups of rolled oats
1 cup of bran flakes or similar
1/2 cup of salted nuts like macadamias, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts
A handful of mixed seeds like pepita, linseed, sesame
1/3 cup of honey, warmed to pouring consistency in a microwave
1/2 cup of any dried fruit – sultanas, raisins, apricots, cranberries, sour cherries.

Method 

Pre-heat the oven to 140 degrees C. You could try 160 degrees C for a quicker toasting but be careful you don’t burn the mix. Line a large baking tin with baking paper. You need to be able to spread the mix out so that all the mix is exposed to the heat.

Mix the oats, seeds and nuts together in a large bowl. Loosen the honey before microwaving with a little bit of water to make it more runny and easier to mix. Pour the warmed honey onto the mix and quickly stir it through. The mixture will be quite sticky, so stir fairly aggressively.

Spoon the mixture onto the baking paper in the tin, spreading it out so that it covers the base of the tin and there aren’t any big lumps.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the mixture is golden brown and thoroughly toasted. You will need to turn the mixture over half way through cooking, so that the underneath mixture gets its time on top and gets toasted. The oven time is a bit of guess work – just keep checking and remove when the mix is golden and not burnt!

Let cool for 5 minutes then add the dried fruit, combining everything well. Don’t worry if there are some clumpy bits stuck together with honey – they are a bonus!

You can serve this granola in so many different ways. Milk and Greek yoghurt are favourites with me. I will always have fresh fruit on hand to add to the granola. In high summer in January in Sydney, berries are plentiful and so cheap! Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, all amazing, all wonderful, and I eat them by the punetful. And stone fruit too, is really coming into its own this month. Yellow and white peaches, apricots and nectarines, all delicious. And passionfruit is delicious any time of the year.

If summer fruit is plentiful, then I’m making jam. I’ve made lots of jam in this last week – apricot, blackberry, strawberry, mixed berry, and my new find mango! I will be posting recipes for these shortly.

I’ve been eating my sweet and salty granola with Greek yoghurt and lots of fresh fruit and a dollop of mango jam. A fabulous addition to breakfast! Just delicious! But eat your granola with whatever takes your fancy.

 

Goat’s Cheese, Leek and Tomato Lasagne


Lasagne is one of those really easy dishes that you can prepare ahead of time, stick in the fridge or freezer for later, and heat up whenever you want.

I recently had a lovely goat’s cheese lasagne at my local pub – a bubbling individual ramekin full of cheesy layers and really quite delicious!

So I decided to make a lasagne this weekend – this time a larger sharing version. It was pretty simple, and really, you can put anything you like in the filling, although I do recommend goat’s cheese for its creamy and slightly pungent flavour.

Ingredients

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 400g tin whole tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 big leek or 2 smaller ones
250g goat’s cheese
1 tbls milk
150g Greek yoghurt
Fresh lasagne sheets – enough to make 3 layers
Parmesan to grate over the lasagne
Cherry tomatoes, sage leaves
Fresh basil leaves

Method

For the tomato sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium frying pan. Peel and finely slice the garlic and fry gently until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes and using the tin as a measure, add a tinful of water. Add a good grind of rock salt and black pepper and the teaspoon of sugar. Cook on a medium heat until the sauce is thick and reduced, about 20 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon occasionally as you stir the sauce.

Wash the leek/s carefully to remove any dirt or grit. Finely chop the leeks. Put another frying pan on medium heat – or you can save washing up like me and use the tomato pan after they have finished cooking! Add the other tablespoon of oil, and when the oil is hot, add the chopped leeks. Stir for a minute or two, moving the leeks around to make sure they are all starting to cook down. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes until the leeks are softened.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Break the goat’s cheese up, you still wants sine chunks so no need to blend or process. Add the milk to loosen the mix, and then add the Greek yoghurt. You are looking for a thick bit spreadable consistency. Season with a grind or two of rock salt and black pepper.

Now for the layering. Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Add 1/3 of the leeks.Now put a layer of lasagne sheets on top. The size of your baking dish will determine how many sheets or partial sheets you need. I used one and a half per layer. Spoon ¼ of the goat’s cheese mixture over the lasagne sheets. Now start again and layer 1/3 tomato, 1/3 leeks, lasagne sheets and ¼ goat’s cheese. Finish with the rest of the tomato, the leeks and a lasagne layer.
Spread the remaining ½ goat’s cheese mixture thickly over the top of the lasagne. Grate as much Parmesan as you fancy over the top, and scatter some cherry tomorrow halves and sage leaves.

Place in the bottom of the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and scatter over a few fresh basil leaves before serving.

NB You could freeze the lasagne before baking, or after cooking, freeze whole or divided into meal size portions.

 

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